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The Autumn Internationals Preview: Scotland

By Lee Calvert
Stuart Hogg

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Scotland Schedule
vs Australia – Saturday November 12, 10:30pm HKT
vs Argentina – Sunday November 20, 1:00am HKT
vs Georgia – Saturday November 26, 10:30pm HKT

Scotland begin their Autumn campaign with a test against Australia – the side who cruelly denied them a spot in last year’s World Cup semifinals with a very, very controversial last-minute penalty kick – before a couple of tough matches against Argentina and the tricky Georgia.

What to look out for
Scotland, scourge of their fans’ hopes and dreams for so long, traditionally tend to have a strong Autumn.  They have shocked both Australia and South Africa in Novembers past, and were robbed of nearly reached the Rugby World Cup semifinals last year. If history is any guide they will sow seeds of hope in the coming month, only to dash that hope of their loyal supporters against the rocks once the Six Nations rolls round.

Strengths
Their first-choice back three is worthy of attention and the excellent WP Nel has given them something resembling a scrum for the first time in a while.

Weaknesses
Despite improvements under Vern Cotter, Scotland still do not score enough tries. Their defence has a tendency to implode under consistent pressure, and their lineout can sometimes deteriorate to comedy levels.

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Coaching situation
Vern Cotter, who famously made his squad kill animals in a summer training camp this year, is basically working out his notice after signing on with Top 14 side Montpellier next season. The impressive Gregor Townsend from Glasgow will replace him. How much this will affect the squad remains to be seen, but given they had already started to look uninspired both in this year’s Six Nations and in their awful tour of Japan, the signs are not encouraging.

Player to watch
Tommy Seymour. The winger has been in scorching domestic form for Glasgow Warriors this season.

Best chance of an upset
They may have a shout of beating Argentina, but given current rankings this would barely qualify as an upset. More worrying is the tricky fixture against the ever committed Georgians which could end up as entirely the wrong kind of upset for Scotland.

Prediction
Lose to Australia, lose to Argentina, nearly lose to Georgia.

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