Iain Morrison looks ahead to Saturday’s match at BT Murrayfield.
1. The set piece
It’s a Test match, so set piece only grows in importance. Scotland’s lineout is looking all but impregnable with 15/16 against Samoa and 100 per cent success against the All Blacks who lost two of their own. The set scrum is a different matter. New Scotland prop Darryl Marfo has performed minor miracles to get where he is but the Scots won just three of their five put-ins last weekend and the Wallabies will fancy they have an edge at the coal face on Saturday - although that may be change once the subs appear.
2. The Fijian influence
It’s impossible to ignore the Fijian influence on this Wallaby side, with three islanders starting in the outside backs and another, Henry Speight, parked on the bench. During that epic 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Scotland and Australia, Tevita Kuridrani made the first try for Adam Ashley-Cooper by brushing off Tommy Seymour’s tackle. He then carried three defenders over the Scottish line to score himself in the second half. There is a physical mismatch between the two back lines, especially in the absence of Scotland centre Alex Dunbar, and while the visitors like to move the ball they will probably be a little more direct than usual.
3. The full-backs
If there is any full-back currently playing the game better than Stuart Hogg then he is doing so in the privacy of his own back yard. The Hawick man lit up Murrayfield last Saturday, bamboozling the best defence in world rugby at the same time. His opposite number at BT Murrayfield will be Kurtley Beale who has the happy knack of getting himself into scoring positions. Both men step up as first receiver when the opportunity arises. If the opposition concentrate their attention on the man at the back, there is space elsewhere to exploit and whichever team can find it will have an advantage.
To his credit, when asked about conceding yellow cards in both of the last two Tests, Wallaby skipper Michael Hooper didn’t point to the referees and moan, he blamed himself. Scotland won’t want Australia to earn too many lineouts inside the home red zone, wary of their driving game. Australia know that they can’t afford to play with 13 men again, as they did against England last weekend, albeit not for long. Scotland won the penalty count against the Blacks but 13 conceded is still too many.
5. Execution, execution and execution
The three most important things in rugby. Both teams left plenty of points on the field last weekend; Australia getting little love from the TMO while Cornell du Preez and Huw Jones both had costly handling errors at crucial moments for Scotland. We know both teams like to play with the ball in hand, running through the phases and building pressure and the one who can do so with the least mistakes will probably end up on top.
6. The bench
Or “the finishers”, as Eddie Jones likes to call them. Scotland have a useful forward contingent waiting for the call and the Glasgow trio of Bhatti, Brown and Fagerson will surely make a collective appearance around the 50-minute mark. Ben Toolis will also want to beat the country of his birth. Against that, the Aussies have a couple of game changers in Henry Speight and Karmichael Hunt to turn to in the backs. The former brings power, the latter with his league background is all about angles and offloads and you fancy that the Wallaby duo will have a bigger say than their inexperienced Scottish counterparts.