Tough Test but tourists

Matt Tay­lor warns Canada will be keen to bounce back from Ja­pan de­feat

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION - ALASDAIR REID

CANA­DI­ANS are a fa­mously hos­pitable people, but Scot­land de­fence coach Matt Tay­lor has warned his play­ers to ex­pect a not-so-warm wel­come when they take on the home side at Toronto’s BMO Sta­dium tonight.

Canada have a rep­u­ta­tion for play­ing a par­tic­u­larly hard and un­com­pro­mis­ing kind of rugby, but Tay­lor be­lieves their loss to Ja­pan last weekend, when they coughed up 25 unan­swered points in a calami­tous sec­ond-half per­for­mance, will have ramped up their de­ter­mi­na­tion and the Scots could find them­selves on the re­ceiv­ing end of a back­lash.

“They were in con­trol for a lot of the game [against Ja­pan] last week and they will be dis­ap­pointed that they let it slip,” said Tay­lor. “This is go­ing to be a very tough Test match for us. We want to take it up a cou­ple of notches from where we were last week.”

Un­der­stand­ably, new coach Vern Cot­ter has high­lighted the ag­gres­sive edge the Cana­di­ans gain from the pres­ence of Jamie Cud­more, the teak-tough lock who was a stal­wart of the Cler­mont Au­vergne side he coached be­fore tak­ing up the reins with Scot­land. Tay­lor agreed that Cud­more, who

MATT TAY­LOR is now 35, has lost none of his power down the years.

“He has played con­sis­tently well in Europe,” said Tay­lor. “They have good play­ers across the board, but he’s prob­a­bly a tal­is­man. He is a big. tough com­peti­tor so we will be do­ing our best to shut him down.

“I think the Cana­di­ans are sim­i­lar to the Amer­i­cans in the sense that they are very ath­letic and phys­i­cal. They are very good at the con­di­tion­ing part of the game and they have some ex­plo­sive play­ers.

“De­fen­sively, we’ll have to be at the top of our game. They kick the ball very lit­tle and they at­tack from any­where in the pitch. But we’re up for the chal­lenge.”

As they should be with a back three of Stu­art Hogg, Tim Visser and Sean Mait­land, a strike force that al­most any coun­try would envy.

The trio are all su­perb counter at­tack­ers, but Canada have some use­ful run­ners as well in the shape of for­mer Glas­gow wing Tay­lor Paris, who scored a su­perb solo try against Ja­pan, and Os­preys winger Jeff Hassler.

Tay­lor said: “We’re lucky that we know the two wingers very well. I coached Paris at Glas­gow and he is in good form, and they have Hassler form the Os­preys. They also have DTH [Van der Merwe, of Glas­gow] on the bench so the back three is very po­tent and they have been scor­ing good tries. We’ve talked about shut­ting them down and how good de­fence is im­por­tant.

“But we’re con­fi­dent in own play­ers as well. Our guys are ex­tremely good in­ter­na­tional play­ers, so Canada will have to be on the ball as well to de­fend against us too. If those guys hit form they’ll be hard to stop.”

The USA strug­gled to get the mea­sure of them a week ago, but fin­ish­ing lapses let the Scots – and Visser in par­tic­u­lar – down. Visser did score the first of the Scots’ three tries, but he would have had a hat trick, or pos­si­bly even four, had he taken all the chances that came his way in the open­ing half-hour.

“I think there was rusti­ness there,” said the Aus­tralian, who cut his coach­ing teeth with the Queens­land Reds. “At half-time we were re­ally dis­ap­pointed at not tak­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties that were pre­sented.

“We’ve talked about that and a week to­gether has cer­tainly helped those com­bi­na­tions get to­gether. How­ever. it has prob­a­bly helped Canada as well to have an­other week.

“Viss will be hop­ing that he ex­e­cutes a bit bet­ter than he did last week. Our train­ing has had an ex­tra step up from last week, es­pe­cially in ex­e­cu­tion of the skills. Vern has in­tro­duced a few dif­fer­ent things as well so the team is get­ting used to what he has brought. We’re an ex­tra week down the line and bet­ter for it.” The ex­pec­ta­tion has al­ways been that the Canada leg of their sum­mer tour would be far tougher than their open­ing match against the Ea­gles. How­ever, Scot­land’s re­cent re­turn to the top eight of the world rank­ings oc­curred at a time when the Cana­di­ans were head­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, and there is con­cern in these parts that the gains made by Canada over the past few years have been lost in a 12-month pe­riod in which they have lost to

Pic­ture: SNS

NEW BOSS, OLD BOSS: Cot­ter over­sees train­ing with Scott John­son.

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