Preview: Fiji v Scotland
JUNE INTERNATIONALS: Scotland would want to end their June Tour Test-series on a high when they lock horns with Fiji in Suva this Saturday.
Fiji head into this match exuding with poise after their triumphant 22-19 win against Italy.
And could prove to be a handful for Scotland in Suva. Thus, fully aware of Fiji’s recent prowess the Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend do not take their opposition lightly and has emphasized the importance of accuracy heading into the match.
The Scottish 24-19 against the Wallabies last week made sure they vaulted to fifth place in the World Rankings.
"Fiji have improved a huge amount over the past few years and did very well to find a way to win against Italy last weekend," Townsend said.
"They are excellent from unstructured play and have a number of very evasive players throughout their squad.
"We have to make sure that we’re accurate when we play our attacking game and whenever we kick. Fiji will come alive if we’re loose in those areas. It should be a cracking Test match," he added.
Townsend has made 12 changes to the starting line-up, which include the return of Scotland stalwart Ross Ford and debutant centre Nick Griggs.
"It's a great storyline that we have Nick making his international debut at the same time as Ross will make history and become the most capped Scot of all time,"
Fiji Head coach John McKee has made five changes to his side, which includes the opportunity for four debutants and the return of Highlanders wing Patrick Osborne.
Despite his sides' vast enhancements in World Rugby, McKee has stressed that Fiji need to start winning more, just competing is not enough.
"Fiji must step up and take on the challenge we have against Scotland on Saturday. It is no longer good enough to just challenge these top International Teams we must start winning big games," McKee said.
"Scotland have come to Fiji with a lot of confidence from their win over Australia, they will be a more difficult opponent than Italy so we must be right on top of all aspects of our game,"
"They also have an excellent defensive team, we will have to be very patient in attack to create and finish off scoring opportunities,"
"They bring a lot of variation in attack with an expansive game. Work rate and connection will be very important in our defensive effort on Saturday," McKee added.
Players to watch:
For Fiji: After his dramatic drop-goal against Italy, the Scottish should keep a close eye on Ben Volavola. Give this number 10 enough space and he can steer his backline into the darkest of spaces. A try-scoring machine for the Super Rugby franchise the Highlanders Patrick Osborne will want to take that form to his country and give the Scottish a great deal of problems out wide.
For Scotland: Hooker Ross Ford who will become the most-capped Scotland player will want to continue building on his illustrious career and his try-scoring ability could be a problem for the FIji side. In the absence of Finn Russell, who joined the British & Irish Lions tour, flyhalf Peter Horne has big boots to fill.
Head to head: Out on the wings it would be lovely to see the robust pace running of Patrick Osbourne while on the opposite end field the flashier pace running of Tim Visser can carved open defence. The battle at the breakdown would be interesting to see captain Akapusi Qera along with flanks Peceli Yato and Dominiko Waqaniburotu versus Josh Strauss, John Hardie, and captain John Barclay.
Most recent results:
2012: Scotland won 37-25, Lautoka
2009: Scotland won 23-10, Murrayfield
2003: Scotland won 22-20, Sydney
2002: Scotland won 36-22, Murrayfield
1998: Fiji won 51-26, Suva
1993: Scotland won 21-10, Suva
1989: Scotland won 38-17, Murrayfield
1982: Scotland won 32-12, Murrayfield
Prediction: The Scottish challenged will prove to much for the high-flying Fijians. Scotland will take this by 10 points.
Fiji: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Josua Tuisova, 13 Albert Vulivuli, 12 Jale Vatubua, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Serupepeli Vularika, 8 Akapusi Qera (Captain), 7 Peceli Yato, 6 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 5 Leone Nakarawa, 4 Tevita Cavubati, 3 Kalivati Tawake, 2 Sunia Koto, 1 Peni Ravai.
Replacements: 16 Tuapati Talemaitoga, 17 Joeli Veitayaki, 18 Mosese Ducivaki, 19 Sikeli Nabou, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 Henry Seniloli, 22 John Stewart, 23 Benito Masilevu.
Scotland: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Peter Horne, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay (captain), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alex Allan.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Ryan Wilson, 22 Ali Price, 23 Greig Tonks.
Date: Saturday, June 24
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Suva
Kick-off: 14.30 (02.30 GMT; 03.30 UK time)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
@Scotlandteam & @fijirugby