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Alex Spink: Scotland’s courage unlikely to be enough against Australia

16 Oct | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Alex Spink: Scotland’s courage unlikely to be enough against Australia

It is only when you delve beneath the stats that the power of the argument in favour of the Wallabies emerges, says the Mirror rugby correspondent

Scotland have never lost to Australia at a neutral venue and they have beaten the Wallabies in two of their last three meetings.

Why then, you may wonder, are Vern Cotter’s team rated 9/1 no-hopers for Sunday’s World Cup quarter-final at Twickenham?

OK, Australia are ranked second in the world, seven places ahead of the Scots.

But those world rankings go up and down like a fiddler’s elbow during World Cups and are not a reliable form guide.

The Aussies did go 27 years without losing to the Tartan Army, winning 16 straight. But that sequence began in 1982 and since it ended in 2009 Scotland have had the better of things.

Add in Sean Lamont’s assertion that this is “by far” the best Scotland team he has ever played for in a 99-cap career dating back 11 years and making Australia 16-point favourites could smack of lop-sided thinking.

It is only when you delve beneath the stats that the power of the argument in favour of the Wallabies emerges.

Michael Cheika’s green-and-gold brigade has been the team of the tournament to date. Their attack against England was irresistible, their defence against Wales unbreakable.

They won both those games to top the Group of Death and arrive at the knockout stages not only battle-hardened but brimming with confidence.

They have Michael Hooper, their pest of an open-side, back from suspension.

They have a scrum which suddenly resembles an attacking weapon rather than the source of embarrassment and weakness that it was for too long.

They have the lineout brilliance of Dean Mumm, the former Exeter chiefs captain, who plundered more opposition ball at the set-piece than any other player in the group stages.

And they have a fly-half in Bernard Foley, who arrived at the tournament under the radar, unheralded and frankly unrated, who has been a revelation.

We have not even spoken of Matt Giteau, their gifted midfield playmaker, nor Drew Mitchell, his Toulon team mate who, with a brace against Uruguay, overtook Chris Latham to become Australia’s all-time leading World Cup try scorer on 12.

This is not only a richly-talented Wallabies team, it is a united one under Cheika’s sensitive though no-nonsense leadership.

And if they need any added belief they need only check out the identity of the team to have won the previous two World Cups played in the United Kingdom.

Yep, you’ve guessed it, Australia. Champions in 1991 and again in 1999.

None of which means Scotland are without a chance.

They looked decent in the second half against Japan and held their nerve to edge past Samoa. But Japan were out on their feet, playing their second game in four days, while Samoa were already out of the tournament.

A better measure of the Scots’ quality was that they were pulped by South Africa, demolished in the maul.

Lest anyone forget, they were also whitewashed in this year’s Six Nations.

So Scotland have it all to do.

And given that they are set to be without their top tackler Jonny Gray, pending an appeal against his ban for a tip-tackle, it takes an almighty leap of faith to believe they will upset Australia.

Australia v Scotland betting

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