Sat 12 Nov 2022 | 10:19

Scotland v New Zealand - Teams and Prediction

Scotland v New Zealand - Teams and Prediction
Sat 12 Nov 2022 | 10:19
Scotland v New Zealand - Teams and Prediction
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PREVIEW: Scotland will “throw the kitchen sink” at New Zealand as they go in search of a first win over the All Blacks.

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New Zealand have dominated the fixture, winning 29 of 31 encounters dating back 117 years, with the closest Scotland have come to victory two contrasting draws at Murrayfield – 0-0 in 1964 and 25-25 in 1983.

Scotland will be huge outsiders to post that elusive maiden win against New Zealand in Sunday’s Nations Series encounter in Edinburgh given an unconvincing 28-12 win at home to Fiji last week.

By contrast, while the Scots were labouring to victory over the Pacific islanders, the All Blacks ran in eight tries during a 55-23 rout of Wales in Cardiff.

But if Gloucester centre Chris Harris who has been named in coach Gregor Townsend’s starting XV on Friday, would love nothing more than to help the Scots record that longed-for win over New Zealand.

The 31-year-old will be all set to make his first appearance for Scotland against New Zealand.

He missed Scotland’s most recent match against the All Blacks, an agonising 17-22 loss, which took place at Murrayfield the week after he made his Test debut against Samoa in November 2017.

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Although not a boyhood rugby fan, Harris, born and brought up in Cumbria, northwest England but qualified for Scotland through an Edinburgh-born grandmother, said he had quickly become aware of the match’s importance following his entry into international rugby union.

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‘Insane if we could win’

“Since getting involved with Scotland this is the one fixture I’ve wanted to play in,” he said.

“It obviously doesn’t happen very often and I missed out on it when we were due to play them on our summer tour and it got cancelled due to Covid. I’m really excited to play against the All Blacks.”

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He added: “It’s a Test everyone’s looking forward to. We’ll throw the kitchen sink at it, give it a good crack and see where we are.

“It would be insane if we could win. It would be a historic win. That is the opportunity for us.”

Harris was adamant Scotland could raise thir game significantly following an uninspiring display against Fiji and surprise New Zealand.

“They’ll have seen us play against Fiji and it wasn’t our best performance and they put 50 points on Wales so they’ll be pretty confident they can come and do a job on us but we’re not going to let that happen,” he said.

An injury to Adam Hastings has seen Finn Russell recalled by Scotland after the gifted flyhalf was controversially omitted from the initial Autumn squad in what appeared to be further evidence of a strained relationship with Townsend.

Russell has been in fine form for Paris-based club Racing 92 so far this season and Harris said: “Finn’s obviously a quality player and he’s no different to what he has been in previous camps.

“He’s pretty chilled around the place but when it comes to training, he’s on it and he makes things happen.”

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Scottish threats

Given the All Blacks hadn’t played Scotland since 2017, and when there was that length of time between games, it was important to glean information about them, head coach Ian Foster admitted.

“It’s important that we are clear about the threats that they have,” Foster said.

“They are robust at the breakdown and play with quite a bit of adventure to their game.

“They challenge you in different areas with some different types of plays that some other teams challenge you up here. In the last couple of years, they’ve shown they can get up and play very well in big games.

“I guess they’re searching for consistency as well as a team but the upside is their top game is at a pretty high level.”

The All Blacks are sporting eight changes.

Beauden Barrett returns to start at first five-eighths, and Foster said he was still a very good five-eighths, and they wanted to keep him in form in that position.

Jordie Barrett starts at fullback, but Foster said it was a case of wait-and-see whether he played there or second five-eighths in the future.

They were forced to adjust their back three when Will Jordan was unavailable to tour.

David Havili and Anton Lienert-Brown are paired in the midfield. They had come off the bench in the last two weeks and had trained together through that time.

“I expect them to play like an All Black midfield. David had a strong Rugby Championship and finished that with an injury and has come back strong. He brings a different skill set to Jordie, and I’m looking forward to seeing him utilise that.

“And Alby [Lienert-Brown] I want to see him out there smiling and running round and doing what he does. He’s a very experienced [58 Tests] midfield for us and he’s hungry to get back in.”

With two Tests left in their year, it was important to keep energy levels high in the side, and Foster said he hadn’t fixated on the number of changes because many of the combinations were together at the end of the Wales Test.

“So it’s not like they haven’t played together. We need to ensure we lift our performance again for what is going to be a big challenge.”

Foster said the selection was aimed at the threat Scotland posed and the growth within some of the New Zealand players.

Players to watch:

For Scotland: Finn Russell has been summoned straight back into Scotland’s starting line-up just days after being recalled by coach Gregor Townsend. The gifted flyhalf will be out to make a huge impact after being controversially left out from the original squad for the November internationals. Russell will reunite with Ali Price as the Scotland halfback partnership. The midfield combination is also one to look out for Sione Tuipulotu has been recalled alongside Chris Harris in midfield. Fullback Stuart Hogg along with Duhan van Der Merwe could againt be two lethal figures in the backline. In the pack, flank Hamish Watson would want to build on his form, while South African Pierre Schoeman will add the much-needed physicality up front.

For New Zealand: Jordie Barrett moves to fullback which could be a problem for Scotland, while his brother Beauden has the task of going head to head with Finn Russell at the flyhalf battle. Wing Mark Telea has been selected to make his first Test appearance. The 25-year-old was called in as injury cover for this campaign and is now in line to become All Black number 1207. Scrumhalf Finlay Christie will wear the number nine jersey for the third time. He will mark the special occasion at a ground which is an hour north of the region where he was born and raised until the age of seven. In the forward pack, Samisoni Taukei’aho has been brought into the run-on side at hooker, Nepo Laulala at tighthead prop and Akira Ioane at blindside flank. The new faces in the reserves are loosehead prop George Bower, scrumhalf TJ Perenara and utility Stephen Perofeta.

Head to head

Scotland-v-New-Zealand

Prediction

@rugby365com: New Zealand by seven points.

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

New Zealand: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 David Havili, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Samuel Whitelock (Captain), 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Ethan de Groot
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 George Bower, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Tupou Vaa’i, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Rieko Ioane

Date: Sunday, November 13
Venue: Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Kick-off: 14.15 (14.15 GMT; 03.15 NZDT Monday, November 14)
Expected weather: Clear and sunny with a high of 15°C and a low of 8°C.
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) & Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Tom Foley (Ireland)

AFP and @rugby365com

PV: 11
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