Finegan: Don't take feisty Scotland lightly

International
by Owen Finegan

There are always games when you feel uncomfortable, maybe even edgy about the opposition and for the Wallabies, Scotland looms large in that category.

In our past four outings against the Scots we have managed only two victories, with our last encounter – at the Rugby World Cup last year at Twickenham – an absolute nail biter where Bernard Foley got us out of jail with an after-the-bell penalty goal.

Before that there were losses in the midweek wet in Newcastle in 2012 (a 9-6 loss) and another sorry performance in Edinburgh in 2009 (a 9-8 loss).

Some say that we were lucky to get the chance to win that one in last year’s Rugby World Cup, but you get the line I am pushing here.

Scotland will always be a tough game for the Wallabies, if we allow them to get in and disrupt our game at set piece and the breakdown.

If you try and look for a negative in the performance against Wales it would be that we should have beaten them by much more.

But what will we see from the Scots this weekend? Well there will be more of the same of what we saw at the Rugby World Cup last year.

The Scottish are a physical and gritty team that will stay in the contest. 

"The improvement in a month has seen a 50min performance in the Bledisloe transformed into a more complete and sustained display against the Welsh." - Owen Finegan 

The most important component of the Wallabies growth on this tour has been their ability to show consistency in their performance. 

A repeat of last week’s performance will see them comfortably handle the Scottish.

Against the All Blacks in Auckland before the European tour I spoke the need for an 80min performance. 

The improvement in a month has seen a 50min performance in the Bledisloe transformed into a more complete and sustained display against the Welsh.

The Wallabies started at rapid pace and came close to maintaining that momentum for most of the first half with a glut of possession, territory and three tries.

After five Tests at inside centre Bernard Foley has had the last two games back at flyhalf and looked comfortable in the playmaking role.

His game control and decision making was superb. The Wallabies short side plays were well constructed with players giving him numerous options and Foley constantly choosing the right option.
Foley’s goal kicking is still a concern though. 

"The work rate of the forwards was pleasing too. John Eales Medal winner Michael Hooper was ever present when there was a linebreak or try." - Owen Finegan 

He missed three from five conversions on the weekend and if the Wallabies get to the final match against England undefeated, goal kicking could well be the difference.

The work rate of the forwards was pleasing too. John Eales Medal winner Michael Hooper was ever present when there was a linebreak or try and his ability to read the game is phenomenal.

The tight five ensured a strong set piece and there was a real willingness to carry the ball and take on the defensive line. 

The new second row partnership led to a real injection of enthusiasm and the lineout was more consistent. Both Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold carried the ball well and worked in combination to send Foley away for his try.

Another pleasing point in the Wallabies first Grand Slam match was the fluent attack. The combination of the players on the field is starting to show dividends.

Israel Folau’s fourth season as a Wallaby sees him join Nick Phipps in playing their 50th cap. This will hopefully bring the best out in ‘Izzy’.

My tip: Wallabies by 10 points plus.

The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the ARU.

All of the Wallabies’ Spring Tour Tests will be broadcast LIVE on beIn Sports and streamed LIVE on Foxtel Go (for Foxtel subscribers).

 

Join the discussion