Fri 4 Nov 2022 | 12:24

Scotland v Fiji - Teams and Prediction

Scotland v Fiji - Teams and Prediction
Fri 4 Nov 2022 | 12:24
Scotland v Fiji - Teams and Prediction
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PREVIEW: Fiji coach Vern Cotter is set to hand debuts to three players in their Test against his former side Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, including 2020 Sevens Olympic gold medallist Sireli Maqala.

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Lock Ratu Leone Rotuisolia will earn a first cap starting in the second row, while utility back Maqala and prop Livai Natave are expected to get a run from the bench.

Maqala “has impressed us with his skill sets,” Cotter told reporters. “He can kick well, with the ball he is strong and tough, and he offers us a number of positions as he can play at number 10, 15 and at the centre.”

Albert Tuisue has been included at flank, having spent most of his international career to date in the second row, while Viliame Mata returns from injury to take up the number eight position.

“We are slowly getting together but want to get learnings from this, plus we have the Rugby World Cup next year so it is really important that we put ourselves up against a very good team,” Cotter said.

“I’m sure we will come away with individual and collective improvements to be made.”

Fiji have beaten Scotland twice in eight meetings, including as recently as 2017 but lost all four of their previous visits to Murrayfield.

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The preview continues below…

Meanwhile, Adam Hastings has been recalled at flyhalf by Scotland in place of Blair Kinghorn for Saturday’s match, as the pair battle to make the No 10 shirt their own in the absence of Finn Russell.

Hastings is one of six changes to the Scotland starting XV that suffered a narrow 16-15 loss to Australia in their November Series opener in Edinburgh last weekend.

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Stuart Hogg returns at fullback for his first Scotland appearance since losing the captaincy to Jamie Ritchie last month.

Hastings and Hogg were both unavailable to face the Wallabies as their English clubs Gloucester and Exeter were not obliged to release players for a match that fell outside World Rugby’s official window for Tests.

Kinghorn, who missed a last-ditch penalty against Australia after a fine game with ball in hand has been named on the bench.

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend had already made the controversial move to drop Racing 92 flyhalf Russell from his squad for the November fixtures.

“Blair’s played for us in that position in the last five games but this is a chance for Adam to show how well he can fit in at Test level again,” said former Scotland playmaker Townsend.

“Adam is a game manager and also has the ability to run. I’d say Blair is a runner-passer and is learning more on the game-management side.

“Adam is playing regularly and playing very well for a team that’s going really great in the English Premiership.”

Defeat by Australia followed a 2-1 series loss away to Argentina in July that came after a Six Nations where Scotland won just two of their five matches.

A loss to Fiji would open up the prospect of Scotland suffering an end-of-year whitewash given their last two November opponents are New Zealand – a side they have never beaten – and Argentina.

It would still be a major shock were Townsend to lose his job ahead of next year’s World Cup in France.

“There were a lot of positives at the weekend, given we had two-thirds of our players available to us,” said Townsend. “Now over the next three weekends, with everyone available we’ve got to deliver winning performances, that’s why we’re here.”

Prediction

@rugby365com: Scotland by 13 points.

Teams:

Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Cameron Redpath, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie (captain), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Ewan Ashman, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Murphy Walker, 19 Jonny Gray, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Ben White, 22 Blair Kinghorn, 23 Sione Tuipulotu.

Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Setareki Tuicuvu, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Kalaveti Ravouvou, 11 Vinaya Habosi, 10 Vilimoni Botitu, 9 Frank Lomani, 8 Viliame Mata, 7 Levani Botia, 6 Albert Tuisue, 5 Ratu Leone Rotuisolia, 4 Temo Mayanavanua, 3 Manasa Saulo, 2 Sam Matavesi, 1 Eroni Mawi.
Replacements: 16 Tevita Ikanivere, 17 Livai Natave, 18 Luke Tagi, 19 Apisalome Ratuniyarawa, 20 Kitione Kamikamica, 21 Peni Matawalu, 22 Teti Tela, 23 Sireli Maqala.

Date: Saturday, November 5
Venue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 13.00 (13.00 GMT; 01.00 FJT Sunday, November 6)
Expected weather: It will be cloudy with late rain and a high of 12°C and low of 8°C.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Pierre Brousset (France)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

AAP & AFP

PV: 10
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