Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs Tonga – The Player Ratings

Ali Dickinson - pic © Al Ross
Ali Dickinson - pic © Al Ross

15. Stuart Hogg – distinctly left the high balls he found difficult last week to Beattie, which improved the overall perception of his performance. Plenty of attacking panache 7.5/10

14. Tommy Seymour – solid but given less to do switched to the other wing. Good winger’s positioning for his try and the setup for Hogg’s 7

13. Sean Lamont – unspectacular but solid, which sums up his career in 3 words. Held on well in defence in the face of nuggety Tongan runners 7

12. Alex Dunbar – poor first half (echoing a quiet Autumn so far) but significantly upped his game. Suspect Cotter had a word at half time. Superb second half and very strong for his try, could have had a second 8

11. Tim Visser – slow start for his first game of the series, however his game improved with some nice carries. Had a few near chances, but defensive positioning is still suspect on occasion 7

10. Finn Russell – gbarring a  charge down had another solid game. Good game management, kicking generally solid and always looking for space to run into. Good awareness for to create the impetus for Cross’s try 8

9. Greig Laidlaw – as he has been all month, outstanding. Quick ball, kicked well from hand, service much improved and consistently the fulcrum around which the Scotland team pivots 9

1. Alasdair Dickinson – Industrious particularly in the first half, solid in the scrum. An extra helper at the breakdown 8

2. Ross Ford – vastly improved in recent weeks. Carried well again and may even have tried to hook in the scrum 7

3. Geoff Cross – deserved his try, put in a typical front-rower’s performance, with plenty of blood snotters and beard hair 7

4. Richie Gray – good in the loose even appearing in the midfield a few times. Consistently threatening the opposition lineout 7

5. Jonny Gray – quieter than last week but still made 13 tackles (none missed). Coughed up 2 penalties but Scotland look stronger at the set piece mainly due to him 7.5

6. Rob Harley – another decent game, but not as impressive as last week with the Tongan runners very hard to disrupt. Still has a lot to offer Scotland but will have better days at the office 6

7. Blair Cowan – another outstanding performance, starting to look like a fixture in the starting XV. Does the simple things very well (running, tackling, snaffling ball) and fully deserved his try. 9

8. Johnnie Beattie – bearing in mind he’s feeling the heat from Adam Ashe, he can be pleased with his day’s work. Strong running and looking positive under the high ball. Still has a lot to offer Scotland, but we won’t mention the kicking 7


Strengths of the starting XV meant the bench was used sparingly.

16. Fraser Brown – not much remarkable but hit his opening lineout throw 6

17. Gordon Reid – only on for a short time, shored up the scrum well 6

18. Ryan Grant – only on for a few mintues, but managed a nice sidestep in that time 6

19. Kieran Low n/a

20. Al Strokosch – the usual! Solid but unspectacular 6

21. Chris Cusiter n/a

22. Duncan Weir n/a

23. Duncan Taylor – contributed to Seymour’s try, looked good on the ball 7

8 Responses

  1. I know these are personal opinion and therefore subjective but pretty high scores across the board in the backs who in the first half truly flattered to deceive.
    Hogg didn’t play well and Laidlaw for me was the weakest not the strongest link on the pitch. His service is slow and regularly behind the receiver. For me it was by far his weakest performance in the Autumn.
    All in a very positive series across the board however and I’d say Ford would probably be my man of the series.

    1. Red Fox. Have you been drinking? Laidlaw has put in excellent performances with great leadership and decision making. Ford has also been good but have you been following the j gray and b Cowan statistics?

    2. Red Fox – always a challenge to get the scores balanced…as you say the joys of subjectivity! To a degree I see where you are coming from re: backs as it wasn’t a great start but they were pretty solid as a defensive unit and when the time can they were able to put some pressure on. The good sides stretch their legs when they can smell blood and I thought Scotland did that today. Tonga don’t give the backs the ability to shine in the way some other sides do so you have to assess the small battles. Not sure there were any failures today and I thought each player won their own personal battles…pretty much all we, as Scotland fans, can ask for! Appreciate the feedback.

    3. Hartley would be my man of series. He really has come of age. I agree Ross Ford had a very good series. Unfortunately I also watched him in his previous 70 odd internationals, and had little to say about him on too many occasions that was either good or complimentary. Maybe my memory is just longer than yours. Has he changed completely as a player? We’ll see. I’ve seen him throw away too many good positions in games to be convinced that he is the answer, although happy to give him the benefit of the doubt after the last 3 games.
      I don’t believe Scotland have a good enough scrum to avid ‘hooking’ entirely, and we need to be able to hook as well as drive with 8 men.

  2. Think your rankings are generous and a tad optimistic. For example Russel (for me) had mixed success today – frequently getting caught with ball alongside some excellent decision taking. He is learning and making great progress.
    But it was a good win in the end after a worrying first half, and a very good series for Scotland. .
    Thought our forwards were all good today, along with Dunbar and Laidlaw
    My man of the match was Cown and my man of the series was J Gray.
    Lots of good signs for the 6 Nations.
    But Ireland did well today, Wales were great for much of the match and England were……….

  3. For what it’s worth IMO Ross Ford has been outstanding in these AI’s. His Lineout throwing has been better than any other starting hooker in the series and he is carrying and staying on his feet. He’s not the only Hooker NOT hooking and therefore this will always cause issues with the attack from scrum ball but for me he has been the Most Improved Player.
    The Grays and Blair Cowan have also had huge work rates and we are in a pretty good place.
    We know that Vern won’t rest on this and if the summer was a starting point , we are moving up the ladder pretty well

  4. It’s not a good thing if John Beattie has to go back to cover high balls for S Hogg!!?!
    I hope BVC has given Stuart some homework to do on this subject. He could take some lessons from Peter Murchie in this area.
    Agree that Fin Russell has now found out that he has less kicking time. The back rows and other forwards do tend to be that much faster at international level. He does run the ball up to the line and look for ways to put runners through. His composure has impressed me and I think he will turn out to be a very good fly half if he can avoid too many serious injuries.
    Overall it has been a good campaign, with strong performances from some new faces, and the reinvention of themselves by some old faces. I’m thinking Ford, Laidlaw and Lamont in the latter mould here.
    There are reasons to be cheerful, but we need to remember that this is our international team and we should try and field the best side we have based on the occasion and opposition. There are players who have different styles, but who are as good if not better than the incumbents. For all that Laidlaw has played well, his service, and speed around the park is in no way comparable to Cusiter. There are other players with different assets who should get their chance in other games.
    Can’t wait for the 6N and hope there is no silly overconfidence based on 3 half decent results.

    1. Optimist, I do agree about the need to avoid being over confident for the 6N. But after these very decent decent performances, I will have slightly more spring in my step as I lurch towards Stade de France this February.

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