This week Matt and Jamie talk through some of the other nations...
Quarter Final #3 Preview – Scotland v Australia
After coming through the pool of death completely unscathed, it’s hard to see where Australia can be troubled when they come up against Scotland in quarter final number three at Twickenham on Sunday. Particularly when you consider that until the final quarter of Scotland’s match against Samoa last Saurday, it was going to be the Japanese who qualified for this quarter final.
In saying that, it’s not going to be an easy game for the Wallabies as Scotland will look to keep the game relatively tight in the opening minutes. While kiwi-born Scotland Coach Vern Cotter has, in the past, made his intention of playing running rugby clear, he’ll know that his team is no match for the Australians in terms of the firepower the Wallabies have – in fact, you could go as far as to say that they could be blown off the park if things go awry.
If Scotland are to get anything out of this game, they’re going to have to settle well and settle quickly because they won’t have the benefit of being able to grow into the game.
Ross Ford and Jonny Gray are huge losses for Scotland as their pack may struggle for physicality at the breakdown against the relentless Pocock and Hooper.
Their ‘iffy’ attack will also be put to the test with the Wallabies showing some of the best defence seen so far at this World Cup last week against Wales. And they will have to score points in this match with the Wallabies showing that they have a lot of points in them.
You have to think that if Scotland are going to get a result, a lot of their points have to come through captain Greig Laidlaw because they don’t have the firepower to score a lot of tries against this Wallaby side – especially one in such good form.
It will likely be their defence that wins the game with the head to head showing that in their only two wins in the past 33 years, a sum total of 32 points has been scored in both games put together so the possibility of Scotland scoring a lot of points to beat Australia is minimal.
If anything can be seen to be in Scotland’s favour, it’s the fact that knockout rugby can be a very peculiar beast and one that can make teams play very strange rugby. The Wallabies have the team to put a lot of points on this Scotland side but the game isn’t going to be as open as they hope which slightly favours the northerners.
This will be a closer match than the Wallabies win over England, purely because both teams know what’s at stake. And as funny as it may sound considering the path they’ve had to take to this stage, Scotland will be their biggest test to date.
Scotland need to get the Wallabies playing their game – one based on territory and keeping things tight before going out wide.
If they can blunt the Wallabies break down and keep their organisation in defence (especially when drifting as well all know how much the Wallabies love to play that second man move around the back when they’re still in their own half), then they have a chance.
Australia’s key player
Bernard Foley – Foley has been at the centre of everything for Australia in attack at the World Cup so far. The innate ability he possesses to control a match, combined with his kicking accuracy and sniping runs makes him crucial.
Scotland’s key player
Stuart Hogg – When Hogg is on the front foot and breaking the defensive line, more often than not Scotland are playing well; he is critical in Scotland’s chances of beating Australia and will need to be at his best if they’re to do so.
Battle to watch:
David Pocock vs. David Denton – The battle of the number eights is going to be a clash of the titans. Denton will have to nullify Pocock’s presence at the breakdown and look to impose himself physically on the Australian backs. Pocock will look to be at his ball stealing best and take the wind out of the Scottish sails.
Australia 20-13 – Scotland are full of heart and vigour but Australia have looked too strong for them to pose any realistic threat. Australia will overwhelm them in attack with their dynamic running and penetrative lines. While we’ve predicted a narrow margin, it could very well get ugly later in the match with Australia full of running.