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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Second-string Scotland should still ease past Canada

Canucks captain Van der Merwe value to rise to the occasion

Winger DTH Van Der Merwe scores a try for Canada at the 2015 Rugby World Cup
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BBC1 Scotland, 2am Saturday night

Scotland's stock has risen sharply on the world stage largely thanks to the blossoming of some immense talents, such as fly-half Finn Russell and full-back Stuart Hogg.

But this summer, as the Scots take on Canada, the USA and Argentina, the focus will be on opportunity for those players lining up behind the star names, and coach Gregor Townsend sends out a young line-up for this clash in Edmonton.

That should not present a problem against a team who have been sliding down the rankings. The Canucks finished bottom of their group at the 2015 World Cup and have beaten just Chile, Brazil and Spain in the last two months.

An increased emphasis on the World Sevens circuit must be partly to blame, but there's no doubt Canada aren't the team they were four years ago when Scotland edged them 19-17 in Toronto. A handicap of around 20 points looks about right.

In Russell's absence, Ruaridh Jackson has been handed the number ten shirts, while Byron McGuigan, Lee Jones and Blair Kinghorn fill the back three positions in place of Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Sean Maitland, Tim Visser and the other wide options the Scots boast.

All are short prices to get on the scoresheet but it could pay to follow Scotland number eight David Denton, who is a strong ball-carrier and has scored five tries this season for Worcester.

If one Canada player is fired up to make his mark it must be DTH van der Merwe, named captain on his 52nd appearance and who has made more than 100 appearances for Glasgow. 

D Denton to score a try
1pt 21-10 bet365
DTH van der Merwe to score a try
1pt 9-5 bet365

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Canada aren't the team they were four years ago when Scotland edged them 19-17 in Toronto
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