New Zealand vs Scotland Preview

New Zealand made a bright start to the tournament, but the kiwi's will have a score to settle in this fixture,  they will be keen to undo the damage to their reputation following the draw from these sides last meeting. Scotland will use this as inspiration and lets face it they are going to need it against this pumped up New Zealand side. New Zealand started perfectly, scoring inside just 5 minutes, this was absolutely key in their victory as it gave them a mental edge over Samoa. Everybody had predicted that Samoa would be hard to break down so for Rapana to cross early it gave The Kiwi's a real boost of confidence. Scotland started well against Tonga, they nearly got the ball straight back from kick off, they nearly scored early through a clever Danny Brough kick. The key word here is nearly, nearly doesn't get points on the board, tries get points on the board, which is why when a good opportunity arises against a real quality outfit, it has to be taken. Scotland did show promise and did ask questions of Tonga defensively and in particular their backs had a very good game.

New Zealand: The Kiwi's big men look to rack up the metres again this week after a really impressive opening game. Big metres from; Jared Waerea-Hargreaves(172m), Martin Taupau(162m) and this man in particular Nelson Asofa-Solomona (180m). Asofa-Solomona played incredibly; 180 run metres, 20 tackles, 1 line break and a try, all in just 41 minutes on the pitch, Scotland will mark him as real danger man. I think The Kiwi's will play on that fear, looking to use him as a dummy runner to open up options of sending the ball wide. New Zealand will look to expose the Scottish centres, as they will have watched last weeks game and seen that Tonga had plenty of luck, in particular between the second rower and the centre towards the flanks. Takairangi will be used plenty through this match, looking to utilise not just his strength but also his fantastic hands, Takairangi is very good at getting on the outside of his opposition centre to expose the winger to a 2 on 1 situation, this then gives him the option of drawing the defender and passing or backing himself through the gap. Hiku will look to assert himself on the game as a late inclusion to the line up. Hiku and Takairangi's play style's will compliment each other well as they both like to play wide.

Scotland: The Scots are going to have to rely a lot on their defence, which is why I can't understand their decision to put Tierney on the wing. Defensively Scotland are better side with him at fullback and his kick returns caused real issues for Tonga on the go forward. Scotland's forwards are really going to have to step up to keep this fixture alive, against Tonga Douglas and Ferguson were the only two forwards who managed to exceed 70 metres gained, Against the Kiwi's that is not going to be enough. Danny Addy steps into hooker for this match which is going to give Scotland better options in and around the ruck, especially close to the line,  where they will look to utilise Addy's big frame to force himself into the in goal area. Lachlan Stein was one of my stand out performers in last week's match, he is going to need to do it all again this week, his attacking was solid, tackling was spot on and he made good calls defensively making sure his winger wasn't left exposed.

Conclusion: As much as I would like to believe a repeat of 2016 is on the cards it's not likely. New Zealand look sensational this year and are getting the most out of form players. If The Kiwi's turn up like last week, Scotland are going to have a bad day at the office, however if Scotland can keep the first 20 minutes competitive we could have a ball game on our hands. I'm predicting New Zealand by at least 20 on this one.

Pom

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