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Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Wallabies can get on the front foot in early exchanges

Reshuffled Scotland side may struggle for fluency

Israel Folau scored the opening try against Fiji
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Sky Sports 1, 6am Saturday

Australia kicked off their 2017 with a convincing win over Fiji last week while Scotland showed what we can expect of them under new attack-minded coach Gregor Townsend in a 34-13 success over Italy.

So both sides go into this showdown at Sydney's Allianz Stadium with positive recent form in the book and all the signs are that we could be in for an entertaining, open affair.

The last two meetings have certainly been packed with drama. In the quarter-final of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Scotland stole the lead late on only to see their hopes dashed by a Bernard Foley penalty that condemned them to a one-point defeat.

And one point was again the margin when the teams met in Edinburgh in November. Scotland raced into a 10-0 lead and were in front until the 76th minute when Tevita Kuridrani's try was converted - by that man Foley again - to give the Wallabies a 23-22 success.

The Scots seized the initiative that day but the hosts look like the team who will hit the ground running in his rematch and Australia look the bet to cover a six-point half-time handicap.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has stuck largely with the team that overran Fiji, and a feisty backline including Israel Folau, who scored the first try last week after only three minutes, and Kuridrani can get on top of a much-changed Scottish line-up.

There was a lack of fluency to the Scots last week, not helped by the difficult humid conditions in Singapore, and they had to wait until four minutes from half-time to turn their dominance of territory and possession into the first try.

Townsend has changed more than half of his team and only Alec Dunbar retains his starting spot in the backs, although Duncan Taylor, who lined up at full-back last week is named at centre.

Finn Russell and Ali Price continue in the half-back slot but it's all change in the front row too, and it may take a while for the visitors to get a foothold in the game.

Recommendation
Australia -6 on first-half handicap
2pts 10-11 Coral, Ladbrokes

Both sides go into this showdown with positive recent form in the book and all the signs are that we could be in for an entertaining, open affair
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