Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 44-38 Samoa

Scotland v Samoa by Al Ross
Samoa compete at the lineout - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

It was a dream start for Darryl Marfo in Scotland colours at BT Murrayfield, who won a turnover on the deck that led directly to Stuart Hogg’s try after just 2 minutes of this Autumn test against Samoa. Russell chipped the ball into space, Seymour hacked it into the Samoan 22 and the bounce was ever so lucky/perfect for Hogg to gather and dive under the posts.

After that excitable start, this game settled into a scrappy affair characterised by poor kicking from hand and otherwise. Finn Russell missed one penalty to touch; Samoan fly-half Tim Nanai-Williams missed a penalty at goal. They both made up for it minutes later with a penalty apiece to make it 10-3 after quarter of an hour.

Scotland were mostly playing from scraps of turnover ball. Hogg almost had a second try inside 20 minutes but the touchline denied Lee Jones the chance to kick it through for Stuart Hogg who would have got there in his speedy new de-Guinnessed form.

It seemed like the first scrum wasn’t until the 19th minute, a testament to the high-tempo, open nature of the game although both sides were guilty of what Dave Rennie or Vern might say was “not looking after the pill”.

Samoa had the majority of possession and the Scots kicked them plenty more but it was well past the half hour mark before the visitors sent their big ball carriers through the middle of the Scottish defence which became wilfully complicit in their success. Josh Tyrell was the main beneficiary, bashing his way under the posts for the try.

It was scrappy, with plenty of errors. McInally, Toolis and Watson looked sharp with the first two the only carriers of note up front and Watson putting in a huge effort defensively.

Jonny Gray on the charge - by Al Ross
Jonny Gray carries for Scotland vs Samoa at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh – pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

Worryingly, WP Nel – who had also looked in decent shape to that point – went off after half an hour with a suspected arm fracture.

As the break approached, suddenly the hitherto unemployed Scottish centres sprung into life. Alex Dunbar had a big carry down the right wing but the offload everyone could see coming somehow ended up with Nanai-Williams. He was bundled into touch and Hogg took a quick throw. The ball worked its way to Huw Jones on the other wing who had too much power and pace for the defence and went over in the corner.

Russell missed the conversion but the Scots weren’t done, with the effective Stuart McInally commanding the lineout drive from the back to scuttle over for his first try, and putting a gloss on the score in Scotland’s favour.

Half-time: Scotland 25-10 Samoa

Samoa started with more of a kicking game plan in the second half, effectively trying to impose some structure on such a loose affair.

As if to show they can do a bit of structure themselves – not that you’d know by the freewheeling Finn, who kept throwing mad no-look hospital passes to Dunbar – McInally took a second pushover try minutes into the second half nearly identical to his first.

The set piece basics were done pretty well on the limited occasions the games stopped, and the Samoans were second best for most of them. This side of Scotland’s game will of course be tested far harder next weekend.

The biggest area of worry was the defence, which Samoa opened up with a series of bruising pick-and-go carries on the Scotland line that the TMO felt resulted in a try, despite any clear evidence that the ball touched the ground. The Scots still had a 15 point lead but with half an hour still to play there was no room for complacency.

Ali Price and Russell were running the game well and certainly kept the tempo up but there wasn’t much of an opportunity for the ball carriers to get motoring. McInally aside, Ben Toolis was possibly the standout forward although Watson put in a huge amount of work in the second half as he had in the first.

This was one for the backs though, with Russell and Hogg directing the traffic and constantly varying the point of attack. All of them looked lively when they held on to the ball but there was a little too much ambition and execution that wasn’t good enough.

After an hour the benches emptied and Chris Harris, Jamie Bhatti and George Turner earned their first caps. Harris replaced Tommy Seymour who walked off gingerly, hopefully not too serious. Darryl Marfo did pretty well for a first effort, although he looked a little laboured at times he certainly wasn’t afraid to get stuck in.

The referee was also starting to penalise Scotland pretty heavily and Samoa were starting to make the scoreboard margin seem pretty uncomfortable. They made all the pressure count with first a penalty, then a try from an incisive run from Samoa’s standout Tim Nanai-Williams who found a hole in the Scottish defence. He converted to narrow the gap to just 8 points.

The teams were still two scores apart, but fingernails were being chewed in the capacity crowd at Murrayfield.

[Edinburgh, UK. November 11, 2017] Alex Dunbar scores for Scotland vs Samoa at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. (c) ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography
Photo Credit: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography
Alex Dunbar showed he’s back to near his powerful best with a barrel over from short range created by a Lee Jones offload, which was in turn created by a Pete Horne chip kick. The result wasn’t put beyond a doubt even with that score, as Kieron Fonotia slid under the Scottish defence and Nanai-Williams converted to make it a 6 point game with ten minutes to play.

Scotland should have had enough to see it out, but were hampered throughout the game by kicking too much ball away and basic mistakes as the combinations on the field became more unfamiliar.

Cornell du Preez had an extremely effective cameo from the bench, providing the direct running up front and offloading that had been missing from the pack for most of the match. Pete Horne scampered into the space he created with a clever offload and made it to the line; to finally put the result beyond doubt, surely?

Not just yet.

The Scottish defence leaked another soft try as replacement Ofisa Treviranus closed the gap again with Samoa’s fifth try and the familiar prospect of a nervy last few minutes. Some clever work defending the lineout by Tim Swinson gave Scotland the scrum as the clock ticked over 80 minutes.

Pyrgos was able to gather and boot it at the advertising hoardings to provide the result that had seemed obvious from the second minute; credit to Samoa that they made it anything but.

SRBlog Man of the Match: Stuart McInally – the former back row man provided reassurance at the set piece, scored two tries and let’s face it all the really rubbish stuff happened when he was off the park. Toolis and Price were also very good, Hogg was steady and Huw Jones woefully underused.

Referee: Nic Berry (ARFU)

Attendance: 67,144

70 Responses

    1. Conceding 5 tries to the world’s 16th best team at home is an absolute shocker. Need to up intensity, concentration and physicality or we’ll get absolutely battered next weekend.

  1. What a poor performance defensively. The All Blacks will crush us next week. Fringe defence was non existent. Wilson proved again he doesn’t have the bulk.

    Handling was gash also.

    1. Think harsh on Wilson. He’s probably not big enough at 8 in internationals but neither is Barclay. The squad Townsend has picked means Wilson was likely to play 8- I prefer him on the flank for Glasgow. I don’t watch Edinburgh very often but thought Du Preez was good when he came on. Not sure he solves the soft middle in defence but might have done enough to start at 8 next week.

      Nel is a big blow for rest of series if he is out.

      J Gray doesn’t look fit – maybe left out next week?

      Wasn’t that impressed with the performance. McInally did well, Huw Jones too, Fagerson carries well (is he part of defensive issue at rucks?). Struggling after that for many standouts.

    1. As long as we don’t score a try in the first 5 mins. Every time that happens Glasgow/ Scotland seem to lose momentum for about half an hour.

  2. They play like children, always wanting to keep the ball alive at all cost which always leads to them / Glasgow knocking on.
    They have to learn when to die with the ball and reset.

    Fastest rugby in the world my ass, they don’t have the handling ability to do it.

  3. Can’t remember a worse defensive performance. Hopeless.
    At 32-10 it was time to push on, not a cue to make lots of silly individual errors.
    A loss of intensity and concentration not helped by mass substitutions.
    Not looking forward to NZ next week. It could be painful.

  4. Pretty chaotic, made more so by the chopping and changing off the bench, but I suppose Gregor needed to see the new blood get some reasonable game time. And it is our first Test since June.
    Agree the All Blacks will absolutely pump us if we’re that unstructured next week.
    Looks like the coaches have been working on Jonny Gray’s carrying game. He seemed to make a few more yards than he usually does, but he has poor hands and he needs to improve there.
    I know he wasn’t responsible for the whole messy 8O minutes, but I have to ask : what is the point of Henry Pyrgos in the side? Samoa last try pretty much a direct result of another stupid Pyrgos box kick from inside the 22 straight into the arms of an opponent just outside the 22. Seriously don’t want to see him in the jersey again.
    Thought Huw Jones and Alex Dunbar were good today. We need them fit for next week – they’ll be doing a lot of work in defence, and also in attack because I still think we’ll earn enough possession to be competitive.

    1. Agreed on Henry. As a warrior I have a soft spot for him as part of the league winning side but his passing and kicking has been off the mark for about a year. Going to mention again – Finlay Christie? Presumably is keeping his all black ambitions alive for now but him and Price would be a good as 9 options

      1. Henry doesn’t seem to have properly recovered from the bad injury he had a couple of years ago. Hasn’t been the same player since. Time to try Vellacott or George Horne?

      2. Vellacott wasn’t in the glaws squad yesterday, could suggest he’s been asked to be ready for a call up, toonie has mentioned him so obviously recognises the talent

  5. Next week could make the Calcutta cup look like a walk in the park if we don’t improve 4 fold in defence and attack. We wouldn’t have scored any of those except the first against NZ.

  6. If Scotland perform like that against NZ they’ll put 60+ points on us.

    Wilson far too lightweight and doesn’t have a position he excels at. Bench player at best.
    Pyrgos…same as usual… not an international standard player. Continually gives possession back.
    Chris Harris looked totally lost when he came on.
    J Gray does not look an automatic choice at 2nd row anymore. Cummings is better than him.
    Losing Nel a blow…but Fagerson is around same level imo..and Berghan deserves a chance.


    Marfo looked at ease with International level. Should keep his place in squad..although not quite as good as Sutherland. H Jones is 1st choice centre.
    Hogg looks very sharp ..but still crap at the high ball.
    McInally played very well has improved a lot at hooker.

    Some good tries and some terrible defense.

    1. Agreed on Harris. Know virtually nothing about him but is he not a centre by trade? Difficult to play out of position on debut?

    2. Sutherland has played one game in a year and a half, and you think he’s better than Marffo. Based on what exactly?

      1. Probably based on similar reasoning as GT who brought him straight back into the Scotland squad from only a short appearance for Edinburgh after a lengthy recovery from injury.

  7. OK, a game to try things out perhaps. Not as fast as I had expected and certainly not fast enough to bother either the ABs or Aus. Really lacking a big ball carrying forward. Watson does well, but some of the big lads around him should be making more yards before going to ground.

  8. Clear areas of concern in defence, but I think the general tone here is overly negative, given its our first game of the autumn with a lot of new personnel. The main concern, due to all the injuries, is the bench. At 32-10, we had lots of personnel changes and then made a couple of stupid mistakes at re-starts and let them back in far too easily. But we did score several good tries.

    Impressed by Cornell du Preez when he came on. Back to close to pre-injury form?

    Marfo looked good, too.

      1. We shouldn’t be rusty. Ireland just pumped SA, we struggled past a side ranked almost ten places below us. I think we were complacent and our pack looked soft.

  9. Front row did well and Nel’s injury whilst a blow will give Berghan a well earned chance as well as hopefully giving McCallum an equally well deserved chance to start for Edinburgh. Marfo exceeded all expectations I think and did a more than solid job. I think Gray is in danger of losing his place to Cummings. I think our backrow is primarily defensive in function and after some of the tries we conceded today…Watson the exception but Du Preez should come in at the least probably for Wilson. No complaints in the backs other than Pyrgos who just doesn’t do it for me.

  10. First of all a wins a win, we have never pumped Samoa and it might have been a bit arrogant to expect that we would. I don’t think we were ever in danger of losing though.

    That said it was scrappy stuff, we suffered from the same issue Glasgow have been, too much aimless flinging about of the ball and little to show for it, handling skills not good enough to keep it. A simpler game approach may be better.

    Few observations. I though Marfo was cracking, certainly didn’t look like a 5th choice debutant anyway. McInally, Toolis and Watson were the standout forwards. Thought Gray and Watson were pretty quiet, Barclay was average.

    Backs were ok, Dunbar and Jones came more and more into the game, Jones could use a little more ball.

    I think if the starting lineup was in for longer we would have done better, the mass changes I didn’t think were a good idea but were obviously done with a view to next weekend.

    Worrying thing was a lack of intensity in defence, it seemed like every time Samoa got close they scored and we were quite happy to let that happen. Serious upping of the intensity required for the next couple of weeks, the all blacks are ruthless and punish every single mistake. Australia are a different prospect to the team we have beaten recently.

  11. I think a few of the players can expect some harsh defensive training this week! Far to scrappy in defence and attack. I’m sure we are all in favour of fast paced, champagne rugby but if you watch the All Blacks who are the experts, they play percentage rugby bashing through the middle until the fast and loose play is on. We really need some big, bruising forwards. Although saying that, our pack was heavier than Samoa’s but their carriers looked like they had way more punch – what is the issue?

    Anyway, well done to all players from both teams for a cracking match.

    1. Totally agree, I really don’t like the saying but you do have to earn the right to go wide. Flinging the ball about in the hope that it will tire the other guys out and that something will happen doesn’t always work. We do have the backs to make it work but it won’t always, especially against the top teams who simply don’t make enough mistakes for the gaps to appear.

      Weight doesn’t count for much imo, guys such as Ford and the Grays are big old boys but they hit like powderpuffs, when’s the last time you saw a Scottish forward flattening someone, or taking half he opposing team to drag down? For too long our players have seemed only too happy to go to ground. In that vein, I thought DuPrez looked quite good when he came on.

      Maybe I’m being a bit harsh but the more I think about it we were soft today.

  12. Certainly not a great performance imo, next week I’d like to see this team play:
    1- Marfo
    2- Mcinally
    3- Fagerson
    4- Toolis
    5- Gray
    6- Barclay
    7- Watson
    8- Du Preez
    9- Price
    10- Russell
    12- Horne
    13- Jones
    14- Seymour
    15- Hogg

    16- Turner
    17- Sutherland
    18- Berghan
    19- Cummings
    20- Bradbury
    21- Pyrgos
    22- Dunbar
    23- Fife?

    1. I’d be happy with Berghan or Fagerson at TH next week. Fagerson is good enough to probably edge the benefit of the all Edinburgh front row though.

      It’s a shame Cummings wasn’t blooded from the bench today as I think Gray would be more under pressure if Cummings had gotten a chance to show what he could offer.

      Du Preez is an absolute must in the backrow, Wilson might give us a bit of dog but we need someone who can punch the odd hole.

      Happy with the backs.

    2. Not sure about Horne ahead of Dunbar, might need some ballast at 12. Agree that Bradbury might be useful off the bench.

      1. Agree. Both NZ centres are very big and one will be SB Williams. Good luck with that one George.

    3. Fair selection….however

      Id swap Dunbar for Horne. Horne is a good versatile option off the bench.
      Although Im not impressed by Gray at all. Id play Cummings or Gilchrist ahead of him and Gray on the bench or even not at all. Wish we would stop picking Swinson… we have better and younger options than him.

      Id also rather see Fowles on the bench than Pyrgos. I literally cringe when he comes on. Fowles is at least solid…Pyrgos is a bomb scare.

      Du Preez is by far our current best option at 8. Bradbury has to play some part also. To be honest Id like to see Du Preez 8, Watson 7, Bradbury or Hamilton 6.

  13. Won’t dwell on the rather non- existent defence, especially around the fringes & rather take on some positives.
    Marfo! So relieved we might have found a successor to Al D & first turnover was great stuff. Solid in scrum too.
    McInally – a revelation today, good at the lineout, though admittedly not Samoa’s strong point, some good carries & tackles.
    Du Preez showed some deft touches and made a difference. Starting back line did well and thought Lee Jones showed he can stand his ground & was useful going forward.
    I think sharpening the knives for Pyrgos is a little harsh though I think he will soon be outshone by one G Horne. Some of the fast rugby worked going forward but we must also learn how to defend fast. Lots for defence coaches to do this week but other than Nos 3 & 8, can’t see many other changes for the ABs.

    1. Marfo is a great find by Cockerill. Id put him in ahead of Dell. Very solid all round.

      I find it a bit strange Townsend played Wilson ahead of Du Preez. Du Preez has great hands…along with the mobility and power to break the line. Should be ideal for the style GT wants to play.

  14. To lose the second half 19-28 is disgraceful, and shouldn’t be conceding 5 tries against teams like England, New Zealand, Australia etc never mind Samoa. This ‘fastest’ rugby in world rugby isn’t going to work, we simply don’t have the skills for that and it made us look stupid at times with simple errors. team for next week, few changes just to bulk up pack

    du preez


  15. We won however not enough possession, not enough territory and conceded 16 turnovers. The AB’s will be all over that. Scrum, lineout, rucks and mauls were unspectacular but consistent . We had 4 clean breaks. The tackling will improve. I think all of their eyes were on the next 2 games, getting off the pitch injury free with a win , any win, was all that was on their minds today. 11 tries, worth every penny.

  16. I might be being overly reactive but I’m genuinely worried. We all know the nonsense that led to Vern being shown the door for Townsend. I am really worried about how we are shaping up. Australia were a shambles when we beat them. A fine win but by no means the side they have turned into since. Other than that, defensively we look like Scotland of old. This rugby works for Glasgow because Glasgow play Zebres and Dragons as often as Leinster and even then it’s just Leinster. It isn’t an international side. Today was basically 2016 Glasgow playing Samoa(on paper the weakest Samoa side I can remember). Next week it’s 2016 Glasgow playing NZ. We will be decimated and it will set us back massively. Australia has helped us patch over the England result but two or maybe three hammerings in 2017 will show this resurgence as a real false dawn. Townsend needs to balance the fast mad Rugby with Vern & O Hallorohans grit and fight and organisation in defence.

    1. Steady on, Vern’s start wasn’t great either. That said, we were very poor defensively today. Not sure disparaging Toonies Glasgow achievements helps either. He’s got a job on no doubt, he needs a couple more big ball carriers, but you can’t buy them here. We need to give him a chance. I am a bit worried about next week, but hopefully they’ll tighten up.

      1. The difference is that vern was left with a car crash, toonie with a pretty formidable side. I’ve been concerned about this coaching set up, I’m still hoping toonie proves he’s not just riding on the coattails of previous success!

  17. Marfo, McInally, Toolis = quality.
    Ruck defence = not quality. It might not adhere to Toony’s purist vision of rugby but we should be looking to beef up the back row next week. Barclay, Watson and Wilson are all good at the breakdown but leave us liable to being blasted off the ball when we play all three together.
    I would like some ball-playing ability sacrificed for robustness against the All Blacks. Barclay, Hamilton and Du Preez to start with Watson off the bench. If we defend like we did today against New Zealand we’ll ship 60+ points.

    1. Also – not trolling I promise – in the long run Strauss and Denton should be back in the squad. A back row of Strauss, Du Preez and Denton would be utterly mindless but would prevent us being outmuscled as we were in the second half today. With the new ruck laws penalising jackaling, that’s the way rugby is going

      1. I almost feel like we are going to soon miss V Cotter even more soon.
        I like GT but he seems too heavily focussed on this ‘dream fast rugby’ style. He does realize the squad of players he has to implement this style represent Scotland…not NZ??
        You simply can’t play that style unless you have the muscle, aggression and technique in the front pack to continually break the line and give the backs the platform to attack. Cant expect a talented but lightweight back row to continually break the gain line against physically more powerful defences.

      2. I’d love to see that backrow even if just for one game! We have others who can jackal in the frontrow and Dunbar so let’s have a go at just smashing someone’s defence to bits.

  18. Struggling to understand the annoyance and negativity toward J Gray here. He is still a young developing player he is 23 for crying out loud. We all want him to develop into the player that we all know he can be, same to be said of Richie, but that takes time and experience.

    Jonny’s problem is that he isn’t exactly training day in and day out with older more experienced locks in his club. He is the leader in Glasgow, if he wants to develop he needs to go to a top quality club with older more experienced locks. Look at his brother who has developed a hell of a lot since going to France. Also he did try and take it upon himself to carry the ball and make those harder yards which is what he has been criticized of not doing in the past. He wasn’t as heavily involved in the line out but that seems more like a Townsend playbook instead of him being lazy. Finally the entire teams defence was terrible so I wouldn’t single him out for that.

  19. Having Pyrgos’ much fabled game management to come off the bench is such a boost, I’m sitting there wondering when he’ll come on to send those box kicks straight out on the full. G.Horne please……now.

    It’s obvious we need some more bulk in the back row, this ‘fastest rugby in the world’ park is pie in the sky stuff….let’s get more pragmatic. Du preez in please.
    And when did we last see a Scot player really knock the stuffing out of an opponent in the tackle? That’ll be when Hardie played. Get him back in for christs sake, and why we heard nothing since the investigation opened weeks ago. Guilty of something or not just get him back involved.

    Russell still looks to be forcing things too much, he needs some guidance on how to control games, a wise head. My pick would be get Dan Parks in the set-up on a good wage.

  20. Remember we’ve beaten Ireland, Wales, Italyx2, Australia & now Samoa this year, that’s no bad.
    Remember too RWC 2015 the Samoa game was similar & we went on to be a dodgy referee decision from the semis.
    However couple of observations – Scotland (& Glasgow) really struggle against physicality, DuPreez must start, Strauss, Denton must be in squad they all have the muscle required, Dunbar is absolutely crucial to back-line.
    George Horne needs more game-time as he clearly suits the GT game plan much better than Pygros.
    We have the backs to hurt anyone.
    Darfo looks very good, lets see how he gets on in next 2 weeks.
    McInally finally looks an international hooker

  21. Also consider Maitland, Taylor, Laidlaw, R.Gray, Sutherland, Brown, Ford, Dickinson/Dell all injured.

    We miss Hardie, like the idea of him & Watson getting something like 1/2 each

  22. This is turning into a very Scottish rugby supporter thread – we won the game, played fantastic in parts, scored a sackful of tries but yes, let ourselves down in other areas and already there is talk of Toonie not being up to the job!

    I expect that Toonie had his reasons for the tactics yesterday, probably to see how we got on and where the issues were. Now we know and he and the coaches and the players will be analysing the game and working hard to fix the problems.

    I think the suggestions for CdP to start are good, he looked physical and had some good touches. For me Wilson looked like he was struggling with the pace in the first half, did he take a knock? J Gray did seem to be carrying a bit better but his defence wasn’t as noticeable but he’s one player and can’t be expected to do everything himself. For me, yesterday would have been a good time to try one of the other, younger second rows off the bench. Similarly at scrum-half. Harris had a debut to forget and although i’ve not seen any of him at Newcastle, hopefully he will not be to damaged by it and will be back stronger in the future but the ABs may not be the game for it.

    Physicality and aggression still seem to be issues and are ones which will be hard to fix but the defence around the rucks can be tightened up, as can the game plan around when to try the miracle pass and when to play percentage rugby. Overall pass marks, things to work on, let’s now look forward to comparing ourselves to the best in the world!

  23. There are not many games at test level which can be utilised for team development: it seems that this was. I would expect the AB encounter to be more disciplined, but still aiming for high tempo.

  24. Agree with the comments of those saying there’s a bit too much panic and judgement going on. Let’s take both the positives and negatives in context please, particularly on player performance chat.

    Marfo was good, great to see. Let’s not forget though that he was not that long ago a squad player at London Welsh. As long as he keeps playing like that he deserves to start and I won’t have a bad word to say about him. But I’m not yet ready to say, as some have, that he’s international quality alongside Dickinson etc.

    On the flip side, Jonny Gray has been standout for 2-3 years now. I’m not minded to cut him down based on that game alone. He can certainly improve his carrying and some other elements but he’s still a fantastic player when on form. Similar sentiments towards Barclay and Finn. I think we will see them all step up next week.

    Du Preez, Horne and McInally are a trio that have underperformed in the past but do seem to be finally showing real quality. All that’s left is for them (particularly Du Preez) to keep it up. Loved Horne’s Finn-esque chip kick for Dunbar’s try, he’s come on miles since that ill-fated home debut against Italy in 2015 when he kept missing touch.

    I honestly believe Huw Jones could be as good as Hogg. He really is top quality. Watson looks like he will soon be back to his Pinballing best.

    Depth wise, we miss SuperDunc Taylor, Laidlaw and Maitland too. The whole Hardie situation is a damn shame. Hope it get’s resolved.

    1. Re: Hardie really don’t know what could possibly take a minth’s investigation. Either there is proof or not.

      1. Was thinking the same thing. Almost a month now and silence from the SRU. Get him in the squad or announce a ban but get on with it.

    2. There is no question over Huw Jones ability. He gained his reputation playing centre , wing and fullback in Super rugby and has scored 5 international tries in 9 games. His strike rate is more aligned to Tommy Seymour ( 16 tries in 37 games). I rate his defense and that is critical. If he wants to play for Scotland he is better to play in Scotland however I just hope he adjusts to the culture of the pro 14 without detriment.

  25. Think we will see fewer attempted surprise fireworks from Scotland next week. There may have to be a bit more orthodoxy to the approach, simply because it’s the All Blacks and they’re masters at snapping up loose or poorly protected possession and turning it into tries from anywhere on the pitch. Also highly effective at bulldozing through half-hearted tackles.

    Not that Toonie’s box of fireworks will be packed away for the whole game, because to have any chance of beating New Zealand you have to make things happen that take them by surprise, and lead to them making mistakes.

    By more orthodoxy, I’d point to our rolling maul yesterday which functioned well (from memory anyway, as I haven’t watched a recording yet), and to a decent line-out that could put pressure on their throws.

    Assuming we can get anything like equal possession, of good quality, then players like Russell, Hogg and H Jones on their A games could do some damage.

    Hoping that the ref and assistants are eagle-eyed next week. If Finn does get under the ABs’ skin, the officials will need to be alert to the odd late hit. Not saying New Zealand are dirty, but they do tend to find ways to neutralise threats…..

  26. Yesterdays game was played like a friendly which has left us with more questions than it answered. Next weeks game is entirely different. When we make mistakes against the AB’s they will respond ruthlessly and our heads will drop. It will become a self fulfilling prophecy.

    The history of Scotland and the AB’s is becoming much too heavy for these youthful shoulders. We would be better getting someone to work on the minds of our players.

    It is too early to judge GT, never too early to say how much we owe to Vern Cotter.

  27. Has there been any update on Nel’s injury ? I’ve scoured the net to try and find anything but too no avail.

  28. I’ve not had a chance to watch the replay, but from my perch up in the rafters (error in not selecting seating for the match with the season ticket) the game reminded me of two or three things. One was Edinburgh’s run to the Heineken semis in 2012. In particular the Racing Metro game where defence was optional, but tries abounded. That approach worked well for Edinburgh over a very defined period of time, but it was a strategy that was unpicked (choke them out and overpower them) and led to a subsequent and fairly rapid descent. The attacking-from-everywhere, you-score-one-we’ll score-one-more approach has to be matched with an intense physicality in defence and around the ruck (whether attacking or defending) to be a consistently successful strategy and particularly against the top teams.
    The game was also reminiscent of our group stage game against Samoa in the last RWC. Every time we scored, Samoa scored back. We could not protect any lead. If memory serves me correctly, Laidlaw came on, steadied the ship and played for territory (lineouts and tries) foregoing kickable penalties, as we were losing a score with every restart. So, restarts – it’s very disappointing to see this hideous weakness in our game resurfacing. I thought that RWC Samoa game was the nadir of that particular problem and that we had been gradually improving since. I would potentially say to the point that we were actually quite good at them last season…
    Finally, I wonder how much Toonies ‘fastest rugby in the World’ philosophy has been influenced by Eddie Jones’ approach with Japan. I really enjoyed Japan during that period – and the pace was incredible. It did lead them to significantly improve their fortunes, with the win over SA the obvious highlight, but I wonder whether Jones would have been able to take them any further. Would they have had the depth to regularly sustain that pace for 80 mins against teir 1 nations?
    It’s very early days for GT with Scotland, and I strongly suspect that intense defence will become a fundamental part of the gameplan, as it was for Glasgow (and BVC). Where I feel we have not excelled during ‘the renaissance’ is physicality around the breakdown, which ironically was something we probably had pre-rennaisance. Ireland have it (as demonstrated once again this weekend) and both Edinburgh and Glasgow have suffered it from Saracens in recent years. England over-power us on a fairly regular basis too.
    I think the best teams manage to combine high tempo rugby with intense defence and momentum generating power around the breakdown. So, fastest rugby in the World sounds great, but we’re not there in terms of skills 1 – 23, and we’re going to need to develop multiple aspects of our game (in addition to tempo) if we are to improve on our current standing.

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