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Thursday, November 2, 2017

New Zealand v Scotland: RLWC preview

New Zealand v Scotland
Christchurch Stadium
Saturday, 3pm AEST, 5pm NZT
While New Zealand look to build on the momentum gained from a big win over Samoa, Scotland arrive in Christchurch desperate to make amends for their 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 five-eighth as Kodi Nikorima manages a ham string 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. 
Scotland have also made changes galore following the 50-4 loss at the hands of 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 New Zealand can win: They showed last week that their attack is far from refined, but it is multifaceted 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 were rewarded in the second half when they ran in five tries. Once they get a roll on there might be no stopping this Kiwi side on the ball.  
Why Scotland 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 they held the rampant Tonga attack to just two tries in the second half after a horror opening 40 and they 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 a draw from their most recent encounter. This will be the first time the two sides have met outside of England.
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.