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Scotland 34 – 24 Romania

They’re harsh on their team here in New Zealand.

After the All Blacks humped a stoic Tongan side by 6 tries to 1 with clinical counter attacking rugby but failed to score quite so much in the second half, pretty much everyone I’ve spoken to reckons they were truly, truly awful, or words to that effect. Usually ones rhyming with “hit” or “height”. Graham “Ted” Henry only gave them 5/10. So how then to view Scotland’s decidedly mixed performance on Saturday against a fired-up Romanian team?

Invercargill looked like it was going to deliver as promised when awaking to a rainy sky and grey cloud. But the rain held off for the match and Scotland played to begin with as if a wet or muddy pitch had never even been considered.

When he took the field I thought Mike Blair looked a bit tense but as Lamont blasted through holes in the Romanian midfield and Jackson spread it wide with abandon, Mike responded with a try, followed by Ansbro in short order.

So far so good. The refs in the World Cup so far have been very strict in terms of the time allowed for releasing the tackler or the ball – they are obviously looking for quick ball and fast exciting games, and for a while Scotland provided it. These new restrictions didn’t allow John Barclay to get much into the game, with a couple of turnovers early on but he and Kelly Brown reduced mostly to tackling (a lot) in the later stages of the game.

Richie Gray too was subdued, the pre-tournament hype has clearly made him a marked man but if Big Richie can’t play, Medium Richie (plus headband of doom) found some luck out wide including a crucial break round the outside late on to send Danielli over.

The set piece looked okay without being spectacular – the Romanians were not much of a lineout threat but put up a fight in the scrum – and in the second half, pretty much everywhere. The comeback made for a better game for the neutrals of Invercargill and the handful of Romanian fans present, but probably left some fairly messy kilts around Rugby Park. Most neutrals supported the underdog, with one wag commenting that he had been forced to switch to Scotland once the Romanians took the lead…

Robinson will be concerned with the dropped off tackles in the face of a physical Romanian back division as well as less security on their own ball as the game wore on. Al texted from back home with an expletive ridden view on Scotland’s performance but at the end of the day they scored 5 tries, secured the bonus point and top the table. That would be the expected result, and that was what we got, no?

England and Argentina looked no great shakes later on in the evening – although the papers here still pick them as the two pool qualifiers – but that level of consistency won’t get us out out of the group. The Romania game might prove a good warm up for Georgia and Argentina – and maybe even an uninspired England – but Robinson will need to turn up the heat a bit more.

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6 Responses

  1. Just checkin’ in on Euan Murray’s status – will he be getting onto the pitch? I missed the first game but noticed on the official WC site that he had no minutes in the Romania game.

  2. Just for factual accuracy they scored 4 tries!

    B, I appreciate that they got the win and the bonus point (which might be crucial as I’ve a funny feeling this Group is going to be ever so tight) but for 50 minutes that was an abject display from Scotland. The scrum was a mess at times but, for me, what was worrying was the domination Romania achieved in the maul. The Scotland players seemed to panic and not counter the maul properly ending up in the wrong position and dropping off the sides – look at the first try again and a proper maul defence might have made the Romanians work harder for it. We can only hope that this was a bit of rustiness rather than a more substantail failing because the Georgians will be looking at the video of that game and feeling pretty confident.

    It may be no bad thing that we’ve had a scare, it’ll buck our ideas up and the Georgians may be slightly complacent thinking Scotland are a soft touch up front.

    Just to show that I’m not a total grouch but I did see a couple of positive elements. The two tries at the end were genuine world class and under pressure. We complain so much about not having the killer instinct, well we certainly had that on Saturday. Ansbro’s try was also well worked and a nice angle of running.

    The other positive, looking away from Scotland’s woe’s, was that both Argentina and England looked a hell of a poor. Shockingly so. I expect Scotland to score tries against both those side if they continue with there current gameplans. Injuries and citations may also prove helpful by the time Scotland play both sides! If Scotland can stabalise the pack and sort out the breakdown (even one more player into the ruck would have helped stop the Romanians from turning ball over so often) then this Group is winnable.

    Dear Scotland – please don’t lost to Georgia!

  3. I have been watching every match no matter the time it plays on television here in Canada. As much as it looked like the Romanian squad over powered the boys in blue at times, Scotland was not alone in these first match jitters. Outside of the AB almost every match I have watch so far the Favorite team has had a bit of a wake-up call from the underdogs. South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, England all seemed to struggle in their first game or at least the first Half o the games. The difference will come as these teams rise up and battle back versus the tier two teams who probably played the match of their lives and have nothing left to give.

  4. I was hoping for big showings from the players rested after the 6 Nations, but they all (Jacobsen, Ford, Gray and Barclay) seemed lack lustre. This is a worry, especially re loosehead as Chunk is our only strong scrummaging loosehead, by reputation at least.

    I would like to see Hamilton and Strokosch given more game time to give us some real growl and to improve our scrummaging, and Rennie for his greater attacking ability. But mostly I am praying that the improvement in Dickinson and Cross’s scraummaging seen at the end of the 6N and in the warmup games was genuine.

  5. You scots are nae gud at anything cept eating haggis , but then you know a wee bit bout that ….

  6. Dear Ozy Ozy Oi Oi,

    You forgot tossing the caber, whisky drinking and not spending money. Sloppy, very sloppy….

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