Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Ireland 28-6 Scotland

Sean Lamont - pic © Al Ross
Sean Lamont - pic © Al Ross

Scotland’s Six Nations campaign got off to a disappointing start as they were brushed aside by Ireland in Dublin.

Joe Schmidt’s side ran in tries either side of the interval to all-but take the game away from Scott Johnson’s side, who had produced a spirited opening 40 minutes. However, losing wing Sean Maitland to injury on the half-hour seemed to affect the visitors, who appeared second best at the breakdown.

A pair of Greig Laidlaw penalties was all they could muster, as the Scots’ dismal opening day record continued. The match started well for the travelling Scots who enjoyed the bulk of possession early on, without challenging the Irish defence. Johnson’s side appeared to single out Brian O’Driscoll on attack, but the 35 year-old Ireland centre was more than up to the task.

Imperious at the set-piece despite the withdrawal of Paul O’Connell through illness, the home side grew in confidence as Jonny Sexton kicked them in front. Laidlaw soon levelled but Sexton added a further three-pointer before the home side went through the gears as half-time approached. Firstly Sexton carved Scotland open as he broke 50 metres up field, before feeding skipper Heaslip, who should have scored at the corner –denied a fine try only by an equally superb covering tackle from replacement Max Evans. The Irish pack almost bludgeoned their way over moments later, before the ball was fed wide to Rob Kearney to capitalise on a miss-match out wide, as he put Ulsterman Andrew Trimble over.

Half-time: Ireland 11-3 Scotland

Greig Laidlaw kicked his second penalty within moments of the resumption to put the Scots back in touch, but that was ultimately to be as good as it got for the visitors. Ireland scored their second try on 46 minutes, as a penalty kicked to touch was rumbled over with an ease akin to that the Bok pack showed at Murrayfield in November.

It was becoming hard to watch, even for coach Scott Johnson who hauled off captain Kelly Brown and the disappointing Ross Ford, as his side looked for a way back into the match.

Alas, it never came and Rob Kearney’s try summed the afternoon up. He used great footwork to beat the Scottish defenders, before showing impressive strength to score his ninth Test try. Things nearly got worse late on, as Dave Kearney thought he had capped a great family performance with a try – only to be denied by the TMO.

All in all, a disappointing start for Johnson and his troops, who will re-group for the visit of England to Murrayfield on Saturday.

14 Responses

  1. Gavin,
    Thought you might have mentioned scotlands dismal set piece display. I think this had more to do with scotland being “affected” than the injury to Maitland. Hopefully england will provide the motivation to go the extra mile and make a game of it. If we play the way we did on sunday, they will steam roller us. Are we praying for rain again??

  2. First half wasn’t bad but with the majority of possession we should have been going in at half time in the lead!
    Second half was bitterly disappointing. the set piece was a shambles! Line out and scrum suffered!
    Hope that Johnson makes some changes to the side for this weekend.
    I believe we can win against England but we NEED to capitalise on the chances we create!

  3. Laidlaw has to go, far too slow to get the ball out. If Scotland are to anything from this 6 nations they will need quick ball. Cusiter in please

    1. I’m bemused that anybody can look at that performance and think that Laidlaw was a main concern. The slowness of ball is due to poor performance in securing ball and our bizarre tactics which look to ensure that we retain possetion in as conservative way as possible, before kicking for territory after 4/5 phases.

      Is it really a surprise that when whoever comes on for the last 20 mins they look quicker at getting the ball out? By that point we are chasing the game and speed becomes much more of a focus.

  4. Though Laidlaw didn’t have his best game, a lot of the blame for the wasted attacking ball does need to go to the outside players. Jiffy showed during half-time all the overlaps that Scotland failed to exploit. Surely the existence of these overlaps show that at the least our work in the centre of the field and the decision making of the halfbacks was at least competent? If Taylor, Dunbar, Lamont or Maitland had made anything of the multiple opportunities that they were presented with then Scotland could have gotten ahead early on. I do remember that one of the overlaps was blown by a poor Weir pass, but that doesn’t apply to the others where players failed to fix their man.

    1. Agreed. I am not Laidlaws biggest fan but he cannot be held to blame for players failing to put the ball across the backline through the hands, centres not straightening their runs, passes going behind instead of in front etc etc. With better lines of running and smarter play we could have easily scored a couple of tries in the first half hour.

      The main reason we lost though was being clobbered at the breakdown. We tried to do what the ABs do and not even compete unless there is a chance of a turnover. The problem was, we then failed to blitz up on the next phase even with the necessary numbers to smother any attacks. We gave ground constantly. I watched the game in Nelspruit and it was like chalk and cheese compared to last sunday.

  5. We were well beaten by Ireland, even in the first half I thought they had the edge, despite the possession and position statistics, and was pretty sure they would win. As usual, we were sluggish around the breakdown and our support play was non existent. The other teams all attack the breakdown and support in numbers. I would like to see the players playing what’s in front of them and have the confidence to take opponents on when it’s the right thing to do. They looked to be lacking in confidence.
    On the positive side I thought Hogg, Dunbar, Lamont and Weir played well. The time is surely up now for Ross and Hamilton. We also need to select players in their club positions, e.g. the back row and select our best players, e.g. Richie Gray.
    I would like to see the following team selected tomorrow but fear, despite the article in the Scotsman today, that there will be the usual minimal changes, years ago an old friend told me that it was harder to get out of the Scottish team than to get into it!
    Hogg, Evans, Dunbar, Scott, Lamont, Weir, Cusiter, Grant, MacArthur, Lowe, R Gray, Swinson, Brown, Barclay, Beattie (yes! bring back the Killer B’s)

  6. It was actually looking quite good at the beginning. Some of the forwards let the team down though, Ford through his non hooking and poor throws and the inability to secure ball and defend in the second half, a fullback smashed through how many forwards to score his try? The backs were generally okay apart from the inability to use the overlaps and Laidlaw’s slow service

    My team for England would be
    Hogg, Seymour, Dunbar, Scott, Weir, Cusiter, Grant, MacArthur/Lawson, Low, Jonny Gray/Swinson, Hamilton, Strokosh, Fusaro, Beattie

  7. @Scot95.
    Looks good. but dont you think 2 wingers might be better than one? Lamont or Fife perhaps?

  8. I have the game recorded and would normally review it before posting but after 5 days I still can’t bring myself to watch it

    Started with hope as we moved the ball wide but and we had 2 layers of attack with forwards in front and backs as the option behind. We were retaining ball well so what was the problem?

    No X factor, no spark, no penetration. The commentator summed it up in the second half when he said when Ireland have the ball you expect something to happen but when Scotland have it zzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Our 7s team have long been known for being in the top 3 for number of passes in every tournament but if you aren’t going over the chalk with the ball….. what’s the point

    Cammy I completely agree about Laidlaw in fact I thought his distribution was quicker in this game. When the ball eventually got to him that is

    Allan I too was in Nelspruit and that was a game where we took on one of the best in the world and matched them and could / should have come away with a win – still trying to work out what lessons have been learned from that tour

    Penalties – I expect but why did we not kick for touch early and try to stamp some authority on the game with a try? We eventually did kick for touch but the kick was a shocker

    Lineouts – not all Ford’s fault when you can’t win a 4 man on your own line because the jumper ambles in and is easily beaten then when a ball is thrown to the back and popped down to a man who has over run his spot but 4 feet it just looks desperate

    All in all I haven’t been this depressed / disillusioned after a Scotland game for months

  9. Dont know why everyone would be saying its not Laidlaws fault.

    His game decisions are poor.
    We have advantage on attack and he attepts a cross field kick, the reason for this is because the first thing that comes to mind is 3 points.

    Then theres his box kicks, give it up please. What is the point of a box kick in opposion half.

    Painful and obvious. Enough of a platform there, just needs a quicker player, simple aa that.

  10. You can’t tell me that the box kicking isn’t coming from team orders. If one of my players was doing it that often and it wasn’t team orders they would be off the park quick smart

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion