NEW ZEALAND v SCOTLAND
AMI Stadium, Christchurch
5.00pm, Saturday, November 2
While New Zealand looks to build on the momentum gained from a big win over Samoa, Scotland arrives in Christchurch desperate to make amends for its worst defeat in almost nine years.
The Kiwis were error-prone and lacked execution at times in a 38-8 win over Samoa, but also scored some quality tries and were strong through the middle of the park.
Coach David Kidwell has named a new-look side to face Scotland, with seven fresh additions which include four backline changes. Dean Whare replaces the injured Gerard Beale in the centres, Jason Nightingale and Peta Hiku come in on the wings and Te Maire Martin is given his first Test start at standoff as Kodi Nikorima manages a hamstring strain.
Elsewhere Elijah Taylor starts at hooker with Thomas Leuluai dropping to the reserves, Kenny Bromwich comes into the back row and Addin Fonua-Blake makes his international debut off the bench.
The Bravehearts have also made changes galore following the 4-50 loss at the hands of Mate Ma’a Tonga, with Will Oakes, Frankie Mariano, Callum Phillips and Andrew Bentley all dropped by coach Steve McCormack.
Captain Danny Brough will have a new halves partner in Oscar Thomas, while one of their best performers from week one, Lewis Tierney, shifts from fullback to the wing.
Why the Kiwis can win: They showed last week that their attack is far from refined, but it is multi-faceted and they are brave enough to chance their arm anywhere on the park. Sixteen offloads (including five from Martin Taupau and four from Nelson Asofa-Solomona) and five line breaks kept Samoa on the back foot and New Zealand was rewarded in the second half when it ran in five tries. Once the Kiwis get a roll on there might be no stopping them.
Why the Bravehearts can win: They know the formula for matching it with the Kiwis and should believe they can get a result after their historic draw with New Zealand 12 months ago. Scotland employed a suffocating defence in that match which never allowed the Kiwis to get out of second gear. Last week it held the rampant Tonga attack to just two tries in the second half after a horror opening 40 and it will need to replicate that effort on Saturday.
The history: Played 2, New Zealand 1, Scotland 0, Drawn 1. The Kiwis were comfortable 40-4 winners over Scotland in the quarter-finals of the last World Cup but were lucky to rescue with a draw from their most recent encounter. This will be the first time the two sides have met outside of England.
New Zealand | Roger Tuivasa-Sheck; Jason Nightingale, Dean Whare, Brad Takairangi, Peta Hiku; Te Maire Martin, Shaun Johnson; Martin Taupau, Elijah Taylor, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves; Kenny Bromwich, Joseph Tapine; Adam Blair. Interchange: Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Russell Packer, Addin Fonua-Blake, Danny Levi, Thomas Leuluai, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Simon Mannering, Jordan Rapana.
Scotland | Alex Walker; Lewis Tierney, Ben Hellewell, Lachlan Stein, Matthew Russell; Danny Brough (c), Oscar Thomas; Luke Douglas, Danny Addy, Ben Kavanagh; Jarred Anderson, Dale Ferguson; James Bell. Interchange: Kane Bentley, Sam Brooks, Brandan Wilkinson, Johnny Walker, Andrew Bentley, Callum Phillips, Shane Toal, Frankie Mariano.
Match officials: Referee: Henry Perenara; Touch judges: Belinda Sleeman and Chris McMillan; Video referee: Steve Chiddy
Televised: Channel Seven – Live from 2:30pm. Sky Sports – Live coverage from 4.30pm.
NRL.com predicts: Scotland was slow out of the gates and punished in the first half against Tonga, and it won't get any easier this week against a versatile Kiwi attack. The cooler conditions will help the Bravehearts, but not enough to see them get close to New Zealand. Kiwis by 36.