Scotland 43-16 Georgia

A brisk but dry day at Rugby Park saw Scotland take on Georgia for the first time since scraping through in the 2011 RWC.

Vern Cotter shuffled his pack slightly, bringing Ross Ford and Richie Gray back. Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson and Rob Harley made a dynamic back row designed to get fast ball.

The visitors came out hard, and secured an early penalty from some trademark carrying. The kick went to the corner, and whilst Scotland looked to have slowed the maul well, the ball spilled out and was retrieved by the Georgian no.9. The scrum half made Tommy Seymour look really silly and dotted down to give Georgia a shock lead after just two mins. The conversion went wide: 5-0.

Really Scotland just needed to start again, and the axis of Russell, Hogg and Seymour combined well, punching holes in the defence. Seymour made up for his earlier turnstile impression by retrieving and touching down a beauty of a chip from Hogg. Laidlaw converted from wide right making it 7-5 Scotland.

Ross Ford was really at the forefront for Scotland and carried hard throughout. His hard yards gave the Scots another chance, with a long floated pass from Dunbar being butchered by Maitland. Play continued however and Sleepy got another shot, this time dotting down. Laidlaw converted from the other touchline, 14-5 Scotland.

Georgia stemmed the flow with another penalty but it was all Scotland at this point 14-8.

The Georgian maul is a powerful weapon, but Scotland had their own crack at it from the next passage of play. The Scots rumbled forward and referee … gave a penalty try and a yellow card for the Georgian lock. 21-8 and a well deserved lead.

Laidlaw was dictating the play well and kicking like a dream, and another 3 points stretched the lead to 24-8. The Georgians got 3 back after a huge scrum leaving it 24-11 after 30 minutes.

Hogg was looking for work at all times, and a sublime chip and regather saw the fullback cross the line on 35 mins for another Scotland try – converted again by Laidlaw.

Half-time: Scotland 31-11 Georgia

Scotland started the second 40 with real energy and another lovely break from Hogg gave Scotland a penalty on the 5 m line – Russell went into the corner and Hamish Watson smashed off the back to score a well deserved try. Great hands from Fagerson for the assist.

Laidlaw converted to make it 38-11 after 43 mins.

Georgia regrouped well though, and some big yards in midfield gave them a penalty.The only option was the kick to corner, and the resulting maul was brilliantly defended, stripped and cleared. A great win fir the Scots forwards.

Scotland were definitely winning the breakdown battle, and another penalty gave Russell the chance to kick us deep into Georgia territory. The lineout was again well taken and a penalty was given as the Georgians desperately defended. Same tactic, but this time the lineout was lost. Georgia cleared well but they were really hanging on.

Georgia do have talent across the 15, and when the backs finally got the ball they looked very dangerous. Another penalty conceded by Scotland saw the Georgians go to the scrum. Another penalty, another scrum and Georgia rumbled over with no.9 scoring his second. What a pack the eastern Europeans have! The conversion missed to the left, leaving it 38-16 with 25 minutes to play.

Georgia were being roared on by their support, and were certainly giving them plenty to cheer with some outstanding defence. Scotland continued to probe with some half breaks,  but were repelled  by good cover defence from the Lelos. The game was at this point really scrappy, with plenty of errors from both sides.

Georgia continued to dominate the scrum, and another penalty say the reds back on the 5m line once more. Scotland managed to steal the lineout, making the decision not to go for another scrum all the more puzzling. This theory was further enhanced with 2 more bulldozing scrums resulting in a yellow for Moray Low.

With 8 minutes left, we finally go the international debut of Ali Price. The young Warriors scrum half replaced Greig Laidlaw, perhaps later than expected given the score. John Barclay took over as captain.

Young Price introduced himself to international rugby in some style, with an amazing break supported by Rory Hughes who then popped it to Hogg to score a sensational breakaway try. Russell missed the extras but the final score was a satisfactory 43-16 to Scotland.

Full-time: Scotland 43 – 16 Georgia

SRBlog Man of the Match – Ryan Wilson got the sponsors award but our Scottish Rugby Blog award goes to Stuart Hogg who was in scintilating form. Honourable mentions to Watson, Johnny Gray and Ross Ford.

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Originally from the Isle of Bute, John is a Glasgow Warriors fan and retired crash ball specialist. John still enjoys the occasional rugby 'social' with his former team mates at Bute and Bishopton RFC

42 comments on “Scotland 43-16 Georgia

    • Borderer on

      Agreed! Maitland is a very good rugby player not flashy but has got all the skills.
      Great win and good series for Scotland, one negative, apart from the scrum when Low came on, is our management around the maul we’re careless around that area and get turned over often. Also, we don’t seem to hit the mauls as hard as the best teams.
      Having said that we are still improving and getting some strength in depth, e.g. Dell, Watson, Fagerson, Allen, Bradbury, Jones and, although we didn’t see much of him, Price.

      • Mikelinds on

        Agree. Two wins out of three, and probably ought to have been three. Dell and Fagerson will have learnt more in these three games than in an entire Pro 12 season. Trick now is to develop them further. Watson was solid and consistent plus Jones has shown to be class and Bradbury and Price we’ll see plenty more of.

        Cotter is really very conservative and I expect little tinkering through the 6 Nations unless forced on him by injury.

        The time for a look at any other new contenders is in the summer when GT takes over and ranking points have lost their immediate significance.

        Now for the 6 Nations, and a really tough one first up!!

      • Bulldog on

        I think we are being a bit sore on John here.

        Credit where Credit is due, Sean Maitland (SM) took his try well today and needed to work his way over to provide him with 20% of his international try scoring total.

        In fact SM has scored 40% of his entire International tries in the last 2 games.

        While John may have said things slightly differently I am not against him pointing out that SM is not our most electric winger.

        Here are some facts just to make sure we maintain perspective and evaluate objectively.

        Seymour 31 caps and 14 tries. Strike rate circa
        50%.
        Visser 28 caps and 11 tries strike rate circa 40% (on 25 starts)

        SM : 25 Caps and 5 tries strike rate 20% (24 starts).

        Visser has the same starts roughly and has a better strike rate by 100%.

        You could say that performance is not sleepy , he is scoring tries , look at the last two games?

        However if we look at his previous performances his strike average is one every 7.7 matches.

        You might say Bulldog is being harsh now, some of SM’s games may have been at Full back.

        Off course there is only one response to that counter argument which is to say that WP Nel has 13 starts, 2 tries which is one every 6.5 matches and he has never had the benefit of playing on the wing or fullback.

        You just can not get away from the facts. He might not be sleeping, however he is not scoring tries either.

  1. Calum caldwell on

    Excellent first half, thought Russell played brilliantly. Had to wonder why Price was only given 7 minutes, the match was well won by 50 minutes.

    • Bulldog on

      kicking and captaincy I suspect. Finn R missed the conversion. If I was really thinking out the box, Laidlaw plays in England and Price for an SRU side with ambitions to qualify for the playoffs. So why expose your Glasgow asset (SRU Owned side) to unnecessary injury risk with the game won. Doubt that is the reason , however, the SRU is a business

      • Kevin Wilson on

        Price needs to start getting game time soon, otherwise we will end up with anothe Pyrgos situation where people are arguing that he has had has chance when in reality we haven’t really seen that much of in IMO Price should have been on from the 45/50 minute Mark when the game was already won. In reality we shouldn’t be realient on a scrum half kicking anyway, if this was really a concern Peter Horne should have been brought on at the same time to allow a decent kicker to have a shot.

  2. Calum on

    Excellent first half, thought Russell played brilliantly. Had to wonder why Price was only given 7 minutes, the match was well won by 50 minutes.

  3. John Thompson on

    Hamish Watson reminds me of the old days of rugby back in the 70s/80s. Goes about his business round the park without taking any of the plaudits. My man of the autumn along with Barclay.

  4. john martin on

    Hogg is the man, an absolute genuis. Russell played very well too.

    Price showed what a 9 can do (not that Laidlaw played badly he hasn’t had a clean break like Price’s in….. well i cant remember).

    Seemed to be a perfect game for Du Preez to have 30mins

    • WestCountryTartanArmy on

      That was great from Price. But the resulting failed conversion (Russell) emphasised the point on Laidlaw. No, those 2 points weren’t critical but in Feb/March they could be.

  5. JohnMc on

    No complaints about a high margin win against a strong side very much close to 6N standard. Thought we went to sleep for about 20 minutes of that second half, but on reflection maybe that was just holding out against a tough Georgia pack that was always going to get rumbling sooner or later. Thought we pretty much blew them away first half, even allowing for the silly blind side awareness and defensive errors that led to their first try. Good to see solidity in those early scrums, but when Fagerson was off we looked shaky. Is Low really not quite Test standard or is he, like the whole Scotland front row used be, on the ref’s penalty watch list?
    Anyway, a good Autumn for Scotland that could have been a perfect one had we been able to close out the Australia Test.

    • Al on

      Being on a penalty watch list doesnt explain a scrum going backwards at a rate of knots. the front row had a shocker in the scrum and we are seriously gonna struggle if Nel and Dickinson don’t come good in the spring.

      Despite the six tries I still think we need to look at our back play in comparison to the Aussies as a benchmark of fast inventive rugby. we have the players but seem a bit too obvious in how we play. The big miss passes today were ineffective and we need to find ways of cutting through the stronger defences or we will continue to lose against the big boys

      • JohnMc on

        Need to watch it all again before judging if it was a front row shocker or not. Didn’t come across to me like that in real time, save for the struggles when Low was on the field. I might be wrong of course so will have another look tonight!

      • Will on

        Low, with all due respect to him, is an appalling scrummager and I scream inwardly every time he comes onto the field. I’ll be much happier when we have Nel fit again with Fagerson to come off the bench. Dell has really impressed me this series, maybe hasn’t done anything conspicuously outstanding but hasn’t really put a foot wrong in the scrums. We’ll have some good depth at loosehead once Dickinson and Sutherland are fit again

      • 1.8T on

        Agreed I think we were a bit predictable in attack, good enough to break the Georgians but better teams would have kept us out. The narrower pitch probably made this more obvious though. Our backs never seemed to hit the line at pace when it was passed out wide it was all a bit static, Maitlands first attempt at a try is a prime example and his successful attempt was harder work than it should have been. Low had a torrid time but Fagerson did ok I think, hopefully Nel is fit again for the 6N otherwise we could have problems.

        Negatives aside I thought it was a good performance overall. Laidlaw was a bit slow at times where snappy quick passes would have created more space. Prices break was a fantastic bit of vision and well executed, I would have put money on Scotland teams of the past butchering that.

        The lineouts and mauls in particular were very strong, especially the maul where we have struggled recently, to get a penalty try from one against a strong Georgian pack was an achievement.

        Russell and Hogg had good games after in my opinion quiet (by their own high standards) autumns.

        I think what we have learned from the AIs is that we are shallow in depth for the front row, and an injury or two away from a problem in the second row and half backs. However in the back row and center we are spolied for choice, crazy to think that Mark Bennett (who I thought was quite quiet today) is potentially the 3rd choice 13, nice problem to have! Barclay has proven himself with great form and the others have had a good showing, even Harley today.

        I feel a bit of deja vu here but I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the 6N, England and Ireland are in incredible form at the moment but the others we are quite capable of beating.

        On a final note, no way was Seymour’s try a try!

  6. Stevomc on

    Dell’s 2 turnovers won within 2 minutes of each other were brilliant. He hasn’t stood out for me with Edinburgh, but around the park for Scotland he has been a real presence – definitely one of the big positives this autumn.

    • Mikelinds on

      Have to agree about Dell. Has good hands too. Wouldn’t want him starting, but equally wouldn’t cringe with him coming off the bench. Unlike Low.

      Decent win today, the intensity in the first half was excellent.

      • WestCountryTartanArmy on

        Just what I said last week re:Low. Same goes for Reid for me. Not one to single out players but neither of these two should be in the squad in February.

  7. Stevomc on

    Cusack still playing for Yorkshire Carnegie. Wonder if he was considered for this Autumn as a stop gap measure – guess he’s not the future!!

  8. Jimmy Bond on

    it was interesting to see that Russell didn’t attack the gain line nearly as much as previously seen. He passed much, much earlier compared to the last two matches. Also, again Maitland was coming in as first receiver from the lineout which I found interesting. `Class game and won n the 1st half. Mon the blue

  9. wise after the event on

    Interesting to see a very grudging comment RE Harley. All the articles on the match talk about quick ball and maul defence and winning the breakdown. Harley is replaced on 46 minutes with the game won and everything becomes slightly slower and messier. Accuracy in the first half was key, which was missed slightly. Maitland criticism is not justified. Scotland also consistently won the the kicking game to play the game in the right areas. All round really good performance.

  10. Andrew McGavin on

    Clearly, some great play from Scotland, and overall a really encouraging Autumn (particularly the stat that Argentina only had the ball for 62 seconds in the last 20 minutes of that game!). On the Georgia game, I missed the first half, so perhaps was not inclined to be as forgiving of a disappointing stretch in the second half. At risk of sounding negative, here are a couple of points from what I saw that I haven’t noticed anyone else making:

    1) At 38-11, just before the play swung back in Georgia’s favour in the second half, Scotland messed up two lineouts (one on Georgia’s 5m line, and a second in the subsequent play after Georgia had cleared their lines after the first one). At that point, Scotland had an amazing opportunity to crush Georgian resistance and put 60 points on them. Not to minimise Georgia’s ability, but those two missed lineouts clearly put wind in Georgian sails and took them up the other end of the field. Didn’t ultimately matter too much in this match, but this is exactly the kind of sequence that will stop us winning 6N matches if we don’t sort them out.

    2) Big congrats to Ali Price on what must have been an amazing feeling setting up that try with his great break. Just to give some context, though, did anyone else notice that Price also took a long time at the base of the ruck to release the ball on a couple of occasions. My point isn’t to criticise Price, who had a dream cameo debut, but to say that that is exactly the kind of thing that Laidlaw gets hammered for. But nobody’s mentioned it. Every time a SH plays for Scotland, they either lose accuracy in trying to be too quick with their pass, or they spend time organising slow ball and waiting for teammates to get in position. It’s been true of Pyrgos, SHC and now Price, all of whom are regarded as sharp, quick passers at pro level. Granted, Laidlaw could be quicker at times and his passes less loopy, but it seems like he gets judged to a different standard sometimes. Just saying…

    As I say, overall very pleased and looking forward to the 6N!

    • WestCountryTartanArmy on

      Re:Price/Laidlaw – I made the same observation! When he came on I was immediately looking for the quick ball that was by no means a certainty. I think the point on Laidlaw is that the ball shouldn’t always be quick – but that it should be sometimes (and more than it tends to be). That said, it was improved on Saturday, which leaves me questioning why we don’t play like that in the 6N. Yes, it can be messy and risky and the game is wide open – but surely that would suit us? Play to our strengths. Come February 4th we don’t want to be in a sluggish physical battle with the Irish with their ‘know-how’!

  11. Ade on

    A sound win, rounding off the AI nicely. I was very impressed with how we took the game to the Georgians in the areas of their perceived strength. Defence of mauls was mainly good, and the penalty try was great to see. If they hadn’t collapsed it, Scotland would have scored anyway.

    Scrum wise – I don’t get what is happening with Moray Low. The games I’ve seen him playing for Exeter this year he hasn’t struggled the way he does in a Scotland shirt. Is the Exeter second row giving him more support than the Grays? Unlikely. So it looks as if we have 5 props that can do a job for us – Nel, Dickinson, Fagerson, Dell and Sutherland. After that the cupboard looks a bit bare. We could do with a couple more putting their hands up.

    Wilson had a fine game on Saturday, but for me the player of the series for Scotland has been Hamish Watson. It is fantastic to think that we have such quality across the back row – Watson, Wilson, Barclay, Bradbury, Harley, Strauss, Hardie, Ashe, Denton gives you three complete units. Then add in the likes of Ritchie, Du Preez, Fusaro, Cowan and it is very healthy.

    My only issues with Saturdays performance was the drop off in intensity in the second half, which allowed Georgia to exert far more control than they should have had. They are a good side undoubtedly, and will claim a 6N scalp soon enough, but they are not there yet. My other bugbear was the gaps in the crowd – what a shame it was not a sell out.

  12. Fraser on

    I was at the match on Saturday and confess I thought it would be a lot closer than it turned out. We played some superb rugby and re-watching it later there were breaks that could / should have led to more scores (Russell had a chip-on and gather that just needed a slip pass for example).

    Georgia I thought would always come into the match and I think as Ade says above we dropped off for 15 – 20 minutes and allowed that to happen. We made some typical dumb choices and were sloppy giving away possession & losing focus so that needs to be worked on before 6 Nations.

    Saying that, six tries, no obvious injuries, young players tried and tested – not a bad day out! Watson made ground every time he got the ball – one carry near the line in the first half he had 2 / 3 players on him but still drove forward – well impressed.

    Crowd was very good I thought and while not a sell out it was only 3000 odd short of capacity and seemed very full. Atmosphere was great (took my wee boy and he loved it) and a steward said to us “this is amazing having so many people here – normally it’s empty”. Also – the last score… times gone, Scotland could (would) have butchered that last try but Rory Hughes did an amazing “draw the man and pass” thing that I believe could catch on :)

  13. Frazer on

    So, after the Autumn Internationals, just like I am every year, I am filled with confidence that the forthcoming 6 Nations will be our breakout tournament.

    In previous years that confidence has been totally unfounded, more blind optimism than any true belief, but this year the future looks a little rosier.

    In spite of the injury woes in the front row Dell and Fagerson have really put their hands up and will provide a bit of extra competition for Dicko and Nel. The Gray boys have been terrific – Jonny as metronomic in his tackling as ever, and Richie seems to have had a renaissance. Gilchrist showed up well and hopefully has put his injury woes behind him. The back row is looking in better shape than it has for a long time, Watson has been a revelation, Barclay is making his prior exile look ridiculous, Wilson and Harley showed good form, and Bradbury didn’t look out of place. Not much change in the backs except, to mention that Huw Jones has been a real find, and when Taylor is back it is going to give BVC a real selection headache.

    Ireland first up will be a very tall order – they are in very good form and are very strong in all areas, but home advantage will count for something, although a strong referee who will keep the Irish honest regarding their, ahem, tactics around the breakdown would also be of benefit.

    As it is every year, it’s the old cliché with the French; which side will turn up? Their results this Autumn have been mixed – they thumped Samoa then lost narrowly to Australia and New Zealand. They seem to be a bit more settled than of late and this could be a tough one, especially as we haven’t won in Paris for a while!

    Next it’s Wales………if we have a horror 6N and we only win 1 game please let it be this one! For too many years Wales have had our number, but IMO their arrogance now exceeds their ability and I feel that we really ought to win this at a canter.

    England at HQ next, and only the most optimistic Scotland supporter would predict a win here, so I reckon us by 5 or less!

    Finally Italy, and unfortunately for the Azzurri I feel that they have gone backwards over the last few years, and last time at Murrayfield we really put some manners on them and I would expect the same outcome this time wound.

    I think a good return would be 3 wins out of 5, 4 would be a great return, 2 wins would be a disappointment.

    As an aside, if we had zero injury problems and a full, fit, and on form pool of players, I think the team would line up like this:

    Dicko, Brown, Nel, Gray, Gray, Barclay, Watson, Denton, Laidlaw, Russell, Seymour, Dunbar, Jones, Maitland, Hogg

    Subs: Ford, Dell, Fagerson, Gilchrist, Hardie, Price, Taylor, Hoyland

    A strong team I feel, and still Sutherland, McInally, Swinson, Wilson, Harley, Strauss, Bradbury, Pyrgos, Horne, Bennett, Visser, Hughes, and Scott miss out!

    • JohnMc on

      Good post, Frazer Like you, having experienced many false dawns, I’m on the one hand apprehensive about our 6N prospects and, on the other, quite optimistic about them at the same time.
      I do think this is the best group of proper Test class players assembled for nearly two decades. Quality starters, when fit, and quality back up in many, but not all, positions. And a renewed sense of confidence inside the squad that we can now compete against anyone again. First up v Ireland is a real challenge, and how we match up will be a real test of how we’ve moved on from this year’s AIs.
      The Anglo-centric press (I live in England) are already trailing England v Ireland as the 6N decider and prime determinant of who gets picked for the 17 Lions. Well, I’m not so sure about that – though to be fair both are rightly ranked above us at the moment.
      Whatever, I’m hoping for, in fact expecting, a strong showing from Scotland in the next 6N and for me our final position in the table will be less important than the levels of performance the boys can deliver in the tournament.
      I’d query your call on Denton at this time, mainly because he’s been out for a while now and didn’t figure even as a sub in Bath’s game yesterday. Having said that, what a richness we already have in the back row, and I can only hope all of our first picks and quality back-ups stay fit and in form in the next ten weeks!

    • Andy on

      Ireland first up will be a real challenge as the effects of their attritional rugby with scarecely believable intensity won’t be felt till the 3rd or 4th game for them. Would love to be a fly on the wall in their camp to see what they can do to have small guys like Keith Earls and Paddy Jackson carry out superhuman feats of power.

      • WestCountryTartanArmy on

        Perhaps in the case of Earls the downside is a lack of self-awareness/remorse? He should get booed at Murrayfield.

  14. Calum on

    Looking forward to the Ireland game, if the squad was fully fit and on form I would pick:

    1- Dickinson, 2- Ford, 3- Nel, 4- Gray, 5- Gray, 6- Hardie, 7- Watson, 8- Du Preez
    9- Laidlaw, 10- Russell, 11- Seymour, 12- Dunbar, 13- Jones, 14- Taylor, 15- Hogg

    16- Brown, 17- Sutherland, 18- Fagerson, 19- Gilchrist, 20- Bradbury, 21- Price, 22- Horne, 23- Maitland

    Very tough on Barcley I know, but when on form I think Hardie is the better player.

    • Merlot on

      Cannot agree with the back row. Du Preez hasn’t performed consistently for Edinburgh, never mind throwing him in to start a 6N. Much as I’d like to pick both Hardie and Watson, it’s one or other. Barclay-Watson-Wilson is a much more balanced back row with either Hardie or Bradbury on the bench.
      Equally, I don’t know why you’re parchuting Sutherland in after Dell’s performance(s). Dell’s ability to force turnovers is exceptional. I would probably swap Brown and Ford, just so when the whole front row is swapped we still have an experienced head between the two youngsters.

      • Ade on

        I would agree Merlot – what would CdP bring to the table that you don’t already have from guys like Barclay and Strauss?

        He isn’t a Vunipola or O’Brien in terms of breaking the gainline, nor a competitor at the breakdown like Warburton, so he offers no real advantage, tidy player though he is.

  15. Matto on

    I would agree that this is the best squad we have going into the 6N for a good old stretch. However, despite the undoubted improvement, I think we will be doing very well to finish above 4th. We should beat Italy on current form and personnel, and I believe we are also playing better than Wales. We struggle against Ireland’s streetwise-ness and physicality at the best of times, but they have found a rich vein of form. England at Twickers… I would consider 3rd a really good outcome, and that would rely on either turning over Ireland at home, or France away, either of which would be an excellent result. Ultimately I think we will struggle with depth through the tournament. Yes, we have improved there two, but in many positions we have an excellent starter with a decent backup. To compete at the top at a tournament level you really need three almost like for like options in each position. Alas, we remain short of that. I am very optimistic about how things are going with the team, but remain positively realistic about what where we stand. As a final note – yes, please get it together to beat Wales for feck sake. I really felt that if Hogg hadn’t gone off early last time round we would have got the result in Cardiff. They’ve dodged a fair few tartan bullets over the years – time to put it right.

    • Mikelinds on

      Agree with Calum, mostly. Front five, there is no argument. Agree with the backs, I think if fit Taylor will start over Maitland. He plays wing plenty for Sarries and has bags of pace. I suspect Cotter will play “horses for courses” in the back row. Certainly don’t expect to see Harley back again. So, interchangeable, depending of the balance he wants.

      I thought we might come unstuck in an arm wrestle against Georgia, but it was a cleverly targeted one. Think Cotter will be looking to see any tiny chinks Ireland have upfront. We can do them in the backs with half decent ball. Plenty to look forward to.

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