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LionsWatch: Ford ready for landmark as Wallabies await

LionsWatch: Ford ready for landmark as Wallabies await

Ross Ford will win his 100th Scotland cap as Vern Cotter’s side get their autumn campaign underway against a buoyant Australia side at BT Murrayfield.

"There’s only been two Scottish players before me, so it creeps up on you slowly."

Ross Ford will win his 100th Scotland cap as Vern Cotter’s side get their autumn campaign underway against a buoyant Australia side at BT Murrayfield.

Edinburgh hooker Ford has one Test cap for The British & Irish Lions, but after missing both summer Tests with a calf problem, he will finally become a centurion for the Scots alongside 24-year-old clubmate and debutant Allan Dell.

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Zander Fagerson wins a second cap alongside veteran Ford, who won his first Test cap against the Wallabies and joins fellow Scots Sean Lamont and Chris Paterson in winning over 100 caps, against an Australia side who arrive full of form after a powerful performance at Principality Stadium, running out 32-8 winners over Wales.

Scotland though, have won two of their past four internationals against Australia and with the average points difference between the two sides just 2.75 in that period, expect a tight affair.

Team News:
Lions Stuart Hogg and Richie Gray, along with brother Jonny, John Barclay and Ryan Wilson are the only survivors of Scotland’s last Test – a 21-16 win over Japan in June.

Saracens’ Lion Sean Maitland starts on the wing, with an in-form Tim Visser starting on the opposite flank while Stormers centre Huw Jones wins his second cap in the centre alongside Alex Dunbar.

WATCH | Ross Ford on his 100th and his 1st appearance against Australia! https://t.co/yFimNVzjrR #AsOne

— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) November 10, 2016

Finn Russell returns to start at fly-half for the first time since the RBS 6 Nations, while Greig Laidlaw captains the side from scrum-half and is up against returning Stade Français scrum-half Will Genia – who played three Tests against the Lions in 2013.

Hamish Watson starts on the openside against formidable Wallaby trio Michael Hooper, David Pocock and Lopeti Timani.

Israel Folau wins his 50th cap from full-back, with Bernard Foley starting at No 10 and experienced front-row trio Stephen Moore, Scott Sio and Sekope Kepu continuing their long-standing partnership.

It is a clash of giants in the second row as the Gray Brothers meet Rory ‘four-storey’ Arnold and Adam Coleman – Jonny Gray is the only one of the four under two metres tall, while they have a combined weight of nearly 500kg.

The Grays are a towering presence in the lineout and have – especially since Cotter’s arrival – had a brilliant understanding with Ford, as well as challenging well against opposition ball in what will prove a critical contest in the Scottish Capital.

#Wallabies name their team to take on Scottish Rugby?. #StrongerAsOne #SCOvAUS pic.twitter.com/6eukPWmuRB

— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) November 10, 2016

What they’ve been saying:

Ross Ford (Scotland hooker): "It’’s only when you get into the 90s that you’re thinking there aren’t many people have got in the hundreds. There’s only been two Scottish players before me and I think there have only been 44 in world rugby so it creeps up on you slowly."

Michael Cheika (Australia head coach): "Who are we? We're nobody. Why have we got a higher status? We've got nothing," Cheika said. “Right now, both teams are equal and the only thing that separates them is what happens on match day. No one is looking at [rankings], the only thing we're looking at is Saturday.”

Head to Head: Stuart Hogg v Israel Folau

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Two of the world’s best attacking full-backs go head to head at BT Murrayfield, Hogg – a Lion in 2013 – and Folau, who made his Australia debut in the first Test against the Lions that year can both threaten from all over the field and are central to their sides’ attacking shapes.

Folau – who played a lot of rugby at centre for the Waratahs this year – frequently joins the line and the Scottish defence will have to be sharp as a tack to stop the full-back causing a ruckus in the wide channels.

Hogg’s pace, footwork and audacious ability to attack from deep could be critical, but in a game that has proved close in recent years, his long-range kicking boots could also come in handy.    

Key Stats:

Scotland’s last two wins over Australia were both try-less for the Scots – 9-8 in 2009 at BT Murrayfield and 9-6 in 2012 in Australia, while the win in 2009 ended a 27-year wait for a win over the Wallabies.   

Of the 29 occasions the two sides have met, Australia have won 20 and Scotland nine, whiles the Scots have won seven of the 16 Tests in Edinburgh.

Seven players remain on each side from the last time these sides met – Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Finn Russell, Greig Laidlaw, Richie Gray and Jonny Gray for the Scots, with Stephen Moore, Tevita Kuridrani, Bernard Foley, Michael Hooper, Will Genia, Sekope Kepu and Scott Sio remaining for the Wallabies.

Teams:

Scotland: 
15. Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) 
14. Sean Maitland (Saracens)
13. Huw Jones (Stormers)
12. Alex Dunbar (Glasgow Warriors)
11. Tim Visser (Harlequins)
10. Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors)
9. Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester Rugby) 

1. Allan Dell (Edinburgh)
2. Ross Ford (Edinburgh) 
3. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors)
4. Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors)
5. Richie Gray (Toulouse)
6. John Barclay (Scarlets) 
7. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh)
8. Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors)

Replacements: 
16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 
17. Gordon Reid (Glasgow Warriors) 
18. Moray Low (Exeter Chiefs)
19. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) 
20. John Hardie (Edinburgh)
21. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors)
22. Peter Horne (Glasgow Warriors)
23. Rory Hughes (Glasgow Warriors)

Australia:
15. Israel Folau
14. Dane Haylett-Petty
13. Tevita Kuridrani
12. Reece Hodge
11. Henry Speight
10. Bernard Foley
9. Will Genia

1.  Lopeti Timani
2. Michael Hooper
3. David Pocock
4. Adam Coleman
5. Rory Arnold
6. Sekope Kepu,
7. Stephen Moore (capt)
8. Scott Sio.

Replacements:
16. Tolu Latu
17. Tom Robertson
18. Allan Alaalatoa
19. Rob Simmons
20. Will Skelton
21. Dean Mumm
22. Nick Phipps
23. Quade Cooper
 

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