Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs Australia – Player Ratings

Zander Fagerson - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Zander Fagerson - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

15. Stuart Hogg: 7 – played his usual game, attacking from deep however he never truly got the chance to cut free and probably should have looked to mix his game up more, he has a big boot and had opportunities today to turn Australia.

14. Sean Maitland: 6 – not a bad game but was quiet with little ball. Solid in defence but he’ll have better days as an attacking threat.

13. Huw Jones: 9 – outstanding, dangerous performance on his first start for his country. Two tries and full of energy throughout, he can be a very happy man at his own performance.  The 13 jersey is his for now.

12. Alex Dunbar: 7 – good first half but less noticeable in attack in the second.  Strong in defence and had to put in plenty of tackles in the second 4o minutes.  A solid performance, almost back to his best.

11. Tim Visser: 7 – started slowly but came into game as it wore on.  Was probably Scotland’s best attacking threat in the second half.

10. Finn Russell: 8 – A good game for the flyhalf who kept Australia really honest with his probing play, mixing up kicks and darting runs. A very cute chip created the first try and one crunching tackle on Foley (which was only just on the legal side of being late) that he really felt put a bit of a marker down.

9. Greig Laidlaw: 7 – directed play in his usual manner but needs to offer more of an attacking threat. Will be kicking himself for the missed conversion off the post (by a lick of paint, he said afterwards) but still a great general on the pitch.

1. Allan Dell: 7 – Very solid debut, held his own in the scrum and was strong in the loose with some good carries at the end of the first half.  Looks like he will have a long career at this level.

2. Ross Ford: 6 – A quiet day on his 100th cap.  Reasonable enough, no major mistakes but he can offer more. We’ve said that before. About 99 times.

3. Zander Fagerson: 6 – A good second cap, did enough in the scrum and had a couple of good carries.  Will have learnt a lot from playing this class of opposition in front of a packed, noisy crowd. Still staggeringly young for a tighthead.

4. Richie Gray: 6 – kept on working, good at the lineout and as ever put in a big shift when he got the ball. Had little chance in second half to drive at the Australian defence.

5. Johnny Gray: 7.5 – like his big brother put in a huge effort, good at the breakdown and never gave the Australians a minutes peace. Deserved his try and continues to go from strength to strength.

6. John Barclay: 8 – A great game for Barclay, was a total mongrel at the breakdown and ran all over the park until he was broken.  He looks like he’s cemented his position in that back row once again.

7. Hamish Watson: 7 – Treated Australia with very little respect and has no right to knock over some of the guys he does.  Took his Edinburgh form onto the international stage and will continue to grow at this level given the chance which the injury to Hardie may well provide.

8. Ryan Wilson: 5 – went off early with an injury, however did make a ricket of a restart early doors.


16. Fraser Brown: 6 – Defensively strong when he came on and carries with similar strength.

17. Gordon Reid: 5 – Struggled in the scrum when he came on and gave a penalty away with pretty much his first touch.

18. Moray Low: 6 – not on for long, couple of decent carries. Secured a scrum free kick to give Scotland one final attack.

19. Grant Gilchrist: 6 – due to injury he ended up playing on the blindside where he actually did ok.

20. John Hardie: 6 – was playing well in combination with Watson and gave Scotland a dynamic back row. Took a bad looking leg injury so we may not see him again anytime soon.

22. Pete Horne: 5 – only on for a couple of minutes, didn’t get much to do.

Not used: Ali Price, Rory Hughes

66 Responses

  1. I hope Seymour is back soon for one wing and give Hoyland a chance on the other. Maitland and Visser just aren’t really good enough, they’re ok at best.

  2. My Player ratings:

    Dell: 7.5 Solid in Scrum and good couple of breaks
    Ford: 7.5 Good game, lack of hooking and slow throws still a prolem
    Fagerson: 7 Struggled in scrum but played well otherwise
    R. Gray: 8 Looking like he is back at his best
    J Gray: 8 Thumping tackles and hard carries
    Barcley: 9 could of been a 9.5 if it was not for the stupid penalty at the end
    Watson: 8.5 Brilliant first start, ran out of gas at the end though
    Wilson: 1

    Laidlaw: 8.5 Very good first half, kicking not so good and ran out of gas at the end
    Russell: 9 More performances like this and he will be in NZ next summer
    Visser: 7 couple good breaks quiet otherwise
    Dunbar: 8 Hard runs and clever offloads
    Jones: 9.5 (Rubbing hands in Glee)
    Maitland: 8.5 Seem to have rediscovered himself at sarries
    Hogg: 8.5 relatively Quiet Game still superb though.

    Brown: 8 Good work at the Breakdown
    Reid: 4 Trying to hard
    Gilchrist:8 Looking very good
    Hardie: 8 hopefully his injury is not as bad as it looked
    Horne: 4 That missed tackle

  3. Such a relief to see the scrum go OK here. There will be bigger tests for sure than he Aussie front row but if Fagerson and Dell are ready to join Nel, Dickinson and Sutherland as international class props then we can finally start to build some depth which would be a real boon as we’re usually lucky to have a solid international standard player on each side and a couple who aren’t journeymen on the bench. With McCallum, Rae, Allan and others also looking promising here is hoping the days of unconditional reliance on Nel and Dickinson and previously Murray and Jacobson are over.

  4. Visser was pretty ineffective really and ran the ball off the pitch! Reid really is hopeless at test level and barely up to it at Pro12.

    Ford was … average at best i feel and still doesn’t carry anywhere near enough.

    The rest, good to outstanding. Feel bad for Pete Horne. He made one mistake, and it meant the difference in the end but losing wasn’t down to him. You could just as easily blame Laidlaws two missed kicks. Thought JB was harshly dealt with by Lacey. He really has a thing against us when we are winning.

  5. Watched in a small ex pat pub on a small island packed full of English, Saffas and Aussies. Scotland game without the sound. It was ours to lose… and we did, again.

    1. Looked to us like the ref launched every Aussie attack in the second half, at least two kicks to the corner, but was not penalising the other way at the end?? 2. What was Cotter doing mixing up the front row with a scrum right in front of the posts when Reid came on??

    Sick again. Every other nationality laughing at Scotland again, because it is comic. Losing gallantly by a point at the death changes nothing about Scottish rugby .

    If there really is a consistency of poor treatment by refs the SRU needs to step up and do something as does the captain on the pitch – Joubert, Lacey etc. If it is the players failure to get over the line, at home, then GT cannot come soon enough.

    NZ can afford take a loss graciously. Scotland cannot. We desperately need some wins against tier 1 nation. Really couldn’t given a damn about Argentina or Georgia right now. No one will notice even if it is back to back 50 point victories.

    1. I thought Scotland were outstanding and the negativity of this post isn’t necessary. Yes, we were mugged at the end and it is obvious where we need to improve but that was a very good performance.

      1. I agree – also the ref was fair. I know a lot of us five Lacey grief but I thought he was outstanding. Objectively he called almost everything correct including Barclay playing the ball whilst off his feet ( I would agree that he was outstanding as well considering he had to play most of he match at the back of the scrum)

  6. “Horne not much to do” – unfortunately he had only one thing to do. And didn’t. International rugby is total concentration from the get go and harsh, but the missed tackle was a howler.
    However lots of positives, and there was no brave fight back when we were out of it – we were there all the time. Struggled in the scrum a bit but the ambition, and skill was really good. But the sickener is simply 6 points up with 12 to go, opposition go down to 14 and we couldn’t see it out.
    I can’t even try to blame Lacey.

  7. I feel ur pain and i didn’t watch the second half and caught the first. Listened to the climax on the wireless outside the stadium and even Peter Wright wasn’t going on about the ref. It seems that the players and even BVC had a big issue with the tight calls. BVC had to to stop himself and say ” I better watch what im saying here” which probably says it all. the most worked up he ever gotten in his role I’d say. I’ll watch the second half back and have a look. But my overwhelming feeling from what I saw in the first half was brilliant attack and brilliant scramble defence. I really feel we have at last turned the corner today. Yes we lost but this was different. We were the better side. I’m usually devastated by this type but I’m not and very hopeful. Unlike the round ball game which I can’t see any hope for at all… watch us run the six nations close if not win it outright. Mark my words.

  8. Simple why we lost..

    1. Restarts dreadful
    2. 22 exit strategy poor.
    3. Tried to win it in the forwards when in actual fact it was the day for our backs to take it.


    Russell’s best game in a Scotland shirt. John Barclay was brilliant. Huw Jones was a class act. Our backs looked really dangerous (I wish the had more of the ball).

    1. The only thing negative about the backs was that Dunbar looked a tad slow. His all round game is excellent and he is still our best inside centre, but hopefully getting over the injuries will bring his pace back to when he was at his lethal best 2 years ago.

      Restarts are a huge problem to the point that it’s clearly a mental / fear issue – might even be better to not highlight as much in camp – plus when Seymour is back he adds loads to the highball.

  9. “22. Pete Horne: 5 – only on for a couple of minutes, didn’t get much to do.” He had one thing to do and he fluffed it!

    That said, I was in the south stand and even from there, in the 2nd half the Aussie defence seemed to be offside every time we got into their 22! It was never called once but we got pinged a few times for it. Anyone who watched on the telly got a view in it?

    As for the players, I thought Watson did well, Finn looked good but Hogg should be taking the touch finders. Speed from the breakdown was good as was the linking play. Still think we could do with a bit more dog about us though.

  10. Cracking game, bit like the last one, defeat from the jaws of victory again but a thoroughly entertaining game of rugby, still frustrating but I don’t mind losing like that. Thought the Lacey did ok, he was a bit harsh on Barclay but we got away with a couple of things too, overall he ran the game pretty well I think.

    Restarts, how hard is it to catch the ball, hit the deck and recycle? Did we take a single restart? It’s getting beyond a joke and other teams know it.

    Scrum went ok, given the fears a lot of us had before the match, yes it wasn’t the wrecking ball that it could have been with messers Nel and Dickinson but it held up, sterner tests to come.

    I hope Hardie is ok as he was playing well, as was Barclay who was a nuisance at the breakdown and Watson who’s taken his good form with him. The back row as a whole did very well against the undoubted talents of pooper.

    Though Laidlaw had a good game, fast passing and minimal box kicking, would like to see him sniping himself a bit more, Russell had a great game and kept the aussies guessing. Thought Dunbar was pretty quiet but he did a shift defensively. Hogg and Maitland had solid if unspectacular games and Visser still hasn’t learnt about tackling. Jones was a revelation though, that second try was silky.

    A lot to be positive about we held up well against a strong Australia team, despite giving them a lot of ball we only conceded two tries. Need to keep it up for next weekend, Argentina are more direct and our forwards will need to keep up the intensity, if they do I think our backs have the potential to run rings round them.

    1. Argentina looked pretty poor tonight against a very limited Welsh team who can’t play any rugby and have the most annoying two players playing test rugby, Biggar and Williams

      1. Good, Wales have been average for a while but sadly it still hasn’t translated to us beating them. Biggar I can tolerate, Williams is a cretin, he would be better suited to the round ball game the way he behaves.

  11. Interesting comments. I thought Dunbar was immense, given we had Wilson off so early. He stood up an was the extra backrower as he often is, Jones, what can you say!! I think credit has to go to Dell and Fagerson, they could have been overwhelmed- they were not. Says much that I am gutted we lost.

  12. I thought Scotland played beautiful, inventive rugby. I’m sure we had a good deal more line-breaks than the Aussies and in defence made it very difficult for them to get beyond the gain-line, however many phases they went through — so, both in offence and defence, an immense shift by our team. I think a late decision against Barclay, when to my mind he was wrestling for turnover ball perfectly legally at the breakdown, swung the game in Australia’s favour. The penalty should have gone our way, which would have given us field-position deep in their half and allowed us to play out the remainder of the game threatening their line and to preserve our six-point lead till the end. Lacey has a genius for engineering these reversals of fortune for Scotland.

    1. I have to say I watched it again and I think Lacey got it right. Barclay played the ball when he wasn’t supporting his weight. It’s marginal and I don’t blame Barclay at all as he has to play to the boundaries but I think we want to find blame in Lacey because it’s easier to find an excuse – I do recognise that domestically he has been infuriating sometimes, but today we can’t look for referring excuses. Ultimately the best team won – we forced them into loads of errors with great defence but they just had that little bit extra quality. The encouraging thing for Scotland though is that you can name about 6 or 7 players who could either improve or do just as good a job as boughs out there today. We are definitely building depth – Nel, Sutherland, Dickinson, McInally, Strauss, Ashe, Bradbury, Denton, Pyrgos, Bennett, Taylor, Scott, Seymour – in fact you could almost pick another xv from what started today and be reasonably happy. That bodes well

    2. Your post reminded me to say that our first up defending was outstanding today, and I think it rattled the Wallabies because they probably weren’t expecting defence of that intensity. They must have taken a massive rocket up their backsides in the dressing room at half time. And if they did, well it worked, because they were on balance the better side in the second half.

  13. Just back home after a few pints post-match. Final score frustrating as overall we deserved to win a really good Test match. Lots of positives today, but a few areas need sorting as we run to the 6N.
    Restarts. We are awful. Receiving, we brain fart almost every time, and kicking, why go deep with no chance of a competition for the ball?
    Don’t agree that Russell was 9.5. He was OK mostly but a bit like Godman he can’t clear lines or kick a penalty for touch more than 30 metres. This is not Test class and he needs extra coaching, or Stuart Hogg taking some of the kicks. His positional kicking was poor too, and a few of us in the crowd today wanted him substituted in the second half, when we needed more play in the Oz half/22.
    Having had a whinge, I must say this was the best Scotland performance I’ve seen in many a year against a top four side. Better even than last year’s RWC quarter final. Clearly Scotland had prepared well for this.
    Also, great to hear the Murrayfield crowd having lots of things to shout about from start to finish. Scotland really are knocking on the big boys’ door again after many years in the wilderness.

    1. Have to strongly disagree that Russell was mostly like Godman! He is on a different planet / galaxy from Godman! I do agree that his out of hand kicking could be better, but it’s completely trainable. His nous for attack is untrainable and is so important for Scotland going forward. Another area where Russell excels is tackling. It seems to go relatively unnoticed, but his tackle stats for a 10 must be impressive! I also have to say that some of his poor clearance kicks weren’t helped by the fact that he was getting pretty slow ball. I also do agree that it was Scotland’s best performance for a looooong time! Onwards and upwards!

      1. I thought Russell was brilliant today as well. He fluffed one conversion but that was it. We did struggle with our exit strategies but I think it is because we were trying to avoid line outs too close to our own line or giving them cheap possession to run back at us. We’d benefit from having a 12 who was a strong kicker to give us more options but whilst Horne can fulfil that role, Dunbar is much more comfortable at test level.

      2. I’m a big fan of a Russell but until he sorts out his punting Hogg should be first receiver when we’re kicking as Russell has no boot on him. Who is Glasgows kicking coach? Let’s have a whip round to get Grant Fox out from NZ for a fortnight!

  14. I watched the game last night as was at work yesterday and I have to agree that it was our best performance in a long time. I feared the worst given our injury problems in the front row and also how turgid we were against Japan in the summer, but I thought Dell and Fagerson were brilliant under the circumstances.

    Special mention to Barclay and Watson who were both immense, Russell who played his best game in a Scotland jersey, and Dunbar and Jones who were excellent in totally different ways – someone on another forum said Scotland have unearthed the next O’Driscoll – if only!!

    I hope Hardie’s injury isn’t too bad, although it did look pretty grim.

    Would like to see Seymour in for Visser for Argentina, and Brown in for Ford, although that one wont happen.

  15. Why not go for the drop goal @ the end?

    Excellent performance by the boys, backs look very dangerous, tremendous effort by the pack given the absentees.

    Seymour, Strauss, Bradbury (if Hardie is out) into the 23 for next week.

    John Mc – Russell is NOTHING like Godman

    1. Pay more attention to what I’ve written. The only respect in which I compared Finn with Godman is that he can’t kick to touch for toffee. In every other respect, Finn is a far superior player, the best 10 we’ve had for years. Hope this clears up any suggestion I was saying Russell is the new Godman!

    2. Exactly my thoughts on drop goal. It was still far out but our best chance was just after the restart where had possession with at least two minutes left. That would have given us another chance had it not gone over with drop out and potentially even closer. Then in the overtime we got just as close again early in the phases and so early they wouldn’t be expecting it. It was always a long shot but still worth a shot. There was one moment it took an age for the ball to come back from a ruck. Lacy is shouted leave Gold let it come. Think he shouts at least twice and clearly the boy is playing in on the ground and is very slow to react. Penalty anyone?

  16. Hamish Watson showed that his Edinburgh form was no false indicator of what he could achieve at test level, and against an internationally acclaimed back-row. The injuries to Hardie and Wilson, unfortunate as they are, may have opened the door for Magnus Bradbury, who, like Watson, has been doing great things for Edinburgh. In the front row, both Glasgow and Edinburgh have some very promising young props, two of whom performed admirably yesterday against “battle-hardened” opponents. I can foresee a truly formidable Scottish pack emerging in the not-too-distant future!

    1. I would like to think that WP and AD are spending their squad time to bring on the others. I was pleasantly surprised by Dell, Fagerson at this level is a beginner, but he has all the attributes to be top drawer.

  17. Impressed with the front row particularly Dell. We did pick off the odd line out as well. I would agree with the optimists about our future potential. With key players injured , no one in the pack was out there to make up the numbers , well done.

    Now as for the back line, defense was impressive , Jones brilliant. Maitland, oh Mei Misserum, how much longer will we continue to support delusions of adequacy. Visser,s pace and height benefits make him worth another game next week. Now if you think he is average , compare him to Maitland and you will get what I mean.

  18. Just watched the game again and a couple of further points. We played pretty much the whole match with 3 7s and they all played blinders, the breakdown was an area of strength, we more than matched Aus possibly apart from the last 10 when they stepped it up a gear in terms of aggression. Barclay was very unfortunate to get Pinged for the penalty that led to the try, he was on his feet legitimately competing for the ball and he got pulled over as he won the ball, he was on his last warning though and had been fairly penalised prior to that.

    Dunbar had a much better game than I first noticed and Russell wasn’t as outstanding as I thought, still solid but made a few errors.

    Horne will be annoyed with the last try but he (no idea how to spell his name lol) also shook off Jones and crashed through Hogg to score, brilliant piece of individual skill and strength.

    Could Hoggy have banged over a Stephen larkham in red time?

    1. I had wondered if a long distance drop goal would have been worth a punt, so to speak….. I’ve also seen Pat Lambie belt one from inside his own 10m line

      1. Never got remotely in distance for a DG, best bet was what we did, grind forward and hope for a penalty. Essentially the missed conversion did us. Given the makeshift pack, both at the start, and as it evolved it was pretty decent against the third rated side in the World.

    2. yeah, when we got the scrum free kick, couldn’t we have had a go at drop goal? Yes, it would have been a decent nudge, but nothing I havent seen props convert on a wet Tuesday night at training.

    1. If Wilson and Hardie are both ruled out next week, presumably CdP and Bradbury will both be in the 23 – unless he goes with Harley, which would be a mistake in my opinion.

      1. Harley’s work rate is phenomenal and he offers a genuinely exceptional 3rd lineout option. If big Richie is missing would even consider Harley as lock replacement owing to the back row injuries and the fact he could cover that as well.

        Is Strauss injured?

  19. Eddie Jones wants “3 competitors for each position” at England …. so how are we going North of the border?

    Established test-level players (non-liabilities!) and potentially good prospects included (asterisked), out of position players in brackets; ignoring current injuries…

    1 – Dickinson, Dell?, Sutherland*, Allan*
    2 – Ford, Brown, McInally
    3 – Nel, Fagerson, ?, ?
    4/5 – Gray, Gray, Gilchrist, Swinson, Toolis*, Cummings*
    6 – Strauss, Du Preez, (Denton), Bradbury*, Ashe*
    7 – Hardie, Watson, Barclay
    8 – Wilson, Du Preez, (Strauss), Denton, Bradbury*, Ashe*

    9 – Laidlaw, Pyrgos, Price*
    10 – Russell, (Horne), ???
    12 – Dunbar, Horne, Scott
    13 – H. Jones, Bennett, Taylor
    11/14 – Visser, Seymour, Maitland, Hoyland*
    15 – Hogg, (Maitland), Kinghorn*

    So doubtless missed quite a few potential choices — but while we have adequate depth in many positions, the depth issues are clear in the most specialised positions…BVC and GT hopefully have a plan for 2019.

    1. FH is Scotland’s perennial problem position but with Kinghorn and Hastings coming through hopefully we’ll have more options by 2019. McCallum’s move to tight head at Edinburgh is going well an we have a handful of high quality young back rows coming through, with Ritchie and Fagerson leading the charge. Hopefully by next RWC academy system will have helped build the depth we are still struggling with a little.

    2. For tight-head add Low.
      In the back row you missed Rob Harley, also we do have Wynne and Smith coming through – I really rate Wynne, is footwork is great so he always keeps the defence honest and with time and bulk he will be another great asset, his workrate in defence suggest he will be on the radar for a cap within the next 2 years – I do think Cowan has shot his bolt though and Beattie has fallen off the radar at Bayonne, but always there if needed
      Sean Kennedy is another for scrum-half, and lets not forget that SHC was pulling up trees 18 months ago – there is plenty of time for him to come back.
      Jackson, Weir and young Hastings are further options at fly-half – when does Burleigh qualify? Another (albeit down the order) option for 10/12 – Another one to keep an eye on is Robbie Fergusson.
      Rory Hughes, Lee Jones, Tom Brown and Peter Murchie also offer reasonable cover across the back 3 as well – add in Robbie Nairn in a few years and we have a lot of options still

      In fact – What would be really good is if we could find more opportunities for an ‘A’ team I know that it is costly and finding time in the calendar is an issue, but an ‘A’ team pulling on the jersey and getting access to the methods and game plan of the senior team I think would facilitate easier progression and a genuine meritocracy and direct competition for places.

      1. Yes omitted Harley – he’s perhaps a victim of being “versatile” in that he tends to be on the bench..could have done with him last weekend :)

        Jackson, Weir, Low I think have had their chances — not saying they are or have been bad for Scotland, but they probably don’t represent the best way forward.

  20. Re fly half – it was a mistake to allow Weir to move to Edinburgh, Weir simply doesn’t suit the way Scottish teams play & is taking a spot in the squad for the best of the young scottish FHs (who/whom………….IS THE question).

    For Saturday I’d retain Visser & omit Maitland, 11 tries in 27 internationals over 3 tries in 24 internationals tells its own story.

    Maitland is nearly a great player (known as nearly man in NZ).

    So with Hardie & Wilson likely out & Dickinson must be in squad for some reason
    Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Dunbar, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw, Du Preez, Watson, Barclay, J.Gray, R.Gray, Fagason, Brown, Dickinson
    Reps-Bennett, Maitland, Pygros, Bradbury, Gilchrist, Dell, Low, McInally
    (Hogg to cover 10)

    1. I still rate Maitland above Visser, although he may not touch down so often he offers a lot more in defense, open play and under the high ball. Also he offers cover at 15 if Hogg was to get injured.

      Therefore I would pick:
      1-Dell, 2-Ford, 3-Fagerson, 4-R.Gray, 5-J.Gray, 6-Barclay, 7-Watson, 8-Strauss (Du Preez, if Strauss not fit).
      9- Pyrgos (unlikely), 10-Russell, 11- Seymour, 12-Dunbar, 13- Jones, 14-Maitland, 15- Hogg

      16-McInally, 17-Dickinson, 18-Low, 19-Gilchrist, 20-Bradbury, 21- Price, 22- Horne, 23- Bennett/Taylor (whoever is in the best shape)

      1. Fully agree with Calum’s team.

        Barclay – never been a fan of the constant infringements but was excellent against Austraia.

        Wonder if Dickinson is fit whether starting him and McInaly might work.

        Are we all finally, with the missed spot kicks, agreed it is time for Pyrgos to join Russell.

        Would like to see Hoyland on the bench. If you think about someone who might come on and make an impact he’s a young flier…

    2. I’ve been a fan of Visser but he had a series of half chances which he didn’t make anything out of and his defence was predictably poor. I think he’s just not quite up to standard at test level. My choice would be Hoyland – clearly he is still raw but he is rapid and his footwork is so much better than any other options we have. Seymour and Hoyland would really put opposition defences under stress and we’d have a back three who can all break the line when returning kicks.

      1. Frankly, when he is fully fit it has to be Taylor. He’s fast, finishes and defends well. Sarries use him as much on the wing as at centre.

      2. It has to be Taylor for me as well. He is more versatile, stronger, just as fast, has a wicked offload game and has a tremendous work-rate. Voted player of the season at double championship Sarries….Pretty darn impressive

  21. So much more encouraging after the Japan tour. To come out and play at a high level when the opponents have been playing test matches for the previous months, is def positive. It’s how to find that final % difference in performance that is eluding us. Undoubtedly it’s across both coaches and players in the prep and on the day. Few thoughts that I would want to see taken into consideration ahead of next week and into 6N.

    1. Set piece kick-offs – how long have we bleated on. The lack of larger back row players undoubtedly hurt us so we need more balance to counter this. Also why are we not considering the same offensively.

    2. Kicking both in hand and penalties. We’re not using Hogg’s big boot enough when kicking from our own half. They need to be more disciplined in maximising, so let Russell go for the accuracy when closing in on their line. As for Greig’s long range kick optimism, it’s captaincy ego now. Can’t let us cost us again with such fine margins.

    3. Hooker – cmon Laidlaw get Ford sorted with the hook. Honestly if Dicko or Nel had been fit then surely Fraser Brown would have been in. Let’s get past this 100 cap sympathy, you need to earn it and FB has been the form hooker for considerable time now. Plays like a 7 after all.

    4. Substitutions – Price and Hughes not used, so we’re hurting ourselves here asking too much from the starting 15. Would Bennet over Hughes really have been a worse selection, or Matt Scott. Lack of confidence shows from the coaches here so why put themselves in that position. Big Sean would have been ideal to come on but we cant ask Lazarus to keep coming back. Laidlaw’s game time is also hurting our 9 selection. We needed a punchy 9 to keep the tired Aussie forwards occupied.

    5. Squad Depth – we need to start seeing more of this come through now. What if Jones hadn’t been found, we keep talking up we have exciting players but then why do we have this lack of depth on the bench. How we can end up with so few caps ready to make the impact the top teams plan carefully for. Missing Taylor, Seymour, Pyrgos, Vernon in the backs is too much. Slecting inexperienced backs for such a massive game wasn’t necessary unlike the front row situation. Would rather have seen tactical changes reduce the impact by moving Hogg to centre, Maitland to FB and Hughes to wing once Dunbar had run out of legs. Much better contingency of matching up.

    Based on the last few years you’d expect GT to fill in these gaps with his ability and his coaching staff. The additional time he’d have is where GT’s planning would really need to show. Best for us he’s def not involved with the Lions at this time.

    Would small improvements from the above have been enough to make a 2 point diff on Saturday. Quite possibly. We are definitely not getting the most out of our players and combinations unlike the Irish and Welsh.

    Also on the World Rankings, have we got a sniff of climbing to 6th even with our last 2 games? Would Georgia offer much change to the points difference.

    Optimistic to think we’d need a Japan win over Wales but hoping for 2 defeats to the French and Argies. Then a SA win over Wales too.

    We’d likely be looking at a 1.58 pt swing in our game across both sides. A France defeat taking them down by 0.62 would leave us sitting in 7th going in to the last set of games. Beating Argentina really is the biggest match for us assuming England would close them out at Twickenham.

    1. Agree with all except for the GT going on the Lions. IMO that would be a huge learning curve with opportunities to get into the cupboards of the other home nations players and coaches and see what’s going on

    2. We won’t stand to gain many points at all from beating Georgia but a defeat will lose us a huge number as we are at home and they are some way behind in ranking points. This is a must win game (I have a deep sense of foreboding about it!).

      I wouldn’t be too comforted by Georgia’s home loss to Japan – apparently they dominated possession but coughed up a few tries through interceptions and counter attacks. The risk is we are dragged into an attritional slug-fest that they will win. If we give away penalties they will thrive on driving lineout mauls, if there are too many handling errors they will win penalties at scrum time and kick anything inside our 10m line. We need to score early and put clear distance between us as the longer this match goes on and Georgia are in touch with us, the more the belief they can win and get a ticket to the 6N will grow (that is how they will see it, proving themselves against the 6N establishment).

      On the evidence of Saturday, we should be well equipped to move the ball quickly and punch holes in their backline. If we dictate the pace of the match we should win well.

  22. Haven’t seen any mention of it so was it just me through my beer goggles but didn’t Visser let in the first try?

  23. Aye Angus I was thinking that a wee bit.

    I reckon Visser gets a really bad press, his try scoring (when not coached by Solomons) is quite exceptional, he’s not in the team to be a John Hardie & yes he isn’t the most physical of guys but leave him alone & let him get on with what he is very very good at…….scoring tries.

  24. Looked at Wikipedia which may not be accurate but apparently Scotland never been below 12 in the world ranking but more interesting is that we have never been higher than 6. Surely this crop is able to get into the top four at some point. We do need to win these tight games against the top teams to do this.

    1. Thanks for sharing that. Interesting stat and certainly a target we can realistically aim for but sadly if we can’t win the home games it will always hurt us in ratings

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