Wallabies vs Scotland: The toughest June Test arrives

Peter Taylor Roar Rookie

By Peter Taylor, Peter Taylor is a Roar Rookie

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    After an expected 37-14 victory over Fiji in front of a dismal crowd turnout in Melbourne the Wallabies now face their toughest test of the June internationals. Make no mistake about it – it will be tough.

    It was a good performance overall for the Wallabies against Fiji with Israel Folau scoring a double to break his try ‘drought’ and Karmichael Hunt slotting into 12 with noticeable energy in attack and defence.

    You could see the Wallabies trying to play an expansive game from the get go but some of their skills still aren’t up to scratch. Some quick passing between backs and forwards to exploit overlaps within their own 22 are exactly the type of plays that the Wallabies need to have in their kit bag, but at this stage Mick Byrne still needs to work on their handling skills and ball protection.

    Defence too was an issue, some questions have been raised about Nathan Grey’s defensive structure during the Super Rugby season and last weekend did not go far to addressing these. A couple of times Fiji broke out through the ruck as well as out wide with some classic Fijian offload play, specifically from second rower Leone Nakarawa who was immense all game.

    Missed tackles are the most glaring defensive point that needs work for the Wallabies, 34 missed tackles is just too many to give away to good quality international sides like Scotland.

    Scotland too is coming off the back of a solid 34-13 win against Italy in a hot and humid Singapore and like the Wallabies the Scots had some issues early on. Poor offloading and discipline allowed Italy to keep pace until just before half time when the Scots exploded with a flourish of tries either side of the whistle.

    Scotland are a team looking to play a fast paced game under their new coach Gregor Townsend and you could see a few tactics that were being tested out last weekend that will most likely be rolled out again for the Wallabies. Tactical kicking like the kick pass was used to get in behind the defence and the chip kick was used to put the defence in two minds, with one chip kick leading to a great catch and try by Tim Visser.

    Australia's Tevita Kuridrani (C bottom) reaches out to score a try against Scotland in the second half of his team's 35-34 victory in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals on Oct. 18, 2015 at Twickenham Stadium near London. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

    Scotland has made eight changes for Saturday’s Test against Australia which is a sign of Gregor Townsend starting to tinker with combinations in his new team. I was particularly interested to see a new hooker coming into the fold after a two try effort by Ross Ford last weekend.

    In comparison Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has only made one change to Australia’s starting side with Henry Speight ruled out and rookie Eto Nabuli taking his position to become Wallaby No.908.

    Cheika is also looking to build combinations among a young and inexperienced Test side. To give you an idea of just how inexperienced the team is, in the 2015 World Cup final Australia fielded 834 Test caps at an average of 55.6 per person in the starting side and this weekend will field just 445 Test caps at an average of just 29.7. This effectively means that every starting player has 26 less caps than two years ago. Talk about a changing of the guard.

    The continuity of people and position as well as the home ground advantage should see the Wallabies through this weekend but only if they dominate in key positions.

    Michael Cheika laughing

    (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

    Scotland will field a forward pack that hasn’t been touched by the British and Irish Lions tour and will compete extremely hard at set piece and at the breakdown. With two teams keen to play a quick and expansive game the breakdown may just hold the key to who gets up on the day.

    The best match up in the forwards is between Jonny Gray and Adam Coleman. Johnny Gray is very unlucky to miss a spot on the Lions tour, he is a classic hard working lock and his defence is excellent. In the six nations this year he attempted 58 tackles in and did not miss one. Not one! Put this up against the fire and brimstone approach of Adam Coleman and you have a fantastic battle.

    In the backs there is one key match-up that is looking to be a cracker and that is Finn Russell versus Bernard Foley. These two 10s are very similar players. Both love taking the ball to the line, can pass well on both sides and have smart rugby heads on their shoulders.

    Watching these two steer their respective ships will be something to keep an eye on while the forwards bludgeon each other this weekend.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • June 17th 2017 @ 5:38am
      Not rocket science said | June 17th 2017 @ 5:38am | ! Report

      So here’s hoping: (1) the forwards school an undercooked Australian pack, (2) off that platform, Price, Russell, Taylor and Dunbar dance through the Aussie defensive line at will, (3) Scotland’s rush defence forces handling error after handling error, resulting in three turnover tries, (4) Hughes & Tonks each catch one wayward cross-kick meant for Folau, but are otherwise completely uninvolved, (5) following a resounding away victory Mick Byrne calls Scotland “the All Blacks of the NH”, Russell, Gray, Watson, Nel and Strauss are immediately drafted into the Lions squad, meanwhile the Aussie media claim to have missed the game as they were all watching the AFC, (6) Sexton breaks both legs against the Maoris, putting him out of the rest of the tour, and the 2019 world cup, as the lions lose heavily again, (7) mid-week Steve Hansen refers to “Warrenball” three times, noting that Gatland still has only his arms up his sleeves, (8) Barclay’s latest column for the BBC is surprisingly gracious: “I might not have made it to NZ, but me and joker have found a lovely coffee shop on beach in Fiji”, (9) Biggar, AWJ and George North start the first test, but are on the receiving end of the largest ever Lions defeat, wiping tears from his eyes and downing another glass of Malbec, Eddie Jones states “the Lions are dead as a concept forever, fact”, (10) Rob Howley excuses himself from the tour due unspecified personal problems…, (11) Steve Hansen mentions “Warrenball” seven times in the run up to the second test, noting that Gatland still only has his arms up his sleeves, (12) under unprecedented pressure from Austin Healey, Will Greenwood and Gabby Logan, Gatland reverses his decision to play Rhys Webb at fly-half and Russell starts the second test (both Ian McGeechan and Gavin Hastings say Ford is better), (13) complex instructions to just get the ball to Davies are getting the better of Finn, but like Sam from Quantum Leap Greig appears at his side “forget that Gatland sh*te, go out there and pretend it’s Milbrae”, (14) unruffled by the Haka, Finn responds with a mean shuffle like he’s at a psytrance rave, before orchestrating a composed victory, sealed by a Toonie flip at the death to Seymour on the inside, and (15) The NZ fans still can’t name a single Lions player, but that bloke who used to cycle to Lincoln University has come on alright.

      • Roar Pro

        June 17th 2017 @ 10:17am
        Clash said | June 17th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        Utter gold rocket. You used to write Monty Python sketches didn’t you. You certainly ken your players.

    • June 17th 2017 @ 7:20am
      Neil Back said | June 17th 2017 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      It may be the toughest of the June tests but Townsend’s experimenting and without Hoggy they lose a significant attacking threat. Gray’s a very decent lock but would be way behind Launchbury in the unlucky stakes. Fielding a forward pack untouched by the Lions says a lot about it. Playing at home, Straya by two clear scores would probably be a par performance, unless the Jocks pull out one of those performances they sometimes do.

      Looking forward to it – with the sound turned down so I don’t have to listen to Matt Burke whine on like a wronged schoolgirl all game.

      • June 17th 2017 @ 1:58pm
        ThugbyFan said | June 17th 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

        G’day Neil. You’re dead right about Joe Launchbury. My jaw hit the ground when he missed out the BIL tour, especially when you see some of the plonkers at lock and backrow selected in front of him. The Lions with Launchbury + G.Kruis at locks with M.Itoje at #6 would cause the AB all sorts of trouble.

        Of this game lets say I am glad that Greg Laidlaw isn’t there. The packs almost even out, both have advantages in certain areas, but I think the WB backs will carry the game. As long as they don’t just rely on crash running for the whole game.

        Interesting that all the International teams are now using an offensive kick game; kicks into space aimed for flying wingers or rabid rucking chasers are the foil to rush defences. I could have pulled my hair out last year when coach M.Cheika derided it last year as “not the Australian way”, especially after the crash-running loss to England in the test at Melbourne.

        Anyways good luck to your Lions, I think they will need it against the AB. 🙂

        • June 18th 2017 @ 12:26pm
          Neil Back said | June 18th 2017 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

          Well Thugby, as much as the Jocks stepped up for ‘one of those performances’, you’d have to say the Wallabies stepped down too. Good in parts but not nearly enough of them, with some players re-exposing the fact they’re probably not up to it. Cheika seems to have this side confused about what they are, exemplified by choosing a captain like Hooper, who for all his lively performances seems to be playing in a team no one else around him gets.

          On the Lions, holding my powder until I see the AB’s actually play but more importantly, Gatland’s picks for the Test team and squad

      • June 17th 2017 @ 2:34pm
        aussikiwi said | June 17th 2017 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

        On behalf of all wronged schoolgirls I represent that remark.

    • Roar Pro

      June 17th 2017 @ 9:01am
      Clash said | June 17th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

      Oddly enough, after 30 years of playing rugby, I have never found the need to hear a rugby commmentator tell me what just happened.

      I never really have sympathy for all you buggers complaining about the commentators because you shouldn’t need them … unless you’re a front row forward of course who has/had no idea what was going on from one minute to the next.

      Pity we don’t. have Hogg or Laidlaw who are so inspirational to Scotland these days.

      ‘Twill be a great match and give an idea of where Oz is at the moment.

      • June 17th 2017 @ 11:30am
        Neil Back said | June 17th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

        Don’t need them. It’s would be nice to listen to the only voice that matters though – the refs.

        • June 17th 2017 @ 1:17pm
          Laurence said | June 17th 2017 @ 1:17pm | ! Report

          RIP Fred

    • June 17th 2017 @ 9:19am
      John said | June 17th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      Scotland to win a hard game by 6+ points.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 17th 2017 @ 2:56pm
      atlas said | June 17th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      Scotland:
      Greig Tonks, Lee Jones, Alex Dunbar, Duncan Taylor, Rory Hughes, Finn Russell, Ali Price, Hamish Watson, John Barclay, Jonny Gray, Ben Toolis, Zander Fagerson, Fraser Brown, Gordon Reid.

      Reserves: Ross Ford, Allan Dell, Willem Nel, Tim Swinson, Josh Strauss, Henry Pyrgos, Ruaridh Jackson, Matt Scott.

      Reported that Scotland players Finn Russell and prop Allan Dell to join Lions in NZ tomorrow, as well as four from last night’s Wales team, as Gatland boosts the squad to 46 + the injured Farrell.

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