November Tests: Big changes for final Test weekend

by AFP

The final weekend of November internationals is upon us and the teams are starting to roll in.

It's a big weekend of rugby, kicking off with Italy vs New Zealand and continuing with a host of other interesting clashes.

All the fixtures here.


Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Saturday November 24, 2:30pm local, Sunday 1:30am AEDT

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has made eight changes to his starting line-up for Saturday's final autumn Test against Argentina, experimenting with Finn Russell and Adam Hastings as dual playmakers.

Racing 92's star number 10 Russell will shift to inside centre to allow his former Glasgow teammate Hastings to start at fly-half.

A new front row of Allan Dell, Fraser Brown and Simon Berghan start, while lock Grant Gilchrist is joined in a new-look pack by flanker Jamie Ritchie and number eight Josh Strauss.

In the backs, Edinburgh full-back Blair Kinghorn is also given a run-out against the Pumas on the right wing.

Scotland, who lost to South Africa last week, will be looking to repeat their record 44-15 trouncing of Argentina in Resistencia during the summer but Townsend is warning the visitors will be a tough proposition.

"While it was a great effort from the players to win in Argentina last summer, we are under no illusions as to how different a prospect their team will be on Saturday," said Townsend.

"Under Mario Ledesma, Argentina delivered some outstanding performances and they were hugely impressive in their victories over South Africa and Australia in the recent Rugby Championship.

 "I'm sure that they will throw everything at us to end their international season on a high note."


Scotland to face Argentina

IN: Grant Gilchrist, Blair Kinghorn, Alex Dunbar, Byron McGuigan, Alex Allan, George Horne

OUT: Gordon Reid, Ben Toolis, Pete Horne, Tommy Seymour, Ali Price, Chris Harris

1. Allan Dell

2. Fraser Brown

3. Simon Berghan

4. Grant Gilchrist

5. Jonny Gray

6. Jamie Ritchie

7. Hamish Watson

8. Josh Strauss

9. Greig Laidlaw

10. Adam Hastings

11. Sean Maitland

12. Finn Russell

13. Huw Jones

14. Blair Kinghorn

15. Stuart Hogg


16. Stuart McInally

17. Alex Allan

18. WP Nel

19. Sam Skinner

20. Ryan Wilson

21. George Horne

22. Alex Dunbar

23. Byron McGuigan

Argentina to face Scotland

1. Santiago Garcia Botta

2. Agustin Creevy

3. Santiago Medrano

4. Guido Petti

5. Tomas Lavanini

6. Pablo Matera

7. Rodrigo Bruni

8. Javier Ortega Desio

9. Gonzalo Bertranou

10. Nicolas Sanchez

11. Ramiro Moyano

12. Jeronimo de la Fuente

13. Matias Moroni

14. Bautista Delguy

15. Emiliano Boffelli


16. Julian Montoya

17. Juan Pablo Zeiss

18. Lucio Sordoni

19. Matias Alemanno

20. Tomas LEzana

21. Martin Landajo

22. Matias Orlando

23. Sebastian Cencelliere


Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Saturday November 24, 3pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports Foxtel Channel 513

Steve Hansen has ignored mounting calls for Richie Mo'unga to start at five-eighth for the All Blacks in naming a heavily-changed to team to face Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Coach Hansen has made 11 changes to the starting team toppled 16-9 by Ireland in Dublin last week but has chosen to persist with Beauden Barrett at five-eighth and Damian McKenzie at fullback.

McKenzie's lack of impact against the Irish sparked calls for veteran Ben Smith to be shifted from wing to his favoured fullback spot.

However, Smith is among a host of first-choice players rested for the world champions' last Test of 2018.

Brilliant Crusaders playmaker Mo'unga remains on the bench, with Barrett retained at No.10 despite failing to fire in the narrow win over England and against Ireland.

In both Tests, the All Blacks looked more fluent when Mo'unga was introduced late and Barrett was shifted to a wider role against tiring defences.

However, Hansen indicated Mo'unga's is shaping as an impact player at next year's World Cup.

"That's the three guys that we see at the moment that would most likely go to the World Cup, so getting those three guys combining, either at the beginning of the game or during the course of the game is important," Hansen said.

"We haven't got too many games left so the more we play them together, the better it will be."

The two other retained starters are captain Kieran Read and fellow-loose forward Ardie Savea.

Six players from last week's reserve bench are promoted to start, including the entire front row. Prop Nepo Laulala and hooker Dane Coles will start, both finishing seasons ruined by injury on what they hope is a high note.

Jordie Barrett's ninth Test appearance will be his first as a starting winger. The regular fullback is on the right wing while Waisake Naholo is recalled in a less familiar role on the left wing.

"After two big Tests, it's been necessary to make some changes and those guys who have come in have provided a real energy and enthusiasm to our week's preparation," Hansen said.

Italy have dropped to 14th on the world rankings, below the United States, and aren't expected to trouble the world champions.

In 13 Test wins out of 13, the average score for the All Blacks against the Azzurri is 58-10. They won 68-10 in their most recent clash in Rome two years ago.


Italy to face New Zealand

1. Andrea Lovotti

2. Leonardo Ghiraldini

3. Simone Ferrari

4. Alessando Zanni

5. Dean Budd

6. Sebastian Negri

7. Jake Polledri

8. Abraham Steyn

9. Tito Tebaldi

10. Tommaso Allan

11. Luca Sperandio

12. Tommaso Castello

13. Michele Campgnaro

14. Tommaso Benvenuti

15. Jayden Hayward


16. Luca Bigi

17. Cherif Traore

18. Tiziano Pasquali

19. Marco Fuser

20. Johan Meye

21. Guglielmo Palazzani

22. Luca Morisi

23. Edoardo Padovani

New Zealand to face Italy

IN: Patrick Tuipulotu, Vaea Fifita, Waisake Naholo, Jordie Barrett, Nathan Harris, Angus Ta'avao, Dalton Papali'i, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

OUT:  Aatron Smith, Matt Todd, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks

1. Ofa Tu'ungafasi

2. Dane Coles

3. Nepo Laulala

4. Patrick Tuipulotu

5. Scott Barrett

6. Vaea Fifita

7. Ar'die Savea

8. Kieran Read

9. TJ Perenara

10. Beauden Barrett

11. Waisake Naholo

12. Ngani Laumape

13. Anton Lienert-Brown

14. Jordie Barrett

15. Damian McKenzie


16. Nathan Harris

17. Karl Tu'inukuafe

18. Angus Ta'avao

19, Brodie Retallick

20. Dalton Papali'i

21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi

22. Richie Mo'unga

23. Rieko Ioane.


Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Saturday November 24, 5:20pm local, Sunday 4:20m AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports Foxtel Channel 515

Coach Warren Gatland has stuck with Gareth Anscombe at fly-half for a Wales team bidding for a ninth consecutive victory when they take on South Africa on Saturday.

The Welsh squad, which will don rainbow laces in support of former captain Gareth Thomas after he was the victim of a homophobic attack earlier in the week, shows just one injury-enforced change from the one that edged Australia 9-6 a fortnight ago.

Saracens back Liam Williams, who scored a brace of tries from the wing as he won his 50th cap in the 74-24 victory over Tonga last weekend, comes in at fullback in place of Leigh Halfpenny.

Halfpenny suffered concussion after a late shot by Wallaby centre Samu Kerevi, an action that went unpunished.

Gatland made 14 changes for the victory over Tonga but has reverted to the side that defeated the Wallabies.

Williams lines up in the backline alongside fellow British and Irish Lion George North and Josh Adams.

Scarlets duo Hadleigh Parkes and Jonathan Davies are named in midfield with Gareth Davies and Anscombe continuing their partnership at half-back.

In the pack Nicky Smith, Ken Owens and Tomas Francis are again named in the front-row with Adam Beard, unbeaten in a Wales jersey, lining up alongside captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty pack down in the back-row for a third time together this autumn.

"We have rewarded the team that faced Australia with another start this weekend," said Gatland.

"Leigh (Halfpenny) misses out with concussion but it's a great opportunity for Liam (Williams) at full-back.

"We are really pleased with how the bench has gone in the first three games so we will be looking for that impact again on Saturday."

Gatland admitted that picking the team had been tough, notably given the sterling shows fly-halves Dan Biggar and Rhys Patchell produced against Tonga.

"There were a lot of tough selection calls, but that is what we want.  The team that played last week was hugely impressive and there are some disappointed boys who miss out," the Kiwi said.

"We want to end the campaign with a big performance against a very good South African side."


Wales to face South Africa

IN: Nicky Smith, Ken Owens, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Justin Tipuric, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Hadleigh Parkes, Jonathan Davies, George North, Dillon Lewis

OUT: Wyn Jones, Leon Brown, Jake Ball, Aaron Wainwright, Seb Davies, Steff Evans, Tyler Morgan, Jonah Holmes, Ryan Elias, Aled Davies, Rhys Patchell

1. Nicky Smith

2. Ken Owens

3. Tomas Francis

4. Adam Beard

5. Alun Wyn Jones

6. Dan Lydiate

7. Justin Tipuric

8. Ross Moriarty

9. Gareth Davies

10. Gareth Anscombe

11. Josh Adams

12. Hadleigh Parkes

13. Jonathan Davies

14. George North

15. Liam Williams


16. Elliot Dee

17. Rob Evans

18. Dillon Lewis

19. Cory Hill

20. Ellis Jenkins

21. Tomos Williams

22. Dan Biggar

23. Owen Watkin

South Africa to face Wales

1. Steven Kitshoff

2. Malcolm Marx

3. Frans Malherbe

4. Rg Snyman

5. Franco Mostert

6. Pieter-Steph du Toit

7. Duane Vermeulen

8. Embrose Papier

9. Handre Pollard

10. Aphiwe Dyantyi

11. Damian de Allende

12. Jesse Kriel

13. Sby Nkosi

14. Willie Le Roux

15. Bongi Mbonambi


16. Thomas Du Toit

17. Vincent Koch

18. Eben Etsebeth

19. Francois Louw

20. Ivan van Zyl

21. Elton Jantjies

22. Cheslin Kolbe


Aviva Stadium, Dublin Saturday November 24, 6pm local, Sunday 5am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports Foxtel Channel 513

Garry Ringrose is the only starter from Ireland's epic victory over world champions New Zealand to be included in the starting XV for Saturday's one-off rugby union Test with the United States.

The 23-year-old centre returned to the starting line-up for the 16-9 win over the All Blacks after missing the Argentina game with a head injury.

As expected, coach Joe Schmidt has rung the changes for the final Test of their November series with a fresh half-back partnership of Joey Carbery and John Cooney filling the fly-half and scrum-half posts respectively.

Flanker Josh van der Flier, who started against the All Blacks, is on the replacements bench as is prop Cian Healy.

The likes of star fly-half Johnny Sexton and captain Rory Best are rested completely with Rhys Ruddock taking the captain's armband instead.

Ireland will seek to extend their record home Test winning run to 12 -- they have won 17 of their last 18 Tests in all -- against the Americans.


Ireland to face USA

1. Dave Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster) 23

2. Niall Scannell (Dolphin/Munster) 10

3. Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht) 8

4. Tadhg Beirne (Munster) 3

5. Iain Henderson (Queen's University/Ulster) 41

6. Rhys Ruddock (St. Mary's College/Leinster) (capt) 20

7. Jordi Murphy (Lansdowne/Ulster) 25

8. Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster) 10

9. John Cooney (Terenure College/Ulster) 3

10. Joey Carbery (Clontarf/Munster) 15

11. Darren Sweetnam (Cork Constitution/Munster) 2

12. Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster) 2

13. Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster) 16

14. Andrew Conway (Garryowen/Munster) 8

15. Will Addison (Enniskillen/Ulster) 2


16. Rob Herring (Ballynahinch/Ulster) 6

17. Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster) 83

18. John Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster) 15

19. Quinn Roux (Galwegians/Connacht) 7

20. Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster) 12

21. Luke McGrath (UCD/Leinster) 9

22. Ross Byrne (UCD/Leinster) 1

23. Sam Arnold (Garryowen/Mu

USA to face Ireland

1. Titi Lamositele

2. Joe Taufete'e

 3. Paul Mullen

4. Greg Peterson

5. Nick Civetta

6. John Quill

7. Hanco Germishuys

8. Cam Dolan

9. Shaun Davies

10. Will Magie

11. Marcel Brache

12. Paul Lasike

13. Bryce Campbell

14. Blaine Scully (C)

 15. Will Hooley


16. Dylan Fawsitt

17. Chance Wenglewski 

18. Dino Waldren

19. Samu Manoa

20. David Tameilau

21. Ruben de Haas

22. Gannon Moore

23. Ryan Matyas


Stade de France, Paris, Saturday November 24, 9:05pm local, Sunday 7:05am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports Foxtel Channel 515


France to face Fiji

1. Jefferson Poirot

2. Guilhem Guirado

3. Rabah Slimani

4. Sebastien Vahaamahina

5. Yoann Maestri

6. Wenceslas Lauret

7. Arthur Iturria

8. Louis Picamoles

9. Baptiste Serin

10. Camille Lopez

11. Yoann Huget

12. Gael Fickou

13. Mathieu Bastareaud

14. Teddy Thomas

15. Benjamin Fall


16. Julien Marhand

17. Danny Priso

18. Demba Bamba

19. Felix Lambey

20. Kelian Galletier

21. Antoine Dupont

22. Anthon Belleau

23. Geoffrey Doumayrou

Fiji to face France

1. Campese Maafu

2. Sam Matavesi

3. Manasa Saulo

4. Tevita Cavubati

5. Leone Nakawara

6. Dominiko Waqaniburotu

7. Peceli Yato

8. Viliame Mata

9. Frank Lomani

10. Ben Volavola

11. Vereniki Goneva

12. Jale Vatubua

13. Semi Radradra

14. Josua Tuisova

15. Metuisela Talebula


16. Mesulame Dolokoto

17. Eroni Mawi

18. Kalivati Tawake

19. Albert Tuisue

20. Semi Kunatani

21. Henry Seniloli

22. Alivereti Veitokani

23. Eroni Sau