Key areas where Scotland v Australia will be won and lost

Greig Laidlaw's accuracy with the boot could be crucial for Scotland against Australia. Picture Ian Rutherford
Greig Laidlaw's accuracy with the boot could be crucial for Scotland against Australia. Picture Ian Rutherford
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1The Set Piece
The set piece battle should be key at BT Murrayfield this afternoon. The Scots traditionally have struggled at restarts but should at least win their own lineout throws. Their Achilles heel is the set scrum. The Scotland front row boast 100 caps coming into this game which sounds respectable until you realise that hooker Ross Ford owns 99 of them. Australia’s 
front row is one of the 
most improved in world rugby and they are sure to give the untried Scottish props a thorough examination. 
Advantage: Australia

2The Boot
Greig Laidlaw has been known to miss the odd kick at goal but when he does so it as remarkable enough to comment upon, such is his habitual excellence. He isn’t long off the tee but he is wonderfully accurate and just ask Tiger Woods which he would rather be. Stuart Hogg can hit them from 50-plus metres, although it is often a shot to nothing. For Australia, kicking is the one chink in Bernard Foley’s armoury. The little playmaker put in a man-of-the-match performance in Cardiff seven days ago but only managed three from six off the tee, two conversions and one penalty. In the past, he has posted figures of five from nine against Argentina. Foley can be accurate but isn’t consistently so.
Advantage: Scotland

3The Breakdown
Interestingly, both sides field two openside flankers, or at least two flankers who have played much of their rugby in the number seven shirt. Hamish Watson and Michael Hooper are similar in style, quick and aggressive, while David Pocock is probably stronger over the ball than his opposite number John Barclay, who is nevertheless a highly intelligent player.
Much will depend upon how much of a dent the ball carrier has made and, in the absence of Adam Ashe and Josh Strauss, Scotland 
look desperately short 
in that department.
Advantage: Australia

4Attack
The Wallabies looked brilliant in Cardiff but so would any side who were afforded the time and space Wales’ defence gave them. In many ways, today’s two offences are alike. Both boast an inventive stand-off who isn’t afraid to go to the boot, both have a talismanic full-back who will provide creativity and both boast strong running centres. Where the visitors have an obvious advantage is in the aerial battle, especially with Scotland’s best man in the air Tommy Seymour missing. Israel Folau, pictured, is one of the best in the world, whether defending or attacking the high ball, and Dane Haylett-Petty isn’t far behind him. Sean Maitland is probably the best of the Scots’ starting trio but the visitors will fancy they have an edge in the air.
Advantage: Australia

5The Bench
The Aussies have an uneven bench. It is packed with an inexperienced front row trio that struggled a bit against Wales and a huge trio of locks in Rob Simmons, Dean Mumm and Will Skelton, two of whom could, at a push, play six. Michael Cheika has gone for just one outside back in Quade Cooper, so two early injuries from 10-15 would make life interesting. The Scots have Ali Price and John Hardie amongst the reserves, who can both make an impact on proceedings and there is front five experience in the form of Gordon Reid, Moray Low and Grant Gilchrist.Advantage: Scotland, just, especially if they can see off the starting Wallaby props.