Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 18-28 Wales

A Wales team that took a battering in the Autum arrived in Edinburgh newly full of confidence to a venue they have no trouble winning in and duly kept the head, kicked the points and walked away with the win against a Scotland team that had talked of championship chances ahead of the game but were never given a chance to show if in fact they are that calibre of team.

In a game that was dominated by penalties (the official count was 28, 16-12), referee Craig Joubert was always going to be a controversial figure at the centre of the game. Frequently raising the ire of the crowd was to be expected, but what was less forgivable was the constant stream of whistles that disrupted all attempts to build momentum, that destroyed the game and in particular the scrum as a contest.

Wales took an early lead after a series of scrums that had begun with Scotland putting in – the lottery at this set piece continues. After two free kicks Joubert warned he would upgrade and sure enough Wales did the necessary to earn a shot at goal.

It was a similar story soon after Richie Gray left injured in the first half hour, Duncan Weir – who had kicked brilliantly from hand – put through a great wee chip and then hoofed it on the bounce to force Biggar over his own try line. Sadly Joubert spotted another early engagement at the 5m scrum and it was a penalty to Wales.

Early analysis suggests Gray has injured a hamstring and could be out for a fair chunk of the season remaining, although this does not necessary mean his Lions hopes are over.

Halfpenny had a shaky start in front of goal and took far too long over most of his kicks which led to jeering. Call it unsportsmanlike, but the crowd were quiet until they adjudged a decent amount of time to have lapsed. He missed three attempts in the first half to Laidlaws one, and it left Scotland only a point behind going in to half time.

Despite the loss of Ryan Jones early in the second half, Wales still looked dangerous and confident and Tipuric was no poor substitute. Even when Scotland defended staunchly and turned Welsh ball over for a scrum it was no great bonus, as Joubert proved when he awarded Wales another soft penalty.

In the battle of the Lions fullbacks elect, Halfpenny took the kudos, displaying composure to re-find his kicking form and steady hands under the high ball. Hogg was a livewire ball in hand, but Wales were much happier for him to run at them than say, Italy had been.

Visser and Maitland also had sporadic moments in the game but were rarely introduced from set or phase play, while Scott and Lamont were almost invisible in attack. Scott’s one bright moment came with a perfectly judged kick that bumbled right into the Welsh corner and Scotland earned a penalty from the resulting play. Although they would have preferred a longer (or any sort of) advantage as Wales fumbled about on the deck.

Nowhere was the back’s lack of ball more starkly illustrated than in the last ten minutes that saw Scotland camped on the Welsh line. Score quickly and the game was back on. Instead the forwards elected to batter away while the backs to a man screamed for the ball to come out wide. Wales soaked it up for long enough to make a try redundant in terms of the match. Scotland failed to score one, in any case.

So of course you could argue that never mind the ref, Scotland, as is often the case, were architects of their own particular folly. In addition to an inability to engage when Joubert would have liked, a steady stream of sloppy turnovers ended all the positive work done by Weir’s boot and the strong runs from Hogg, Beattie and Maitland to get the team going forward. The positional play was correct and the game plan worked pretty well in the first half, but come the second Scotland failed to capitalise; all Wales had to do was stay patient and take their kicks.

After their failure to score in the closing moments, Paul James was sin-binned to give Scotland a man advantage but by then it was too late, despite the exhortation of the bustling crowd. When Scotland failed to score and Joubert awarded the inevitable penalty against them Wales celebrated as they knew that was the match sewn up.

Attendance: 67,144


SR Blog Man of the Match: Sam Warburton – a constant nuisance and hasn’t taken long to find his form.

21 Responses

  1. Scotland engage early and are penalised, Wales engaged early and Scotland were pushed back and penalised! I suggest get front rows together at the start then the others pack down. No hits, less chance of collapse. Safety is paramount we are always being told.

  2. Couldn’t agree more old whistler.
    Although we,d still have the problem of who ‘s pulling it down who’s not binding etc. Scrum time is ruining the game.

  3. My first question is – did all the computers go down at Murrayfield and the only backup available was from 2011/12?

    Talk about 2 steps forward and 3 steps back.

    Where were the attempts to attack with ball in hand?

    How many passes make it from 10 to 12? None I can recall

    Rory you said the game plan worked pretty well and I can’t fault that. The point is the game plan was fundamentally flawed

    What ball we had was either taken up tight by the forwards or made it no further than 10 and often 9 (don’t start me on box kicks again)

    We made no attempt to move the point of attack even as far as 12 and in turn move the defence around

    You hear a lot about how strong our back 3 are and I agree they are the best we have had in a while but we are not the Crusaders or the All Blacks where we should be looking to base our entire attack on giving the ball to the opposition in the hope they kick it back to us so we can break through on the counter attack

    It is also criminal to have such good attacking weapons at 11, 14 and 15 and not do anything about trying to get the ball to them from set or broken play

    I could go on for hours but the bottom line is we appeared to go out there with a philosophy Wales were better than us and we were going to try and limit Wales as much as we could while looking to live off scraps and individual breakouts

    I am sure someone will correct me but wasn’t the last try we scored in about the 67th minute v Italy which would make it 173 minutes without crossing the line? It’s Deja Vu all over again

    Can’t finish without a mention of the scrums which I raised a few weeks ago – that is now 4 games in a row we have gone early on the first scrum and it is not acceptable. Yes Joubert failed to penalise the Welsh when they did it but that doesn’t change the fact that on every occasion we were pinged for early engagement we had gone early

    Brain fades – our own worst enemy – While there are many to pick from the 3 that stand out are

    1.Going early on the scrum 5 yards out from their line when we were in with a genuine attacking platform

    2.Taking the legs from the jumper when Wales had a throw in 5 yards from their line. Why? They had no option but to kick the ball back to us for counter attack or at worst our feed at the line

    3. Ruck penalty in front of posts with 1:30 or less remaining in the half and defence holding firm

    What makes me really upset is how much I was looking forward to this game and had been saying while I would love to see the win, deep down I didn’t care if we won drew or lost as long as we could show we were continuing to build on our earlier performances and were developing a new attacking philosophy and style

    Well we did show a developing pattern and that was that the philosophy of rugged defence against all the possession and territory after returning any possession we got straight back to the opposition while looking to live off penalties and scraps. This is what we did v Ireland and appears to be the game plan we were looking to build on and in that respect the game yesterday can be considered a success

    Yet again we flattered to deceive and when I say we have absolutely NOTHING to lose v France I mean it and there can be no excuse for not making changes that are focussed on attacking rugby and taking the first step towards the Summer tour

    1. Law 20.1 (g) says: “The “set” call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready.”
      I think that, on occasions, Scotland were not going early, but Wales were not going at all, as they are entitled to do, making it look like Scotland are going early.

    2. Hi Old Whistler

      Thanks for that I didn’t know the actual wording. I can see the point you are making and the welsh are sneaky buggers who by all accounts did try to milk it

      Having said that Scotland have set themselves up for it with the early engages all season

      Hard to be 100% without the video to go back to but I am still pretty sure that Scotland were still going before the ref’s call of Set on all the occasions I can remember. Therefore Scotland were always going to give the free kick, then penalty away regardless of the opposition and would have been penalised packing against a scrum machine never mind the Welsh pack.

      In fairness to Joubert he was almost begging with Ford by the end to take control of it

      As said in some other posts it is up to the pack to adjust to the timing of the referee not the other way round.

      After a weekend feast of Super XV games I think I can list the early engages on one hand

      While on the Super XV it was doubly heartbreaking after watching the Scotland “game” to then watch the Stormers v Chiefs and realise how enjoyable rugby can and should be.

      Attack Attack Attack!!

    3. Re Early engagements – it was interesting to see the Super XV games this weekend. First early engagement – Free Kick. Second and all subsequent early engagements – Penalty.

      No warning, no asking “are you the one in charge of this scrum?” just straight to penalties. can’t say that’s a bad thing really. You see very few early engagements in Super XV as it is and that will certainly reduce them even further

      If that had been applied in the 6 Nations and all teams told in advance I think we would have seen a lot less them

      Wales – have to say they are the sneakiest forward pack of the 6 Nations. They played to Scotland’s propensity for early engagements and although I didn’t see the game I hear they were up to their tricks v England as well

      Play the ref not the rules. Can’t argue with that. It was my philosophy as a player and I got away with murder lol

      Takes me back to the Lions Tour in SA when the Springbok loose heads were boring in all series and got away with murder. Play smarter not harder

  4. Have just read the comical ratings in the Daily Torygraph and apparently our scrum was destroyed. I must have missed that because I don’t recall a single scrum where Joubert didn’t ping us unfairly or ignore Welsh infringements. Adam Jones is a complete fraud, he doesn’t bind, avoids the hit, drops his shoulders, etc. lions prop my arse. If a competent referee had been on the pitch yesterday, i am convinced we would have at least had parity in the scrum, if not some dominance occasionally. This would have surely led to more possession and in turn more opportunities to attack with ball in hand.
    It became a vicious circle yesterday, penalty at scrum, welsh pin us back, we kick clear, scrum penalty, welsh pin us back, we kick clear, ad nauseam.
    I was pleased to see Kelly Brown getting more involved in talking to the ref but CJ had obviously made up his mind on how he was going to ref i.e. the 9th man in the Welsh scrum.
    Still, we need to buck up our ideas at the breakdown for France. A proper openside, much more aggression than we have shown in any of the games so far, and when we do get possession, get it wide to runners at pace.
    Oh, and FFS pass the bloody ball in front of the runners you dozy plums!!!

  5. Moan all we want about Joubert but the front row especially were naive. You play to the whistle ie if you are told your wrong by the ref, change , because he sure as hell won’t !! Johnston is right when he says we need to look to ourselves to change things, he has got them playing a more expansive game, no wooden spoon for us this year so lets have as much running rugby next week to finish a curates egg of a championship good in some parts and bloody awful in others.

  6. Scott Johnson got his prediction spot on. Repeat the Ireland performance and they will lose, well they did repeat and they lost. Deservedly so.
    Tactics have to change for the next game. Laidlaw’s goal kicking has been exceptional but he has stop kicking it from hand. We simply must stop kicking ball away. No wonder Scotland look clueless in the last 10 mins when trying to run it as they spent the best part of the last 3 matches playing a game of kick and tackle.

    What’s the point in having a back 3 that with pace and skill if you have no intention of giving them the ball

  7. Im pleased with the banter and confidence SJ brings, and with the two wins, but after this game I don’t feel like there has been much progress in terms of performance on the pitch since Twickers.

    Really sick of this ploy to kick the ball when in our own half, giving the ball away so cheaply. Its fine when in our 22 but it keeps happening even around the 10. Almost seems like there is no confidence in the boys to run phases of play.

    In the beginning SJ was talking about playing the basics and focusing on OUR performance and the ‘control-ables’; but so far I haven’t seen this happening. Instead the tactic seems to concentrate on playing for territory rather than playing our rugby. I’m tired of seeing them bringing this kicking game on match day against ‘tougher’ opponents and hoping to capitalize on opposition mistakes in their half. Who isn’t tired of this now? The side has a lot of quality, so why not play to that strength and have a real go! With players like Beattie, Gray, Lamont and the back three it seems crazy not to take on the opposition. I’m hoping to see the boys wake-up and stop throwing away possession and making excuses about basic skills and the breakdown area being the reason.

    Big game in Paris next, hoping to see us take our destiny in our own hands and play some rugby! #backingblue AYE.

  8. The whole game is overcoached,let players express themselves and then you find the players with flair and natural talent. We as a country with small participation numbers compared to most of our opponents cannot become involved in a war of attrition.
    Scotland were always at their best when up against it, but since the onset of professionalism we seem to have lost that bugger them attitude. All is not lost, I have been greatly encouraged by the quality of Glasgows play this season and wish more of their players were given the chance to progress over some of the failed incumbents in the current Scottish side who surely must now realise that they are kidding no one .

  9. As alot of the team/squad are from Glasgow who do you suggest is an obvious candidate to drop other than maybe Ford who really seems to be a busted flush.

    1. Firstly either Swinson or Ryder should get the start in place of Gray. Proper second rows who are in form.

      Barclay, who admittedly is becoming less and less of an out and out open side the older he gets should come in as he is the closest thing we have to a 7 available.

      With the championship gone, centre partnership should be looked at. Although as stated above, criticism of anyone outside 10 yesterday is unfair.

      We have no one with the bulk to replace Ford. Probably too late now, but someone like Ali Dickinson should probably have been converted.

    2. In fact, thinking about Jim Hamilton’s RIDICULOUS penalty giveaway on 39 minutes, Ryder AND Swinson should start.

  10. The most annoying thing on Saturday was the kicking of possession, Scotland never really ran with the ball. I’d like to see the Killer B’s reunited and maybe a reshuffle of the backs; Hogg to 13, Maitland to fullback and lamont on the right wing or bench and someone else given a go, Seymour or Walker maybe? I love Lamont but he isn’t a centre and we should be getting some new players capped or at least experimenting a bit if the line up at the moment isn’t working, Hogg would look pretty dangerous at 13, at least until Bennett gets a chance, maybe have Horne on the bench in place of Evans? I’d like to see Cross given another chance at 3 over Murray and Kellock and either Swinson/Ryder starting, Hamilton gave away too much against Wales. If something’s broken or at least not working as well as it could be, it probably needs fixing….

  11. One of the biggest issues is that our best forwards in one match (Think Murray against Italy and Hamilton against Ireland) will often turn round and be at best passengers and at worst liabilities in the next.

    Perhaps it’s time to stop picking Ross Ford. Although he’s managed to get his throwing under a little control, his general play is increasingly erratic. I’ve seldom seen such a big, mobile man be so completely ineffectual at breakdown and in the loose.

    All that is before we even start to talk about the front row performance around the fringe of rucks. That’s supposed to be the bread and butter for those big lads.

  12. Its starting to creep back in… Yes that famous ‘Hadden all out attack tactic'”KICK IT, KICK IT, Where, WHO KNOWS, WHO CARES JUST MAKE SURE THEIR BACKS GATHER IT UP AND RUN AT US”!! Or do I get a one dimensional view sitting in row W of the North Stand??

  13. It will be interesting to see what SJ does for this last match, now that it’s a nothing to lose sort of affair. With Barclay now back fit surely the Ireland and Wales games have highlighted our requirement for a true 7. Perhaps put Harley into the 2nd row, or have him on the bench and start one of the other Glassgow locks. Interesting suggestion for the Hogg 13, Lamont on the wing shuffle, Fraser. It surely is time to see Horne or Dunbar starting/on the bench too. Can’t heavily criticise any of the incumbent backs though, given how little ball they’ve had since the Italy game.

  14. Leave the pack as is for the most part, the only french player who really did anything on saturday was picamoles. As for the backs, maybe get new folk on the bench. Let the run on XV finish what has been started to date

  15. I agree with Coully. Give the team an attacking game plan and let’s see how they go then decide who can and can’t handle it. Hell just show a willingness to attack. The pattern and philosophy was there against the Italians. I know you can drive a steam roller through their 12 and 13 channels but the shape etc were there and we showed we can do it

    Why did that all get thrown in the bin at the end of the game?? GRRRRRRRR

    Please don’t’ let us be remembered this year, not for winning 2 games, but being the only team to lose to France :(

    Bugger it just have a go

  16. well, pretty much no changes barring the obvious one (Gray), bit of a shame for Harley but hey ho.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion