Ireland 28-22 Scotland

It was very much a warm up match, this one. Both sides were trying combinations and it was a zippy start, the first Irish penalty being tapped by Isaac Boss a sign of the intent to try things rather than play for territory.

Usually when we see a Scotland team this makeshift it is forced by injury but this one was experimental, aimed at filling out the squad depth. Hugh Blake had a nice first touch and a jinking run looking for the offload – he was ready to play Vern’s style even if the rest of them were still on summer holiday.

The intensity only really increased any time Ireland got close to scoring. Their back moves were fairly unimaginative – Schmidt wouldn’t show his hand at this stage – but the forward power was enough to barrel them over the line.

Scotland’s try when it came was built through two nice offloads, one from Dave Denton (yes Denton) who was involved 3 or 4 times in the move, then quick ball and nice hands from Ruaridh Jackson and Richie Vernon who put Blair Cowan over in the corner.

The scrum continued to be a worry as Ireland bossed them up front but the Scots suddenly looked more comfortable in the Aviva Stadium, Jackson cutting some nice lines at top speed to keep Scotland testing the Irish back three. Horne missed a penalty for the lead, but Scotland were retaining possession nicely under the cosh that is Sean O’ Brien.

Honours even during a half when Scotland conceded 5 penalties in the first 20 minutes against a team ranked 10 places above them was acceptable.

Half time Ireland 7-7 Scotland

Scotland started the second half with the momentum and again found profits in the outside channels. A big Welsh carry gave Pyrgos half an opening and the captain darted under the Irish defenders to pop it onto the line.

Usually we see the props being replaced around this point anyway but Welsh and Grant were both taken off with knocks – Grant worryingly, on the truck to give Cusack his debut and hopefully balance the scrum.

Visser and Vernon were keeping the tempo high but the Scotland attack was that frustrating mix of very good running and very ordinary passing. With half an hour to go Scotland needed to kick on against an Ireland team wobbling slightly – but of course they boasted the likes of Paul O’Connell on the bench.

As you often see with Irish sides they can ramp up the intensity to the level they need to get the result they want, so Ireland went back to their strength – the pack – and worked a maul well for Cronin to dot down. Scotland stayed in the game well though and didn’t lose their heads, only down by 2 points and making ground as the Irish slid off too many tackles.

A Horne penalty snatched the lead on the hour mark until Dave Kearney came off the bench and cut Scotland open. Zebo finished easily to settle Irish nerves at 21-15. Greig Tonks was solid at 10 and had a nice break of his own but it was the old workhorse Sean Lamont who ran back the next ball Ireland kicked. Wary off the offload, he prayed on Irish fears then popped Pete Horne through for the try. With Horne winded, Jackson slotted the conversion and the Scots regained the lead.

Scotland were in the end undone by a piece of magic from Ian Madigan as a pinpoint cross-field kick found Luke Fitzgerald inside the Scotland 22 for a classy score.

From there the Irish went through some maul drills, exposing that area of weakness once again. Ireland had a penalty to take them two scores clear but when it was missed, Scotland pressed again and only in the last two minutes did we see the headless rugby that so often undoes the men in dark blue, a knock on from Blake signalling time.

To go straight from pre-season to International rugby is a big step, but there was much to admire in the attitude and tactical approach of Scotland and despite losing (again), Cotter may well be glass half full after this one.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Jackson had a good game at full back but David Denton carried strongly, tackled hard and looks to have been working on his passing. With form like this he could mount a late challenge for inclusion with Strauss unavailable to play until the very last moment.

Pre-Season Pros and Cons:

Good:

  • The Glasgow mentality of quietly coming back into the game after a score rather than losing the head with desperate tactics. Overall attitude good.
  • Tonks kicking from hand
  • Lineout defence
  • Gainline breaks, from Vernon, Lamont, Denton, Gilchrist in particular
  • Adjusted to Irish dominance at the breakdown to reduce it as the game wore on

Bad:

  • Scrum creaked first half
  • Poor discipline first half. A test match would have seen this punished.
  • Lineout timing was frequently off on our ball
  • Rolling maul defence
  • Should have won it

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42 comments on “Ireland 28-22 Scotland

  1. Stevomc on

    I reckon Denton, Gilchrist and Cowan would make the match day 22 based on today. Not sure anyone else really stood out, though Horne was good apart from kicking and Pyrgos / Tonks looked sharp and between them kept it moving fast. But there limited options out wide.

  2. Andrew on

    I’d also add aerial defence/competition to the list of bads. All too often everyone was looking to someone else to compete whilst a lone Irish chaser got airbourne unchallenged. Too many bad memories of Russell been banned against Wales perhaps?

    Otherwise an enjoyable game to watch, with handling being markedly improved, especially in the second half. No one disgraced themselves (though the bench lacked impact). Standouts for me were Pyrgos, Denton, Gilchrist, Horne and Lamont.

  3. Allan on

    Creditable showing and they never gave up. The team will be improved dramatically by slotting Bennett, Hogg, Seymour, J Gray and Russell into it. Horne was solid and never gives less than 100%. Front row were beasted today and we still aren’t cute enough at the breakdown. Hamilton is utterly hopeless isn’t he. Let’s hope VC has seen that and will act accordingly.

    Denton, Strauss and Barclay as a back row would be my choice. Don’t think Blake is anywhere near ready so Hardie might get a run against Italy. He could be the missing piece of the puzzle but until then, JB is my man for the seven shirt.

  4. pragmatic optomist on

    Thought the scrum was more solid with Reid and Cusack on the pitch.
    I’m looking forward to seeing what Nel can do in the scrum.

    All Scottish back rows seem to struggle agianst O Brien at the breakdown, but a decent performance by the boy Blake on debut.He is one for the future, but not this world cup.
    I hope Hardie plays against Italy, as he might be what we need. I’ve yet to see him play.

    Agree with Andrew about the kick chasing and catching. Strictly abysmal and really needs to be addressed, even if Ireland are arguably one of the best at this part of the game. Whoever is nearest/has most chance of reaching the ball really needs to take responsibility, while the others need to position themselves looking for rebounds. They all left it to each other today.

    All told, a 6 out of 10 performance for the first game of the year, with better to come.

  5. Robbie on

    Thought Blake did really, really well given the amount of misdirected pressure he’s faced. Definite potential. Impressed more than Barclay though obviously he got a lot more game time.

    Worryingly, I thought Hamilton had a great game, in so far as he caught line-out ball and didn’t once get yellow carded. Fortunately, Gilchrist looked really sharp so it’s likely to be the Grays, Gilchrist and Harley in the row.

    Denton was superb – did exactly what he’s needed to do for years and simplified his game, focussing on hard straight running and going where the forwards are, just like Strauss does.

    High balls are a shambles – they all stand clutching their pearls (Tim Visser leaps like a wet brick!) – thought the coaches would have sorted that after the six nations. Although Jackson had good carries and played well, he’s just not built for an aerial battle.

    Horne is so essential for me – We have so many line-breakers in Bennett, Seymour, Hogg, Dunbar and Russell. You need him running those awesome support lines. So often during the six nations Bennett et al. made a break and nobody was there. He was also pivotal in the first try, filling in for Pyrgos twice in that move. He’s just so damn adaptable and reads the game from behind the attack line.

    Grant was getting dominated before he got injured – couldn’t get his bind up at all. Actually when Cusack and Reid were on they looked much more solid though it could have been the Irish tiring. Can’t afford ANY more injuries in the front row now!

    Tonks did well except for the critical, awful decision to go for a high ball out of the 22, which led to Zebo’s try. When you’ve just scored to take the lead, you’ve just got to hoof the ball as far as you can and let the opposition play from deep. Especially against Ireland, who are a pressure side rather a strike team. In this regard, we really missed Hogg’s boot.

    Breakdown was awful. That’s what the absent Glasgow guys bring – Big first up tackling that puts teams on the back foot – Wilson, J Gray, Strauss and Harley are a crack team at preventing go forward with big double team hits and getting over the ball in attack.

    We also really need to work on the driving maul. You need to be able to create bankable tries at international level. It’s not even a potential threat at the moment.

    Pyrgos actually struggled at the start – adjusting to Tonks instead of Finn or Duncan meant that there was very little quick, decisive play in the first 20 which allowed Ireland to disrupt and kick through. But they got more in tune as the game progressed. SHC looked slick (great passing) when he came on but didn’t get much opportunity to do anything special.

    Sean Lamont played really well though it was in part due to Ireland’s woeful tackling – must have slipped like 10 just on his own.

    All in all – we absolutely dominated open play (the stats are like double), got pumped at scrum time and made stupid territorial mistakes against a more experienced side, which ultimately cost us the win. So many narrow defeats – argh! – It’s seriously unbelievable that we can’t even fluke our way across the line just one time. Positively, the game created more selection rivalry for Vern though you could see in the interview he’s already growing sick of being on a losing side – wait until you’ve had 15 years of it, mate.

  6. PJ on

    I wasn’t able to watch this match, how did Fraser Brown and Jon Welsh play? And how were Cusack, Barclay and Harley off the bench?

    • Allan on

      Brown, like all scots hookers just cannot hook the ball. Every other test team ignores the “foot up” rule and get quick channel one ball, not us.

      Welsh looked like he was struggling to get parity, never mind dominance. Harley and Barclay did nowt wrong but I can’t see either displacing the Grays or Hardie/Cowan

      • PJ on

        Cheers, hopefully McInally will get a chance against Italy. A little worrying that Welsh struggled, especially since I rate him in the loose and that’s useful to have around. Let’s not talk about Haride being “displaced” yet, since he’s yet to play a game in the northern hemisphere, but I’m looking forward to seeing him play.

  7. John Mc on

    It was surprisingly enjoyable to watch – except as others have said at scrum time and at the breakdown in the first half anyway. Interesting and unusual to sit in front of the telly watching a more than half decent Scotland performance and be able to think of other realistic and better choices in the squad.
    Young Blake seemed to me to take time to accustom himself to Test match pace, even if it was a warm up match. Denton showed signs of at last beginning to fulfil his high potential. And Slamont? Well, you have to hand it to him for his staying power in this squad for the last nine years or so. Apart from the other good things he did, you can always rely on him to present the ball well at the breakdown. His ability to cover both wings and at centre surely must see him into the final squad in some sort of utility capacity at least.
    Verne really needs these warm ups to get this scrum sorted once and for all in time for the main event.
    All in all, not a bad first warm up effort, Scotland.

  8. Neil on

    Unfortunatelky I missed the game as I was on a long flight but I believe our boys played well. One interesting fact though- correct me if I am wrong but I understand that Laidlaw was not playing. To me that is the difference between this performance and the 6 nation games. He is the weakest link and needs to be ommited from the squad.

  9. Andy on

    Decent performance.

    The Hugh Blake experiment has probably reached its conclusion. Too early for him.

    Maul defence and Scrum only real concerns for me.

    Good effort for a first performance, missing 6 of the first choice 7 backs and Gray x 2

    Ireland really are masters of cheating aren’t they? From coming in at the side, to tackling off the ball to boring in sideways at scrums they have it down to a fine art. Hopefully Glasgow’s new forward coach can help us next season.

      • Allan on

        Why are we surprised at getting the rough end of the stick from the ref yet again. Refs, who will deny it, approach games and ref them on the basis of who they believe are the stronger sides. Therefore, any perceived superiority by the lower ranked side MUST be because they are cheating, ergo penalty against them. The same is true the other way, if the higher ranked side is dominating it’s because of skill, not blatant cheating.

        I simply cannot believe both the ref AND the touch judge missed Zebo tripping Visser, its either subconscious bias or rank incompetence!

      • Neil on

        Come on Allan- its just sour grapes to blame the ref. Would you be saying the same thing if we had won? I also feel that Scotland don’t always get the rub of the green but take a step back and pretend that you don’t support Scotland. Replay the game from the viewpoint of a neutral and you may be surprised that we get as many decisions going for as as against. The problem is that you tend to notice the latter more than the former. There are very rare occassions when a ref shows a clear bias to one team and, for some reason, that always happend when we play Wales (don’t ask me why but it does). However, these occassions are rare and most refs are fair and consistent. Remember its got to be the hardest job in the world- racing up and down the park and trying to keep a clear decision making head at the same time. I’d like to see you try that. I know that I couldn’t.

      • Allan on

        Actually, I am a referee Neil so I believe that I know a bit more about it than you clearly do. Also, I wasn’t blaming the ref, I was simply pointing out that the supposedly weaker teams generally get less decisions than the stronger teams. I often find it hard to be unbiased when reffing but I see a distinct lack of ability on display by so called elite refs (other than Nigel Owens).

      • Neil on

        Allan. So what if you are a ref. The team going forward is always going to get 50:50 decisions going in their favor. The solution- Scotland need to be the better team- not rocket science is it.

    • Neil on

      Allan- you will be waiting for a long time for an appology. Are you touchy because you are a poor ref or because I was right. Anyway- lets get back to rugger.

  10. Neil on

    So I just wonder where we go from here. Is the excuse for failure going to be the ref in the upcoming WC- only an excuse! Other ones could be that the moon was in the wrong position, if only the othet team had not turned up etc etc. f there was a WC for whinging anf moaning we would win it hands down. We should be a good enough team that we dont have to rely on the ref.

    So how do I sum up the game- Scotland played well and, given the absence of Laidlaw, showed that we can, at the very least, offer competition for some of the better teams. It reminders me of c.7 years ago when I used to pray that Southwell would not be playing. When he was picked we generally got thumped. The problem is that a dud playing at fullback or scrum half is a disaster for the entire team. Duds playing in other positions are not great either but we can live with that.
    So back to the game- I believe Ireland were fractionally better over the course of the game but at least the game was close- I dont mind if we lose as long as we dont give up. Hopefully this will be a good message to VC- stick with the scrum half that you fielded during this game.
    Message to Scots fans- dont go blaming the ref when we lose (except if its a game against Wales in the 6 nations). This just lets the players of the hook.

  11. Matto on

    I have to say that although I thought our lineup was good for this match, I was fearful that we’d get a bit of a drubbing based on the experience on show in the Irish team. Pleased to have my pessimism undermined. A generally encouraging performance with respect to squad depth. This ‘fringe’ team would have beaten a fair few of our first teams of the last decade. Enjoyed Denton’s bash. I feel we’ve lacked a bit of physicality over the last season or so, being bullied around the breakdown. I would like to see a back row of 6 Denton, 8 Strauss, 7 Barclay (haven’t seen much of Hardie), which I feel could give us the edge or at least parity in power on many teams, creating the momentum and space going forward to release our dangerous backs.

  12. Standoffalot on

    Decent performance against a rusty Irish side. For me standouts were Horne, Jackson, Pyrgos and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I was thoroughly impressed with Denton. Horne brought his Glasgow game to the international side running his usual brilliant support lines and generally involved in all things positive. Jackson looked a different player at 15, where he is freed of the responsibilities of playing at ten. Henry was just his usual self and Denton brought the physicality we all know he possesses, hitting the line at pace and making the hard yards. I was pretty disappointed with the rest of the pack, particularly Cowan and Blake, as they were taken to the cleaners by the Irish back row, Sean O Brien in particular. Also I would like to see more from Gilchrist, whom people keep raving about, but I have yet to see it. Still far more positives than negatives for me and a good starting point for these warm up matches.

    • bulldog on

      Like you , I am no fan of Denton, however it looks like he has bulked up considerably and his sideways crab legs have gone, some good direct running, punching holes in their defence.All credit to him. Gilchrist looks handy in the loose but unfit. From what I saw yesterday , we need second rows who realise that they are ‘the boiler house’ rather than the ones that aspire to be backrows. If I had to make a decision based on yesterday , his tea is oot. That said, Richie Gray is not what he once was either , however, he is probably scotlands most recognised player worldwide so lets hope he is fit.

      It was entertaining, however I am not sure what I can take away from any of these games. No one could argue with that last Irish try , it was and deserved to be the match winner.

      I noticed in the England France match the referee did not even reach for the yellow card when Parra was taken out by the England centre when fielding a ball in the air. During the 6N as we know , this was a carding offence.Perhaps, and , I am guessing, even the refs see these games as trails and are being encouraged to keep them on the pitch. As long as they keep them safe and firm up the boundaries when the real event comes along, I am ok with that.

  13. Angus on

    Took a while to settle but when we did there was some good stuff with the ability to score tries one of the most important

    Denton had his best game I have seen. One of his biggest positives was leaping to take balls in the air. This begs the question if someone has obviously been coaching him on this why have they not done so with the backs?

    If you are going to kick the ball and it is not deep for territory then it has to be so you have at least a 50:50 chance of regathering it (reality is it has to be better than 50:50) For as long as we have noone prepared to compete in the air for these balls we may as well just hand it back to them

    Denton will not be the complete player until he can pass the ball because at the moment every defender knows he is just going to run straight at them. Still one of the best today though

    The first 20 or so we didn’t put their sealers off their feet which allowed them to milk penalties. At the same time anyone of us near the ball was taken off their feet

    This improved as the game went on

    Slow ball at the beginning was improved as the game went on. I put that down to being a bit rusty in the first game.

    Felt we did too many switches in the midfield that took the player back into traffic as opposed to spreading it wide because when we did we had numbers

    Defensively I think Jackson was a bit lost. He held back instead of coming up to join the line which left them with an extra man quite often

    Perfect example in second half when irish were on our 22 and he was way back

    Hats off to Sean Lamont who showed himself to be good in attack and defence

    All in all a better performance and result than I expected given we lacked so many choice players. A testament to the work that has been done in the last couple of years. 2 or 3 years ago had we named such a second string side to take on the world number 2 side while the first choices were available the house would have been screamed down.

  14. Standoffalot on

    One of the major things we undoubtedly need to work on is still our ability, or inability, to challenge for the high ball. Visser in particular is worse than useless. He had one of his better games yesterday, but is still behind Seymour and Maitland for the wing slots, and also big Sean, whom I agree had a sterling shift. Also our restarts have to be better. Tonks effectively just kicked possession back to Ireland each time. Contrast that to Russell, and to a lesser degree, Weir, who both put the ball long and high, and give us a chance to challenge and retain possession. Agree with Bulldog regarding the refereeing, a lot of card offences let go, due to the ‘friendly’ tag around these games.

    • bu on

      I know some played better than others however but it was a marked improvement on what we have seen lately. The only player that in my opinion , wrote himself out, was Greg Tonks. Nothing significant in his performance, it is maybe not his time and best left for another tournament.

      Sean Lamont was effective, I suspect the rubber stamps on the performance will read, ‘multiple positions’ ‘good for morale’, ‘consistent and robust’. Given his age the only concern would have been his durability and I think he answered those questions in this game. He is in the squad IMO.

  15. Merlot on

    Have to agree with the majority here about the positives and negatives. If we ignore the first 20 minutes (allowing for debuts, returns to international, first game, etc etc etc).
    In order of performance – Denton, Lamont, Horne, Gilchrist all put their hands up for final inclusion. Scrums and maul defence are still a worry – and probably will stay that way all through to the WC.
    However, I have to disagree with some of you. It seems to be the trend to praise any scrum-half that isn’t Laidlaw. OK he’s not world class but neither are the others, and he brings something different (both his kicking and defence are better than the other options, and his experience is only second to Cusiter). I hope Big Vern gives Laidlaw a run in the next two games so he can prove you all wrong (or right, perhaps, in which case I’ll eat my Tammie).

    • FF on

      SH will be a tough choice. Most fans on various forums seem to go for SHC, who clearly has the most raw talent. But it is raw and he has a lot to prove in terms of game management. Laidlaw totally outplayed him in the Challenge Cup final and has become a fan favourite at Gloucester. He is a good (but not top) player that has suffered behind too many Scottish packs that have lost the breakdown battle.

      I think SHC has to be on the bench as he is most likely to have an impact using his pace at the tail end of games when patterns are more broken up. I would be very wary of him starting any of the RWC games though. For me, the starting choice is between Prygos and Laidlaw and there is little to choose between them. Prygos offers quicker service and has an established partnership with Russell. Laidlaw offers the best blend of experience and running threat (if you doubt this, check out the deadballarea.com blog, ‘Anatomy of a try – Mark Bennett’ – it shows the lead up to his try against England where Laidlaw ran the ball from three successive quick rucks and acted as the attacking pivot instead of the FH, resulting in three super-fast rucks and the England defence never setting and being isolated on the wrong side of the blindside where the ball went. It was Scotland’s best phase of play in the entire 6N).

      For now, advantage Prygos. If Laidlaw shows good form he might edge ahead.

      • Neil on

        Prygos is a clear winner for me and I would put SHC on the bench. He may not have so much experience but Laidlaw is useless. His lack of skill in kicking cost us dear in the 6 nations. Honestly, he will probably cost us a place in the QF. Even if he makes the same mistakes against USA and Japan we could be punished and may even lose these games. Just look at what happened against Italy and Ireland. He playyed like calamity Jane. Compare the most recent performance against Ireland with the one in the 6 nations. The only real difference I can see is that Laidlaw played in the former and cost us. I really hope that he is dropped.

      • FF on

        There were other differences between the two games that might explain differences in performance:

        1. Only 4 players that started for Scotland on Saturday
        (Grant, Hamilton, Cowan, Denton) started against Ireland in the 6N.
        2. Only 5 of the Irish side that started on Saturday also started in the 6N match.
        3. Both teams have been on world cup camps for the past 2 months.
        4. This was not a test match – it was a warm up.

        But no, I am sure you are correct that the only difference that meant Scotland performed better was Laidlaw’s absence. That is a very reasonable and well-informed view. By the way, have you actually managed to watch the match yet or is this more analysis based on newspaper reports?

      • Neil on

        FF- yes I know all that but with his Garryowens and box kicks going nowhere (except into opposition hands), he really doesnt give the rest of the team a cats chance in hell. I know that he is only one player but he probably has the most important role on the field. A scrum half playing badly in a recipy for disaster regardless of how good the rest of the team is. He constantly scores own goals against his own team. Unless he is will to stop kicking pointless Garryowens then he should not be considered a viable option. Sure the rest of the team did not play too well during the 6 nations (the forwards were also poor) but it is very difficult to raise your game when someone keeps scoring OG’s. I know that this was only a friendly but we played with alot more purpose and skill than we did in the 6 nations. If we can keep this up then we will definately reach the QF and may even go a bit further but that wont happen if VC persists with Laidlaw.

        Allan- interesting comments about pig wrestling. Is that what you get up to at the weekends or are you one?

  16. FF on

    My line up for this match would continue the auditions for squad players but I think we could put out a strong side anyway.

    1. Dell
    2. McInally
    3. Cusack
    4. Gilchrist
    5. Harley
    6. Barclay
    7. Hardie
    8. Wilson
    9. Hildalgo Clyne
    10. Weir
    11. Visser
    12. Scott
    13. Vernon
    14. Fife
    15. Maitland

    16. Reid
    17. Ford
    18. Nel
    19. Toolis
    20. Watson
    21. Laidlaw
    22. Jackson
    23. Lamont

    I’d hope we’d then play the bulk of our ‘probables’ against Italy at Murrayfield and France.

    • Mike on

      I read somewhere that Wilson is still serving a ban? Or have I made that up?! Would be strange as he’s cleared to play for Glasgow. Also do you not think Harley is too light for lock?

      • FF on

        Wilson – don’t know.

        Harley – I agree but Cotter said he’s in the squad as a lock so we need to see if he can stake a claim. I’d rather we played Gray-Gray for the home Italy game and Gray-A.N.Other for the final match. Does short change Toolis though…

      • Cameron on

        I still cannot understand how Toolis isn’t a shoe in for the squad. I’d have him down as superior to Gilchrist. Cotter obviously sees something in him having made him skipper before the AI last year.

        Guess that’s why I’m not a coach.

  17. Kev on

    Italy – Away

    1. Reid
    2. McInally
    3. Cusack
    4. Hamilton
    5. Toolis
    6. Wilson
    7. Barclay
    8. Ashe
    9. Hildalgo Clyne
    10. Weir
    11. Visser
    12. Scott
    13. Vernon
    14. Fife
    15. Tonks
    16. Bryce
    17. Dell
    18. Nel
    19. Harley
    20. Hardie
    21. Laidlaw
    22. Jackson
    23. Hoyland

  18. pragmatic optomist on

    I probably prefer Kevs front row of Reid, McInally, Cusack, to FF’s of Dell, McInally and Cusack.
    If Italy can do two things, it’s scrummage and maul, and having either Dell or Nel on from the start, is risky. I’d bring them on after 50 minutes.
    IMO, Reid/Cusack are our strongest scrummaging option, so have them on from the start. Nel is seriously quick for a prop, so a run when the italiens are tired would be good.
    A little tweak of back rows and I’d have Wilson, Ashe and Hardie(Ash at 8). I’m looking forward to seeing what Hardie’s about.
    The back row would likely be up against Parise and Favoro (new Glasgow)who will be a handful.

    • FF on

      Dell is a punt – I just thought as there is some likelihood of him being called up mid-tournament as a injury replacement it would be good to have him capped beforehand. All the chat is that Nel has scrummaged well this year, surely he is as good a bet as his rivals?

      However, I have come round to the view that we should put out our strongest side from the squad selected and go for the win, rather than just test combos. So, Dell out. Strokosch out for me too but I would like to see Hardie and Watson on the pitch. Neither are 6s but I can’t see what Strokosch brings that those two can’t whatever the number on their back.

      According to the Glasgow forum Wilson is still serving his SRU suspension so unavailable until next week. Favaro is also not in the Italian squad as he was injured during the training camp and is with the Glasgow squad already (I think he even played in the friendly against Clermont).

    • Matto on

      Did Favaro not play for Glasgow against Clermont last weekend? I thought he did, which I would assume means he’s not training with Italy. I guess we’ll find out soon enough…

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