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Preview: Scotland v New Zealand

Sportal.co.nz     12 Nov 2010    

VENUE & TIME: Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Sunday November 14, 06:05 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 27 - New Zealand 25, Scotland 0, Draws 2.

LAST TIME: November 8, 2008 (Edinburgh) - New Zealand 32-20 Scotland 6.

WALKING WOUNDED: Scotland is without its regular halfback Rory Lawson who was injury, a similar situation with Alastair Kellock. New Zealand has included hooker Andrew Hore, the player of the year in 2009, on the reserves bench, even if the bracketed Keven Mealamu succeed in his appeal against a four-week suspension. Wing Cory Jane is still not available for selection.


FORM:
Recent Tests:
Scotland
Argentina won 13-9
Argentina won 24-16
Ireland won 23-20
England drew 15-15
Italy lost 12-16

All Blacks
England won 26-16
Australia lost 24-26
Australia won 23-22
South Africa won 29-22
Australia won 20-10

WHO'S HOT: Mike Blair, Scotland's halfback, and captain on this occasion, is a competitive customer who two years ago was ranked among the leading players in the world. Outside him Dan Parks, the Australian-born Scotsman, will be getting his 54th international cap, and has significant form with the Cardiff Blues and Glasgow in the Celtic League to be fully aware of his role in dealing with New Zealand's threat. Flanker John Barclay is a flanker with a solid reputation who will face a battle to deal with New Zealand flanker and captain Richie McCaw's threat.

McCaw heads the hot performers among the All Blacks while first five-eighths Dan Carter has been getting more involved in running with the ball as he regains his touch after surgery. Wing Hosea Gear will test the Scottish defence with his strong running. Up front the All Blacks front row will not have been impressed with some of the post-match talk in England and a powerful performance can be expected from them. Lock Samuel Whitelock continues to grow in playing stature and it will be of interest to see how Scotland copes with his around-the-field presence. And the occasion of equalling Sean Fitzpatrick's appearance record for the All Blacks will not be lost on fullback Mils Muliaina and McCaw.

WE THINK: Scotland is buoyed by its recent record, and there is some evidence it has advanced under Andy Robinson's guidance. But the All Blacks are well into their work on this tour after their earlier break and it is likely that the best performance of the tour to date is on the cards, a prospect that will leave Scotland fully tested across the field. We pick the All Blacks by 15 points.

TEAMS:

Scotland1.Allan Jacobsen, 2.Ross Ford, 3.Euan Murray, 4.Richie Gray, 5.Jim Hamilton, 6.Kelly Brown, 7.John Barclay, 8.Richie Vernon, 9.Mike Blair (captain), 10.Dan Parks, 11.Sean Lamont, 12.Graeme Morrison, 13.Max Evans, 14.Rory Lamont, 15. Hugo Southwell.

Reserves: 16.Scott Lawson, 17.Alasdair Dickinson, 18.Nathan Hines, 19.Ross Rennie, 20.Greig Laidlaw, 21.Ruaridh Jackson, 22.Nikki Walker.

New Zealand1.Tony Woodcock, 2.Keven Mealamu/Hikawera Elliot, 3.Owen Franks, 4.Brad Thorn, 5.Samuel Whitelock, 6.Liam Messam, 7.Richie McCaw (captain), 8.Kieran Read, 9.Jimmy Cowan, 10.Daniel Carter, 11.Hosea Gear, 12.Sonny Bill Williams, 13.Conrad Smith, 14.Isaia Toeava, 15.Mils Muliaina.

16.Andrew Hore, 17.John Afoa, 18.Anthony Boric, 19.Daniel Braid, 20.Andy Ellis, 21.Stephen Donald, 22.Ma'a Nonu.

REFEREE:Dave Pearson (England)