Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 17-22 New Zealand

Ali Price
Ali Price - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

The risk with a pre-match extravaganza is always a little “sound and fury signifying nothing” if the on-field entertainment fails to live up to it.

With the top side in the world the visitors to BT Murrayfield, there might have been more than a few nervous heads in the stands at the light, sound and explosions in the moments before the team took the field. In one sense it was possibly an attempt to dilute the effect of the haka that followed; see also the karaoke version of God Defend New Zealand with no vocals which sounded very empty in comparison to a very loud flower of Scotland.

A touching tribute to Doddie Weir who delivered the match ball possibly had a similarly positive effect, with a first 40 minutes full of drama and excellent play from Scotland.

The opening phases were played at a furious pace, Waisake Naholo swiping Lee Jones off the ball to give Scotland a first foray into the 22, but the All Blacks maul defence was capable of handling the threat.

Scotland playing quickly at the lineout as they had last weekend and probing the All Blacks but everything was well-marshalled. Even having a slow day New Zealand are nothing if not sensible.

Scotland though, were in full swashbuckling mode with Hogg in at first receiver and finding holes in the defence and plenty of ball to play with. You wouldn’t have picked Lee Jones to get on top of Naholo but the first two pens came on that wing and the Selkirk man was the standout of the two. Russell slotted the second on 7 minutes, and the players were exhorting the crowd for more when Finn almost had an interception. They knew what it would take to stay competitive and the energy of the crowd was going to be key.

Russell and Hogg were superb in the opening half but everyone was playing with high energy and commitment. Russell missed a longer range pen on 13mins despite it having the legs.

The less charitable amongst you might have been thinking we haven’t really seen the All Blackss with the ball yet…

After 20 minutes the penalty count was 4-1 in Scotland’s favour but they showed their confidence by taking the lineout to the corner. Punishing pick and goes from the pack that were so absent last weekend almost saw them over the try line before they switched the direction of play and Huw Jones knocked it on.

The kicking from hand by Price and Russell was super. they had the momentum but the score was still just 3-0.

When offered a choice between a kickable penalty and once closer to the line, Kieran Read too went for the lineout. The Scottish defence was less assured than New Zealand’s had been, but it held too.

Hamish Watson only lasted 26 minutes before Luke Hamilton got his first cap and he looked right at home. Seconds later, Hogg was hit in the air by Naholo who should perhaps have been shown a card but the TMO felt it was mitigated by Ali Price being in the way of the Kiwi player. He still took him out in the air.

A fired-up Scotland charged on at the following lineout, Stuart Hogg and Lee Jones finding holes as they had all half but once again the All Black defence held out.

Seymour had not been having the greatest afternoon and a blunder when he accidentally kneed a kicked ball going dead then dotted it down for the scrum. It turned out quite rightly to be a 5 metre scrum to New Zealand.

The scrums had been reasonably even but it had looked like they were gradually working out Marfo and Fagerson. The Scottish pack pulled off a determined shunt though and Price snaffled the ball to break out. New Zealand  managed to earn a penalty and grudgingly kicked it to even things up. Low scoring, but utterly gripping.

At 3-3 and 40 minutes gone, Scotland bravely opted to play on but that set of phases which actually saw New Zealand turn it over and drive deep into the Scottish half also saw injuries to Marfo and Fagerson who had been excellent to that point.

Half-time: Scotland 3-3 New Zealand

The long-expected first try came minutes into the second half, hooker Codie Taylor lurking out on the wing and getting an easy run in. Beauden Barrett couldn’t convert, but given how tight the defences were 3-8 looked like quite a lead. It was to be expected – Steve Hansen didn’t spend long in the changing room at the break, clearly letting the players think about what they’d done – given Scotland a sniff. Unacceptable, clearly.

The try shifted the game’s momentum clearly and the scrum wasn’t the same beast once Fagerson went off with Berghan facing his country of birth.

Luke Hamilton had a decent first cap but it ended painfully with a leg injury that saw him stretchered off and McInally moved into the back row.

Another scrum penalty led to another maul, which broke up, but New Zealand were starting to exert their dominance in the loose and Damian McKenzie (Scots qualified no less) scampered through the back line to dot down a neat little grubber from Sonny Bill Williams.

At 3-15 it was all looking a little less rosy than it had minutes before half time. Scotland were still gaining ground and finding holes, but then they were making little errors in the 22 that snuffled out all the attacking energy.

Finn Russell spared Scottish blushes with a timely interception even as it looked like New Zealand were away for another try, and he almost made it through at the other end. Damian McKenzie suddenly had plenty of work to do but he was a threat in the same way Hogg was.

Scotland won a penalty on the line, Finn tapped and went quickly. He was smothered, but illegally, by Sam Cane who was sent to the bin. They tapped quickly again and the Scottish pack stepped up led by the titanic Johnny Gray who battered though the defenders and stretched out for the try. Suddenly the Murrayfield roar was back.

It didn’t last too long.

A simple set move from the scrum saw two Scots defenders drawn by a dummy runner which meant when Sonny Bill did his thing out the back door, there was ample space for McKenzie and Barrett to combine for an elegant try that won’t have pleased Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor any. New Zealand had little ball and very few chances in the Scottish half but took their points.

Scotland to their credit never once let their heads drop and kept pressing. Just as Cane came back on, Wyatt Crockett was sent to the bin for slowing up ruck ball close to the line. Scotland chose the scrum to force a defensive change from New Zealand, but couldn’t make the advantage count. They earned another penalty as the All Blacks infringed again, but took a scrum and this time Berghan couldn’t resist New Zealand’s pressure and the penalty went the other way.

As usual, when you have to play at 98% effectiveness just to stay within 12 points of the All Blacks, tiredness sets in and mistakes come so it was perhaps to be expected.

Scotland had possession and forced New Zealand into 157 tackles, but couldn’t make it count as the All Blacks slow played the clock.

Then came the finish. Hogg grubber kicked it through behind the winger and Seymour gathered to feed Huw Jones who dived over in the corner.

Finn slid the conversion over from out wide and the score was 17-22.

They couldn’t could they?

With time almost up all they needed was just one chance, and it came from Stuart Hogg who showed the eye for a gap he’d shown all game. The fullback ripped through New Zealand off a well judged Huw Jones pass. He came tantalisingly close to making it, but was just hauled down by Barrett even as it looked he might score.

His despairing offload went forward. This was a superb, committed performance by Scotland who to a man gave everything and just came up short. If there was a downfall it was possibly the scrum but let’s not forget this was far from the first choice front row.

The years of agony continue for Scotland, but New Zealand won’t forget this one in a hurry, and nor should we.

Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: It’s nearly impossible to pick. Written off ahead of his matchup with Naholo, Lee Jones played the game of a man twice his size. Barclay and Jonny Gray were exactly the players they needed to be with a mammoth effort up front but it’s hard to argue with the official choice of Stuart Hogg. Find me a better 15 in World Rugby right now.

88 Responses

  1. The Australia Win is now a must win with the same consistency in performance and game management, will then be considered as good an autumn as we could of hoped.

    1. Not sure Australia is a must win. Id settle for a good performance and no more significant injuries. Lets hope the boys can get up again after their efforts yesterday. Don’t need to put extra pressure on the team by saying its must win or even we are favourites. If both teams play to their potential then it will be close, a very good game and it may well come down to referee management.

  2. Such a difficult defeat to take. Lost it in the scrum. Horne did not have a very good day in a Scotland jersey. Hamilton looked good before the injury. Du Preez showed why we need a big ball carrier in the back row.

    What a test match though!

    1. Horne was ok in attack but perhaps isn’t big enough when the likes of SBW are running at him in defence. Hamilton looked a natural at international level!

      1. He made a couple of key errors in attack, which cost us. When he catches the ball running a hard line it is good. Problem is he knocks on too many or causes others to knock on too much. I suppose it is stuff he can work on I just think that if it was Taylor doing it then there wouldn’t be an issue.

      2. I’m not to going to argue that if we’d had Super Dunc on the bench it would have been preferable as he is a better player than Horne but having come so close to beating the AB’s in what was just an amazing game of rugby with huge committment from both sides it seems churlish to be singling out one player for the loss.

      3. I was just commenting on what I saw. Every body has bad days or makes a mistake or two. I ain’t calling for his head I am just saying it wasn’t his best performance. Also I am not blaming him for the loss.

  3. When will Scotland learn to kick their points as they become available. It costs us most of our most important matches.the games at this level are won by the right choices . we don’t seem to realise this

    1. I disagree. You don’t beat the all blacks getting 3 pointers. If we’d kicked a couple of penalties chances are they’d have gotten back down field for a try. Tactics were spot on.

  4. Phenomenal. Almost everything done right, bar a few butter fingers and two dubious choices to go to the scrum (scored anyway though). Pleased to see Hogg hurting at the end, but should be so proud.

    This has to mark a sea change.

    Notwithstanding injuries we have to blow Australia away next week.

    Call up Hardie, call up Maitland, call up Strauss and Denton, pray for Marfo.

    Honourable mention to LJ who was brilliant right the way through.

    1. Yeh dont think Naholo was mentioned once except for what should of been a yellow card, i can see why it was just penalised and don’t believe it was intentional but by the letter of the law is that not yellow ?

      1. Yellow any day of the week for any other team. Thought it was going to be a red when they went back for TMO.

  5. Brilliant performance from the boys! To have so few caps up against world champions was worrying, but they all played with so much pride and passion. To come so so close and fail is tough to take, but very few of us would’ve expected this score before the game.

    Just wish that they could’ve done it for that big tartan dressed character in the stand…..

  6. Lost it by not taking the 3 points, schoolboy stuff, and Pyrgos was weak when he came on. We saw the weaknesses coming.
    Time for a change. Townsend out and Parks in please, without further ado.

    1. Taking 3 was what we had to do when we had to suffer Parks on he pitch. Be glad we’re not there any longer.

    2. You see, you’ve become predictable (as soon as I saw Dan Parks’ name, I knew it must be you commenting…you were, indeed, about as creative as Mr Parks on a poor day in the 10 shirt…

      4/10, must try harder

    3. Yes, BLB, I normally enjoy the throwaway Dan Parks comments because a lot of the other things you say are worth reading so it just seems like a bit of fun rather than trolling.

      You misjudged this one. It wasn’t subtle enough and you didn’t say much else of interest or value and none of us are emotionally ready after the game to find that kind of thing funny. Just in case you’re wondering why you got a negative reaction this time!

  7. What a superb performance. I think that with our first choice props available, we would have won. Having said that, today’s alternatives (particularly Marfo) were mostly excellent. I don’t see Hardie playing any time soon and I wouldn’t replace any of the backs despite Seymour having an off day. I can see Strauss being called up though.

    1. Marfo has seized his chance and looked very effective at this level.

      Most pleasing thing was we matched all blacks physicality for the first time in the 25 years I’ve been watching rugby. Gray stepped up big time. Competition really hotting up for 6N places.

      1. Yeah carried through the gain line and got that try. What a team to step it up to.

        I think that’s why I’m so pleased for Hogg too, looked like the best player on the pitch against the best team in the world (ok Barrett and SBW were pretty good too).

        Front 5 fronted up even after injury changes, the Tommy Seymour first half scrum 5 sticks in the mind.

  8. Let’s get a few things out of the way first off.

    Seymour had an absolute horror show for the first hour. Everything he tried to do he F’d up. Was the worst I have ever seen him play.

    Lee Jones silenced a lot of critics today, including myself.

    CDP the same

    Marfo; where has this player been hiding all his career. He has been a rubbish player for years. Good on him.

    Dunbar; is it time to try something else when all are fit?

    Price: Good game bar one dodgy kick, 1st choice all day long.

    Hogg; Is he Scotlands most talented player ever? Either the emotion and the way he channeled it into that performance was inspiring.

    We need Maitland back in the squad next week

    Fitness: outstanding

    Steve Hansen; S***ehouse

    I am immensely proud of the lads today and that isnt valiant loser Scotland nonsense. It’s for a team decimated by injuries who noone gave a chance who never gave up. They didnt allow the NZ pull away when they could have. Today we would have beaten any other team on the planet by at least a clear score except maybe England & Ireland.

    I hope that wasnt our big performance and we can summon all of that back next week. Aus will be hurting after today and have a big point to prove.

    1. Can Taylor play 12? He’s a big lad with plenty of skill despite fitness issues. Jones played 12 a lot for WP so would allow Bennett/Taylor to partner at 13 – but 12 probably isn’t Jones best position and he looks like the pick of the bunch at the moment.

      1. Taylor is a huge worry for me. We have a long list of what ifs, McFadden, Tom Phillip, Thom Evans but they were all could be class destroyed by injury. Taylor is unquestionably class. You see it week in week out at club level but he is always injured come international periods. For me he is a 13 who can cover wing, much like Daly. I don’t see Jones at 12, he is like Slade. Great on the outside. Perhaps just having Scott around to provide genuine competition is worthwhile. Or we look at a Ford Farrell option for certain tests and use Horne more.

  9. we got to stop picking horne, offered nothing when he came on today and made mistakes and that seems to happen more often than not with him at international level.

    1. I have to say that I couldn’t disagree more. If your blaming Horne for the Barrett try you’re doing a missive disservice to SBWs sublime offload. Horne made ground when he had the ball and he’s an excellent distributor.

      1. I think Horne has grown into a very good player. He is at his best when he is playing his game and not trying to do what Finn does.

      2. The radio were praising Horne when he came that he was really sharp and made a positive impact. I’ll watch the match and Let you know my opinion later.

  10. If anyone wants to see the respect this game has already provided just read the NZ Herald match report. They didn’t give us a chance before the game. Will post the link

      1. Good article but they are fairly brutal with their player ratings and analysis in their player ratings article!

  11. Personally, I feared the worst when I saw the teams published. Helluva performance from our boys though. Made me ashamed to doubt them. Hogg is perhaps the most talented Scottish player of my generation in my opinion. Was worried when Watson went off but Hamilton looked a good replacement for the time he was on the pitch. Russell saved us a definite 7 points with a magical defensive read. I’ve always been quite critical of Jonny but thought he really stepped up today. Hopefully onwards and upwards under Toonie.

  12. Just back from the game. This Scotland side has come a long, long way in the last two years. How they kept up the tempo and stayed in touch despite all those injuries today was superb.
    They say a crowd can lift a team, yet today the team lifted the crowd by simply never giving up.
    Got to credit the All Blacks for clinical finishing of the few chances they created, but this was a gutsy and skilful performance today from Scotland and I’m proud of them.

  13. What a game, edge of the seat stuff. I think the boys did us and themselves proud. We’re not going to get much closer than that to beating New Zealand without actually doing it. You can tell in the body language if they guys now, they were devestated at the end. I think any Scotland team since, well, forever had just lost by 5 to New Zealand they would have felt it was a victory, not now.

    Difficult to see where we lost it. We more than matched them in the first 40 but didn’t score points, other teams possibly would have but the NZ defence was outstanding.

    A few too many stupid knock ons in the “red zone” which was infuriating but again that’s testament to the pressure the NZ defence was applying.

    I was outraged at the time by the decision to scrum twice when they were down to 14, we were getting battered in the scrum. Since I have now calmed down I’m less scathing of the decision but I still think the more sensible decision would have been a line out or tap and go but I can see the logic of tying the forwards in to allow a mismatch out wide, all we had to do was win the scrum. I disagree that we should have taken a kick at goal, if we had done that it just hands possession back and they play keep ball in our half for 10 mins.

    Notable performances for me were Gray and DuPreez who offered great carrying, why can’t Jonny do that all the time? Thought the starting front row were doing excellently till the unfortunate injuries. Watson looked back to his best and punches so far above his weight it’s ridiculous, he’s one of those guys I can imagine is a nightmare to play against. In the backs I thought Dunbar and Jones were quite quiet, amusingly I was literally saying Jones had been quiet when he scored but I think the point still stands, when he did get the ball he was good though. Seymour had a bit of a shocker by his standards. Lee Jones was excellent, we saw the best side of Russell and Hogg was outstanding, to be fair to Dunbar and Jones I think the amount of use Hogg was getting denied them quite a lot of ball.

    Horne’s getting a few pelters I see and to be fair it was quite poor but I’m giving NZ all the credit for that, fantastic bit of play.

    I really thought that was it when Hogg broke through at the death, there’s only one guy in the world who was going to stop that but unfortunately that guy is Beauden Barrett, Chris Patterson would have been proud of that cover tackle!

    On the yellow cards I’m more than a bit miffed the Hogg incident wasn’t a yellow, I thought the rule change / clarification was quite clear, the ref wanted to show a yellow so that’s what should have happened. I see the point with Price “interfering” but he still made the tackle. I don’t think your going to get a better chance than playing against a 14 man NZ for 20 mins but hey ho.

    I can’t have been the only one with a slightly damp eye at the beginning with big Doddie, would have been great to do it for the big man but I’m sure he’s as proud as I am.

    ETA I got the fear when Watson went off for Hamilton but he was playing very well, looked like a nasty one, hopefully it’s not as bad as it looked.

    1. I think you’ve notes where we lost it: going for that scrum. Baffling decision, as was moving McInally to flanker. Still, the team played superbly, far surpassed any expectation I had, and they almost did it. Great game.

    2. The first decision to scrum was the right thing to do as it got Fifita off the pitch. With hindsight the second one should have been a line out but it’s rare to see a scrum lost against the head now and it was simply down to Hames blatantly cheating (in exactly the same manner as he did in Paris last Saturday) and the referee not being strong enough to give another penalty against NZ.

      The really bad decision we made was to put Turner in the front row which led to our scrum disintegrating, penalty, line out, MacKenzie try. McInally duly went back to hooker in the next scrum and it was fine again. I like Turner in the loose but he is a liability in the front row and is a very lucky guy that the rules have been changed for this season regarding put ins and picking the ball out or he wouldn’t get near a pro rugby game.

      1. Interesting point about Mcinally going back to hooker at a scrum, can’t say I noticed that. Scrums are such a lottery I just think a line out (where we were doing excellently) would have been far safer but I agree with whoever made the call (Barclay I assume) that a scrum was the play most likely to lead to us scoring if it went well.

        I always think scrumming a penalty you should get 2 strikes or something. When you kick to the corner with a penalty you are gaining territory and a high likelihood of getting the ball back. Scrums you can take then immediatly lose by a penalty going against you. What I’m trying to say is that if you have a penalty and chose scrum you should maybe get one reset regardless of fault for colapsing. It probably wouldn’t work in practice as teams would just abuse it.

      2. I noticed McInnally went back and it shored it up again immediately. Combining with that and line out throwing, physical presence and we now have a clear clear no 2.

  14. I’d prepared myself for a massacre, and for a loss by 20 points or so, but not for being gutted by almost winning, but for a desperate try saving tackle! Well done the boys. They were magnificent.

  15. Fabulous performance from the team! I have to confess to being nervous before kickoff.

    Hogg was sublime. Properly phenomenal game from him and massive credit for, at a time when he must have been hurting, spending time with the fans in the schoolboy enclosure.

    Jonny Gray, where has that performance been over the last 12 months? Brilliant.

    Marfo excellent, Hamilton looked quality when he was on the pitch. Barclay, excellent captain’s performance. Watson was looking good before he went off, I hope he’s not out for long. Zander good. Price and Russell quality. I’m running out of adjectives!

    That was 3 or 4 dropped passes at key moments from an epic victory. Just so gutted!

  16. Just wonderful ! The Jones try was the sort of thing we used to expect from only the top one or two teams in the world. Our skill-set across the board has improved phenomenally. Zander, still so young for a prop, will develop into one formidable component of a fearsome front row in the near future and we will have a team with no weaknesses. Marfo is a great find and McInally is maturing into an excellent hooker while retaining the mobility and running threat of his former position
    as a flanker. A great team is developing!

  17. A far cry from a couple years ago when we proudly lost to the NZ 2nd 15… they played their strongest available and we arguably should have won… very proud!

  18. Massive improvement on last week. I had worried but the players clearly had the belief even when they went 12 points down. Considering the injuries they had to cope with, it was a great effort all round. Such a great effort doesn’t merit picking players out for critisism. The Toonie project is progressing nicely.

  19. Price, Jones and Hogg are brilliant to watch, though the whole team were good today.

    Having been at the game it seemed like Scotland had about 70% possession in the All blacks half and I left the game feeing Scotland really should have won today. Not dissapointed though.

  20. I can’t help but feel that we could have, should have won that one today! It really is bittersweet but on a positive note we came within 5 points of possibly the best available NZ side, could we have said that under Frank Hadden, Andy Robinson or Vern Cotter? If we beat Australia next week then I would class this Autumn as a resounding success, if we don’t then we still accept that we nearly beat the all blacks and can take great pride from that, look at all the young / new players we have, it’s certainly an exciting time to be a Scotland fan!

  21. Ross I think where we are now is much based on what Vern Cotter did. I still feel he should have continued until WC2019

    1. I agree. That said some of our plays were fantastic to watch and that is all toonie. Vern put in the hard work and rebuilt the team I just hope they don’t forget his teachings. You also have to remember that the majority of the team is Glasgow and Toonies success there I think is a huge factor in where Scotland is at now with regards to confidence and playing style. I would have liked to see Vern stay longer and build on the excellent base he created but based on so far Toonie is doing an excellent job of that, proof of the pudding will be beating Aus next weekend, France, Wales and Italy in the 6N and giving England something to worry about at Murrayfield.

  22. So pleased and proud, this Scotland team is truly starting to believe from 1-23 and beyond.

  23. I think its quite possible that this game was the both the best of Hogg’s career so far and the worst of Seymour’s.

    To beat NZ we probably couldn’t afford anyone to have an off day, and we just made far too many unnecessary mistakes at key moments.

    I don’t think there’s much doubting that front row’s the weakest area of our squad. However, with all the injuries we’ve had in the last two years we’re going to come out of it with some pretty good options once all our props and hookers are back fit.

    Looking forward to AUS now. Nice to be at the level where anything other than a win against them would be seen as a real disappointment.

  24. Well played, Scotland. So close, although always a stretch to come back from 12 points down. Great that, against a first-choice ABs team, the opposition had to resort to slowing the game down to a crawl to run down the clock. I’m guessing fewer of us will be glass half-empty next time in our predictions.

    The best part was how our bench came on and really took it to them. Hamilton and Dunbar getting injured was crucial, though; the former because he was really beginning to do some damage (hope his leg’s not as bad as it looks) and the latter because it left us exposed in the backs for NZ’s first try with one man down. With a stronger front row on the bench, we probably wouldn’t have been shunted back from that 5m scrum, may well have scored, and had 10 minutes to score that final try against 14 men.

    What this also means is that if we come up against them in a World Cup final or semi-final, there won’t be any sense of “Oh, well, we did well to get this far.” We will believe anyone can be taken down.

  25. Even though we have every chance of winning well, we shouldn’t pretend it’s going to be easy against Australia next week. They were really unlucky to lose the way they did against England. They thought they were cheated at key moments and will be massively fired up. We will need to show the same heart, perhaps with greater accuracy, in order to beat them. Looking forward to a great game!

  26. A magnificent effort and some terrific performances all over the pitch. I’m happy to retract my prediction of losing by 30 being “as expected”.

    Hogg, Russell, Gray all absolutely outstanding.

    Marfo, Hamilton real finds.

    As for the referee/TMO, well they bottled it. Don’t see how in any interpretation of the laws, that wasn’t a yellow at least for Waisake. We were screaming for red because there didn’t even seem to be an attempt to wraps his arms either, which made it plain dangerous on many counts.

    And did anyone else see the blatant crossing deep in the AB 22 at the end of the first half. Would’ve given us a lead at HT.

    But still, if one of those dropped balls in the first half had stuck, we’d have won. No Scot has been able to say something like that for nearly a generation. To come so close is disappointing, and you can see that’s how the players felt, but this result shows we can now compete with anyone.

    1. Agreed, I didn’t think it was anythin like a red card but was getting very excited when they went back for another look as I thought that was a yellow every day of the week. I understand the mitigating factor of him being “sheparded” by Price but I thought the rule clarification or change or whatever it was made it very clear, that taking someone out in the air was an automatic yellow, if it results in a “spearing” of the tackled player into the ground then its red. Not the refs fault and to be fair I thought he had a not to bad game he was very clear on what he wanted, but he should have told the TMO to ram it.

      I think I said in another comment, the players reaction to the loss was possibly one of the most encouraging things I saw, in a weird perverted way. Any Scotland team in the last god knows would have trudged off a bit peeved but otherwise delighted they hadn’t humiliated themselves, those guys yesterday were gutted at losing to the finest sports team in the world. Says a lot.

  27. Look at this for a team we could have named from injured players


  28. Really impressed as to how Hogg is coming on. I think he really stepped into the vice captain role. He’s always vocal and always running in to pat the forwards on the back for any turnover or checking on any injured player. His temperament has really improved from 4 years ago. His all round play in excellent. Very good under the high ball yesterday, defence looks better, made his tackles, but his running is unbelievable. I really thought he’d make it at the end. Kind of expected him to step off his left as we’ve seen before but Barrett is world class too and covered the angle to stop the step, make the tackle, and stop the offload. Hope Hogg stays fit and in form for the next few years. Also hope we can keep him playing in Scotland.

  29. Wow, what an effort! That was the most exciting match I have ever watched. If they show up with the same hearts (and are able to convert at least 1 try when inside the 5) vs. ‘straya I like their chances.

  30. Only just about recovered from the hangover now. Been going to murrayfield for years but have to say that is by far, BY FAR the best game of rugby I have seen there. Two quality sides going at it and I think NZ will be delighted at escaping with a win. We were the betterside but goes to show how important accuracy is, if NZ had created as many chances as we did they would have converted the majority of them. They were clinical when they got their chances and that was the difference. The fact we created so many chances against such a great defence is testament to how far we have come.

    Some people criticising the scrum but I though it was excellent until midway through the second half. Perhaps struggled when turner/Berghan came on but haven’t watched it on to yet so not sure? Lineout outstanding, mcinally throwing spot on. Marfo may well be out 1st choice loosehead now? A better scrummager than dell and better in the lose than Reid.

    Hogg deserved MoM as he was electric but have to say a massive shout out to he forwards who totally served it up to the formidable AB pack. Without them doing that the backs would not have got the ball they did.

    Huge game next week, let’s hope a few boys can patch themselves up and go again. It will b a hard game against a fired up Aussie side but this team has something special about it and think we can go into it with confidence.

  31. Must say what a reception for big doddle before the game not ashamed to say it brought a tear to my eye.

    1. i meant doddie great team performance just felt we did not think we could win till about 77th minute we started to believe and the all blacks were themselves

  32. We ran out of time, the AB’s were desperate for FT, tired out , down to 14 men for 20 minutes, weary from tackling three times as often as the scots who had the majority or possession .

    We were up fast and kept them behind the gain line, they didn’t know what to do with Hogg.

    On one hand what more do we need to do !!!!! On the other, we will not be showing them all that respect next time.

  33. Not impressed with those comments from Steve Hansen on his BBC interview. I was very disappointed he chose to sully what was a great night for rugby. I expect more of the coach of the world number 1’s.

    To make a public statement about the referee was unnecessary, undignified and bitter ! Why , what was the point? intimidation !

    I think the ref was patient with the AB’s, who clearly see that going down to 14 is ‘open season’ as no ref would ever put his career on the line by reducing them to 13.

    Towards the end it was in at the side, hands in the ruck , wasting time in the scrum . All the old AB games.

  34. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Warriors have announced officially Finn Russell to leave at the end of the season. doesn’t say where too.

  35. Was at the game yesterday so had rerun on the tv and although Seymour made a few silly mistakes don’t think he had that bad a game overall

    1. Apart from the nice pass to Jones and one take in the air what exactly did he do to warrant your assessment?

      1. Seymour got over the gain line every time he got the ball didn’t see him miss a tackle either

  36. Watched a few bits last night and don’t think the perspective I had from the stands has changed.

    Naholo should’ve been yellow, no doubt about it. If he hadn’t run into Price it would’ve been a WORSE tackle! The law doesn’t allow for mitigation if you tackle someone in the air so far as I am aware.

    How he missed Read’s slapdown only he will know. Should’ve asked the TMO to review, given the Scottish protestations.

    If both those decisions had been correct, we would have won.

    1. Stuff happens and, ultimately, shoulders just have to be shrugged and we have to get on with it where ref decisions are involved. If I were a new Zealander, I’d be thinking that on another day Gray might have been deemed to have used a double movement – referred to very briefly by the TV commentating team – and Russell’s ‘almost interception’ could have been interpreted as a deliberate knock – down.

      1. Indeed it does , I thought the referee was diligent, he did not give in to the crowd pressure. However Steve Hansen did not take the same pragmatic view post the game. Strange , the AB’s win with only 40% possession and a man down for 25% of the match and he has a public swipe at the referee. Something rattled him.

        That comment reignited memories of Joubert’s mysterious reluctance to penalise the AB’s in the closing phases of the 2011 WC final against France (FIN: 7 -8 to NZ)

        I do admire how Barclay manages the referees, he is shaping up to be a good captain , lots of presence and leading by example.

  37. Early thoughts on Saturday’s team. Many players are out which gives others a great opportunity. Encouraging great strength in depth and competition for places in the future. Still competitive enough to compete against Australia.

    Du Preez


    Personally I’d like to see Cummings and G Horne on bench.

  38. Can’t conceive of a reason to bring Maitland and Brown into the squad unless they were likely to go into the 23 for Saturday. It would seem that Maitland is more likely to go straight into the team, given he played for Sarries this weekend, but it would be harsh on Lee Jones if he was the player dropped. I think we have to assume that Seymour had an off-day, one sublime inside pass aside, which is unlikely to be repeated.

    Having Brown as an impact sub off the bench will be a timely boost. Turner’s work in the scrum is not yet international quality, though I think he’s going to get there in the loose. Having Brown do a powerful 20-25 minutes is an attractive idea.

    A lot of the rest of the permutations will depend on the injuries. Both Dunbar and Watson had head knocks, so possible that they will make it back, but I’d guess it is unlikely that both will. Hamilton looked serious enough to rule him out entirely. Too hard to predict what the prognoses is for Marfo and Fagerson.

    On the assumption that only the HIAs and Hamilton are definitely out, I think we’ll shape up something like:

    1. Marfo
    2. McInally
    3. Fagerson
    4. Toolis
    5. Gray
    6. Bradbury or Wilson
    7. Barclay
    8. Du Preez
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. L. Jones
    12. Horne or H. Jones
    13. H. Jones or Harris
    14. Seymour
    15. Hogg

    16. Brown
    17. Sutherland
    18. Berghan
    19. Gilchrist
    20. Wilson or Bradbury
    21. Pyrgos
    22. Horne or Harris
    23. Maitland

    I don’t see Toony taking too many chances with this one, when we need to build on the momentum and give the guys who came so close the opportunity to get over the winning line against the Wallabies.

  39. Imagine thinking at the start of the season that we’d be putting out a front row of Marfo, McInally and Berghan against Australia… Injury count is ridiculous.

    Centre is looking like a bit of a problem. Don’t really fancy Grigg or Horne against Kerevi/Kuridrani in midfield but since the only other options are Harris and Burleigh, guess they’ll have to do. Grigg would probably be my choice with Horne remaining on the bench.

    I’d also give Ritchie a start. He’s been playing really well for Edinburgh this season and will compliment Barclay and Du Preez nicely. However that does mean that if you exclude Barclay and Gray, our pack has a total of 27 caps between them with over half off the bench…

    1. I’d be fairly happy with Jones and Grigg. Defence could be an issue but they’d blend nicely together between Jones creativity and Grigg’s angles of running.

      1. Only issue is both normally play 13. Grigg is the more natural fit for 12 I’d say and given Jones’s form, I wouldn’t be inclined to move him at the moment.

        Defence as you say is a bit of a worry though. It’s a shame Hardie’s not available as he’d be ideal for chopping down the Aussie midfield before they get going. Ritchie is probably the closest we have to him out of who’s left which is why he’d be my pick

    2. I don’t think Toonie will change much. Seymour has been quiet, couple of blunders at the weekend but he hasn’t exactly been bad over the two matches, just fallen short of his own high standards. Would be a tad harsh to swap him for Maitland, so Maitland for the 23 jersey. Horne and Jones would be a nice combo in the centre, maybe a bit weak defensively but it would be a creative pairing. The prospect of facing Russell, Horne and Hogg should give any team the fear, who knows what they will do next? H Jones seems to be a solid tackler though and he’s a big lad so not too concerned about Kuridrani running at him.

      McInally can keep the 2 shirt, he has done more than enough, the lineouts alone are enough evidence. It’s times like these that injuries are actually a blessing in disguise, if Ford and Brown were fit I doubt McInally would have got a sniff of being in a 23 let along starting.

      I really hope Watson is ok, I love his style, and I would love to see him up against Michael Hooper who is very similar in size and style to him. I haven’t watched a great deal of Edinburgh this season but I gather he hasn’t been setting the heather on fire but if that’s the case it certainly hasn’t been reflected in his performances for Scotland. Same for Hamilton, he deserves another crack but that injury didn’t look great. Barclay has to be the nailed on captain now, even when Greeg gets back to fitness, he has been superb and has the right temperament, Greeg (or any SH for that matter) would just irritate me if I was a ref.

      1. Just saying Mcinally seems to be getting all the credit for the lineouts. He’s been throwing good but it’s a bit easier when you’ve got Toolis in charge of calling and going up and getting it most of the time!

  40. Seymour is an interesting case. 100% agree with everyone saying he’s got enough in the bank to deserve another chance after one poor display. I’m a big Seymour fan.

    But… (just playing devil’s advocate) is this not a great to chance to make an example of players needing to be at their absolute best every time they pull on the shirt? The whole point of creating the fabled ‘depth’ in Scottish rugby (aside from covering injuries) is to be able to have the kind of selection pressure that other top nations have enjoyed for years. If you don’t perform, there’s 3 behind you that will.

    I feel that if we just say ‘it’s fine, he’s normally better’, then we’re basically guilty of the same election process we’ve had in Scotland for years. E.g. that once you’re in the team, and thought of as first choice, you just stay there.

    1. Who you going to drop him for? Maitland? A guy who is one game into a comeback and by all accounts was anonymous last Sat for Sarries.

    2. He did have a dreadful game , no question, a few schoolboy howlers. However it was Seymour who assisted the try which brought us back into contention.

      He read Hogg’s (inch perfect) chip, precisely, fielded it, drew the defender and passed with perfect timing and accuracy to allow Huw Jones to get his line and score.

      He was at his best at that point, we may need that instinct against Australia. I don’t think it would be weak or setting a precedent if we gave him a start against Australia, I think it would be madness not to have him in the 23.

      1. The move for the Jones try was almost identical to the move that almost got a try for Jones against Wales earlier in the year, and Seymour and Hogg have a great understanding so I wouldn’t drop him because he made a couple of errors.

        Injuries permitting I would keep exactly the same starting XV against Australia, maybe bring in Maitland and Brown on the bench, and perhaps Cummings in for Gilchrist to give him a taste.

  41. Interesting that Wales are being given better odds to beat the ABs than we were – 8/1 compared to our 12/1. Maybe we should’ve gone to uncontested scrums.

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