Preview: Fiji v Scotland

Fiji will be looking add another scalp to their list when they host Scotland at ANZ Stadium in Suva on Saturday.

Last weekend the flying Fijians claimed the scalp of the Italians courtesy of a last-minute Ben Volavola drop goal. Many had labelled them as underdogs prior to the clash.

Scotland too were given underdog status against Australia but came up trumps with a 24-19 victory. The Scots have now risen to fifth in the World Rankings behind only New Zealand, England, Ireland and Australia.

Their meteoric rise has been a long time coming as they finished fourth in the Six Nations (above Wales) and recorded victories over the French and the Welsh in that competition.

The win against the Australians was probably the cherry on the top. Despite some thinking they might regress with former talismanic coach Vern Cotter leaving, Gregor Townsend has come in and masterminded an incredible upset in only his second game in charge.

Unfortunately, they are without playmaker Finn Russell and prop Allan Dell, both of whom have been called up for British and Irish Lions duty. They will especially miss the creativity and flair of Russell and now rely on Peter Horne to step up to the plate.

The Fijians are boosted by the return of Highlanders flyer Patrick Osborne. Osborne has been in terrific form in Super Rugby and will thrive in a Fijian side that are known for counter-attacking rugby.

Despite some in Fijian circles questioning the exclusion of Alivereti Raka, Timoci Nagusa, Vereniki Goneva and Eroni Vasiteri, this is still a powerful Fijian side that are underestimated at the opposition's peril.

Coach John McKee seems to have instilled more structure on defence in the side which has for years been a weakness. Of course, their natural ability cannot be coached and the best way to manage this is to allow their skilful backs to express themselves.

After a successful Super Rugby encounter between the Crusaders and Chiefs in Suva a few months back, it is great to see international returning to the rugby-mad nation.

Players to watch:

For Fiji: Keep an eye on the destructive Patrick Osborne. Osborne possesses a wonderful skill-set and is a natural-born finisher. Give this man time and space and he will punish you. Ben Volavola meanwhile is certainly making a name for himself. Having enjoyed a breakthrough season with the Rebels in Super Rugby, Volavola announced himself on the international scene last weekend with that match-winning drop-goal.

For Scotland: Explosive winger Tim Visser has been in wonderful form for club and country and is always a threat on attack. He never gives up a chase and will pounce on any defensive frailties the Fijians display. Meanwhile, starting hooker Ross Ford has become the most-capped Scottish player ever. Ford scored two tries in his side's demolition of the Italians two weeks ago.

Head-to-head: Fijian captain Akapusi Qera brings a calm presence at the back of the scrum. He is up against South African-born Josh Strauss. Strauss is an absolute workhorse on defence and attack. Expect a massive collision between these two respective stalwarts of their nations.

Previous results:

2012: Scotland won 37-25 in Lautoka
2009: Scotland won 23-10 in Murrayfield
2003: Scotland won 22-20 in Sydney
2002: Scotland won 36-22 in Murrayfield
1998: Fiji won 51-26 in Suva
1993: Scotland won 21-10 in Suva
1989: Scotland won 38-17 in Murrayfield
1982: Scotland won 32-12 in Murrayfield

Prediction: Scotland to overpower the Fijians and continue their excellent recent form. Scotland by 15.

The teams:

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 (c), 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 (c), 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 local (02:30 GMT)
Referee: Pascal Gauzère (France)
Assistant Referees: Will Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)

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