Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


RWC ’15: Scotland 39-16 USA

Grant Gilchrist and Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross
Grant Gilchrist and Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross


2015 Rugby World CupSun 27th Sep 2015Elland Road, LeedsKick-off: tbc (UK)39-16
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United States

We were looking for more of the same from the Japan game in the sunshine of Elland Road, Leeds. Unfortunately the first half was worryingly similar, including an inability to deal with the kick off which Grant Gilchrist fumbled into American hands; they ran through the phases and McGinty kicked the first penalty within minutes.

Hogg settled the Scots with a long range penalty but the Scottish scrum was another story, Ford’s inability to hook (whether due to skill or the physical height of the scrum) allowing the pack in navy to be pushed about. While at the breakdown it was a mixed bag too, probably not helped by the loss of Hardie to return to play protocols. Stand in Ryan Wilson put in a lot of work but most of it had to be tackling.

Grant Gilchrist started brightly (kick off aside) with a couple of strong carries but had to go off early in the match allowing Tim Swinson a long spell in and suggesting a Gray brothers boilerhouse may take the field against South Africa.

Where they kept the ball though the Scots looked far more useful and were making gains, with plenty of half chances for offloads inches away from cutting the USA open.

It was the USA that scored the first try though, with a set piece attacking move from a 22 lineout allowing the position for prop Titi Lamositele to shunt over from a ruck.

Stuart Hogg blew a clear chance for a try with a poor pass to Visser at knee height undoing his own good work to dart through the American line and create the chance.

Clearly sensing the danger from the likes of Hogg, Russell and Bennett, big hits from the Eagles players were causing Scotland all sorts of problems; Russell was denied time on the ball that he needs to work his magic, and multiple handling errors were forced. The execution of the passing became forced, to try and amplify any impact the zippy work of Horne and Bennett might have.

The USA ended the half the stronger, camped on the Scots line and Ryan Grant conceded the penalty in front of the posts. Three points was the least they deserved.

Scotland 6-13 USA

A rejuvenated Scotland came out in the second half and the simplest of attacks opened up the USA like a can opener, Strauss making the gain line breaks and Pyrgos whipped it to Hogg who timed his pass perfectly this time to put Visser over.

Scotland’s intensity from 1 to 15 was up with Nel, Dickinson and Fraser Brown (on in the back row) all driving hard and making space for Russell who darted as if to attack, drawing 3 or 4 defenders away from the space that he popped Sean Maitland into, who scampered over from a standing start and the Scots retook the lead.

McGinty replied with a penalty for the Eagles with half an hour to play, narrowing the gap back down but the Scots nearly opened it right back up after Swinson charged down a clearance and regathered just short of the line, before a resurgent Josh Strauss almost made it himself. From the ensuing lineout, returning captain Greig Laidlaw moved it left and with Strauss again denied inches short, fellow SA-born WP Nel shoved himself over at the base of the post.

Once again, from a bleak first half, Scotland found themselves hunting a bonus point.

Initially they chased it through the forwards with some unsuccessful lineout drives and there was the worrying site of Finn Russell limping off with what looked like an ankle injury after an innocuous kick chase. Receiving treatment on the sidelines, he looked his cheery self which hopefully bodes well.

Matt Scott cheered things up on the pitch with a brilliantly cut angle on to Laidlaw’s pop pass before stepping into position to place the ball down and secure the bonus point win.

From there the USA fought hard for a consolation try but Matt Taylor will be happy with the way the Scots kept them out. Duncan Weir finished things off with a short range try, showing surprising power to get over the line and cap off a fine second half by Scotland, giving them maximum points and top position in Pool B.

A fine performance? Scotland are still forty minutes short, and next up are the Springboks.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Hard to separate the project twosome: Josh Strauss improved as the match went on and his ball carrying was crucial in the Scottish try that switched momentum as well as making 16 tackles. Even for a 40 minute performance, WP Nel was hugely impressive in the way he steadied the scrum when he came on for the second half, as well as taking his try well and showing up more than usual in the loose.

78 Responses

  1. What a game. We missed Hardie and the Edinburgh front row once again demonstrated its superiority to the Glasgow front row. Really worried over Finn’s injury.

    1. I’m hoping it isn’t too serious as he was lounging pitch side rather than getting serious medical attention. We don’t need to beat SA, so long as he is back for Samoa it’ll be ok.

      1. Seemed that way didn’t it? You’d think if it was a potential tournament ender he would’ve been treated backstage so to speak rather than at the side.

  2. That was more nerve-wracking than I’d expected. The Edinburgh front row really solidified things and our fitness in the second half looked good, got us out of what could have been a sticky situation. Let’s hope Russell is OK, and that that the moderators block one person in particular as soon as possible.

  3. I’m not sure nerve wracking covers it! I thought it was going to be a day of nothing going right with our passing and decision making seemingly giving us real issues in the first half.

    Pyrgos seemed out of sorts and slower than previous. How much of that was due to us not being able to get quick ball from the breakdown? He also box kicked a lot but our chase was absolutely appalling. Everytime it just handed possession back with no pressure brought to bear on the recipient.

    1. The problems at the breakdown definitely hindered us: when we got quick ball we looked good. I wasn’t one of the people who got really angry about the omission of Barclay, but I do think we could have done with someone like him or Cowan in this game once we knew Hardie couldn’t play. Wilson, Strokosch and Strauss are all powerful but none of them seem to make any impact turning the ball over, which is where you need the expertise of a proper openside.

    2. Laidlaw has his flaws but there is a reason BVC picks him, cool head. Pyrgos will learn a bit from that game, shows how hard it is to play SH when forwards aren’t getting on the front foot.

      1. He’s always been Verns first choice. Thought both Pyrgos and Laidlaw were both too slow getting the ball out of the ruck, allowing the USA to line up their defence.

      2. Laidlaw and his faults and strengths have been talked about in depth many times on here and will continue to do so.

        However how much of the issue with the slow ball is down to them and how much is it down to the speed with which we secure the ball at the breakdown and the speed with which the next set of ball carriers get themselves into position?

        I’m purely a spectator and have never been a player so I’m interested in the opinions of those with more technical knowledge :-)

      3. For a spectator you are remarkably knowledgable Dan Mac?
        Some of it wasn’t slow ball at all, they just made it look like it was.

      4. Pragmatic Optimist – I’m an analyst in real life and have a nerd like ability to suck up information on subjects that I find cool. I hated sport at school and only got into rugby on Super Saturday of the 2004 Six Nations and have been learning ever since :-)

      5. great game fantastic at long last to be at a game and
        see us a win woohooo!!!lol

        Agree with laidlaw being slow from where we were you could see the ball waiting to be played…. all to often he is waiting looking for the opposition to give away a penalty

        going to Samao game cant wait

  4. So how much influence did the BVC hairdryer treatment make? Can’t help thinking that if Scott Johnson et al had been in charge you wouldn’t have seen that kind of reaction.

    1. There’s a video clip of the half time team talk going round. Looked very calm…no sign of a rant or a hair dryer. Distinct contrast to Saint Andre during the week. You’re right about Scott Johnson though. You can’t help but feel he’d be prepping himself for the end of match interview rather than inspiring the boys.

      1. Interesting, don’t suppose you have a link to that? would love to see what BVC said to help turn it around. I guess ranting and raving at the boys wouldn’t give them the “let’s calm down and play through phases” message. It’s a bit like horses for courses but with team talks. Scott Johnson would of been writing out his full time stand up routine. Don’t think BVC knows what a joke is. Someone told him one once and was strangely never heard of again.

      1. “You are playing for your Scottish jersey – get out there and show it or it will be the last one you get!”

  5. Shame about the injuries. The TV replay showed Finn Russell going over on his ankle. It didn’t look good.
    Not sure what happened with Gilchrist or what his injury is. He seems jinxed. He was playing well and disrupting the US lineout.
    If we have to go into the SA game without Hardie, Russell and Gilchrist, it might be damage limitation, which would be great shame. There is cover at lock, but not at open side or stand off. Let’s hope they recover. Good timing.
    On a positive note, Matt Scott is at last showing the form he was in prior to getting injured 2 years ago.

  6. I know Josh Strauss is big, powerful and effective, and he was crucial in setting up our first try, but I’m hoping Vern can add an extra something to his body positioning and dynamism. He seems to always go into contact pretty high – kind of chest first – and quite upright, so making himself a bigger target. Anyone else notice that? He was held up near the line once when I was sure he would make it over.

    Overall, another really good win. Fingers crossed for Russell and Gilchrist. Cotter says that Finn says he doesn’t think it’s all that bad…

  7. In addition to Nel and Strauss, I though Swinson got through a lot of work and made real contribution on the pitch.
    Hogg was very eager, almost to much so – but he made big contribution.

  8. Finn will be fine. Totally precautionary substitution. Wasn’t iced or anything sitting pitch side waiting for some strapping. And whilst I’m not his biggest fan if you’ve learned nothing from the first couple of games its when big boys play and games are close, you must, must, must kick your goals and Greig will do that better than anyone else we have. Great to have Denton and Strauss in squad real competition and strength off the bench. Or will Vern pull a Hadden ’07 and rest people for Samoa. Would seem foolish to me.

  9. Totally a game of two halves. First half was atrocious, too many basic errors and our play was ponderous at best. We need really need to cut out these sloppy starts or we’ll not be going any further. I thought we were screaming out for a proper fetcher as we turned over nothing. Second half was a whole other level and the whole team stepped up a gear with Nel and Dickinson solidifying the scrum. Swinson showed what we see regularly at Glasgow, Strauss began to carry and I thought Fraser Brown made a difference at 7. If Hardie doesn’t make it I’d start Brown at openside against the Boks. I didn’t think Pyrgos did much wrong to be honest, he was just struggling along with a team who were struggling to secure their own ball. Once we upped the tempo in the second half his mispass lead in large part to Visser’s try. Laidlaw I thought did ok when he came on but seemed to take an age to assess his options with the try line in sight. Also I thought that’s the best Visser has looked in a Scotland jersey, particularly under the high ball, and it’ll be interesting to see who plays on the wing against SA. 10 points from 2 games is all we could hope for but we’ve really got to play from the start in the next two games.

  10. I think the boys played very well in the second half today, for myself the outstanding players were

    Fraser Brown – Showed good strength at No.7
    Mark Bennett – Good running from the No.13 position
    Stuart Hogg – Showed a good calm head at times whilst running at No.10 in certain situations
    Willem Nel – Had a good game in the loose but scrummaging could improve

    Not so good performers?

    Greig Laidlaw – Too slow at the breakdown compared to Henry Pyrgos at the breakdown
    Richie Gray – Really showed us nothing new
    Ross Ford – A “Hooker” who dare I say it? Still can’t hook?

  11. I know most of us are big fans of Glasgow, but in the pro12 they get away a lot of the time with a weak scrum due to the quality of the backs – and those same players for Scotland appear to also go backwards in the scrum at international level.

    Nel and Dickinson seemed to make a big difference to the scrum today, hoping that it also fires up Grant and Welsh to raise their level. Grant did show up round the park, but the scrum didn’t go well at all first half.

    1. Thought that Reid/Cusack were the strongest Glasgow scrummagers. Maybe not mobile enough, although Reid can shift when he has some room. Welsh off to Newcastle, so we’ll see how he shapes up there.
      Lots of change in the Glasgow front row, with Murray retiring, Welsh going and Lowe already gone to Exeter.
      Fagerson and Rae coming through this year, but young yet.
      The only time the Glasgow scrum was in real difficulties last year was against Toulouse, who can afford the biggest lumps on the planet. (Also Toulon the previous year.)
      I do think that Nel is in exceptional form and offers more than any of the other props in the loose.
      The Edinburgh front row is by far the most experienced, with all 3 of them at their peak.

  12. I also think we can put to bed the Greig debate – when he came on around 55 minutes I breathed a sigh of relief. He exudes confidence and assurance, and I accept he is frustrating at times but had he been on from the start the game would have been different.

    For a start we would have gone in at worst 1 point down and creating scoreboard pressure – instead of missing 2 kicks first half.

    He is going to be around for another 3-5 years, we should enjoy it while he is. Once he goes we will need another place kicker to really step up to his level.

  13. Today goes to show just how much we rely on a core group of players. The difference around the park between Welsh and Nel was huge. Grant showed up well in attack but Dickinson’s scrummaging prowess and defensive hunger shone in the second half. Gilchrist was immense before he came off. Swinson was good, but not as good. Scott must start, Horne was largely anonymous. Hopefully Cotter hasn’t paid the price for starting Finn Russell again.

  14. Well what can I say. Our team were rubbish in the first half- dropped balls, giving away stupid penal;ties in dangerous positions, lack of intensity, poor defending. If we had been playing a thier one nation we would have been 35 points down at half time easily. It reminded me of the 6 nations.

    However, a different team appeared in the second half and we never looked back. I agree with the comments of one fan- if SJ had been in charge we would have probably lost that game. We have BVC to thank for us winning both games. As it is we have done what I expected us to do- 2 good wins against tier two opposition. For me the team has not really been tested but the game against SA will be the true test. The good news is that we are in a very good position to qualify for the QF and possibly even as group winners which would be an amazing achievement. So far so good- well done Scotland.

  15. Like I said in another forum to some England fans about the Fiji fixture, if you can play a game poorly but come away with a bonus point win then you can’t be unhappy. Weaknesses highlighted ahead of the SA hame can be rectified. I’ll echo the praise of Nel and Dicko awesome scrum. Resting Hardie could be a game changer alone. Praying for Finn. My heart says he’ll be ok but my 29 year Scotland fan brain is braced for the worst. 2nd row choice will be interesting as I didn’t think Richie played as well as he can. And as go laid law I’ve been on both sides of the fence with him over the last few years but yesterday I think it was his influence fr the off that really turned it around. Better bossing at the breakdown for 1.

  16. South Africa game will be a lot of territory kicking and penalties for our own scoreboard. I believe if we can get into the faces of the south Africans we might stand a decent chance. This is a good time to play a team who didn’t have a great championship got beaten by japan and lost their captain this could and hopefully would be a big scalp for us. Well done against the Eagles scotland got the job done

  17. Agree largely with what’s been said here already. First halves like what we have produced against Japan and the US will see us sunk before half time next week. Few notes on individuals

    Front row, marked difference when Nel & Dickenson came on, confirms pre world cup fears if anything happens to them. Ford was ok again. Gilchrist was decent again as was Swinson who I often condemn. Richie Gray I thought was completely anonymous and ineffective, he really needs to take a leaf out of his brothers book in terms of hunger and work rate. A few times I saw him lingering behind a ruck then running away down the line when someone else came and threw themselves in, a man of his size and strength should be at every ruck.

    Back row was ineffective, we hardly won a turnover and got turned many times. Strauss got himself about and had a great game, Brown was decent when he came on too but Strokosh and Wilson were totally anonymous, we need Hardie fit.

    Thought Pyrgos was ok, didnt have much of a chance given our first half performance. Laidlaw was very assured when he came on. A little bit laboured at times when approaching the try line, slowing things down unnecessarily, the tries we scored I think came from individual skill rather than simple tries from quick ball.

    Russell was strong again and I hope he is ok, didnt see anything bad looking and he was sitting at the side of the pitch looking reasonably happy later on, hopefully just a pulled muscle or dead leg. However I thought Weir looked decent when he came on too, kicked well and put the ball through hands well too, personally I would have started him yesterday anyway.

    Matt Scott looked excellent, superb bit of individual skill for his try. Horne was anonymous and Bennett was dangerous. Visser was as good as I have seen him in a Scotland shirt and scored a typical Visser try, was unlucky not to have too thanks to Hoggs terrible pass, hogg had an absolute mare again I thought, nothing he tried seemed to work. I would be trying to start the same team as played Japan again basically.

    1. I have to say I disagree about Richie Grays performance and I am always puzzled as to what people expect from him.I thought he put in a huge shift at the heart of the pack-nothing flashy or eye catching but a lot of hard work (also alluded to by the commentary team on ITV yesterday)-and believe his strength is one of the core essentials of our pack. I think our 6 N really went down the tubes when he was injured last season.

      1. Definately worth noting when you consider Wilson only made 6 tackles against Japan when he played blindside. Stroker made 17.
        Wilson looked OK in attack but his tackle rate needs to improve. He made 9 against the USA which is pretty low when you consider Hardie made 21 against Japan in a very similar game.

      2. Fair enough, quite often the hard graft goes unnoticed, kelly brown used to be a victim of that, when I watch th match again I’ll maybe change my mind. The turnover stats were pretty embarrassing though, and the responsibility for that lies with the back row.

        I’m a bit hard on Richie because he has been so good for us in the past, where’s the line breaks palming off tackles powering through with 4 guys hanging off him? I maintain I would have jonny before him, would probably have Richie before gilchrist and swinson though, he’s a safer pair of hands and better in the line out IMO.

  18. We do conspire to make life difficult for ourselves but I will take 30 odd points in40 mins with a 4 day turnaround any time. just a wee but worried how the Eagles opened up some channels in the second half…. mind you Bennett and Scott were clinical. Front row is a concern as always
    I do feel we mess around to much with the ball at the back of the ruck. Laidlaw never seems to boss the pace of ruck ball and he continues to loop his pass- that said I thought he stepped up a bit today and showed a pair in terms of decision making.
    Expecting a false dawn again but will be there to cheer the lads on at St James- come on give us a real win to show us you are back…. Weve been waiting since1990……

  19. Lots of really good comments so I don’t want to repeat things already said so will try and make 3 broad points:

    I gave Laidlaw deserved stick for his first half in the Japan game, but he brings good game management to a team that are getting front foot ball. We can talk about speed, but he brought the forwards (and especailly Strauss) more into the game second half and that platform enabled us to dominate. If Russell is out against RSA then he becomes vital as I don’t think Weir can play as flat and late as Russell – Laidlaw becomes the dictator.

    In the back row I would like to see Strauss, Denton and Hardie. Not sure if we will hold anything back for Samoa but we must take the opportunity to try our best to win this game – A win here makes the tournament a success no matter what else happens next.

    Do we bring back Seymour and Lamont? Of all our wings I think Seymour is our banker but there are positives and negatives for them all – managing both games and picking the appropriate combinations is vital. I’d be tempted to put Lamont on the right wing up against Tuilagi so I’d be looking at holding him back for RSA.

    Based on injuries – team for Saturday
    Dickinson, Ford, Nel
    R. Gray, J. Gray
    Strauss, Hardie, Denton
    Scott, Russell
    Seymour, Maitland, Hogg

    Reid, Brown, Welsh
    Swinson, Wilson
    SHC, Horne, Vernon

  20. Lots of really good comments so I don’t want to repeat things already said so will try and make 3 broad points:

    I gave Laidlaw deserved stick for his first half in the Japan game, but he brings good game management to a team that are getting front foot ball. We can talk about speed, but he brought the forwards (and especailly Strauss) more into the game second half and that platform enabled us to dominate. If Russell is out against RSA then he becomes vital as I don’t think Weir can play as flat and late as Russell – Laidlaw becomes the dictator.

    In the back row I would like to see Strauss, Denton and Hardie. Not sure if we will hold anything back for Samoa but we must take the opportunity to try our best to win this game – A win here makes the tournament a success no matter what else happens next.

    Do we bring back Seymour and Lamont? Of all our wings I think Seymour is our banker but there are positives and negatives for them all – managing both games and picking the appropriate combinations is vital. I’d be tempted to put Lamont on the right wing up against Tuilagi so I’d be looking at holding him back for RSA.

    Based on injuries – team for Saturday
    Dickinson, Ford, Nel
    R. Gray, J. Gray
    Strauss, Hardie, Denton
    Scott, Bennett
    Seymour, Maitland, Hogg

    Reid, Brown, Welsh
    Swinson, Wilson
    SHC, Horne, Vernon

      1. Timing issue from comments made earlier. Martin had made a typo putting Russell in at centre. I commented on it, noticed that he’d put a second post correcting his error, whilst I was posting. I’ve requested my post be deleted.

    1. Couldn’t agree more that we’ll need Laidlaw if Russell is out.
      Also we shouldn’t be holding anything back against the Boks – put out our strongest side and leave Samoa choices for next week. Who knows what injuries may leave us with?
      I’d put Seymour and Lamont in – experience and defensive qualities for the starting lineup. Maitland and Horne as impact subs when a few gaps (may) open up. If Russell is fit he takes Horne’s spot (Finn may start if fit, but in which case Weir drops to Horne’s spot on the bench).
      Similarly start with Wilson so Denton gets a chance to run at some tired Springboks.
      Already excited and I’ll be at the game for another historic victory (after beating the Olympic Champions)!!

    2. Agree with that lineup, not sure on the best policy on the wings. Don’t think Lamont has the legs for Habana or Pietersen anymore but he is solid as a rock defensively and has the experience. Seymour gets the nod and probably Maitland, thought Visser had a good game at the weekend but still think he’s too much of a liability in defence to play the boks. If Russell is injured we might need to have Hogg as standoff cover for Weir, if so then Maitland can shuffle to fullback.

  21. I though the USA, like Japan, got too carried away and put far far far too much effort into the first half as they were exhausted by the 60 minute mark.

    Are we deliberately letting these teams come at us with unsustainable intensity and trusting our defence and fitness? I think we look by far the fittest out of any of the (albeit limited) sides I’ve seen so far.

    1. Actually I’m more worried about our starts. Seems we take half an hour to realise we’re in a test match! Giving away early tries to Japan or the USA may be a misdemeanour which can be made up for. Do that against the Boks will be a different matter altogether.

      1. Totally agree with this and our penalty count must be limited or they could be a several scores ahead before we can address it

    2. The scoreline after 40-50 minutes is less worrying than the manner of play so far. That said the really pleasing aspect so far has been the ability to shift gears and play the last quarter with ruthless accuracy and scoreboard domination. The England / Wales game was a prime example of a team just doing enough to keep themselves in touch but to back themselves to play their hardest, fastest and most accurate at the crucial time.

      So long as we are in touch / slightly ahead by 60 minutes on Saturday there is no doubt that our guys will be confident that they can amass points but equally the Boks will be aware of our fitness and accuracy in the crucial final quarter.

      If we can force the Boks to burn a lot of calories in the first period but keep scoreboard parity i’d give us an outside shot of taking the win. As Graeme said we need to keep the penalty count low, and we need to win our lineouts and ensure our scrum holds up If we can combine this with limited handling errors and basic errors (re-starts / kicking out on the full, etc)

  22. We should be under no illusions that the Boks will try to batter us straight up the middle of the park. Lot’s of people ‘bigging up’ our front row at the moment. Their big test doesn’t arrive until Saturday.
    The saffers didn’t budge against a seriously heavyweight Samoan scrum.

    We have better backs than the Boks currently, but I’m concerned that our forwards won’t win enough possession to give them the chance to shine?
    If the Boks get a big lead, then we’ll be chasing the game and our fitness won’t count.
    Also concerned about our half backs. Pienaar/Pollard are more destructive runners than Laidlaw/Weir.

  23. Here’s a curved ball: if Russell is out of SA game, would Cotter consider moving Hogg to 10? He’s played at that position in the past and was used in that role on the last Lions tour. I thought he played well as a stand-off and offers a more dangerous threat than Weir both with probing kicks and aggressive runs. Like others, I’m not convinced by Weir and I fear that he will kick away a lot of possession. Against SA, such an approach will be heavily punished. Maitland would take up 15 spot, with Visser and Seymour on the wing.

    1. Hogg at 10 may work his pace would exploit any potential gaps however I feel the game should go with a more tactical kicking try to keep ourselves in saffa 22 and feed off penalties. This game will be tough and hopefully we make much better first half start and keep ourselves in the game

  24. I hope not. I’ve only seen him play 10 for the Lions and on that day, against very weak opposition, he had O’Driscoll and Roberts(?) outside of him. That would have ensured he didn’t have a very testing time at 10. I think against the ‘Boks he would be heavily targeted and I don’t know if has the game management skills. What do others think?

  25. Hogg at 10, not in a month of Sunday’s. If Weir plays, I have no great issues with that, he is a fine kicker, and indeed that may be exactly what we need against the Bokke. If the theory that they are not as fit as we are (I don’t agree), is correct, then kicking and chasing is sound, tire them out. When we beat them in (I think 2001) Gordon Ross moved them all over the park in a masterclass of tactical kicking.

    Cotter will have a plan, that is what I like about him, not just Plan A, but Plan B as well. Boys just need to execute plan, they are coming round to that. Long time since we had a coach with Plan B.

    Play well at week-end. I have plenty nervous South African friends!!

    1. Ok, he is unlikely to play Hogg at 10; I’m just throwing in some controversy. I’m not sure that I agree that kick and chase would the right approach against SA. We don’t do kick and chase well.

      1. Mike (if I can call him that)is not talking about kick and chase though. He’s talking about intelligently using the boot to get a team moving about the park.

        If you have a strong defence, then pinning teams into their half is a great tactic. Even if you give up all the possession, it doesn’t matter if they are reduced to playing sideways across the pitch. At that point, you just wait for them to make a mistake. It has been happening to Scotland for years.

        I don’t buy into them not being fit either Mike. Or that the Bokke back line isn’t as strong as ours. Might be thought that we maybe are closer in talent than we have been for an awful long time.

  26. You’re spot on Mike Linds. I’ve found the ‘Plan B’ factor really striking in the last few games we’ve played. For so many years I’ve felt we’ve only have a Plan A and the Plan B was simply to do plan A harder and faster.

    I think having a Plan B is as much to do with the slow starts against Japan and USA as anything else. Plan A wasn’t working so we switched to Plan B (which did).

    If we get Plan A working then someone (RSA?) could potentially take an almighty hiding from us.

    Of course we might find neither A nor B work. Then we’re truly screwed :-0……..

    1. Presumably it is stay within 7 points and get a bonus. If you’re going to your 3rd plan in 80 minutes, you aren’t really worried about winning a test match.

  27. Is there a chance BVC’s plan is what we’ve been doing so far? Trust in our defence and soak up pressure from an opposition unable to maintain that level for any length of time. Then counterattack when they’ve worn themselves out? Not sure but apart from the two tries from driving mauls no team has looked much like scoring. Wouldn’t work against good teams like SA but could perhaps against Samoa.

    1. Agree totally, and said something similar in this thread a bit further up. We look miles ahead in conditioning compared to USA, Japan, and even the likes of England or Argentina etc.

      Driving Maul defence still a major issue especially against a Springbok pack.

    2. Don’t like this plan at all. We can’t defend very well, particularly against driving mauls and don’t realy have a strong or heavy enough pack to do so. We tried that tactic in the first half against USA and it was a dissaster. They actually scored a try from such a driving maul. Far better to front up the opposition, close them down at every turn abnd make them run after us (i.e. play like the All Blacks). Playing a defensive tackling game is exhausting and normally results in defeat except for one or two exceptional circumstances.
      If you need more proof- just compare the 1st and 2nd half performancies of our last game.

      1. Actually we didn’t try that tactic in the 1st half against the USA. We tried to spread it wide and offload too soon. The old adage “you need to earn the right to go wide” is self evident.
        Everyone seems to think that we deliberately give the oppo the ball so we can wear them down. I think it’s simply we play territory in 1st half, possession in 2nd to trust in our fitness and impact subs.
        Comparing first and second halves of both games so far doesn’t really help, as you’re not comparing apples with apples. Both Japan and USA were going to throw everything at us in the first half and hope exuberance and heart would see them through the 2nd. Most games at this level are not won in the first 50 minutes, but in the last half an hour. Even the ABs don’t generally open up a gap with other teams until about an hour has gone.
        Similarly, I feel for Grant and Welsh – being pilloried for not performing at scrum time. It may be that they are not as strong as Dicko and WP but they had to take on a fresh, rested opposition who were going all out to target them. By the time Nel and Al came on the opposition had already gone through 45 minutes, so were bound to get the upper hand. Ryan and Jon had already taken the sting out of the USA scrum. Obviously, we would have all liked them to perform better in that first 40, but we shouldn’t compare first half scrums with those later in the game.

      2. We have the 6th equal heaviest pack at the World Cup. We’re even with the All Blacks. We’re only a few pounds of the rest except Wales who are way ahead of everyone else.
        I don’t think we suffer from the same problems in the maul as we have done recently. The Japanese try was expertly worked and more about catching Scotland out rather than beasting us.
        We coped well with the maul in the rest of that game and did well to disrupt the USA maul and shoved them back a couple of times.
        This weekend is going to be s different challenge but it’s clear there’s been a lot of work done and the South African maul isn’t what it was.

  28. Fairly sure with BVC if you don’t follow Plan then you exit squad. That is not to say than Plan vs Japan & USA will equal plan v SA, although I expect a variant against Samoa. BVC is miles in front of our recent coaches – he can make a plan and communicate to the players how he wants it executed. Please note – Plan does not necessarily equal style of play! I think he has an excellent grasp of our strengths and weaknesses.

    Roll on Saturday.

  29. On a separate note, how about a specialist “hooker” coach. Fed up with seeing the egg stuck somewhere between second and back row. Japan were a revelation with quick channel one ball. That would take heaps of pressure off the front row. Too late to re-educate Ford, but some of the guys changing from flanker should be put through this as a matter of course. Question is – where do we find this coach? Answers on a postcard to HQ.

    1. I agree that our forward pack is lighter and weaker than most so we need fast ball but I think a specialist Hooker coach is overkill. The forwards coach should be able to do that job. However, I do think specialist coaches for Scrum Half and full back woould be useful as, in my opinion, these are the most important positions in the team.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion