June Internationals: Australia v Scotland Preview

2017-June-Internationals-Preview-Australia-v-Scotland

Saturday’s June international between Australia and Scotland.

They may be without their British and Irish Lions players’ but the Scots will still provide stiff opposition for an Australian side going through a bit of a transitional phase. The host’s come into this one off the back of a solid enough showing against Fiji while the visitors travel ‘Down Under’ off the back of a highly impressive win over the Italians in Singapore.

Australia v Scotland | Saturday 17 June | Allianz Stadium | 07:00

To Win (80 Mins)
Australia 1/7 | Draw 28/1 | Scotland 9/2
Handicap
Australia (-12.5) 9/10 | Scotland (+12.5) 9/10

Australia
The Aussies were decent enough against the Fijians last week but there were elements of their game that can be improved on. Their line speed and defensive shape were actually pretty good for the vast majority of the contest but lapses in concentration allowed the Fijians to score two second-half consolation tries. If Cheika’s men fail to keep their concentration levels up for the entire 80-minutes against the Scots, then they will be punished as their opponents showed just how quickly they can turn a game when they dotted down twice moments before the half-time hooter against the Italians.

Cheika has opted to make a few switches to his side, the most pertinent of which sees Reds’ flyer Eto Nabuli make his debut. Nabuli will link up with Israel Folau and Dane Haylett-Petty in a back three that could provide plenty of firepower this Saturday. Speaking of Folau, the Waratahs man managed to break a 11-game international try drought last week, which is extremely good news for the Wallabies as Folau is their game breaker in chief.

Another man who put in an impressive shift last week was Folau’s franchise teammate, Ned Hannigan, who seems to be their heir apparent to Scott Fardy’s blindside role. The Wallabies will need another big showing from young Hannigan as the Scottish forwards will prove much more of a threat at the breakdown than the Fijians did.



Scotland
I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Scots played last week. The absence of Stuart Hogg should have blunted their backline somewhat but this proved not to be the case with Duncan Taylor putting in a great shift at fullback. The man of the moment, however, was Finn Russell, who controlled the game with aplomb.

My colleague Shaun Goosen was very vocal about his absence from the British and Irish Lions squad, and Russell’s display has made his argument all the more poignant. Shaun may actually get his wish with Owen Farrell now an injury doubt for the Lions and Russell only a short plane trip away from New Zealand. Another solid showing from the Scottish pivot this weekend may force Gatland to call him up even if Farrell does recover.

Russell won’t be the only player wanting to prove Gatland wrong with a big performance against the Wallabies, as the extremely unlucky Jonny Gray makes a return for the Scots this weekend. The return of Gray is a massive coup for the visitors as the big man is an absolute handful at lineout time and will give the Aussie jumpers a real hard time.

Verdict: Scotland (+12.5) 9/10
I’m quite surprised the handicap is so high here as the last four of the last five games between the sides have only be won by three points or less. With stats like that, I can’t help but have a big strike on the Scottish plus.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net!

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