Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v Ireland Player Ratings

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography
  1. Allan Dell – Toiled in the scrum, very close to giving away penalties at times. Improved as the game went on and put in a big shift at the coalface thereafter. Was hooked for Reid on 55 minutes. A solid display. 6.5/10
  1. Fraser Brown – Early blood injury lost him 4 minutes of the first half. Fell of a couple of tackles ahead of Irelands first try then was duly replaced on 27 minutes. 5/10
  1. Zander Fagerson – Impressive display from the young Glasgow prop. Although under pressure in the scrum he manned up to his task well. Unsurprisingly became tired and less effective towards the end of his 80 minute shift but let no-one down today. 7.5/10
  1. Richie Gray – Dominant in the line out and carried well. Perhaps not as dynamic as he once was he remains a huge physical presence for Scotland. His bulk and aggression are key components in allowing Scotland to execute. A good game from Too Tall. 8/10
  1. Jonny Gray – Metronomic efficiency from Stat-boy although he did shockingly miss a tackle in the first half and gave away a couple of silly penalties, notably for offside. Even a slight off-day he is still an outstanding player for Scotland. 8/10
  1. Ryan Wilson – Quiet if not effective first half. Made some very important tackles throughout and although not quite as eye catching as his other back-row colleagues his contribution was telling. 7.5/10
  1. Hamish Watson – Barnstorming display from the twenty-five-year-old. Huge tackles, purposeful carries and some classy jackaling at the breakdown really caught the eye. Replaced on 48 minutes by Barclay. 8/10
  1. Josh Strauss – Snaffled loose ball well, stood up opponents in the tackle and had some combative runs with the ball. Excellent performance on his tenth appearance. Beard is still awesome too. Subbed on 65 minutes. 8/10
  1. Greig Laidlaw – Service was sharper than normal and kicking was almost Teutonic in its accuracy. Made some huge contributions to this game. Such is his rugby brain; it is like having a player-coach on the field. A Captains performance from Greeeg today. 9/10
  1. Finn Russell – Instrumental in the build-up to Scotland’s tries. Has a tendency to rush up in the defensive line and then miss his man. Nearly gave away an interception try on the stroke of half-time then got taken off for a head knock shortly after the restart. His mistakes are more than made up for by his innovation. 8/10
  1. Tommy Seymour – Tried his best to intercept Ireland’s first try and covered back well for the attempted interception try on half-time. Not much opportunity to play to his aerial strengths but did his duties well otherwise. 7/10
  1. Alex Dunbar – Will be delighted to score as he is always (rightly) singled out for his defensive prowess. Spent a lot of time and energy tackling his heart out in the second half. Loves a tackle this guy, loves it. 8/10
  1. Huw Jones – Had to do a lot of dirty work in the first half and was part of a strong defensive pairing in the centre. Missed an important tackle in the second half for Ireland’s disallowed try which could have been costly. No chance to shine in attack. Replaced on 60 minutes. 6.5/10
  1. Sean Maitland – Looked a little off the pace at times and slipped off a few tackles. Also seemed lacking ideas when he did get the ball. However made an incredibly important try saving tackle when Ireland seemed destined to draw level on the hour mark. 7.5/10
  1. Stuart Hogg – Scored the simplest of finishes early on and put in a couple of huge clearing kicks when Scotland were under pressure. A deft dummy put him in for his second. Quite simply the best player on the pitch today. Let’s hope Gatland pays heed. 9.5/10
  1. Ross Ford – On in the 4th minute as a blood replacement and into a scrum that got bossed then off four minutes later. Returned on the half hour mark for a clearly ‘no right’ Fraser Brown. Spent most of his time defending and scrummaging. 6.5/10
  1. Gordon Reid – came on for Dell on 55 minutes for his 20th cap and immediately got danced around by Murray. Helped Scotland to get over the line though. 6.5/10
  1. Simon Berghan – Not used.
  1. Tim Swinson – Asked to play blindside for the last 15 minutes and did so well. An able substitute. 6.5/10
  1. John Barclay – Took his bow on 50 minutes for Watson. A huge midfield turnover was a pivotal moment on 55 minutes. Also won the penalty for Scotland to take the lead on 72 minutes. Telling contribution. 8/10
  1. Ali Price – Not used.
  1. Duncan Weir – A HIA for Russell on 45 minutes saw his introduction and put in a great kick before retiring again after 5 minutes. 6/10
  1. Mark Bennett – Had 20 minutes to shine. Didn’t get a chance through sheer weight of defensive duties. 6/10

46 Responses

  1. Great win. Couldn’t be more pleased, although it was a tale if two halves.
    Not sure why Scotland sometimes are bulldozed in the second half. Fitness or just inability to keep up the intensity. They do need to find a cure.
    The marks for Dell seem high to me, as I thought he missed tackles and was not great in the scrum.
    Thought the great white hope Huw Jones didn’t look very good either. Maybe one or two people will reassess their expectations now.
    Still a great team performance against a very good side, although I’m now worried about scrum time against France and would start with Reid and Ford.

    1. “Great white hope” Huw Jones hasn’t played for months. In that context, he did OK.

  2. Great performance all round. Hamish Watson was phenomenal and then John Barclay came on to make a telling contribution. Huw Jones straighted the line and committed his player for Hogg’s second try – very efficient heads up rugby but the sort of thing we didn’t always do. Turning it round at the end not fading away will do this team the world of good.

    1. Have to agree. Totally under the cosh in the second half, but were very smart once we got in front. HUGE win.

  3. Wow, what a game! I think I’m in shock. Hogg obviously got MOTM for his two great tries but for me it was Watson, what a shift he put in, he was in the middle of everything, constantly disrupting their possession. Barclay was the same when he came on.

    Pretty much agree with the scores above. Wilson was the quietest of the back rows and Jones probably didn’t live up to the hype, both played well and didn’t do much wrong but nothing exceptional. Laidlaw was so fast in the first half and look what happened. I have to applaud him on his handling of the end of the game.

    The scrum was a bit worrying but it got better. POC made I thought a very interesting point in commentary about the Grays not driving straight which caused the loosehead (cant remember who it was at the time) to pop out. Richie had a good game, much more effective ball carrying than we have seen and solid in the lineout.

    Big shout out to wee Dunc, what a kick!

    I think it was more down to Ireland finally waking up but we looked a bit like our old selves for a while in the second half, a bit clueless, scared and definitely took our foot off the gas, whereas the first half we were full of confidence, flinging the ball about with reckless abandon. Ireland taking the lead seemed to do the trick and we played with a lot more aggression in the last 15. Were very fortunate for a couple of Irish mistakes / relying on great defence by Maitland to keep them out.

    I honestly can’t believe it, been in that situation so many times before and butchered it, this time we snatched victory from the jaws of victory!

  4. They all deserve high marks. Even guys like Dell and Jones who had tough days fronted up.

    Anyone else feel relieved when the maligned Ross Ford entered the fray? The scrum was in trouble and he did a lot to steady it. Nothing against Dell but I reckon Dickinson is more important than Nel as Fagerson is a superb alternative.

    Also the maligned Duncan Weir who did just perfect in the few minutes he had.

    1. About Ford, totally agree, I’m not his biggest fan and never really have been but time and again when he is dropped and comes off the bench he shows why he should have been picked in the first place.

      1. The guy is one of the most powerful front row players around. And he is mobile. He did well.

  5. Half way through the second 6N game and there is already a difference in refereeing interpretation. I understand that it may be necessary to allow a game to flow, but glaring differences inhibit creativity within the game.

  6. Those were the games we would always lose and you’d be going over it the following week enjoying the best moments and not watching the last 10 minutes when we’d ultimately give it up. Today though we Saw a mature team who’ve learnt.
    Yes it’s only one game, but this wasn’t against a poor side.
    That head of steam that we have had going into a six nations has not been blown after one game and perhaps we can take it to Paris.
    Mentions to Maitland whose defence work shows why he is so appreciated at saracens and to Ford who demonstrated what 100+ caps gives you in experience.

    A match day squad performance that we can all get behind.

  7. I must admit that after the win I was thinking that we’d probably win against France. After seeing how close they pushed England at Twickenham it’s going to be a lot more difficult and way closer than I thought.

    I thought Jones was a little ring rusty, Watson was everywhere, Ford steadied the ship, and Maitland deserves a lot of credit.

  8. Harsh on Maitland – we’d have lost without him. Thought Watson and Barclay were also outstanding and Jonny Gray’s tackle stats were ridiculous (again!)

    1. Glad to see the positive comments for Maitland – he seems to get a lot of stick but today made a number of important contributions and got stuck into his defensive work.

  9. Well, how good did that feel?? (Okay, not so great for 30 of the second 40 mins!)
    So pleased for players to finally get that off their chest.

    Think I might have shaved a point, or half a point, off Finn’s rating. Despite some moments of brilliance it felt he was forcing things at times – couple of telegraphed passes, the howitzer for Jones’s knock-on and a charged kick right when we really did not need it. Wondered if he suffered a bit from that head knock for the rest of the game.

    Thought France looked pretty destructive in game against England, and were unlucky not to cause an upset. Need to make every tackle count next week. But what a start!

  10. What a result, so good to think that we won even with a below par performance compared to what we could be capable of:
    Dell: 6.5 Struggled in scrum however against the almost right-angled Furlong it was going to be difficult.
    Brown: 6 Never really got in to the game, a couple bits of good work at the breakdown though
    Fagerson: 8 Improved as the game went on, he is brilliant in open play and at rucks
    R Gray: 7.5 Did lots of unseen work, did well in the lineout
    J Gray: 8.5 I first thought he had a bad day but after the game it turned out he made 28 tackles, just ridiculous.
    Wilson: 8 Quietest of the back row but still played brilliantly
    Watson: 9.5 Went of after 48min but was utterly outstanding with his hits, carries and turnovers, (Warren Gatland may yet consider Watson as a possible bolter)
    Strauss: 8.5 Big carries, thumping tackles. :)

    Laidlaw: 7.89 Good first half and leadership at the end. But very poor in the second half, Price should of come on at 60min.
    Russell: 8.5 Relatively quiet but got the backs moving beautifully.
    Seymour: 8 Quiet but also faultless.
    Dunbar: 8.5 Robbie who…
    Jones: 7.5 One poor miss tackle and slightly rusty, but his distribution looks v good, set up Hogg’s 2nd well.
    Maitland: 9 Saved the game for us on 2 occasions, good under the high ball too.
    Hogg: 9 Pure world-class

    1. Not sure what score you’re giving Laidlaw there, but despite the brilliance of Hogg I’d have him as the man of the match. He set the pace in the first half, and orchestrated the last 10 minutes. None of his kicks were easy, but he made them look that way. In the end, he was the difference.

  11. Reckon every player on the field earned a 9 out of 10 for the last ten minutes. How many times in recent years have we failed to last it out? Today was totally different. First half momentum gone, and the lead gone, and yet we still we climbed back into it to beat a very good Ireland team. I’m so happy tonight!

  12. I agree Finn seemed to be forcing things a bit and made a couple of errors. Apparently Dan Parks is back living in Glasgow and if he can’t be tempted out of retirement I do wonder if he could be added to the Warriors coaching staff to work on Finn’s game and cut the errors out.

    Overall these boys deserve huge credit for another superb effort.

  13. We must recognise how Laidlaw closed out the game… I was all ready for Ireland to trundle up the pitch and Jackson to slot over a drop kick to win. I have never seen Scotland close out a game so well… penalty kick to the corner, 2 mins of forward drives and then take the kick to eat up the final minute. Great game management by Laidlaw. You do want him on the pitch for the last 5 mins and that is the problem for Price whose scrum half style better suites this team.

    1. Agree entirely. He was a massive part of that victory. Also think it gets forgotten that sometimes there’s a reason for SH delivering slow ball – particularly when taking it on through the forwards, who aren’t always the fastest at lining themselves up.

  14. Maitland, Laidlaw, Ford, Hogg, Watson, Fagerson and even the penalty machine Barclay. Take a bow!

  15. Yes like many, I was sure that Ireland would prevail in the last 20 minutes and it would be yet another narrow defeat. So glad I was wrong.

    Not quite sure where Ali Price fits in, in this Scotland squad – he has been sensational in the last few games for Glasgow and champions the ‘lightning quick ball’ style which has made Glasgow so successful. Have to say that Laidlaw did play well (despite his tendency to slow up recycling the ball). Can’t see Cotter changing this 15 much for next week – maybe Barclay instead of Wilson.

    1. I’d go same 23 as last week, but Reid and Ford starting over Dell and Brown. Extra ballast to cope with the huge French forwards, and the more athletic replacements on in the second half when the game opens up. Quietly optimistic about this match…

  16. Lets not get carried away. The truth is that some things went well and some things didn’t go well – that we had so many missed tackles and a retreating scrum in the first half actually will help keep the boys feet on the ground and lets face it they need to be much better for longer on Sunday if we want to win. With that in mind (as well as higher expectations), the scores on the doors are:

    Dell – 5, Brown 5.5, Fagerson 7, R. Gray 7.5, J. Gray 8, Wilson 7, Watson 8, Strauss 7, Laidlaw 8.5, Russell 7.5, Dunbar 7.5, Jones 6, Seymour 7, Maitland 7.5, Hogg 8.5

    Special mention to Barclay and Ford who illustrate the growing strength in depth of the 23 as a whole

    The really exciting thing for me is that there are obvious things to improve on at scrum time and in our exit strategies and if it clicks we will be even better again this weekend and genuinely could push France all the way (for all the talk of how poor Ireland were they gave very few penalties away and snuffed us out for most of the second half – I cant see France being as disciplined as efficient, which if we execute properly will really give us a great shot).

  17. Jeremy Guscott has 5 – FIVE – Scots in his Lions XV following this weekends games
    J Gray



    I thought Laidlaw was excellent on Saturday. He doesn’t have the quickest service, but his calls in the last 5 minutes to keep Ireland in their own half by kicking to the corner showed just why Vern Cotter wants him on the pitch. His game management is superb. I doubt he’ll travel with the Lions as that squad will have other “leaders” but I think it is good that he is being recognised as a quality player.

  18. As I said on Friday, if Richie Gray plays better than Henderson then we should come out on top. I also said that the bench would prove superior to the Irish subs. I’ve given myself the pat on the back for that.
    However, I also said that Laidlaw was nowhere near as good as Murray. Oops. His game management was superb.
    As a statto – please note that if we beat the French on Sunday we will go 5th (FIFTH) in the world rankings, irrespective of what happens in the Wales-Ireland game. THAT IS THE HIGHEST RANKING WE’LL HAVE EVER ACHIEVED since the rankings began. Hopeful but not expectant, looking at the size of the French pack (933kg on Saturday compared to our 855kg).

    1. Merlot – If Scotland win in Paris and IF (Big IF) Italy can find a way to win against Ireland and England win in Cardiff this weekend, that could be 4th (back of a fag pack sums…)

      1. Absolutely BHE. I was getting carried away and mistakenly believed Wales were playing Ireland next weekend!!
        I’ll go back to weighing packs.

    2. Most of the big French players are rubbish, Maestri, Vahaamina, Atonio are big useless lumps.

      Not saying I expect us to win but we have a good chance of doing a glasgow to them. Vakatawa and nacataci are great with ball in hand but poor defenders too, so there’ll be more opportunities out wide.

      1. Looking forward to playing back the England France game to have a much closer look at the French. I remember we were deservedly ahead at half-time in SdF in 2015. Second half, they brought on some huge guys and then muscled their way to victory. Our pack is much more capable in 17 of resisting and outwitting such tactics. Still, if the French forwards are that huge it would be no surprise to see them try to bully us again from the off. Pleasingly, I haven’t heard or read yet of any major injury worries for us after that titanic struggle on Saturday.
        Can’t wait to be in Paris on Sunday.

      2. Injury report said Finn passed the HIA on the day and Fraser Brown recovered from the eye “contusion” that took him off. Both fit to train today. Everything else was just classed as “bumps and bruises”.

      3. Thistle podcast tweet said Brown, Watson and Russell doubts for Sunday. Brown and Watson can be replaced with very good players but we’re screwed if we lose Russell. Can’t work out if this means he’s failed a HIA despite being allowed back on and having no issues post-match??? Will we know anything before squad is announced at end of week?

    3. Frankly the only concern I have about World Rankings is where we stand come the end of the 6N. Saturday’s win will have done us a power of good toward remaining in the top 8, and so get a better seeding for Japan.

  19. You’re forgetting Picamoles and our usual nemesis, Huget.
    Agree with FF that some of the French players are ‘ballast’ at best, but Lamerat and Guirado are very good.
    I’ve seen the new scrum half Serin play a few times. He reminds me of Mike Blair and is very quick.
    The back row and Laidlaw will need to watch him.
    If what Merlot says about the weights is accurate, then France will are 78 kg heavier. That’s nearly 10kg a man heavier in the pack.

    1. Picamoles said he moved to Northampton because conditioning was so poor in France. It has certainly done him the power of good, but his colleagues still look like they struggle to go the distance.

  20. Something that hasn’t been highlighted too much this far was the fact Laidlaw converted three really tough conversions. 21-22 is workable. 15-22 would not be 17-22 and even 19-22 is a bigger psychological barrier. We could see us getting a pen in last ten but would we have got a try? I doubt it. He was rock solid. I bet u he told Finn to hold the ball a while to buy a few more secs before tying a metaphorical shoe lace before then telling Roman he’d have a shot at goal. It also shows u can truck up to win a game with four mins to go. Why do teams kick possession away in a winning position? Throwing away the destiny in your own hands. I was sure when we kicked to the corner and caught line out we had it. A decision we wouldn’t have made in the past. What a victory. And no real ref controversy either unlike England game.

  21. Does anyone think we should have gone for the bonus point try by kicking to the corner? An Ireland comeback from a 5-metre lineout would have been unlikely in the extreme but, of course, not impossible. I was happy to see Greig taking the kick, but thought I’d ask the question…

    1. Andrew, there was an admirable, within the laws ruthlessness about the decision to go for goal. Just about every one of us home supporters in the stadium understood the significance of the penalty award, the time left on the stadium clock, and the ‘one minute’ law. Frankly, few if any of us gave a monkeys about a bonus point because, barring some disaster arising from a missed kick that we knew could not surely happen (not even to us!), we were just about to beat the number four ranked team in the world. Hence the joy in the ground, and probably in front of millions of tellys around the world.
      Would have been different if we’d been searching for a bonus point needed to win the 6N. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

      1. I agree with you and was also giddy with delight after he slotted the kick, and I take your point about eating up that last minute, but most people are presuming that the ball would have been kicked dead if he had missed. Did anyone else notice that when he slotted the penalty, it was actually caught in-goal by an Irish player. In other words, if he had slid it right, Ireland would still have been able to run it out from the centre of the field – more difficult to defend than ball from a lineout in the corner…the lineout itself and subsequent couple of phases would also surely have taken it past 80 minutes.

        It doesn’t matter now, and as I say I’m not disagreeing with you, but thought it was worth a mention…

      2. Andrew, by kicking the previous penalty to the corner Laidlaw had managed to do a “doubler”. From the line out Scotland had an opportunity to threaten the Irish line and gain the BP try. It also allowed Laidlaw to control the area of play at a critical juncture in the match – deep in Irish territory. It was a very astute bit of rugby

        Either way Scotland ran out winners. The BP would have gilded the lily for sure, but the first priority is always to secure the win.

  22. While laidlaw was good i would still like to see price starting in the italy and potentially the wales game with laidlaw coming off the bench last 30, Laidlaw can Keep up with the quick service for one half at best it seems so bring him on last 30 when he can do that and make the key desicions if its close. I think we wont miss a huge amount in goal kicking from Hogg he delivers almost always on the big stage.

    Id also still keep brown starting with reid coming in at 1, we dont want to be trying to compete with this french pack in the scrum , get it out asap as was the plan with the irish and keep browns breakdown skills. Ford looks good as an impact sub with all his experience anyhow.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion