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John Barclay: Scotland must step up to beat Australia

The captain knows a different test lies ahead after victory against Italy.

John Barclay: Captain of Gregor Townsend's first tour.
John Barclay: Captain of Gregor Townsend's first tour. SNS Group

Scotland captain John Barclay has told his team they must step up a level if they are to have any hope of claiming a win in Australia on Saturday.

Gregor Townsend began his reign as the Dark Blues' head coach with a 34-13 victory over Italy in Singapore last weekend.

They face a much tougher test of their credentials when they run out against the Wallabies at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.

There were some moments of magic against the Italians, including four tries in a ten-minute spell, but Barclay knows they will need to raise their game in many other areas.

He said: "We have to get better across the board, really. We did some OK things, some good things last week, though It is hard to analyse the game too much because the conditions were unique.

"We need to look after the ball a lot better and, defensively, Australia will pose a much bigger challenge because they move the ball very well and have got skillful players.

"We will have to be a lot more astute, a lot more switched on and a lot more physical to deal with them."

He added: "They play a bit differently to Northern Hemisphere teams. They run from everywhere, that is the way they play rugby over here. It must be fun to play but it presents a challenge for us to try to stop them.

"(Australia coach) Michael Cheika did that when he was in charge at Leinster and you can see the influence he had there - they play a very similar brand."

The Dark Blues have scored have three tries in their last two matches against Australia before losing by a single point.

With that record, Barclay believes they can be confident of scoring but warned the big improvements must come in defence against a side of natural ball-handlers.

The captain added: "You can see the lifestyle - it is all outdoors, there are so many sports people can play, league, AFL, union.

"That helps with the way they played the game. They are all very comfortable ball-in-hand.

"The ball will be fast so we are going to try to slow it down - every team does. If you look at the game in the autumn, then we did that very well, we turned them over a lot, but it is a big challenge."

https://stv.tv/sport/rugby/1390902-townsend-gets-winning-start-as-scotland-head-coach/ | default

Scotland have most of their frontline forwards available but are missing many of their backs through either injury or British and Irish Lions selection.

Barclay feels the real test for Townsend's side is for the new-look back division to show the same threat that Scotland have started to take for granted.

The flanker said: "Ali Price has played very well, Finn (Russell) has obviously been there for a while as has Alex Dunbar in the centre. Duncan Taylor was arguably our back of the season the year before last.

"I have watched the Glasgow games and Lee Jones has been one of their best players. It's a different team but there is more quality in depth now and it's great for these guys to have a go."

He added: "Last week Damien Hoyland had a really good game and was keen to impress. I think he played great but Lee has got a chance this week and I'm sure he'll give it a go.

"This is a big step up, this is the big league. We are playing in Australia's backyard and it will be pretty busy against one of the top teams in the world. We understand how big the challenge is."

https://stv.tv/sport/rugby/1391293-gregor-townsend-rings-changes-for-test-against-australia/ | default

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