Italy 20-36 Scotland

A late change to the starting lineup meant David Denton dropping out and Ryan Wilson entering the team at Number 8, and Josh Strauss – who played on Thursday – coming on to the bench.

So it was a slightly unsettled looking Scotland who took the field at a packed Stadio Olimpico and early mistakes gave Italian standoff Kelly Haimona the first points.

After initial hiccups, the Scots hit straight back.

Two weeks ago we saw Hogg and Barclay failed to combine in broken field running but today the tables were overturned, as Visser offloaded to Hogg who spurted through the misaligned Italian defence, and patiently offloaded from the deck to a rampaging John Barclay who cut a nice line for the try. Laidlaw converted to make it 3-7.

Small errors continued but the big Scots runners – WP Nel and Jonny Gray in particular – were punching holes for Finn Russell to exploit. Again it was patience that created the score as he stayed upright in the tackle before getting the ball moving until it found John Hardie on the left wing. The openside had strength aplenty to batter over his marker for Scotland’s second try. Laidlaw again converted from an even wider angle.

The wee general showed good game management on 26 minutes by taking the points on offer to increase the gap to two converted tries and set off the first round of Mexican waves from the home support.

The Italians needn’t have worried, as some smartly timed passing and nice hands bamboozled the Scottish defence to put their hooker Ghiraldini over on the left wing and Haimona converting to peg it back to just 10-17 after half an hour.

Scotland suddenly looked uncomfortable, with a clear shift in momentum and the home crowd waking back up as the hard-charging Italians upped the intensity. It was John Hardie who managed to arrest their progress with good position at the breakdown.

Scotland didn’t win the ball – but it slowed things down for a series of scrums and Scotland were able to get their heads back in it. The set scrum was going well with Al Dickinson giving his opposite number a torrid time and the last act of the half was a penalty from that set piece, Laidlaw unfortunately pushing it wide and leaving the lead at just 7 points.

HT Italy 10-17 Scotland

The front row produced the goods again five minutes into the second half with a penalty straight in front that Laidlaw made good on this time.

Italy as usual came straight back on the attack and Scots discipline in the tackle close to the line was not to the liking of referee Jaco Peyper who seemed to ping Ross Ford for not releasing, despite him holding his hands away from the player and trying to move while Taylor who was on his feet challenged for the ball.

Italy kicked the points but at the next scrum again the Scots put the pressure on and Italy couldn’t break out securely, giving Laidlaw another penalty in their half which he slotted to draw the lead out to ten.

It was worrying minutes later as Tommy Seymour landed awkwardly from a high ball which gave Italy a channel to stream into but their skills let them down giving Scotland the scrum, which they converted into a penalty and releasing the pressure. The Scottish scrum was a real weapon, and the lineout was functioning pretty well so  when they kept the ball they looked pretty comfortable, but they hadn’t really threatened the Italian 22 since those early tries.

Still, with Greig knocking them over from all areas Scotland were still in control, with another penalty on the hour mark to make it 13-26.

The Italians were led from the front as usual by the exemplary Parisse, but the centres Garcia and Campagnaro were also looking good when the Italians had the ball and whenever they drew near to the Scottish line it got edgy. Unfortunately for the men in navy, Finn Russell was binned for handling in the ruck (even as Laidlaw was being dumped on his head behind the previous one) which gave Italy an almost inevitable try through Fuser despite furious defending.

With 17 minutes to play it was 20-26 and it looked like another nervy ending in store. Despite Laidlaw kicking another penalty to keep that lead out Italy showed the ability to come right back at them and Scotland really needed to try and play some territory but Italy were doing it to them.

Still, if you want a way to run down a sin bin clock, a few reset scrums is the way to do it. As you often see though, relying on the scrum is a total lottery and so it was that Peyper gave the penalty to Italy, Parisse tapped and they so nearly got over for another try. The defence held, but Peyper had to issue another warning and there was a very real chance of seeing the last 20 of the game out down a man, especially with another set scrum under the Scottish posts.

Luckily that held too and Scotland finally got to half way with the ball, Barclay was pulled down in the air and from two penalties they were inside the Italian 22. Then, a slack attitude at the next breakdown and Italy are back in Scotland’s half. Italy attack, WP Nel flaps at the ball and is carded for a deliberate knock on. He had his scrum cap off before Peyper went to the pocket and Scotland were indeed down a man for the last 5 minutes.

Discipline is everything, isn’t it?

Scotland weren’t following the usual story of a shotgun to the feet though, and after a hoofed ball suddenly gave them something to play with, Laidlaw used up a few seconds with his pack before launching the move that won the game. A fizzing Russell proved that Scotland should never even think about trying to sit on a lead as they are far more effective attacking than defending.

The standoff spun a lovely pass wide to Taylor who drew his man, leaving Hogg and Seymour with a 2 on 2. Hogg ensnared both defenders then popped a lovely ball out the back door to Seymour who sprinted round for the score and to make Laidlaw’s final conversion easy.

Big Vern even managed a smile.

SRBlog Man of the Match: very hard to pick from the Scottish players, with many standing out up front including Jonny Gray, John Barclay and John Hardie, as well as Greig Laidlaw who kicked 8 from 9 and Stuart Hogg who selflessly created two of Scotland’s tries. The reason the end of this game was less tense than usual was the work done up front by Ford and the props, with Al Dickinson laying the platform. Nel just misses out due to the card but the backs spared his blushes.

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82 comments on “Italy 20-36 Scotland

  1. Allan on

    Peyper had a so-so first half and terribly poor second half allowing the Italians to hold on constantly when tackled, join rucks from the side, seal the ball off on the floor, and Parisse to take at least two restarts despite being well in front of the kicker. Twice he also refused to go to the TMO to check for foul play, once when John Barclay reacted to something off the ball and again when Laidlaw was effectively tip tackled at the back of a ruck. It’s becoming tiresome that Scotland have to constantly put up with incompetent officials who, in my opinion, are reffing us with a perception bias colouring a disproportion number of decisions. You could see how frustrated in particular John Barclay was by the end at what Peyper was letting go. We were massively superior in so many areas today and yet, because of the ref we were still unable to get the points we deserved.

    Anyways, Johnny Gray was immense today, as were Dicko, Barclay and Hardie. No-one played poorly today although Bennett was still very quiet and could probably do with some more games under his belt for Glasgow to get back to top form.

    The one gripe I do have, and it’s a small one, is our habit of taking the ball into tackles far too high and allowing defenders to wrap the ball up. Something to work on because the Irish will look to take advantage of this. France look beatable on current form and if we can keep making incremental improvements and keep the error and penalty count low….and we get a fair crack of the whip from the ref.

    • Mike Linds on

      Referees are who you get allocated. It could have been far worse – either Irish clown, Clancey or Lacey, would have penalised us at the scrum because Italy always “boss” us. Peyper did not. The Russell YC, basically he took one for the team. Can’t argue about Willie McNel’s YC either. Where I do take issue is the number of ‘not rolling away’ penalties against the Italians without so much as a warning. Seems to me unless the offences are foul play, or, serial inside the RED zone then the YC doesn’t come into play. Hard on the guy who screws up in the RED zone but there you are. In any event Laidlaw punished most indiscretions severely.
      The other stuff as far as the pretty poor ITV coverage actually showed, wasn’t much more than handbags.
      I wonder, just who some of you guys posting would like to ref our games?
      From my perspective it might be quite a short list!!!!!

  2. JudasTheGrass on

    Parisse is a big bully and a bit of a cheat, someone should have stamped on his testicles. I’m glad he was on the losing side.

  3. Dave on

    parisse is a good player but the praise he gets is way over the top. he lost Italy the game against France, and tries to do to much at times. Commentators and pundits could do with focussing on some of Italy’s other players…..Campagnaro was very good today. Still the best team won despite the usual refereeing nonsense

    • Referendum on

      Parisse plays on the edge and got away with it cos he could. I haven’t seen a team jump the gun so obviously at restarts for a long time. It was so obvious. I thought he was unfairly treated for once against France. It was a high tackle on him although if in doubt with time ticking down don’t get back up after half a tackle just in case.

  4. Deflated on

    I am so relieved that we got that losing monkey off our back. I felt we thoroughly deserved the win, but it was not perfect. However I am not going to lay out any criticisms as I think they all deserve a pat on the back. Front row was fabulous, and back row terrific. Wilson had a good disciplined ( yes Wilson and disciplined in the same sentence) game and Hoggy gave the Italians kittens every time he touched the ball. Centres were a bit quiet but effective. The ref? What his interpretation of the ruck and holding on laws was is beyond me. Comment above about refs seeing us as serial offenders is best wiped out by us winning games and being clearly on the right side of the laws. Today was a start. Confident now that we can beat the French and from what I’ve seen so far ireland are well within our sights.

    • Mike Linds on

      Wilson had a terrific first half, and I doubt we would have score the second try with Denton in the same position. For me I don’t mind Strauss / Wilson – one starts the other, impact sub.
      I cannot believe how we destroyed the Italian scrum. Nel was outstanding again. We can, I hope, forgive him his ‘intercept’ attempt. And finally what a way to close a game out with a superb try.
      Still plenty of work to be done, but, one game at a time, I think France at Murrayfield are eminently beatable.
      Very glad to get, not just the win, but a good win.

      • FPC on

        Agreed, Nel was immense. Although I think he has been played for too long in the last two matches. Needs to go off around the 65-70 minutes mark.

      • Sconnarty on

        Nels played too long for last few games because our bench options aren’t international standard and it’s been too close to lose scrums. He’s been class.

  5. Deflated on

    Also meant to comment on man of the match. Officially given to GL and I am not going to quibble about that. His points tally and general distribution were as good as he has shown for a while. Both props were in the mix as was Hoggy but I think GL was fair enough. Even his biggest critics on this forum can’t deny that choice…can they?

    • Dave flak on

      I thought it was one his finest performances ever. Personally I would have given it to hardie or barclay just because of the sheer work load the got through. But no arguements that GL deserved a nod.

  6. BigAl on

    Fantastic scrum today, big plaudits to the front row against a decent Italian scrum. Lineouts worked better. Back row looked like a decent blend. The Grays had a good game. Laidlaw looks great with the scrum going forward and faster rucking. Hogg is world class and Seymour is pretty good too. We look good going forward. However it looked like we wanted to practice our defensive patterns too much in the second half. Still stuff to work on and if we get that right this is a good team.

  7. JudasTheGrass on

    Scotland’s way forward is clear……..we need to bribe a few Samoans, Fijians and Tongans into thinking they are Scottish i.e. like England , and get some gargantuan line breakers/ball carriers into the national team.

  8. JudasTheGrass on

    As an aside i think it is cynical at best, given their resources and number of professional players, that England have to resort to poaching Polynesian talent…..discuss?

    • Deflated on

      Think your being a bit thistle spectacled there. We have our share of foreign imports as do most teams these days. Not ideal but it’s the rules that are in place and in a professional era you need to take advantage where you can. England are not doing anything more than most other teams.

      • JudasTheGrass on

        The grandparent rule is as far as I would take it in allowing qualification for playing for national teams……the Polynesian players have a natural genetic advantage for playing rugby that compensates against their financial restrictions…’s highly cynical/unsporting that their players are being poached like this.

    • Bulldog on

      Judas , what garbage, the polyneisns have a genetic advantage ? rubbish. If you were to get the worlds finest designers to develop the ultimate rugby machine they would come up, in fact they would not need to look any further than, Bonnyrigg’s finest namely Peter Wright. Speed, athleticism , the swagger of a lothario and an eloquence to charm any referee. What polenesian can match that?

  9. Sconnarty on

    Great result. Delighted with the win but thought we made it a lot harder work than it needed to be.

    Wilson was the biggest surprise for me, actually look composed and kept his discipline for the first 40 mins. Didn’t do much in second half and was glad to see Strauss on.

    Laidlaw, Seymour, Nel, Dickinson, Hogg and Barclay were class.

    Richie Gray was disappointing, and was poor at the breakdown. Think he to often chooses to be a pillar instead of hitting ruck and looks lazy. That’s fine if you are actually involving yourself but Parisse ran right through him at one point in first half and think he gave away a few needless penalties. Good in line-out as always though.

    Hopefully we can win next two games and really build on this – Ireland and France are there for the taking.

    • FPC on

      Agreed, Richie Gray very good in the lineout today. France there for the taking as long as France try to play with width. Let’s see.

  10. Robferg on

    Russell is a loose canon. Would be great if he had Hogg’s presence of mind and cool thinking, but, he never will. Miskick———Italy try. Sent off for stupidity————Italy try. Doh!!

    • DaveR on

      Umm Hogg hasn’t always been level headed – Wales 2 years ago? Hogg is coming into a rich vein of form, back to his best because he’s no longer thinking of himself as a potential 10. Russell makes mistakes, is a maverick, but he’s in his second full season as a pro. Give the lad a chance!

      • Mike Linds on

        Think about the days of Dan Parks (soldier though he was), he never made a break like Russell did today (if he did the opposition must have been on opiates). Similarly in the centre – cast your minds back to Marcus di Rollo, who couldn’t
        catch a pass with his gloves on.
        We have a young set of decent backs, not 1999 standard, but look at the experience differential.
        It will get better.

  11. Angus on

    Well done lads

    Hogg just fantastic every time he touched the ball you knew something was on. He really came to play and his heart was 100% in it and behind the team

    Wilson – hats off for a great game he was one of the major catalysts of our great start

    Nel – great in tight and always looking to play his role in defence. Can someone explain the Yellow? Was it for a deliberate knock down or was he offside? If it is is the latter then fair dos but if it is the former then it is total rubbish. He was on the italian side of the ball and when he made contact with the ball (which he was 100% entitled to) his arm action was actually in the direction of the Scottish line and the ball went laterally. Complete rubbish unless of course he was playing the ball form an offside position

    Laidlaw – great work with a fast ball platform delivering it straight away and I am assuming he was getting calls to let him know where he had to give it as opposed to working it out himself. Great kicking (for goal) – I sense JasO’s influence here

    Backs in general – a willingness to move the ball wide which has been absent in the last few games and even included a backline move straight out of the NZ playbook – JasO again for me

    Huge shift in defence with double the tackles of the Italians. Showed great heart and and hats off to Tatsy

    This was a game the coaching staff would have reason to be happy about because everyone played the way they are being coached to, both individually and as a team. I mean even BVC cracked a smile :)

    • BigAl on

      If I was cynical Id say that Nel was knackered and putting his hand up for a substitution. Either that or there was a lack of oxygen reaching his brain. Low did fine when he came on and maybe justifies a little longer next time.

      • FPC on

        Low scrummaged well eventhough Duncan Taylor was packing in behind. He has played well for Exeter in the Aviva Premiership. Simon Berghan dominated for Edinburgh today and Fagerson went well for Glasgow. Need to develop these boys and give them a taste of the top level. Nel is world class but we are asking too much of him.

      • Andy on

        Do we need to try and get creative with our starting front row against the french to try and dampen the impact when they make their substitutions or just go full steam at the start and accept they will demolish us in the scrum come 60 minutes and try and stay away from them? A slippy ball will mean lots of scrums.

    • Angus on

      Looking at a replay the ball went towards Italy but can anyone say they wouldn’t have gone for the ball? NO WAY was it a deliberate knock on

      • Angus on

        I take that back the ball clearly went forward However his arm action was in the direction of our goal line which is perfectly legal and should have resulted in a knock on

  12. Jimmy bond on

    Russell doesn’t get the credit he deserves! Look at every play where they scored a try. Russell played a key role in each one. I would go as far as saying he is a liberation for a try scoring Scotland. Although in his absolute infancy, a class act all the way.

    • not rocket science on

      Could not agree more. People outside Scotland see it, even Guscott. Best fh since GT! With him and Hogg and, dare I say it a form Laidlaw (kicking from distance!!!), the spine is there.

  13. Ruairidh M on

    Wilson was fantastic, the backrow looked balanced, quick and strong. Give him the 8 jersey and be done with it. Denton is too one-dimensional and easy to read, Wilson’s feet, hands and brain are quick and nimble. Barcley got a hard deal from the ref all game. Seymour and Hogg really are brilliant. When we click, it’s a joy to watch.

    • Referendum on

      I had never really rated Wilson and was confused to know why he was starting so much the last few years before his ill discipline but he was amazing yesterday and whoever said it was right Denton there and Hardie just wouldn’t have scored. No matter how good ur at bashing up if u don’t have the pass option to keep the defence honest then it’s a real negative.

  14. Scot95 on

    What has happened to Mark Bennett? He’s been very quiet this year, not seen much of him considering he was such a key player last season

    • not rocket science on

      Just back from injury – first game was England.

      Could see Dunbar, Bennett, Scott and Horne all in contention for France. Taylor keeps his place on form surely?

      Optimism, tempered only by the need to start beating the better teams now.

      • FPC on

        Taylor deserves to keep his place on both 6N and Sarries form. I wonder, though, if he’s not better at 13……

      • JSC on

        I agree if Horne or Scott is fit than one should start at 12 with Taylor at 13.

        Stop rushing Dunbar and Bennett back from injury and let them find form at Glasgow in the meantime.

  15. Jocky on

    Italy thought they could beat us & played an game that suited us, neverthless Scotland played very well in stages of the game. Hogg is world class & sprinkled with magic dust (a once in a generation event) each time he got the ball the Italians backsides were “going” like rabbits noses!!!
    Loved the Hogg & level headed quote!!!!!!
    Russell had a good game & I think you have to take his game …..warts n all – sometimes he will make mistakes.
    Laidlaw was excellent yesterday, his “telling” the ref what was happening in the scrum was good captaincy.
    Wilson had a good game.
    With Nel, Strauss, Visser & soon Du Preez all Scotland players not sure we can whine about “poaching” anyone…………

    V France – Dunbar & Brown must be nearing the 23

  16. Andrew on

    Lots of positives from the game. We were all worried about Wilson picking up cards but he had a great first half and the link up play going through phases was very strong in patches. Very impressed with the tempo, adventure and confidence the team showed from the off – they must have ignored all the stuff about closing I on the worst run of defeats. The determination and calm heads closing out the game will hopefully roll forward to see this team fulfill its potential. Good to see Johnny Gray carry well.

    • FF on

      That was Wilson’s best appearance for Scotland and really puts him in the running to be Scotland’s starting 8. Denton hasn’t really seized his chance and Strauss is yet to have another shot since the World Cup when Denton was ascendant. Hopefully this kind of competition can drive them all onto better performances.

  17. Bulldog on

    We are off the bottom of the table and sitting 4th , ahead of last years champions, when was the last time we were there ?

    We also know that England beat Ireland, France beat Ireland , Italy lost narrowly to France, we have despatched Italy with some pride. We lost narrowly to England , lost to Wales but were leading at 60 minutes, Wales drew with Ireland. We have France at home and Ireland playing for nothing but pride in Dublin.

    Suddenly remaining mid table seems very achievable and the bookmakers may have a bit of a dilema on placing odds on Scotland in the remaining games.

    I am sure Vern Cotter was caught on camera with a smile on his face.

    Well done to the entire squad.

    • FF on

      We haven’t beaten France since 2006, which is incredible given the rubbish they’ve served up in that time including losing to a Italy a number of times in the 6N. That is the next monkey to get off our backs – beat France and the season has been a moderate success. Beat France and Ireland and it could look like a breakthrough season.

      • Referendum on

        Correct. We have to now bring down the tertible losing records we have against individual teams in the six nations. We did Ireland a few years ago. We must now break the French dominance. And the Welsh next year. Do that against the French will be a big step psychologically. This will be more a mental barrier than physical. France are terrible right now and we must make them play poorly.

      • FF on

        It’s totally a mental issue – 2 years ago we were superior to France in every facet, yet one wayward pass by Weir intercepted by Huget and then a last minute collapse of nerve lost us a match we should have buried with twenty minutes to go. France are poor but they can still turn on a hell of a lot of power. They might repeat their trick of bringing on their best scrummagers on 60Minutes in which case either an exhausted Nel or a weak scrummager like Low is going to be put through the wringer. It’ll be no mean feat putting them away.

    • Referendum on

      We were last there with two wins against Italy and Ireland with Scott Johnson in charge. To finally get a win the promise deserves is great. Was beginning to think that even if we were atrocious at least we won now and again.

  18. 1.8T on

    Great result, bit like the world cup group matches, the scoreline in the end flattered us slightly and doesn’t tell the story that Italy had us scared for a while. Agree with others that our style needs to be attack attack attack, sitting back and defending will not work. Wilson vindicated himself if Denton was there I would put pretty much everything on saying he would not have put hardie in for that try. The back row of those three looks dynamic and fast and a downright nuisance at the breakdown, all three of them have played at 7 unless I’m mistaken? Strauss was good and I think he is best as an impact sub. Ross Ford played well and proved me wrong.

    Laidlaw was fast and unpredictable again, further proof that if the forwards are going forward he is an outstanding SH. Better performance from Russell he did a lot of good, I think we just need to accept he will make the odd mistake. Not going to blame him for the card he was just the fall boy for Italy’s sustained pressure on us.

    Taylor deserves the 12 shirt at least till Dunbar is proven fit and in form, Bennett is out of form and was largely anonymous I would be tempted to start Horne. Hogg and Seymour were electric, Hogg really does seem to be getting back to his best after a fair period of indifference that slip out the backdoor to Seymour was a touch of class. Visser was pretty quiet but better than Maitland and Lamont so should stay.

    We need to source some quality front rowers, we are going to kill Wullie McNel if we keep playing him like that.

    On that subject, I was watching the game with a few friends of a footballish disposition and they were astounded at Nel heading for the bin before the referee even went to his pocket, that’s why rugby is just better. Moment of madness but it must be so hard to not do that when the ball is just there, he looked absolutely destroyed by then anyway, what a shift.

    At the end of the match why did we not take a punt at the posts? It was just inside their half and Hogg could have got us another 3 points, with what has so far been a pretty low scoring tight championship it wouldn’t be the first time points difference has decided places. Is it just not the gentlemanly thing to do or was it the risk of a miss and them running it back at us?

    • Referendum on

      I felt that too. Fair enough if they were within a score and chance of losing but we should have had a go or even ran it. Think it was just the relief of it all.

      Tom English piece on BBC is interesting. He said the turning point was Laidlaw kicking to be 9 points ahead while down to 14. I don’t agree. It turned out a good decision but I felt it was going to make it a 2 point game with 5 mins left to survive with 14. We had already lost numerous restarts we were likely to lose that one as it proved to be. I wanted territory played then and the gap to 6 until nearly the sin bin was over. I said it at the time that they would score 7 straight away. We held out… Just but at 20-29 down to 14 with parisse catching the restart I thought… He we go again. Anybody else feel the same?

    • FPC on

      Agreed, Nel is world class but is getting flogged. That won’t work against France. We’ll have to be very accurate to avoid scrums against France in the last 20 mins.

      • Angus on

        ?Since when was a prop not meant to be capable of playing 80 minutes? he worked well and never showed an indication of weakening. Why would you choose to pull him off for a 3rd or 4th choice prop?

  19. TeamCam on

    I don’t get the hate for Denton. Yeah, he’s off form, but when he’s at his best he’s a great runner and his offloading is at least as good as Wilson’s. That said, Wilson was great. Much better than his indifferent WC performances.

    • Bulldog on

      Hate is a strong word and I would hope that no one hates DD. There is no doubt that he is inconsistent as they all are. I believe he has improved his stature in the last year . The positive is that we have choices Denton, Wilson, Strauss even Ashe when he is back to fitness. I think that stimulates opnion. Frankly all of them have strengths and weaknesses their availability due to injury being another complication.

      In my opinion , the backrow was more balanced with Wilson (compliments the other 2 better – no reflection on DD). As always, RW’s temperament is suspect however yesterday , he stepped up and done what we would expect from a maturing internationalist. Will need a bit more to convince me he is over his daft laddie mentality (I dont mind being proved wrong on that in due course) however today is a day to celebrate and recognise the positive contribution. I cannot say for sure what has improved in the lineouts but the performance was consistent.

      Whomever was up against Paraise had a key role , if you silence him you silence Italy and the change at the last minute could have been a hammer blow.

    • BigAl on

      Not feeling any hate for Denton. He’s a bit off form and Wilson and Strauss are coming in to some form. Surprised the coaching team aren’t seeing it sooner. Wilson was limping a bit when he came off so maybe that’s what slowed him down in the second half. Hardie and Barclay are ideal for the way Scotland are trying to play at the moment and I think Wilson playing as he did in the first 30 minutes really compliments that.

  20. Borderer on

    A good performance yesterday 3 tries and some sterling defensive work. A number of players stood out, Hogg, Seymour, Laidlaw, Nel, J Gray, Wilson, Barclay and Hardie but I’m surprised more mention hasn’t been made of Taylor on this Blog. He was superb, tackled everything – anybody know how many he made? – was accurate with his handling and passing, first up chasing our restarts, he’s already looking like an established international. I too hope Wilson can control his discipline as he was also superb yesterday gave us momentum off the back row that’s been lacking for years.
    None of these Six Nations games are easy to win but we were close enough in the first two and there’s no reason why we can’t win the next two but it will be tough.
    I would stick with this team for France although I have my own doubts still about the contribution from Ford and would like to see Visser getting involved a bit more. We need consistency in selection, something NZ coaches are renowned for, and we need to build confidence and international experience.
    Still very much work in progress but well done Scotland.

    • Deflated on

      Looking at the Accenture stats on the 6 nations web page DT made 14 tackles (missed 1) putting him 4th behind JG (22 made 0 missed…outstanding), Hardie (18 and 4), and RG (15 and 2). Some of the other stats show some impressive stuff SH making 99 m off 9 carries beating six defenders and with 2 try assists which is a fantastic set of stats. I’ve said previously, it wasn’t perfect, but I’m not going to quibble. It will now be about confidence, continuing to improve certain aspects and doing the good things even better. And just to comment on the discussion about WPN that is now the second game in a row where he has left to go the 80 mins (if he had not been carded, I think he would have stayed on). To me that indicates that the coaches back his fitness and realise how good a scrummager he is. The card was probably right and consistent with most other ‘deliberate’ knock on decisions recently although like a lot of those others I am not convinced he was actually deliberate it was more of an unrealistic attempt to intercept. Learn and move on.

      • FPC on

        WPN is a future British Lion but is clearly fatigued after 65 minutes. What tight head wouldn’t be? After highly disciplined displays, it is surely no coincidence that he committed errors against Wales (two knock ons) and Italy (yellow card) towards the end of the game. As an aside, both he and Dicko (who played a blinder) were sluggish at the breakdown towards the end.
        BVC and his team know best but I am concerned that this approach won’t work against France. We’ll see. It would be good to trust the bench: it is up to them to deliver.
        Not to be deliberately controversial but I wonder if WPN was contracted to a big club down South; how happy they would be with the potential overuse of a prized asset.

  21. John Mc on

    Back late from Rome last night and haven’t seen a recording yet, but from memory it did look like we had pretty good control from start to finish – even when hard pressed for that spell in the second half, I still felt positive about the outcome. Clearly the team’s confidence transmitted itself to the supporters.
    Hard to offer any meaningful analysis from memory, but we did seem to move the ball very quickly through the hands, and breakdown work looked impressive. Hogg appeared to spread panic in the Italy defence every time he had the ball (shades of Toony in Stade de France 1999?) and the line-out was reliable. Most scrums were some way away from us, but close enough to see we bossed that part of the game too. I’d be interested in the match stats, as it didn’t feel as if we spent a lot of time in Italy’s half in the second half yet still knocked up 19 points. Pleasing contrast with the countless past 6N Tests where we’ve battered the opposition line for ten, fifteen minutes or so and come away with no reward.
    Time not to get too carried away at the prospect of playing France at Murrayfield, even though it’s the poorest France side I’ve seen for many a year. You just never know what they will serve up on 13 March. But Scotland squad spirit will be high after the manner of this win so I’m looking forward to the prospect of more than one win in a 6N tournament…..

  22. Mako on

    Lot of comments on the props and I completely agree. Nel needs a rest. I think this 6N will continue in the vein that it has but the Autumn internationals may feature Simon Berghan. Totally beasted the scrum when he came on for Edinburgh on Sunday. Seems that he can play both sides but has a preference for TH.

    • Andy on

      The fact that he’s not starting for Edinburgh despite them being without Nel tells me he needs to do better just to get a start for Edinburgh never mind get a start for Scotland.

      • Referendum on

        He almost cost Edinburgh the game with a stupid stupid penalty coming in from the side (which he held his hands up to straight away) which the scarlets missed. These are the lapses that would cost Scotland so needs to cut that out.

      • Kev on

        He is a very very destructive tight head prop, would definitely get in my squad if available. Fagerson will be up there soon but needs more Pro12 matches IMO

  23. Referendum on

    Can someone with more know how tell me what Finn Russell did wrong for his yellow card? I know it was obvious and something that people get pinged for mainly from coming in from the side but he came from directly behind and was on his feet. He also didn’t get told to leave it by the ref (which they don’t have to do but had been doing most of the time up to that point)

    Also time and time again the Italian ball carrier got away with holding on as Barclay and Hardie cleanly stole the ball. Is the ball carrier alouded to try to keep the ball after he is tackled?

    • Rory Baldwin on

      Someone may correct me but my understanding is this: the first (etc) defender to the tackle (not the tackler) may challenge for the ball with his hands if he has gone through the gate and is supporting his own weight. The tackler may also challenge from any direction once he has released the ball-carrier and is on his feet. Once another Italian player binds to the unholy mess, it becomes a ruck and you are not allowed to handle the ball, only play it with your feet (just like Mike Brown). Having said all that, if the ball is not on the ground then it cannot be a ruck.

      Law 16.4(b): Players must not handle the ball in a ruck except after a tackle if they are on their feet and have their hands on the ball before the ruck is formed.

      • Deflated on

        Rory, I think you are spot on. FR was not the tackler or the first non tackler at the ruck. I am pretty sure the ref called no hands but FR continued on so I am comfortable with that decision. What I was not impressed with was that at least four times during the game I felt we legally had hands on in rucks with the Italian holding on but the ref allowed play to continue. In one instance the ref actually calls ‘it’s ok he is legal, play on’ ( referring to Barclay, I think it was) but failed to penalise the Italians despite them retaining the ball.

      • sorekneerunrun on

        Regarding the FR yellow card, the Italian half back was in the process of picking the ball up from the base of the ruck- FR, on his feet and onside, reached over to try and claim the ball as it was being lifted. Is the Italian by lifting and playing the ball with his hands, not thus ending the ruck? Or do the laws protect the half back in this position?

    • Allan on

      The key question here is ‘was a ruck formed’? The ball was not on the ground so was it a maul or did Peyper just decide to treat it as a ruck even though the ball never made it to ground?

      • Angus on

        There were 3 occasions where a Scottish player reached over the ruck and tried to grab the ball on the Italian side. The first occasion resulted in a penalty against us, then there was Russell’s yellow card and in the 66th minute I think it was Barclay who did it again and was trying to pull it out of the half back’s hands. The ref played penalty advantage and he wasn’t penalised or possibly even carded

        This shows a pattern and I think a sit down for the squad with a ref is required to clarify what is allowed and what isn’t in this situation

  24. Sonny on

    Great week-end to be a Scottish rugby follower.
    Pheuw! Agree,in Rome my heart was in my mouth with our lackadaisical approach to kick offs in the last 20 minutes.
    Consistently our downfall and sadly a remnant from RWC game v Argentina in NZ.Seymour appears our only player who can leap and catch with confidence like the best of them in 6N.
    Inability to secure enough 50-50 ball skewering us and need to up our standards since being exploited by other teams.

    Believe we are at our best when playing at a higher tempo.
    Barclay’s support and pace onto the ball for his try showed Cotter influence may be clicking with the team. We had looked pedestrian when moving the ball as v England, but our three tries demonstrated how clinical we can be when quick off-loading and interplay between forwards and backs happens.
    Wilson was impressive overall with good breakaway combo of grunt and ball skills. He should nail down No 8 spot as Denton one trick pony go to ground guy.

  25. Referendum on

    Having been unable to get my referee rant up on the post Wales reaction for some technical issue, I thought I’d be a bit kinder to referees and not focus too much on that (although there was some questionable stuff in the second half from Jaco). Seemingly we are having a positive look at Scotland cos we are winning. Last week I pointed out the postives in the defeat. I’d like to focus on the things to work on which were often the exact areas of strength against Wales.

    1. Yellow Cards. Nel was instinctive but against better teams with your dominant prop off you’d get done in the scrums thereafter and whether we agree with the technicalities of Russell’s actions or not it was risky and losing your FH is once again a big issue. Apparently Dickinson won 5 of the 6 scrum Penalties and Nel the other. So we could ask then 6 scrum penalties where was the yellow card there?
    2. Re-starts. Back to the old issue there and needs to be worked on cos you do that against a flakey France you’ll lose a try or two. Anyone know how many Scotland lost? Taking that on board why was one of the officials not looking at Italy jumping the gun? It was clear and obvious if you were looking. Peyper wasn’t most of the time.
    3.Line-outs. Much better but could have been shakier had the squint throw early on fed to more line-out issues. Scotland did win some against the throw so this was much more positive.
    4. Penalties. In a looser game than many in Six Nations more penalties would be expected but to work up to 9 with the amount of defence is very impressive. Scotland were in single figures for the third game in a row. 23 penalties in total which is well below an average of 10 a game. 13 for Italy and 6 in the scrum and probably the rest were not rolling away so again why no yellow for them?
    All in all. Great tries from a long way out, confidence and real style. Defence and organisation brilliant and most importantly their is a coach who says Scotland haven’t turned the corner yet which is very important to remember. Scotland need to break the 10 year dominance France have against them. As said before we need to start to break the long term losing runs we have against England, Wales and it starts with France.

  26. Matto on

    Not long back off the plane, and I’ve not yet re-watched the match. However, this was a well deserved win. I was unable to actually relax until the 78th minute or so, which was testament to Italy, but Seymour’s try gave me that most rare of 6N experiences (as a Scotland fan). Without wishing to repeat any of the above, I think it’s worth mentioning that Wilson appeared to have turned his ankle in the first half, which may well have slowed him down a bit thereafter. I thought he was excellent prior to that though, especially in carrying ball out of pressure situations. As a spectator, Parisse was a menace and everywhere. I seem to recall Ford putting in a couple of telling hits on him though. I’ve also read mediocre reviews of Johnny Gray elsewhere; in the stands he looked to be carrying hard, as we’re used to, but I also read that he made 22 tackles, missed zero- absolute class. Other than that, a number of fine performances, as discussed in the posts above. I have to say it is a huge pleasure to see Hoggy back on form. For me he is genuinely World class, certainly in the top four (on form) and a delight to watch.

    • Andrew McG on

      Interesting point about Jonny Gray – why does he have so few missed tackles? I think the key thing is his body position. The reason he has so few missed tackles is the same reason that he makes ground when he carries the ball. He hunts low and has the power and leg speed to get himself in position to tackle or carry effectively. A few of our other weaker tacklers would do well to lower their centre of gravity, whether for tackles or carries.

      • Andy on

        Jonny Gray is an absolute cert for the Lions next year IMO. Him and AWJ in the second row, what a workrate that would be.

      • John Mc on

        For the next 14 months, I have no interest in speculation about who could make the 17 Lions. Not just because we need to concentrate on seeing Scotland getting better results Test by Test, but also because we don’t know who will coach the Lions, what their selection preferences will be, and how players’ form and fitness will last out. But I do agree that JG is one of the top locks in the 6N right now.

  27. Rugsy on

    Agree with the Jonny Gray comments… I think he is or close to being in the world class category for his position. Listening to all the hype regarding Maro Itoje for England… to me JG is better.

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