Will Genia will be a key with so many backline players out. Image courtesy of news.com.au/AFP
Prior to 2009, Australia had won 16 straight Tests against Scotland , and in the previous ten victories, 17 points was the closest the men in navy blue had come. That run came to a screeching halt at Murrayfield on a Spring Tour four years back when, in completely inhospitable conditions, the Wallabies came unstuck 9-8 in a torrid encounter.
Australia should have been able to make up for that result when the Scots were consigned to a midweek Test in Newcastle three years later, but torrential rain left Hunter Stadium a quagmire and the visitors felt right at home as they recorded a shock 9-6 victory.
Mud and rain have conspired to thwart the Wallabies the past two encounters, but they’ll have to deal with another enemy in Edinburgh on Sunday morning (AEST). Murrayfield is suffering from an infestation of nematode worms, and garlic has been used to rid them from the ground. Regardless, great clumps of turf were churned up when Scotland beat Japan two weeks back, and then again when the Springboks outclassed the hosts 28-0 last week. The surface is hardly conducive to running rugby and both forward packs are likely to be engaged on a regular basis with scrums set to be a nightmare on a shifting pitch.
The Wallabies can do little to control those aspects of the game, but the tourists have already life more difficult for themselves after half of the squad was disciplined for late night out prior to the 32-15 win over Ireland. The backline has suffered the most with a new centre combination of Mike Harris and Christian Leali’ifano coming together, while Joe Tomane and young Red Chris Feauai-Sautia come on to the wings. Four changes have been made to the bench, as well.
Scotland has its own issues, and lock Richie Gray has paid the price for the team failing to secure possession on five of its first six lineout throws against the ‘Boks. Gray is Scotland’s only British and Irish Lions Test player, so it is a big call by coach Scott Johnson. They also have injury concerns at the back with Tim Visser and Sean Maitland – Quade Cooper’s cousin – to miss this Test.
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