Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Australia v Scotland Player Ratings

Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross
Finn Russell - pic © Al Ross

You beauty! Two from two on the summer tour for Gregor Townsend’s men, and a first ever win in Sydney despite Israel Folau doing his best to win the game all by himself. Here is how the Scots went:

Greig Tonks (7) – Stable, solid defence. Not much going forward but kicked a nice long range penalty at the start.

Lee Jones (7) – Great work for Scotland’s 3rd try, but quiet before and after. Scotland didn’t play very wide too often so he had to look for work.

Alex Dunbar (6) – Caught out once in defence, but then part of a huge effort to keep the Australian attack quiet.

Duncan Taylor (9) – This lad is class! Attacked well, composed to set up Watson for the outstanding team try and took an interception of his own to open the try scoring. Undoubtedly back to first choice at centre.

Rory Hughes (6) – chased well but apart from the odd thud he was fairly quiet. Took a knock to the face and was substituted at half time.

Finn Russell (10) – Genius. Controlled well, tackled hard, set the Oz defence and got a very good charge down try, all whilst looking like he was having a hit out at a preseason 3rd XV level game. His attitude typifies everything that is good about this Scotland side and this was his best game for Scotland. Rewarded with a Lions call-up immedidately afterwards and will sit the bench against the Chiefs on Tuesday.

Ali Price (8) – Sharp again from Price, always on the shoulder for support. Keeps the tempo up.

Gordon Reid (7) – Decent shift from Reid, solid set piece and active in the loose.

Fraser Brown (6) – Commentators curse! Poor at lineout, quiet in loose, apart from one break which he then gave a silly offload when left without support runners.

Zander Fagerson (7) – Led the defensive effort in his 54 minutes, flying out of the traps to smash the Australians at every opportunity. Scrum started to turn against him in 2nd half just before Nel was introduced.

Ben Toolis (8) – Another good outing from Toolis. Leads the maul defence well and put in a big shift.

Jonny Gray (8) – Lots of ‘pivot’ passes from Gray, and plenty of workrate. Combined well with Toolis

John Barclay (capt) (9) – We say it every time – communication! He managed Wayne Barnes like a pro, even from the bottom of a heap where he’d just been penalised. Add to that some excellent breakdown work and you have a very good captain’s performance.

Hamish Watson (8) – Not much pinball action, but a constant menace against Hooper. Superb support work for his try.

Ryan Wilson (3) – A complete and utter waste of a shirt today. Involved in a scrap after 40 seconds, gave away penalties like Jim Hamilton and got himself binned to boot. Went back to Wilson of old today – real shame for a player who had improved a lot for Glasgow this season.


Ross Ford (7) – Big shift from Ford, lineout stabilised when he came on and I even saw a hook at a scrum (and a potential leg drive). From this I think it really is obvious that Fordy listens to the SRB Podcast. My apology – our second in as many weeks – is being drafted!

Allan Dell (7) – Excellent cameo from Dell who was subsequently called up to the Lions. His breakdown work in the last 10 minutes gave Scotland the platform to win the game.

WP Nel (7) – Still working his way back, tackled and carried well and another 30 minutes of action under his belt. Until he’s back to his peak this looks like a good way round for him and Zander.

Tim Swinson (5) – Did his best to lose the game right at the end. Not the ‘Impact Sub’ I had in mind.

Josh Strauss (7) – Made hard yards with the limited possession Scotland had in the second period. A vast improvement on Wilson at Number 8.

Henry Pyrgos (5) – Slowed the game right down(again). Kicking game was awful and invited Australia back onto us. Doesn’t look suited to Townsend’s gameplan as yet.

Ruaridh Jackson – (N/A)

Matt Scott (7) – Much better from Scott who got a full half on the park. Attacked the line well and almost got through. Australia did well to stop him.

Note: this morning it was announced Alex Dunbar and Magnus Bradbury will join Allan Dell and Finn Russell in leaving the tour early. Finn and Dell are off to the Lions, while the others have been allowed to “begin their summer break a week early”. Lewis Carmichael has returned to Western Force to complete his loan from Edinburgh.

73 Responses

  1. Pyrgos was suited to the same Townsend game plan that won Glasgow the pro12. In fcat he was key to it.
    Sometimes players play to the orders given when they go on.

    There’s slow, there’s glacial, then there’s Laidlaw

    1. Aah, Laidlaw…. Other players get the benefit of playing to the instructions they are given, but apparently not him…..

      1. watch his pass off his left hand. Its glacially slow, more a lob. Almost a slow as his break. Greig has many qualities, unfortunately his pass and break are both way below what an international 9 needs

      2. Has there ever been another player who has contributed so much to rugby in his country and got so much ill-informed flak for his bother?

      3. Watch Sco vs Arg in the 2014 AIs. He was superb: sniping and sharp and astute and commanding.

      4. Apologies if this appears twice, but apparently endorsing Laidlaw is considered spam! Watch Sco vs Arg in the 2014 AIs. He was superb – sniping and sharp and astute and commanding.

  2. Agree with most of this. Maybe a little harsh on Wilson but you’re right that unless he’s on the very top of his game, he gives up penalties like handing out sweets. That said, his card was a ‘good’ one to give up because it was a try if he hadn’t cheated.

    Pyrgos was hopeless. Box kicking is a very, very important tactical tool but only if done well. His were, uniformly, dreadful. Laidlaw’s time as captain and 1st choice might be done but I’m delighted for him to be the man that comes on for the last 20 to secure a game. Pyrgos isn’t up to it.

    On the positive side, this team is exciting. Really exciting. Can create well (although that was blunted by having 4/5 game changing backs unavailable) and is able to disrupt, annoy and profit off opposition mistakes as ruthlessly as I can remember any teams, never mind Scottish ones.

    Off to Fiji, hopefully smash out a win, broaden the talent pool further and continue the march to our rightful place at the top of the rankings…

    1. The thing is, Wilson’s card was for repeated infringements – if he’d not been so naughty earlier on he could’ve prevented the try at the cost of a penalty and not been sin binned. He gave away six penalties alone. I think it’s a ‘work on’ for Townsend that he didn’t replace Wilson with Strauss sooner. In fact, I’m surprised Wilson started: given that he can cover all three back row positions and Barclay’s captain, would it not have made more sense for him to be on the bench?

      1. Horses for courses. Australia don’t have the biggest backrow, but it is pretty pacy. We didn’t need Strauss ball carrying in this game, we did need wilsons breakdown work (albeit perhaps slightly less illegally!)

      2. Yeah, fair comment. I think he’d have been in trouble with that one even if he was a saint given the proximity to our try line.

        I think, understandably, Townsend is maybe relying on trusted players just now. Things like the inclusion of Hughes point to this. He’s trusted Wilson for a long time and I think his increased mobility was why he picked him instead of Strauss.

        It seems like the game plans was that for the first 60/70 we were very mobile, spoling ball and pressuring the line everywhere. For the last 30/20 we then tightened up, bringing on the big units that are maybe a little less ‘dynamic’ but hit hard and slow a game. Hence the like of Dell and Nel (stiffening the scrum) Strauss and Ford (stiffening defense and hit ups) and Swinson on for Toolis who must have been pretty close to falling over given the shift he put in.

  3. A lot of good performances here, and while I understand the context as much as any rational man can (given Gatland’s duplicity/delusion), is it not laughable that Russell can put in a calm, composed, brilliant and enthusiastic performance like this and only be called up to sit on the bench for some mid-week games? Kudos to Gatland: even when he selects Scottish players he still manages to be disrespectful…

    Anyway, in the post-match reflection that accompanies a sherry or two, I was struck by the impression that, had we a full squad, this game would’ve been a far more dominant affair. I think we could have won this by a couple of scores with our full-strength squad. As such, I’d like to offer my suggestion for the squad to play in the AIs (a game I shall surely be attending), assuming they’re all fit and playing well:

    Reid Brown Fagerson
    Toolis Gray
    Barclay Strauss Watson
    Price Russell
    Dunbar Jones
    Visser Hogg Seymour

    Ford, Dickinson, Nel, Gray, Hardie, Laidlaw, Horne, Taylor

    Fun in the starters, and impact, versatility and composure in the finishers.

    1. Agree with your team, only change I would make is I would have Taylor starting instead of Dunbar. Maybe after some well earned rest Dunbar will be back to his best but he hasn’t been great recently. He hasn’t been bad either, in years gone by that would have been good enough to secure the jersey but the depth of talent in the backs we have now means we can be a bit more picky. That probably means Dunbar not being in the squad at all as he is purely a centre, possibly Maitland that can cover the back 3.

      1. Yeah, that’s fair, I just figured that Taylor’s versatility made him suited to a bench spot and Dunbar’s ‘fourth back row’ action is really useful in defence.

      2. It’s a tricky one with SuperDunc. A strong versatile bench is absolutely the difference in Scotland competing for 80 minutes and not wilting if injuries strike (see Calcutta Cup) so do you pick the perfect bench first? The likes of Ford, Richie Gray, Duncan Taylor and WP Nel coming off the bench in the autumn could be truly useful. But Taylor is practically a must start at the moment. If Dunbar or Scott were in undeniable top form it might be worth thinking about…

      3. I´m with TeamCam on that one. I think if we learned anything from the 6n we need to have a bench capable of making a difference rather than just covering injuries. For that reason I´d have Taylor and Horne coming off the bench into the centres. Changing the point of attack with the second distributor and having a harder running outside centre. If a team´s grown used to the Dunbar/Jones (or Bennett) dynamic then this could cause problems for them.

        In addition, I really hope that Bradbury can push hard for the 8 jersey this year. I think he´s our best hope for a proper x-factor 8 who can burst the line. Then bringing Strauss off the bench with 25 minutes against tiring defences would be a better use of his talents. Finally, I´d still be starting the Gray brothers, and looking at the most dynamic second row replacement available.

        So my 23 for the foreseeable future would be:

        Dickinson/ Dell Brown/Ford Fagerson/Nel
        Gray X2
        Barclay (C) Watson/Hardie (pinball vs wrecking ball horses for courses) Bradbury
        Price Russell
        Dunbar Jones
        Maitland Hogg Seymour
        subs: front row; Toolis/Swinson/Cummings; Strauss; Laidlaw; Horne; Taylor

    2. To paraphrase a well known joke and show my age, I think you’ve picked ( nearly ) all the right players but not necessarily in the right order. Taylor is our best centre, Nel our best tight head prop and both should start. I still prefer Maitland’s all round game to Visser’s.
      I assume the Gray on the bench is Richie. Not quite convinced about that long term, although I absolutely agree Toolis has had a great tour and is the man in possession.

      The only reason I agree with Brown is that Ford’s time must be up soon – might even be at the end of this tour. Given his captaincy of the last 3 games 3 wins SH tour, something down there agrees with him.

      But as many have said, the strength in depth throughout the squad is wonderful. Can’t remember the last time we could have debates about which international class player to leave out.
      The only problem is find a genuine international back up 10. Horne still has it to prove.

      1. It depends how you define “best”, doesn’t it? I think a fired-up R Gray would be more effective coming off the bench after 55 mins than Toolis. You don’t necessarily have to start with your ‘best’.

    3. Visser is ok for Tier 2 teams but he showed at Twickenham that can’t contribute when under pressure. Maitland should play against England, Wales, Ireland, France and the S.H if available.

  4. Agree with the mark for Pyrgos. Have already on another thread made a point about his inept kicking in that critical last ten minutes or so.
    It was unfortunate that Wilson reverted to his pre-2016 wildman ways and he probably deserves that score. Still, in partial mitigation, his legal work in the loose and even his first minute handbags, did help to show the Wallabies that Scotland were not going to be bullied anytime, anywhere on Saturday. He remains a valuable member of a dogged and mobile group of back row forwards available to Toonie who can perform very well at Test level.
    BTW, Barnes rarely gets any plaudits, but I thought he was very good, relating well with the players. Also incidentally thought he handled the farcical ending of the France Wales 6N Test pretty well too.

  5. Got to admit the photo of Finn’s one handed touch down still gives me a fright. (Taylor did it too for his try). This isn’t good technique. Okay it works 99/100 but what about the 1/100 time? Bennett got his 1/100 time when he dropped the ball against Cardiff earlier this season, costing the warriors a bonus point. That’s why the dive has become the normal technique. A bit snarky from me, I know, but why risk anything when you’ve already ‘scored’? Emulating the master maybe!

  6. So happy for the team and Toonie in particular. Hopefully by the time Feb 2018 comes round we’ll have a fully installed fast pace strategy to trouble all 6N opposition.

    I really wish Dell and Russell snubbed Gatland’s call and continued their good work in the Scottish camp. It’s just so insulting to come out with such a bias squad selection in the first place, then beckon midweek Scottish bench fodder to allow his favourites to rest up for the big test matches. When he says that midweek players are playing for a test match place he’s lying. Let’s face it, they’re going to get creamed anyway. Can’t say I won’t enjoy seeing it.

    1. Not a hope in hell of them turning it down. The chance to be a Lion and you want them to give it up to make an anti Gatland statement ? It’s not their problem, or fault, that they’ve been selected, and we shouldn’t forget it’s the same for the Welsh boys. And then there’s the £70k each . . . .

      To be clear, I do agree the process is rubbish, and truly devalues the jersey. Leaving Scottish interests to one side for a moment, if this was planned as claimed, Joe Launchbury could have been on a plane the day after England’s first test. And even the geography excuse is garbage – in what universe is Cory Hill a better player than Jonny Gray, who’s even in the same time zone ?

      Hugely amused by Hill’s Wikipedia page, which had the “Any Famous Relatives” section doctored to say Warren Gatland !

      1. Reports out that 1 Scotland player did say no to the Lions. Given the Welsh call ups it might point to Gray knocking Gatland back.

      2. Frazer, can you share this source by any chance? I must say I’d be surprised.

      3. See chatter further down Nicholas. Original source was Stephen Jones that a Scot had turned it down, but nothing official as to the identity of the player.

  7. because a player (Taylor, Wilson, Horne – even Barclay) has versatility does not mean he has to start on the bench. They can start in their best position (if merit a start) – it just means the bench make up does not have to worry about certain positions.

  8. Wilson’s score is very harsh, apart from 2, the majority of his penalties were like his sin binning he, slowed the ball down when it needed to be, when Scotland were stretched.

    On the future – looking at the improvements being made by Cumming’s and big Brian, will J.Gary still be first choice at Glasgow.

    1. Of course. Statboy, along with Hogg and Finn, are going to be the nucleus of this team for the next decade. The optimist in me gets the feeling they’ll be our equivalent talismen to POC, ROG and BOD to lead their nation from the doldrums to a golden era…

  9. Think that the score for Wilson is harsh on the grounds that Scotland are obviously trying to play at a high tempo, and players are working their socks off to disrupt opposition ball whenever possible. Watching the game on Saturday you could see instances where other players were getting on the wrong side, playing the ball on the deck etc, but not getting picked up on it by Barnes. Wilson just happened to be the one that was fingered early doors and it stuck. If he hadn’t been binned someone else would have been. That said, he still didn’t hit the sort of consistency that he has over the last year or so.

    As for Swinson – how did he “do his best to lose the game”? The tactic was obviously to run the clock down for the last minute. A bit negative, but effective so long as you hang on to the ball. Swinson took the ball in expecting contact, but Stephen Moore let him go past him by half a yard. Swinsons’ support didn’t expect him to actually make ground, so weren’t quick enough to prevent the Aussies force Swinson to hang on to the ball. A combination of tired legs and minds on our side and a smart bit of play by Moore.

    1. Not so sure about this one. Swinno ran really hard at the line and bust through when all we should have been doing was trucking it up in pods to run down the clock. He’s done bonkers things in the past like this that make you slightly wary of him as a finisher. I recall him coming in at the side of a maul on the halfway line against Northampton in the Champions Cup with 2 mins left on the clock and giving away the penalty that allowed Northampton to score in the last seconds and beat Glasgow. He can be a bit rash under pressure, and I think this is what he was getting at.

  10. Have run the numbers re: world ranking points. Regardless of Australia, RSA, Ireland’s results next week, if we beat Fiji by 16 points or more we will edge above the Aussie’s into 4th in the world. If we dont, we wont. Simple as that.

  11. I thought Dunbar deserved more than a 6. If only for that final turnover.

    Pyrgos wasn’t that bad, that’s just backbite from Edinburgh/ Laidlaw fans… who incidentally has surely played his final game for Scotland (I like his character, but his game puts him at 4th choice). One poor box kick from Pyrgos, but otherwise some decent clearances and not a miss pass.

    Wilson has character and is less of a penalty machine than Barclay of old and Hamilton. Also he was pushed from behind at the start and stood up for himself. Of course prefer Strauss. But with Gray and Strauss, don’t want to be too nice. For me he is Barclays unofficial understudy.

    As for our starting centers. It’s going to come down to fitness. But having always said I like one big defensive guy and one with a bit of magic, I can see the benefit of Taylor and Dunbar together, especially in away games and especially with magic to come back to the team in the shape of Hogg and pace in Maitland/Visser/Hoyland. Boy did Jones make a crucial inside step for the Watson try though!

    Also hats off to GT. Has the whole team playing for each other with a clear sense of what he want. Too early to tell but looking like the perfect coach at the perfect time. He exudes confidence in interviews.

    Lastly, Russell was always going to warm the bench for Biggar this Tuesday. No way he could or would it be safe for him to play after 80mons against Australia. Anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. Gatland is still a tool, but Russell’s chance will come a game down the line and only if there are any injuries. Glad to hear someone told Gatland to stick it, if that’s true, but I’d much rather Russell just goes in there and outplays the lot of them in training and mid week. That’s an even better FU.

    1. “that’s just backbite from Edinburgh/ Laidlaw fans…”

      hmmm, the article was written by a Warriors fan, and its an opinion that seems pretty consistent across most reviews and analysis’s of the game. So not sure what youre on at there.

      As for Wilson, sorry but six penalties is criminal. If the Wallabies werent incredibly arrogant in turning down kickable goals, that wouldve lost us the game.

      1. Yes well anti Pyrgos sentiment seems to be the go to negative at the moment. I think that’s more about how well Price is playing. Weight of forum opinion is a somewhat fickle indicator. GT clearly rates him.

        Agreed that 6 penalties is likely too much. But then again, one of them saved a try and unless you remond me the context of the others I can’t tell whether they were part of last ditch defence or giving up 3 in place of 5/7, or free points when nothing was on… which were particularly detrimental? What I do know is that when everyone is talking about the infamous 99 in the Lions context, Wilson refusing to be bullied helped set he tone.

    2. What does being an Edinburgh fan (which I am) have to do with my and others’ opinion about Pyrgos’s woeful box kicking in the closing minutes? Nothing to do with club affiliations or player preferences, and everything to do with commenting on mistakes that jeopardised a rare and highly prized away win against a SH big gun. If we are serious about staying among the top half dozen sides in the world, then fans and coaches alike are entitled to comment on the kind of technical failings that bedevilled Scotland Test rugby for a decade and a half. Failings like weak and ill-timed, ill-placed box kicks in critical positions. Not saying Pyrgos is a bad player, but I’d be having a word with him if I were his coach to help him make sure he doesn’t do that again.

      1. I think we should be holding ourselves to higher standards now. We are a better team than we were. That means criticising Pyrgos’s box kicks, Wilson’s penalty count and Laidlaw’s lack of speed are all valid. You can be damn sure that the coaches and players themselves will be going hard on themselves and each other.

        We can be critical about this stuff because we know they can do better. We’ve all seen it. And saying someone kicked badly for 20 mins or gave away far too many penalties in one game doesn’t mean we forget about all the great things they have done before. No need to be precious about the players or call bias though is there?

      2. I owe a bit of an apology to not rocket science and Pyrgos. Have just rerun the 15 minutes when Pyrgos was on. Three box/clearance kicks. One to touch, albeit not very far; one sort of ok yet straight to a Wallaby but about our 10 metre line so fair enough; and the final one poor. So maybe my overall judgment of Pyrgos partially clouded by the poor third kick. However the third kick was very close to no side, so I think my point still stands about the absolute need for coolness and precision in closing out tight Tests.

      3. Ross,

        Correct, totally. Continual improvement is the basis of quality assurance. Gregor knows what he wants, that much is clear. He’s the iron fist in a velvet glove, BVC was the big boot and iron fist, and boy that was what was needed. We can move on, next trick is to integrate the promising young guys into the squad, and to find places for the Under 20’s, who have made the grade a professional home, if they don’t already have one.

        To my mind, the second half display by the under 20’s was just as good as their bigger brothers in relative terms.

      4. Mikelinds, in relative terms, I reckon the u20s were better! Played almost completely in the Aussie half. Maybe not as clinical as the seniors but tactically very good with Eastgate just popping kicks into the corners time after time to give our good line out a chance to challenge.

      5. No apology needed. Enjoy the chat. Pyrgos didnt light things up, but did look fairly composed, even when executing that last poor kick!

        I think someone else mentioned it, but how easy was that throw to the front of the lineout: why oh why couldnt that have been done in the world cup!

    3. Cheers, Not Rocket Science. Good to have debates like this in the wake of a splendid away win, right up there as others have said with SdF 99 and Croke Park 10. Probably above them actually.
      Neil, my playing days are long behind me. Didn’t play for Forresters.

  12. Someone needs to have a word with Russel. Going to be Crudens back up at Montpellier is not what an up and coming player needs

      1. Precisely!

        The plus side, with Cruden also there, maybe that he isn’t flogged. I’m in two minds about this. I’m not troubled about long term fitness and conditioning issues- Cotter won’t tolerate that. Hell of a choice at 10 though……

  13. 6 penalties is pushing it but I admire the way Wilson kicked off in the opening minute. In the past we’ve had packs that are just too nice and there is nothing worse than seeing the team bullied on the pitch, Wilson set the tone early doors that it wasn’t going to happen. Whilst we have a few others who aren’t exactly soft I do think we lack the Nathan Hines figure of old to add a bit of an edge and Wilson might be the closest we have now.

  14. If someone has genuinely turned down the Lions, I’d reckon it would be one of either the hookers or second rows, as Francis and Davies are both credible picks to my mind from a geographical perspective. Gray is pretty young and has a decent chance of going on another 2 or maybe even 3 tours and I doubt would put that in jeopardy by refusing once. Fraser Brown on the other hand is 28 and will be 32 by the next tour which isn’t young for a first time tourer. On the other hand-could just be a journalist spouting. Also read a Andy Burke BBC sport journalist categorically, saying that Finn moving is wide of the mark.

      1. A man with principles perhaps. I am sure he will have his stated reasons however, well done WP, take a bow.

      2. Rory – is there chatter it was brown that can’t be traced back to the Stern Vern tweet? Which is after all a parody account.

      3. Not masses. However, it depends on who runs that parody account and whether they are just misdirecting or not. If the rumours are true as to who does it would be a pretty credible source… (see previous podcasts!)

      4. It’s just a shame Russell and Dell didn’t tell Gatland to shove it too. We’re going to see three tests without a Scot in the 23. Really, really hope the All Blacks give them a walloping.

      5. It stinks that Scotland’s tour has been disrupted.

        You could not pay me enough to compensate for the humiliation of being an unwelome guest at the party.

        To add insult to injury, you are only picked as you are in the area! How much more humiliating can it get.

        The other guys can look forward to the FijI game and getting home to family holidays.

        What a position to find themselves in!

  15. Ryan Wilson was in complete numpty mode, but giving him a 3 is pretty spiteful. He made some great tackles and got around the pitch at a pace. Not sure where Dunbar was caught out defensively. Was it the first Folau try? In that case Finn got drawn in rather than leave Genia to Watson who had him covered and we were left very narrow as the outside defence followed him like lemmings giving Folau enough to drive a heard of wildebeest through.

  16. Sticking my head above the parapet here. We’ve all complained about how Scotland player’s have been treated by the Lions committee ie Gatland and co, how there wont be any representation in the test team. But. Have any of the players that were selected actually merited it. Lets be honest Seymour hasnt really covered himself in glory, Laidlaw has been, well, Laidlaw, steady and composed but Murray and Webb have shown far more. Hogg was unlucky so we might never know but had a bit of a mare against the supposedly easiest team. Hard to hear I know but maybe the Scots players just haven’t shown what they are capable of. You could argue, Seymours try aside, the most positive impact from a Scots player this tour was Dell in a couple of scrums today!!

    1. I think it’s more about the myriad players not selected. We know what Seymour can do; he’s an ace player. It’s probably more that he doesn’t fit into Gatland’s style. I was surprised he was selected in the first place.

    2. I have to agree that the Scots haven’t performed their best with the Lions. You could argue that none of them had much of a chance: Hogg was (very) unlucky to be injured only 20 minutes into his second run out, but was significantly below par on his first; Seymour has butchered two chances, albeit chances he has made himself; Laidlaw was never in the running for the test 23, barring injury, although I have to say he had a good game today.
      I’d like to think that
      1. Hoggy would have done as well, if not better, than Watson if he hadn’t gone off injured, and would have claimed the 15 shirt.
      2. Tommy would have done a Nowell and put his hand up for a test spot if he’d started today.
      3. If there were more Scots in the original party they would have blended better and performed better. There has been a lot of talk about units – the Saracens 2nd row, the welsh back row, the irish halfbacks. This would be the same if they’d picked the Gray brothers, Laidlaw & Russell, Watson & Barclay, Seymour-Hogg-Visser.
      So yes – the 2 (out of the original 41) picked haven’t necessarily performed to their usual standards but I would propose that this was due to trying too hard (to be the Scot in the test squad), rather than not hard enough.

  17. So you think Gatland got it right and there is no nepotism in selection?really !

    1. Its all relative.

      Has Seymour been any worse than North? Has Warburton done more to justify selection than Hamish Watson? AW Jones better than Gray(s) or Launchbury – Jonathan Davies has not been better than Henshaw, but found himself with the better pack the way the fixtures fell and is now going to start the tests…..

      Granted its not a great way to talk up a player (re: Seymour not having been any worse than North), but if North had been Scottish there is no way he would be in the test 23 based on 12-18 months performances and performance during the tour thus far – in fact North has been arguably the weakest of all back 3 players on the tour so far…

      I don’t think necessarily there is nepotism , just a decision to go with tried and tested on the 50:50 calls knowing the game plan he was going to execute – but one that in my opinion has not (yet) been justified and despite his 100% goalkicking (all from pretty much in front of the sticks) I include 1/2p in that as well – He has not attempted to beat a single player or run a scything angle once on this tour, but is trusted to play what’s in the playbook – To that end he is doing everything Gatland wants but in terms of what he offers it’s actually not very different to Greig Tonks !!!!!

      Of the Welshies in the squad the only one who has stood up is Falateu, and to a lesser extent Biggar – all the rest have been ‘meh’. Not saying that the Scots would have faired better with the constraints of Warren ball (horses for courses and all that), but really its been the Irish and English that have been stepping up over the past 2 weeks….

    2. I’m still fuming about the extra Welsh boys, of whom only one (G Davies) I would rate at all. A couple of them I had to look up FFS!
      However, looking at the original Welsh picks:
      Owens – performed well – probably worth a bench spot.
      AWJ – is past his best but still formidable. Tough call to leave out J.Gray & Launchbury though.
      Warburton – if he wasn’t fit (and he wasn’t/isn’t) then Watson should have got the call.
      Tipuric – as Owens, probably worth a bench spot if not starting.
      Faletau – best 8 we (B&I) have.
      Moriarty – after 2 good 6N games gets picked for the Lions? Really?
      Rhys Webb – better than Laidlaw, Price or Care, IMHO.
      Biggar – WTF? Finn should have been there ahead of Sexton FFS.
      JD2 – surprise pick but has stepped up to the plate and performed. In my starting XV.
      North – has been below par all year and should not have been on the plane. Is only there on reputation/nepotism.
      Liam Williams – love him or hate him (I’m in the latter camp) he brings the x-factor which, without Hogg or Russell, is lacking in this Lions side.
      Halfpenny – thanks to Hogg’s injury, is the starting FB and I wouldn’t want anyone else (Mike Brown anyone?).
      So only Warburton, Moriarty, Biggar and North were clearly nepotic.

      1. Mostly valid points there Merlot, only I’d say Sexton and Biggar have both played well so far (Sexton’s first game aside) on tour.

      2. Yeah I’d not heard of a couple of them either!

        I’d say that Owens, Tipuric, Faletau, Webb, Davies and to a lesser degree Biggar and L.Williams have performed well, but AWJ is probably the weakest lock touring, North has been the worst wing, and Halfpenny has kicked goals but done little else apart from be out of position a few times.

        In response to your earlier post Merlot, I’d agree that Seymour has been disappointing. He looked tentative against the Highlanders and Naholo made him look ordinary a couple of times, but the Lions are not playing a style that allows him to play the game the same way he does for Glasgow and Scotland. The ball is hardly ever getting out to the wings, and when it does they only have about 2 yards of space to play in. Nowell has also suffered because of this.

        What I’m most annoyed at is that Gatland has deprived Scotland of Finn, and Fiji will not be an easy task. Had he been given 20 minutes today he may have played as he did against the Wallabies and really thrown the cat amongst the pigeons, instead he warmed the bench for the full 80 even though he was clearly itching to get on. To me it felt like yet another snub to the SRU because if Farrell is injured Biggar will be backup, even though Finn is a far better player (IMO), and Gatland deprived him the chance to show what he can do for fear of having to maybe include him in the Test 23, making further mockery of his decision to omit him from the initial squad.

      3. I’d take issue with some of your logic in that Gatland emphasised head-to-heads and Six Nations performances as being critical for selection. Clearly initially trying to make out it was an open competition for places (which he had to say).
        Therefore you can’t take current performances on tour as justification supporting their initial selection. For me a huge number of the Welsh picks were pure nepotism when considered against Gatland’s own criteria. At selection time Faletau had no form after injury and neither did JD2. He picked 6 backs from the most impotent back line in the championship including their whole back 3.
        As in 2013 Gatland said one thing and did another. And that was particularly acute for the Scottish lads.
        After Finn’s non-appearance following an outstanding display against the Aussies, I’ve finally ditched my m’eh position and I’m supporting NZ.

  18. I get all your points guys, was just a thought, i’m just frustrated that it the players haven’t shown what we know they’re all capable of for what ever reason.

    1. Maybe focus on the fact that Townsend and the rest of the lads have shown exactly what they’re capable of instead? As well as the U20s, who won the same number of games as England but didn’t get anywhere near as thoroughly violated by the Baby Blacks. That should help ease the frustration.

      Pretty pants that Russell didn’t get on today. I wonder if he believes he made the right choice.

  19. God just been reading the guardian’s Lions coverage – comments section is pretty grim. It is really remarkable that Scotland have risen to 5th in the world, beating the 4th and 3rd ranked seeds along the way when we were actually lucky to have 2 players in the original selection. Cotter/Townshend must be geniuses to do so well when all our players are so mediocre!

  20. What’s annoying me about the coverage of the new Lions recruits is that all six are, apparently, only there because of geography. I get that the Welsh are there because they are in NZ which is a joke. I’m not sure Dell would have been my first call as a replacement prop. But Russell is playing outstanding rugby at the moment but the media don’t want to recognise that.

    Actually I’ve just thought of another thing that is annoying me. If that arrogant fat kiwi was saying he’s only picking players who are close by and has selected a couple of Scots, why the additional second rate Welsh players when there are better Scots available?!

  21. Must state that this is definitely not the case, but this crossed my mind today and was substantiated by a kiwi friend who also had the brief thought that……….

    Imagine if Russell was Gatland’s top trump! Imagine if it was the plan from the start to keep him under the radar, draft him in before the 1st test and select him as the starting 10! Russell has known all along, learning the playbook for the past 8 weeks and is at the centre of the strategy to topple the mighty all blacks! Wishful thinking? I don’t have a doubt but it’s always good to dream!

    1. Not saying it was a plan but I can see Finn having an impact yet. Guscott wasn’t in the original touring party when he starred with a game changing try all those years ago. There are three tests and plenty of time.

  22. I watched the Highlanders game last night and both Daly and Seymour clicked well with Liam Williams in the back field. Nowell has grabbed the headlines but his first try is a dive over from a yard out and his second he finishes but should always, always be committing the defender and passing wide. Against a better team he might not have made it in. Daly’s break up the left and pass back inside to find his centre was sublime.

    It was noticeable that the Lions backs have a problem straightening up and are taking the space outside them. Seymour was hammered for this, but it happened a number of times before he was on the pitch and wasn’t picked up. I agree with the comment above that he looks a bit uptight on the pitch.

    The point I’m getting to in a round about manner is to do with the inevitable selection of George North. He’s nowhere near as smart or busy a player as Williams, Daly, Seymour and Watson and therefore should be nowhere near the team. He will start though. He also may have a blinder as he does sometimes!

    Also, would love to see Russell as the trump card. I guess he didn’t play last night because he played the whole game on Saturday. I just hope he gets an opportunity to shoot for a test spot. Finally, kudos to Dell. Great wee cameo in the scrum.

  23. To me the Dell and Russell selections seem very “faux-black”. I think Russell is the closest thing to Beauden Barrett in the NH, and Dell is a relatively lighter prop like the ABs prefer… they were picked to be the point of difference at training. Lions will not beat NZ at kiwiball – so no spot for the test. Never heard of some of the welsh guys but I imagine thats how they might fit in too.

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