Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs France: Player Ratings

Greig Laidlaw watches as Ryan Wilson prepares for contact pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography
Greig Laidlaw watches as Ryan Wilson prepares for contact - pic © Al Ross/Novantae Photography

Here are my player ratings following Scotland’s win over France at BT Murrayfield.

15 Stuart Hogg – our outstanding threat with ball in hand and has improved his defensive game tenfold from a season ago. A world class operator who caused the French all sorts of problems with his pace and footwork. 8/10

14 Tommy Seymour – quiet but competed hard in the air and defended well. Didn’t get a lot of ball in attack. 6/10

13 Huw Jones – lovely line for his try. A real asset in attack and defended well. A couple of handling errors blot his copybook but he’s a real talent. 7/10

12 Peter Horne – pre-match doubts about his defence but he responded well 7/10

11 Sean Maitland – Thomas got the better of the Saracens man for both tries and Maitland didn’t get a lot of ball to show his talent. Finished his try well. 6/10

10 Finn Russell – not one to remember, again. Two missed kicks to touch, a feeble attempt to tackle Thomas in first try build-up. Hooked as the game approached its end. 4/10

9 Greig Laidlaw – a fine return for the former captain who kicked Scotland to victory. Leadership to the fore at the end. Deserves to keep his place. 7/10

1 Gordon Reid – an industrious shift in which the scrum stood up to the French monsters. Got himself on the ball a fair bit and did not let up in defence. 7/10

2 Stuart McInally – a superb 80-minute performance that included a valuable maul intervention towards the end. Lovely soft hands in the tight and some excellent route-one carrying. Points off for a somewhat creaky lineout but otherwise, he’s fast becoming our first choice. 7.5/10

3 Simon Berghan – what a shift! Full 80-minute performance after a six-week ban and stood up well in the scrum. Also won a couple of penalties at the breakdown and, as you’d expect, carried and hit  rucks. 7.5/10

4 Grant Gilchrist – outstanding performance. The big man carried hard, put in a superb defensive shift and was a menace at the maul. He also showed some lovely hands for Maitland’s try. 8.5/10

5 Jonny Gray – see above. Flattened Machenaud for the first score and was a good link between backs and forwards when not smashing into the nearest Frenchman. 8/10

6 John Barclay CAPTAIN – back-row struggled to get to grips with France at the breakdown but there were some nice hands from the Scarlet before he was replaced by Denton. All in, not his best game. 6/10

7 Hamish Watson – carried hard without getting much change – put in some excellent tackles and was always in support of the backs when they broke. Determined 8/10

8 Ryan Wilson – a brilliant 80 minutes. Gave Scotland valuable go-forward and worked hard at the set-piece. Has cut out the silly side of his game and is becoming a first-pick.  8.5/10


16 Scott Lawson – unused

17 Jamie Bhatti – added to the good work of Reid. 7/10

18 Jon Welsh – unused

19 Ben Toolis – not quite the impact of his Edinburgh team-mate but brought energy and carried hard to earn valuable yards. 6/10

20 David Denton – back to his best it seems. A 20-minute cameo for the Worcester man who smashed into the French defence. His carries won two penalties late on. Must come into contention to start against the might of the English pack. 8/10

21 Ali Price – brought pace as you’d expect and linked well with Laidlaw at half-back. Something for Toony to ponder? 6/10

22 Chris Harris – unused

23 Blair Kinghorn – unused. He’ll need to wait for a first cap

165 Responses

  1. For me Berghan was outstanding… huge shift in the loose and in set pieces but key was in the critical 20 after half time he carried again and again..great return from the big man ..well done

    1. Agreed – I’d give him a 9. What more could you have asked – solid scrum, plenty of carries and good breakdown work. Never had him down as being much use before but wow!

    2. Here here. More carries yesterday from the ‘Berghound’ than the whole of the front row last Saturday. Looked like he had a point to prove, and made it decisively!!

  2. Horne is missing a mark but otherwise ratings look good!

    A couple of big questions for Toony regarding the England game:

    1. Russell is in poor form and Laidlaw is looking every bit the midfield general. I’d never have even thought of starting Laidlaw at 10 prior to today but Finn in current form against that English defence worries me massively. I think I’d keep Greeg at 9 though and be prepared to hook Finn early again if he’s still giggling after missed touch finders.

    2. Denton and Wilson were both immense and in the last twenty minutes that backrow looked to have a great balance about it. Can you drop captain Barclay? If it was me I’d start Barclay at 7 and have Watson on the bench for 30 minutes of pinball wrecking machine in the second half but it’s a big shout!

    1. Agree with what you say about Russel Scrummo. Laidlaws tactical ability at both 9 and 10 seem a better option if the Price/Russell axis isn’t working well.
      Back row is an interesting one. Might need the size of Denton against England.

      1. I’d be inclined to agree. England will mercilessly target Finn and I’ve seen nothing over the past fortnight which makes me think he could cope. Never thought I’d be saying this but Price/Greig is the combo for me

      2. We’ll need power, accuracy and creativity to beat England…so what ever that equates to in our lineup please GT!

      3. We can;t go back to Laidlaw at 10 – he offers nothing from there. 9 is OK but 10 will blunt our attack. Would roll the dice on Horne at 10 though (assuming Dunbar is back). Finn is way off form and would be interesting to see how he reacts to being dropped (which he would be if there was an alternative).

        Denton has to start against Eng – we need his go fwd. Barclay should be the one to give way based on Sat (Grieg back as captain too then).

    2. Id be really really surprised if Toony drops Russell. I’m a bit worried about our midfield defence with Laidlaw at 10 and Horne at 12. Maybe if Dunbar is fit for England. Don’t want to see Joseph carving up our midfield again!

      For me biggest headache is in the backrow. Do you drop Barclay as captain and bring in Denton at 6? Do you return the captaincy to Laidlaw but keep Barclay in the hope his form returns?

      1. I like Horne..however, i think he is much like Jones only not as good. Good player to have on bench though as he can cover a few positions. Dunbar or Taylor if fit.

      2. It is a good problem to have. 2 games down and most of our squad still fit to play. We have some returning to fitness in the pro sides. Front row better than adequate and coming into the 6n that was the big issue. We even stole one in the lineout. Maul held its own.

        Against England we need to be clinical. We got through today as France came to play running rugby. One loose kick and England will be back at us in numbers.

  3. Russell less than a 4 and why on earth does management not get someone else to kick penalties to touch at least? This is not a new thing with him. Fair play to everyone else but oh how we long for a John Rutherford, a Craig Chalmers or a Dan Parks.

    1. Finn needs to be dropped! His jokey smiles etc give the wrong impression …. especially when he missed touch.

    2. Exactly others have said out with the kicks he didn’t do too bad so he doesn’t need to kick them. Hogg took over when Russell went off so just do that when he’s on. Hogg is much longer and more consistent. It was so infuriating today and lost us 150 yards between the three bad kicks. Only silver is that it was so bad today just one that it will be looked at seriously.

  4. Horne’s rating missing. Thought the wee fella played a binder.

    Think a great effort by the team, and a great decision by Townsend to sub both Russell and Barclay.

    Great to see Denton, Wilson and Watson being a pain in the arse at the end.

    Will leave the more in depth analysis to more sober people than me.

    As a Scot living in Wales, today was important, looking forward to enjoying the Calcutta cup game in Scotland in a couple of weeks.

    1. A win some good performances Berghan Gilchrist Wilson Jones Laidlaw Horne Watson thought Denton Bhatti Toolis and Price gave impact of bench didn’t think Maitland or Barclay had decent games and Finn if we had a decent option would have to be dropped.

  5. Greig only 7? 8/8 kicks plus moving to #10 at short notice & acquitting himself well in that position surely deserves at least 7.5!

    What’s Peter H’s score?

    Denton was pretty amazing. So glad to see Scotland mix it up in the forwards and come out as equals, if not on top, against a very physical opposition.

    1. Laidlaw got caught swallowed up at least twice in the 1st half with his old trick of taking an age to release the ball.

      His kicking and general game management are vital though, especially with Russell having a day like that…

  6. All of Toonie’s changes from last week really stood up and were counted today.

    Gilchrist and Berghan and Laidlaw the picks of the bunch but let’s not forget the contribution of Peter Horne, constantly carrying the ball hard and straight back up from 12, not his natural game, but he didit with aplomb.

    Denton showed how much he has missed international rugby and how good he can be at it when he puts his mind to it. He was even seen to throw out some decent passes. He will know now that this is a different Scotland team to the ones he has played in before. No room for prima donnas or one trick ponies any more, but to his credit, he did not show any of his old traits. It will be a big question for Toonie if we want him to do that from the start or from the bench. If he is to start, then surely Barclay is on current form, the one to stand down. He has not had his best two games for Scotland in this championship so far and if we need a captain, then Laidlaw is ready and available.

    A backrow of Wilson, Dents and Watson would be worth considering, with potentially Hardie to come off the bench.

    It is good to have these dilemmas available in selection.

  7. A slightly scrappy game with lots of errors from both sides but you get that when you’re up against eager defence. This applied to both sides but Scotland overwhelmed a tiring French side in the second half with superior fitness and some excellent replacements.
    Finn – I can’t believe he had another bad game and might not start against England now.
    Berghan – I said that I didn’t rate him. I was wrong – he played a blinder.
    Laidlaw – one of his best games. Little box kicking and kept up the high tempo most of time.
    Other strong performances: Wilson and Watson (both superb today), Gray, Gilchrist, Hogg, McInally and in the little time he was on, Denton! He deserves a go against England just not sure where.

    Huw Jones a bit mixed but the try was wonderful and he’ll play against England. Maitland – mmm, good finish for try but didn’t do much else and was turned over a couple of times.

  8. Some top performances this week, even if not a complete performance. The front 5 held the scrum up well, particularly Berghan, who I hadn’t rated before. Good in both tight and loose play. Gray and Gilchrist seemed to start snarling, which is great to see. Not surprised Denton played well as he has always been big and direct. The trouble is that although he is bigger than Ryan Wilson, he doesn’t really have the hands or rugby brain for a number 8. As a blind side I did like the look of him, so I’ll be interested to see where he plays next. It was a closer game than I wanted it to be, but as long as we see steady improvement, it’s all good.
    Thought Scotland playing of the rush defence was so much better than last week.
    Also thought Lacey did award a couple of really soft penalties to France. Especially the one where he said Wilson was blocking.

    1. I wouldn’t say that Ryan Wilson offers a ‘rugby brain’ either. 100% effort yes. Denton made a couple of good decisions when he came on….suggesting he has improved that aspect of his game.

      1. I think wilson’s ability is seriously underestimated on here. If you want an example of Ryan Wilson’s skill level, rewatch the last scrum of the game On 79mins. France demolish our scrum in our 20 but he picks up one handed makes some hard yards and makes sure the ball cmes back our side. The composure and skill levels are immense there. Especially at the end of the game.

  9. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Finn released back to Glasgow for next weeks game vs Cheetahs. He really needs to up his game. I would definitely still start him for England though, Laidlaw ended the game well at 10 but can he really create tries from there? I doubt it. Russells kicking was abysmal but he was still heavily involved in the lead up to both tries. We complain at Finns inconsistency but still praise the new style of rugby Scotland are playing. We can’t have it both ways.

      1. Hard to compare, last 20 mins we were playing against a tiring French defence and the forwards were supplying better ball. The game was more controlled though, not sure if thats what we want against England or if we want a fast open game.

  10. Finally, before I go off for a drunken slumber somewhere, nice to see a Scottish team winning but not all of them playing well – not so long ago we need everyone at 100 percent to even get close.

    Well done lads.

  11. I think Finn needs to see a sports psychologist. He’s an absolute maniac who is world class when things go right but doesn’t treat the game seriously enough.

  12. As I’m watching the game again I forgot I was hurling abuse at Laidlaw in the build up to our first try. As he was gesticulating and pointing at the back of the ruck for an eternity (as he often does) France counter rucked very well and we were incredibly fortunate to retain the ball.

    I thought Hogg was relatively quiet actually, a few trademark runs and did nothing wrong just never really got going. Both Seymour and Maitland were quiet too, wasn’t really a game for wingers to make their mark, France had two quality wingers that dealt with everything that came their way in their defence. Don’t know where Maitland was for Thomas first try but I’ll give Thomas full credit for that, exceptional bit of play from him, he skinned Russell, Horne and Hogg for that. Our one up tackling seems to be our weakness. The defensive system and shape looked good but if one guy missed a tackle we were very creaky and didn’t scramble too well from it, same as last week but France couldn’t punish us like Wales could.

    Thought Barclay was the weakest of our back row, conundrum if Denton is as it appears back to form with Laidlaw doing his chances of retaining the 9 shirt no harm.

    There’s doubtless going to be calls for Russell to be dropped, I don’t think that would be a good idea. Sure him and Price haven’t showered themselves in glory recently but they are at the root of the way we play and our recent success. Laidlaw shifting out to 10 was an inspired choice for this game but I think that if it was mentioned this week virtually everyone on here (myself included) would have been outraged. I wonder if it was driven more by not wanting to bring Horne inside and upset the midfield than by actively wanting Laidlaw at 10?

    1. I think they wanted price on at 9 but wanted to keep Laidlaw’s control and tempo in the game.

  13. All in all a win is a win so no problems here, Yet I think there should be some changes for England:
    1- Reid
    2- McInally
    3- Berghan
    4- Gilchrist
    5- J Gray
    6- Denton
    7- Watson
    8- Wilson
    9- Laidlaw
    10- Russell
    11- Maitland
    12- Dunbar
    13- Jones
    14- Seymour
    15- Hogg

    16- Lawson
    17- Bhatti
    18- Welsh
    19- R Gray
    20- Barclay
    21- Price
    22- Horne
    23- Kinghorn/Taylor (if fit)

  14. Hmmm, not sure about some of those ratings – Watson was head and shoulders above Gray and Wilson.
    Surprised Russell didn’t get a 0…..
    Seymour was MIA – ok the ball didn’t get out to him much, but he didn’t seem to be looking for it either.
    Maitland had a few nice attacks, but was very poor in defence several times.
    Can’t believe people are still giving Huw Jones stick…. excellent player and his most notable dropped ball was from an awful pass.

    Changes for next week?
    I would like to see Russell dropped and given a kick up the arse, but really can’t see it happening without a quality backup – Laidlaw did well, but the French were blowing by then and really was just closing out the game. We won’t beat England playing like that from the start. We could start Horne at 10 if Bennett/Dunbar/Taylor is fit but it’s a very big call as Russell on a good day is our best chance of beating England.
    Otherwise probably much the same – could start Denton but he is a good impact sub. Hopefully Harris won’t be on the bench…..
    Would be tempted to drop Barclay if Laidlaw starts.

  15. Proof, if proof was needed that Russell is an arrogant waste of space and should be dropped with immediate effect. Unfortunately, we could be headed back to the Laidlaw at stand off days, but at least his penalty kicks find touch (a failure that, when Russell keeps repeating it, he responds by smirking). Pathetic.

    1. Wow…. I’ve never seen Russell come across as arrogant anytime I’ve heard him speak. I don’t think Russell’s “smirk” means he isn’t kicking himself for making the errors.
      Yes, he needs competition to push him to be more consistent, but he is still a class player on a good day and personally I love to see people play with a smile on their face just from the joy of the game.
      A couple of off performances doesn’t change anything – all players have bad patches.

      1. Exactly. Its not arrogance its a nervous reaction to making a mistake.

        I would have Hogg kick to touch though.

      2. Bad performances from bad arrogant attitude. Prime Donna playing for himself, not the team. A giant boot up the proverbial is needed.

      3. Fraser, the comment to which you’re replying is too stupid to be anything but trolling. Best to ignore it.

      4. I agree with you Fraser. Completely. I can live with Russell’s ability to laugh at himself. Not arrogance: self-irony.
        However bad his off days may be, however many missed kicks to touch, his spirit is at the root of all that there has been of a renaissance in the Scottish team. Opponents face us differently knowing and fearing his unpredictability.
        Without his magic, I can’t see us beating England.

      5. The problem is that Ive forgotten what this Russell ‘Magic’ looks like….guess I’ll hit the edited youtube highlights reels …again.

      6. newhavenboy – I seem to remember hearing somewhere that Hogg can’t kick consistently because he has a persistent injury problem. Don’t know the nuts and bolts but essentially his kicking has to be managed, so we need our 10 to kick.

      1. What is not to smile about. Playing in front of thousands who pay for the pleasure, getting a decent bung, adoring backward looking fans sticking up for you , the guys all want to do a bit of this and that to help out, that’s what a great team should do. You have a point, G’day, Eddie J.

  16. No injuries in the first two games!? That’s critical. Hopefully, one or two key injured players, especially Dunbar, can come back in and strengthen our starting XV and/or the bench.

    A really professional effort today (sadly, apart from Finn). Well done, lads.

    I still think we need Finn to give us the best shot of beating England. At least today showed that we have some options if he’s off the boil again, and Toonie can respond even more quickly to change things up mid-game if he needs to.

  17. For me, today’s win was earned by a disciplined, aggressive and hard as nails performance up front in the tight and loose in the second half. You could see France were under constant pressure and were becoming increasingly desperate to break the stranglehold, hence the penalties and rather frantic break-out attempts.
    Lad sitting next to me and I both exclaimed, as the France pack was trudging to a line-out with about 12 minutes to go, that they looked out on their feet.
    Really pleased with Wilson’s shift today, and Denton added the extra oomph to our carrying and driving exactly when we needed it from him.

    Pitch-side view today, so will need to watch a recording to get the full picture – but the immediate reaction was Scotland were simply too strong for them up front in the second half. And we’ve not been able to say that very often in recent years when facing a France pack.

    Excellent win.

  18. Thinking back I am surprised that the French were not even warned in the end about their breakdown penalties let alone get a yellow. I suppose the 3 points every time was enough. But some of it was just daft stuff, guys on the floor still playing the ball.

    I also noticed that later one we seemed to change the first reciever a lot. Horne and Hogg both came in and Greig was out in the midfield.

    And I take it back. Grant Gilchrist is good enough for internatianl rugby.

    1. On rewatching I noticed that too, Horne and Jones seemed to switch around a bit when we were attacking too.

  19. Dunbar’s return is essential, his beef, work @ the breakdown are critical.

    Denton’s physicality will be required from the start too, this means dropping Barclay (indeed if it were me Hardie may replace him in the 23, Hardie has that hard edge that would be very useful).

    Finn has to play, however he needs to have a word with a sports psychologist.

    1. Finn needs to be forced, not asked, to speak with sports psychologist. I don’t think I can cope with another of those ridiculous sniggers after costing his teammates valuable field position and posession. His teammates showed good rugby and hard work to win the ball and he tossed it all away several times followed by wee snigger. Pathetic! Im not sure he should even be on the bench.

      I love creative play…BUT…Finn is disrespectful sometimes….aside from often not showing up in the big games that really matter. For his teammates it must feel like playing with an 8yr old.

  20. I thought Simon Berghan was immense today. Hasn’t played for 6 weeks and then plays for the full 80 today against the French. More importantly he played well both in the tight and the loose.

    Saw someone on here recently give him pelters, disgrace, shouldn’t be on the park. thug etc etc. At the time I thought it misplaced and clueless and today even more so. Looked like his team mates were happy to have him and most, not you obviously, will have thought he was a welcome addition.

    In Finn Russell’s defence – yes he wasn’t great today again but the mental fortitude to make mistakes, put them behind you and keep trying things is what makes him a good player. Unfortunately his body language when he messes up is going to annoy supporters. I don’t take it that he doesn’t care because i’m sure he does but it just looks bad. I recall being at the open training session before the last world cup when he was training with his mobile phone stuffed down his sock. Even at that point I worried about how that would be perceived? If we are winning no one will care. Lose – different matter and although these kinds of musings won’t affect him I think the obvious change of mood from supporters in the stadium very well might.

  21. I fear that Finn will be demoted to the bench and Horne will play 10, against Eng. Now this might work but to beat England we’ll need the X factor which sadly Horne doesn’t possess. He’s a good, solid 10 but lacks the creativity and flair that Finn can exhibit in spades. We’ll need these probing, grubber kicks and chipped kicks for chasing attackers. Those that will remember the run of form of Glasgow against Leicester and Racing in the Champions cup last year will know what I mean.

  22. Hopefully the rest week will do Russell some good because there is no way we can drop him against England – he’s in poor form but still distributes well and hasn’t suddenly become a bad player. If I was Toony I’d keep Laidlaw on goalkicking duties, let Hogg take penalties to touch and just let Russell focus on running the backs.

    The team looked far more balanced today and I would probably pick the same players again against England (other than bringing Dunbar in at 12 if fit). Hopefully this has taught the coaching team you can’t play try and play Super Rugby all the time in the Six Nations. England and Ireland are the two best teams and they get the fundamentals right in the tight before starting to chuck the ball about

  23. This is proof that our match ratings on this site are done on nothing more on a feeling and whether the result was positive. Finn Russell was even worse than he was last week yet gets 4 out of 10 this and 0 out of 10 last week. Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

    1. That’s because this is a proper attempt to rate the players and last week’s was a throwaway protest article. This one gives us something to discuss and last week’s gave us one more thing to get annoyed about (because that’s really what we all needed after the Cardiff performance……..)

    2. Player ratings are subjective – as the disagreement about them highlights – so I’m sure John who did last week might score things differently than Gav did this week.

      Finn was not worse than last week though, as his distribution was a lot better and he only threw one or two hospital passes as opposed to all of them. His kicking from hand was woeful though.

  24. A tremendous effort by the pack in particular, to keep the pressure on late in the game and force the penalty errors. Gilchrist played his best game for Scotland and should start against England. He was my MOTM. Berghan was a close second, partly due to the lower expectations, but he stood up to be counted today and played the full 80. That’s a lot of credit in my book. And Denton’s return in proper boshing form was most welcome.

    Credit where it’s due to Greeg. Game management, 100% goalkicking (including a terrrific touchline conversion) and leadership in spades. I’m sorry I ever doubted your importance to the team.

    But let’s have a serious conversation about Finn Russell. That’s two pretty woeful performances in a row. To miss touch from penalties as often as he does is simply not acceptable in test match rugby. There needs to be some serious soul searching by the coaching team as to whether to bench him in two weeks time. We can’t take the risk of one of those mistakes costing us the game early on. But I also have wonder if we can’t take the risk of not playing him, as he is a match winner on his day. If nothing else, we saw today that there’s a plan B that works, with Laidlaw at 10, but I just can’t see that winning a game against England. On balance, I think Finn plays but with the warning ringing in his ears that he is not indispensable.

    1. I’m conflicted over dropping him or persevering with him on the basis that his maverick style will come good, and offers the best way for the team to move to the next level.
      Come to the conclusion that for Scotland, the team, it is better that an individual who believes himself bigger than the collective (shocked that he wasn’t dealt with by management for training with his mobile in his sock, which demonstrates contempt) he needs to be benched. How he reacts will be key to deciding whether Russell is a good, but mercurial, international player or a potentially great one. One would think Townsend, who had similar propensities as a player, had an insight as to how to get through to him. Rennie and the coaching team at Glasgow also have a role to play in the short term. One fears as to his future if an unrestrained ego is allowed to run amok at Racing 92.

  25. The forwards were as good today as they were poor last week. Given where we were coming from, and being points down too, that was a brilliant effort and exactly the response I wanted to see. Top marks for Berghan, Reid, Gilchrist et al.

    Top marks to the finishers, too. I thought that Bhatti copped a bit of unfair flack last week. And here he was, carrying well and having the French scrum under the screw. We even saw Denton playing scrum half a couple of times!

    We’ve got two weeks to pick a line up for England, so I’m not speculating much there. I don’t think Laidlaw can play 10 though. England will just run over the top of him. Think we got away with it this week as the French were out on their feet by that stage…

  26. I’d go with this for England;

    1. Bhatti
    2. McInally
    3. Berghan
    4. Gilchrist
    5. J.Gray
    6. Wilson
    7. Watson
    8. Denton
    9. Price
    10. Laidlaw
    11. Seymour
    12. Dunbar/Taylor (If neither are fit Horne keeps his place)
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. Lawson
    17. Reid
    18. Welsh
    19. Toolis/R.Gray (if Richie is fit would like to see him on the bench)
    20. Barclay
    21. Russell
    22. Dunbar/Taylor/Horne/Bennett (depends who is fit and who starts etc)
    23. Kinghorn

  27. Marks are about right apart from an 8 to Horne, Laidlaw and Berghan. I don’t think we can risk Russell’s form just now against England, I have every faith in playing Horne at fly half. He’s a clever, experienced player who played well at 12 today. Hopefully Dunbar will be back and can play at 12, otherwise no changes needed. The impact players were dynamic today, didn’t let France settle at an important part of the game and forced them to give away penalties. More of the same against England please.

  28. There’s some hilarious seethe in these comments.
    Finn Russell has had two shockers in a row, true. But so many of our great moments in recent years have been down to him. There is absolutely no one else who has the game time or quality in a 10 shirt to play England. I’d love there to be someone to offer a genuine challenge but right now there isn’t.

    Big surprise performances from Berghan, Wilson and Gilchrist who have never done it for me in a Scotland shirt.

    Pete Horne take a bow! Solid in defence and good distribution for 60 minutes against two big French centres. And then he starts running great crash balls. A lovely all rounder of a player and one I’d always have in the 23.

    Greig showed many they were too hasty to anoint Price the automatic starter. I like price and he suits our style, but Horne will be the better option in a year or two and for now Laidlaw offers too much quality in leadership and goal kicking to be ignored. I would happily alternate them depending on opposition, but for the battles (France, Ireland, England) in the 6n Laidlaw is the man. And seeing him interviewed after victories I always feel strangely emotional – the pride and joy pour out of him!

    And people attacking the article writers who do a great job on this site because of perceived inconsistency should try contributing something more useful. They’ll feel better for it

    1. A great point about Greeg , he has all the heart and the game management. Price is excellent but I agree that when Greeg retires we will probably looking at the younger Horne as the starting Scrum Half, he is potentially even better than Price. Russell …..class is permanament form is temporary, let’s hope he gets it back against the English. Townsend had similar runs of form but when he was great he was great.

    2. Well said Gregor! There ain’t half been some tosh spouted on here over the past week. As others have said, let Hogg take over kicking penalty touch-finders and much of the probl m is solved. In truth, taking that responsiblity off Finn’s shoulders will probably free him up to do what he does best.

      I’ve never gone in for the ‘get behind the boys at all costs’ nonsense, but there’s a level of player-bashing that really sticks in my throat.

      1. I am probably not completely understanding what is being proposed so I appologise if I have it wrong in advance and ask your patience.

        Hogg can kick to touch on penalty’s free kicks, I get that.Laidlaw can kick goals , I say that is no longer a plan, but a fact.

        Where I might be misundersting is who will do his tactical kicking from hand in open play the kind of kick that finds space, gets behing them, takes time to field, territorial kicks, touch finds to relieve pressure or expolit a flat defense. I think he can still execute grubbers and his chips albeit he has not these last 2 games. (Confidence or just too fast a paced games !!)

        I see it as part of the outside half’s role to make such decisions and execute with reasonable accuracy. At International level to do all of the above but at an intense pace.

        Are we really saying we are happy for him to play knowing he is likely to kick directly to their bread basket or miss touch. Is that really the message we want to send the opposition in the toughest contest in rugby union bar none. Just asking !

      2. Hi Ben, Yes he would need to retain responsibility for kicking in open play. In the past it’s always been one of his strongest assets, and it’s been unfortunate to see that side of his play go downhill, but I would suggest that if Hogg were given responsibility for firing penalties into touch it would allow Finn to focus on these aspects of his play. Just one less bit of pressure on him too….. maybe.

    3. Good points, well made Gregor, in a sea of that headiest of mixes: hysteria and nonsense. The over-reaction to Russell is complete claptrap. Yes he missed some kicks to touch, yes it’s infuriating but ffs calm the jets. He still starts in 12 days, get over it- he’ll probably pull out his finest performance such as he is.
      Agreed on Greg’s wee coupon at the end- try wiping the smile of that face, shows how much it means to him and, by projection, us all.
      Am hoping we are beginning to gather our form, come what may 8 home wins out of 10 with only two narrow reverses is the stuff of Golden Age.
      Long may it continue, some people on this thread will never be satisfied judging by their comments but I most certainly am. :)

  29. Start Russell at 10 with Laidlaw kicking goals and Hogg from hand.

    I’d bring Denton in for Barclay. Barclay just doesn’t seem to be at the right level physically at the moment and we will need all the muscle we can manage against England.

    1. I thought Barclay looked tired, on rewatch he did a lot of good work though, he was instrumental in slowing their ball down at key times. It’s the same old problem if your captain isn’t playing that well, what do you do?

      1. I think it would be a mistake to drop Barclay. He is a class player and has been instrumental in Scotland’s advances in the last year or two. Even though his leadership wasn’t as apparent in the last two weeks, we still need every ounce of leadership on the pitch against England.

  30. Thought Laidlaws distribution was pretty good today. Faster than i remember before. Price was faster when he came on. Neither really attempted a brake this week with the ball being moved out for others to take up. I think we’ll need to vary the tactics again for England.

  31. Yes Finn was gash. I’d still pick him though- just get Hogg to kick penalties to touch. I think we’ll need more than a bit of control to beat the English – we need a bit of magic and a lot of pace in attack and and he is the best chance of offering that. Plus the understanding with Hogg & Seymour especially really adds something when he clicks. If Finn plays the 9/10 game which he can I think we can win. I don’t think Laidlaw’s best game there will be enough. He has barely played fly half for years. 20 mins against a knackered French outfit doesn’t look like a fair statistical sample of his ability to me.

    I’d also keep Barclay because the breakdown is likely to be a positive for us with England’s lack of a genuine seven. Added to that Denton made a real impact – but I think that impact is the key word; a better sub than a starter. I still think he is a bit brainless, but if you want someone to run through walls for 25 mins he is your man. Price had a decent shift off the bench when the French were blowing – but England are a hell of a lot fitter.

    Guess what I’m saying is nothing changes unless you want to hook Horne for Taylor if fit (thought Horne did fine but Taylor is just better, and Horne looks a bit light in defence for an international 12) or possibly Dunbar for some midfield physicality vs Teo or Joseph (although still have nightmares about his defence vs England last year). Bring Gray snr to the bench instead of Toolis providing he is fit.

    R Gray, Denton, Bhatti looks like decent impact off the bench. It’s clear that Lawson & Welsh are purely there as injury cover, but presume no one else will be back in two weeks to cover?

    I think realistically we lose to England and Ireland, but at least on this form we have a puncher’s chance.

  32. Finn Russell was once described by international pundits as “dangerous”. In his current form he is a danger to us. Perhaps there is a lot going on in Finn’s life , he is only human, but he is, unquestionably in a world of his own. No one of us is better than all of us, is he really in a state to anchor a team against England just now ? A decision needs to be made.

      1. Gotta agree with Stu here. I would consider that a rash move during a summer tour, let alone at home to England in the 6N.

        Hogg is our greatest strength playing a jinking running game from 15. You take a lot of that away putting him at 10 IMO.

  33. The more I watch Watson, the more I question why he is doing so much carrying. I know hes quite good at it but today your comment in the marks is correct…carried hard without getting much change! He’s probably our smallest forward but with the highest strength to weight ratio. Id much rather see him supporting the runner rather than running himself as you want him to be first to the breakdown in a traditional 7 role. We really need someone fighting for fast ball. As PoC said on the commentary we need to do a bit of work on our ball placement at rucks to avoid being turned over. We also need the right people there more often than not.

    1. I have often wondered that myself. He is very abrasive and wriggly and I can imagine he’s a bit of a nightmare to bring down but just doesn’t have the momentum to burst through. Regarding the breakdown that’s where we really miss Dunbar, he is like an extra 7. I noticed quite a few of our backs getting turned over today, POCs comments I thought were accurate but the 7 needs to be in there and over the top a bit quicker and as you say he can’t do that if he is still getting up from his last carry.

  34. Finn was very poor and missing touches like that isn’t really on- miss one and that’s ok but you’ve got to learn from it. He seems to want to make amends and prove people wrong by forcing his plays and that’s leading to poor decision making as well as poor execution. There is an element of showing off creeping into his game that he’s not really able to back up. He has huge talent but he really needs to mature his game. A few one-on-one discussions with Toonie required perhaps.
    Denton made a real impact and I think we may well need his physicality for England but I don’t think Barclay should be dropped. He’ll raise his game for England and he can really disrupt the breakdown. Also, he led the team last year to success and a change of captaincy isn’t the message this squad needs. It needs a bit of consistency and players performing to their potential.

    1. Sadly Toonie may not be the right person as he was not always a good example in his playing days. He played best when he had Alan Tait inside him, who could generally read his play. We’ve not developed anything like that partnership.

  35. Glad to get the win though it was made a lot more difficult than it needed to be.
    Fins tackle attempt for Frances first try was a joke as was his kicking.

    Appears to me that our defence is now a very poor part of our game under townsedsend.

    1. To be fair Hogg also missed Thomas as he did Giuardo in the first try in 2016. Hogg was on fire today and a good job he was, but at times I would prefer a last line of defense. Against England we must tackle but first and foremost retain posession and force them into errors.We are vulnerable out wide. In terms of attack I think we must have a big back row and take them on through the middle. Tough calls needed on back row. Against England we need to target them where they are stong not where they are weak.

    2. We had too many missed tackles all round. I wish Russell had made the tackle on Thomas but there’s a bit of me saying he did exactly the same thing skinning the defence against Ireland. We were all out of shape in that defensive pattern. With Maitland and Jones out of position and probably in the bottom of a ruck Russell tracked across to cover the left wing but didn’t make it quick enough. The main attacking opportunities are on the outside this year and I think Thomas has done well at exploiting them. Need to be a bit careful against England as they will attack wide too after a few trucks up the middle.

  36. I’d like a little more control against England. I’d personally drop Russell for the England match. He just doesn’t seem to be on good form at present and he might have a greater impact coming off the bench for next couple of games.

    It’s also a shame Kinghorn didn’t get capped.

    1. Wasn’t the time or place for that. Had we been a couple of scores clear, yes. I expect he’ll get a chance yet, most likely in Rome.

  37. Laidlaw is not a 10 – he wasn’t first receiver the whole time he moved to 10. England was also run over him as they flooded his channel.

    Russell needs to be given the chance to play out of this slump and I wish people would realise when he smiles it’s his way of dealing with the stress of the game – of course he cares.

    1. Agree. Laughing and joking is just Finn’s personality; he’s like that however he’s playing. Some players benefit from a more intense atmosphere and some from a relaxed one, he’s obviously the latter. Tough decision whether to start him or not next time, but that’s because of how he performed not how his face looked while he was doing it.

    2. Yes this is his way of handling it. It took Andy Murray years to learn to play his points one at a time, a great quality. However, perhaps we are focussing on the symptoms. The root cause is a bit of insecurity and he is not in a good place right now.

      Continually doing the same things and hoping for a different result is not progress and he has to consider managing the confidence of 14 others on the pitch.

      We dont need any one man to beat England , we need 15 men.

  38. Just re-watched the game without the stress and emotion (still some there even knowing the result).
    All the comments about Finn being dropped think they need to watch the game again. Watching live I would have agreed but actually apart from his 2/3 bad kicks and one missed tackle I thought he played very well.
    Elsewhere massive effort from Rambo, Bergh and Gilchrist and I thought Horne was fantastic.
    Special mention to Toonie as well how many coaches would stick with the players on the pitch and not make changes for the sake of it. Nothing against the boys not used but I think they might have affected our momentum at the key time and the lads on pitch were doing exactly what was needed.

    1. I think youre right. Having 2 weeks recovery to the next game meant theres was no need to change out some of the guys unless there was an injury. England will be stronger though so i think we need a really good think about how best to use the “finishers”

  39. Maitland was not at fault for first French try, that was Finn, then Horne and Hogg who all missed him, Maitland was involved in the middle of the park at the time.

    1. I disagree – from what I remember, Maitland came inside to tackle the centre (or whoever was in that position), when he should have stayed wide and covered the winger. He may not have missed the tackle, but he wasn’t covering his man. I don’t think it was a situation where he had a valid excuse to be out of his normal position either. I haven’t watched it back but that was my impression at the time.

      1. I agree with you. Maitland was out of position and left Russell exposed. His lackadaisical attempt at a tackle was embarrassing however.

  40. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills… Was I watching the same game? Gilchrist is getting hailed for his performance when he was lazy, barely did any ruck work, waited for carries and made one good run from a terrible missed tackle from their 3. Literally all his other runs he was stuffed at the line! Honestly don’t understand, I would have given him a 7. More and more I’m realizing these player ratings are a load of bullocks!

    1. Don’t people realise that there is game plans. Gilchrist was perhaps not so heavily involved in the rucks causes he asked stay out.

    2. Similarly last week there were many questioning why we slowed everything down. In autumn we were all about high tempo and quick line outs. Last week we had 2not so mobile props and had to totally change the approach cause of them. High tempo would have destroyed they and made they style of play impossible and the scrum we be destroyed.

      Point being there is a hell of a lot of judging players and sometimes there hands are tied cause of team management.

  41. Berghan outstanding in the loose and solid at scrum time.
    Did no one else notice Reid’s goosestep? Outstanding running talent.
    Great to see Denton truly use his bulk with some aggressive ball carrying. I would have him start over Barclay who is having a torrid time.
    Gilchrist and Gray strong in the loose but at times tentative – why do they both look for a pop pass rather than first option being to go forward?
    Maitland, so oft strong in defence was out of position for both tries.
    The pack was the difference today….but they will need to be better still in two weeks. Can they though?

  42. A lot of posters were calling for more leadership after the Wales disaster & we got that with Laidlaw & Wilson starting & I think that made a big difference. Great to see we can win a street fight up front, with the notable performances already mentioned, but we were beaten out wide, at least defensively. More to practice on there & still getting turned over or penalised too much at the breakdown. Need to get proper support in there and protect the ball so players don’t have to hold on while on the ground. Great to see Toonie wising up tactically – keeping those performing in the park to finish out the game & not throwing rookie players into a powder keg. If Dunbar/Taylor still unfit in 2 weeks, like to see Bennett or Grigg on the bench rather than Harris & possibly Lee Jones rather than Kinghorn as both have more experience. Don’t think Toolis is a bad player but Gilchrist earnt the right to be first pick vs England. Would keep Russell but have a fully worked up Plan B if he isn’t delivering & be prepared to make the change early if required. Just hope we can be Eddie’s banana skin…

  43. Bit of a nail biter today but very glad to get the win especially after another shaky start! Laidlaw showed just why he is so important to Scotland and how important playing for Scotland is to him.
    However he is not the answer at 10 and I would be surprised if Russell was dropped despite another couple of bloopers today.
    Big shout out for Berghan, Gilchrist, Mcinally and Wilson who I thought were immense today and Denton made a real impact when he came on. Can’t see many changes but hopefully Dunbar, Taylor or R Gray will come back into mix.
    Townsend got stick last week so credit to him for making the right changes at the right time this week. One concern is that we had 4 players on the bench not used including 2 from front row which is virtually unheard of these days and we will need our strongest 23 if we are to beat England

  44. Dunbar /Taylor is a must ! I do think FInn has to play and his smiling is a nervous thing. But in midfield he is up against on of the cleverest players in Rugby in Farrell who was outstanding yesterday as well as Ford opposite him. I just worry about accuracy with Finn. I actually think that it’s a fortnight and not next week favours Scotland

    1. Farrell, Ford and co will target Russell and when he is a target he falls to bits ….. another 50 – 60 points I fear with the way England are playing

  45. Great to see both Scotland and Glasgow being much more direct this weekend. The great Glasgow style of the Townsend era was built on a lot of direct forward play before the ball then went wide. The national team adopted the same broad style, resulting in some amazing performance during recent years.

    However, the weird/awful Scotland performance against Wales last week was exactly like watching Glasgow this season when up against half-decent opposition, e.g. Champions Cup. This style comprises the backs throwing the ball across the pitch once or twice and then losing it via a crazy off-load attempt, with the forwards offering nothing in the carry.

    I hope all parties had a management meeting and committed to ending this season’s emerging pattern and bring back direct forward running. Hopefully Denton and Struass get good game time for this reason. Wilson not so effective.

  46. Relieved to get the win but a few points of concern remain. Firstly, the two tries Thomas scored could, and possibly should, have been shut down far earlier. That, plus the number of line breaks makes me a bit nervous for the game against England, who possess better players and will punish us should we give them as many opportunities. 22 missed tackles needs to be addressed pronto.

    Russell is the next concern. He needs to avoid a third straight game marred with schoolboy errors otherwise he might be tarred with the ‘maverick/temperamental’ tagline.

    Last, but not least, are the unenforced errors that have seem to have emerged in the 6 Nations. I don’t remember seeing those sort of errors (turnovers at set pieces, handling errors etc.) during the Autumn.

    However, we need to remember that we have won a game that would have lost two or three years ago. We won’t score the amount of tries we did against the Southern Hemisphere teams against 6 Nation’s defences and to bounce back after last week’s horror show/deja vu makes me think that it is not a false dawn – though, to be fair, we’ve all said that before.

    PS. Please please please don’t let us ship 60 points again, I really don’t think I can take Eddie Jones’ smug face again.

  47. I’ll join every man and his dog in weighing in on the Finn/Laidlaw/Horne debate which seemed to start on Twitter before even the final whistle and will surely rage until the team is announced in a week and a half.

    Here are the facts:
    We haven’t beaten England in 10 years.
    We have our best team in 10 years.
    So do England.
    England are also probably the best team in the competition – their strengths are our weaknesses in terms of ball carrying and game control.
    Finn has had a poor two games and probably underperformed for club this season. But it’s also not like he’s done nothing of note in those games and certainly does not deserve a zero against France as one or two have suggested. (Did you not see his build up play for our second try??).
    He has also given us our countries best performances at 10 in probably about 20 years – against big teams like Ireland, Wales, NZ and Australia. Performances at 10 from Laidlaw, Horne, Hogg, Weir or anyone else have not come close to those.

    My Conclusion: Nothing but Finn Russell playing at his best will be enough to beat England in two weeks. So play him. If he doesn’t perform then drop him for Ireland and Italy.

  48. It’s Russell’s kicking from hand that really lets him down, but let’s hope he can return to form for the England game. He really needs to work on/get coached on not missing touch/not going out on the full. Also, drop goals just do not seem to be part of his game – and even the much maligned Duncan Weir can drop a goal. Any attempt at dropping a goal from Russell I’ve seen has been frankly pitiful.

    On the subject of the much maligned, I thought Laidlaw had a very good game and was exactly what the team needed for the occasion. He’s not as zippy as some of the SH options, but it’s not all about zip. A number of others who are not usually highly rated had good games too – Berghan, Gilchrist to name a couple.

    I watched the RTE commentary after the match and there was the usual faint praise from the Irish pundits. In their view (not that I necessarily respect it), the match was lost by the French rather than won by the Scots, although they did admit that Scotland showed some nous to close the match out. I’d be happy enough if the Irish underestimate Scotland in a few week’s time.

    1. The big issue with Finn is that he’s beliving the hype that he’s arrived and therefore doesn’t need to do anything else.

      He needs to work on his weaknesses to improve, and get out of his comfort zone.

  49. Something I noticed on 2nd watch and have been thinking about since.
    In the 1st half we seemed to do a lot of small hit ups through the middle making 1 or 2 yards but making France put in big hits by often more than 1 defender (this was often encouraged by Finns flat passes to the forwards allowing them to catch and hit at pace) now at 1st watch I thought we were hitting them hard but not making much ground but re-watching and with hindsight I think this was a plan to wear them out so that by mid way through the 2nd half they were knackered and we could bring on Toolis, Denton and Bhatti to carry on those big carries where they could now break the tackles and allow us in this case to start earning lots of penalties. (The plan was probably to allow our backs to come into it more).
    Even Horne was making direct runs into 2 or 3 defenders and making yards at this point.
    Was this a Toonie masterplan or just an obvious ploy to tire the French out?
    We certainly seemed to go through the middle more than I remember seeing us do recently.

    1. From watching at the match, it appeared that 1st half Scotland went for a modified ‘organised chaos’ strategy but found themselves against an opponent more than capable of matching them at that game.
      2nd half Scotland played a more direct driving game with big biff carrying by the forwards in particular and less spreading the ball wide. This paid dividends as the French discipline at the breakdown imploded and by the hour mark it was pretty clear that only one team was going to win. A more pragmatic approach but the one that guaranteed a victory.
      The Scottish replacements all made an impact.
      Have to say that French rugby is a real shambles as this was not a team but rather a collective of talented individuals. Serious lack of power in the set-piece. With the World Cup being next year France will struggle to get out of their group on yesterday’s viewing.

  50. Laidlaw cannot possibly move to ten against England. He’s played there before for Scotland and every time he was ran over the top of, his defence simply isn’t good enough and he’s too slight in physique, especially against England. Also why move Laidlaw from nine after one of his best performances there in a Scotland jersey? Russell needs a bit of a kick up the arse but we simply have no alternative to him at ten.

  51. My team for england – presuming all the people expected to be fit are so.

    1. Bhatti
    2. Mcinally
    3. Berghan
    4. Gilchrist
    5. J.Gray
    6. Denton
    7. Watson
    8. Wilson
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Russell
    11. H.Jones
    12. Taylor
    13. Dunbar
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg
    16. Lawson (anyone know when Browns back ?)
    17. Dickinson
    18. Welsh
    19. R.Gray
    20. Barclay
    21. Price
    22. Horne
    23. Maitland
    If we learnt anything from the last time we played England is that we cant get bullied and run over up front, Barclay is to lightweight to start this game although he would start against most other teams and would still be my captain.
    Russell has been up and down but let greig take the kicks at goal and Hogg the kicks to touch and the problem is sorted.
    The wingers have been worse than Russell as they have been pretty anonymous so hook them both and put in H.Jones and Kinghorn who can scare with ball in hand.

    To win this game we need to beat England at their own strengths and physically dominate them, dont worry about silky backs play for this game.

    1. Would it not make more sense to have Dunbar at 12 (being his normal position), Jones at 13 (where’s he played really well rather than 12 where he didn’t) and Taylor on the wing (where he has played for Sarries)? I can’t see Kinghorn getting a first cap out of position v England. If we learnt anything from the Wales game it was the 6N is not a good time to blood newbies.

  52. The only change to the starting XV that I would even consider would be Denton in at 6 with Barclay moving to the bench. If you can’t drop the captain then Watson moving to the bench instead would give you an incredible impact player for the last half hour. England’s pack is massive so I think Denton’s bulk is needed for one of them.

    I do actually like the idea of Bhatti starting, he’s looked much improved in the scrum and he’s great in the loose but with Reid in steady form he’s a more solid pick and there is no need to tinker so Bhatti will need to wait a bit longer, I’d start him against Italy though.

    If Dunbar or Taylor are fully fit then I’d put one on the bench for Harris. No need to drop Horne as he’s in great form, fits our backline perfectly and I’m loath to drop him for a player who got rinsed in this fixture last year on the basis of an improved defence. I rate Dunbar massively but Horne is deservedly first pick in that 12 shirt for me after the France game.

  53. Rewatching the game: gray and Gilchrist were both impressive in first half. Gray took three players out for the Maitland try- without his strong carry there would have been no score.

  54. So much hysteria! Last week it was sack the coach, this week it’s not our most talented stand off in a generation! I’m not sure you can pillory him for a wry smile after a mistake either.

    We got the win, we’ve lots to work on still. England and Ireland will both be big steps up from France but if we keep focused and cut out the mistakes (dropped balls, missed tackles, isolated runners, poor kicks, silly penalties etc) we’ve definitely got a chance in both games.

    1. If that is the criteria for having a chance we have no chance. No team cuts out all the missed tackles, silly penalties etc. Can u not see how ridiculous what ur saying is? England were very ill disciplined last week so were France this week. Something we can exploit. What we can expect and demand is no missed touches from kicks. Minimal kickable penalties and no completely unnecessary penalties. Under pressure and stopping try penalties are acceptable.

      Ryan Wilson and Jim Hamilton mindlessness are unacceptable. He wasted our last three minutes single handedly 6 years ago against Wales. Barclays hands on the floor aren’t too clever either.

  55. On the game management: the final penalty – was taking the points the right idea given that France restart into our half? Would it not have been better to go to the corner and run down the clock? The restart and the penalty could have ended in disaster if France had kept their composure. It all came off in the end but I thought I’d see what others think.

    Also, Denton should be docked 2 points for giving away the penalty that allowed the kick into our 22.

    1. That was my first thought too but I think I talked myself round into taking the points. 5 minutes was still a long time to wind down, if you lose ball then they only need a penalty or drop goal to draw. Also with the 6 point cushion, even if they do get the required try they still need to make the conversion to win it… All in, probably the best call.

    2. We won, so it was the right decision!
      It’s a tricky one – go 6 points up, so France need a converted try in the last few minutes, or stay 3 points up and risk a draw but might get a try and have good field position.
      I was quite surprised they took the points, but in the end it was a good call.

    3. It’s a risky one, it’s never a good idea to try and run down the clock with only a 3 point lead if you ask me. I think given Frances discipline implosion at the end of the game yesterday it wouldn’t have been a bad shout but imagine you are plugging away, bit of white line fever sets in, the miricle pass is thrown, interception and France score under the posts…

  56. Watched back the game and its amazing how perception and reality can be different. For starters, Russell missed a tackle on a tremendous winger and sclaffed three kicks. That apart is passing was exquisite – always in front of the reciever and always at pace – seriously watch our best moments and you see world class timing and passing. Laidlaw kicked 1 incredibly difficult (and important kick) and 7 routine ones. He also over tracked the ball for Thomas’s second try and butchered a tough pass from Seymour following a break down the right touchline. I am in no way trying to dimiss Laidlaw’s performance – i thought his calmness and management was excellent (and why he stayed on when the game was so tight). For ratings in general I think they are about right with Hogg oozing class if not a lot of space to attack. Gilchrist making yards and clearing out bodies at the breakdown and Berghan holding the tighthead up great and carrying for the full 80.

    Still a few players not firing on all cylinders, but if 1 to 15 are at it and start fast then we could trouble England – having guys who can make a big physical or high speed impact from the bench will be important – i think our lack of depth and blend on the bench last year contributed to the humiliation at the ‘Sewage Works’/’Cabbage patch’ – we need to get it right this time around.

    1. I have to agree wholeheartedly with this. I too watched the match again mainly to look at Russell. Russell played really well apart from the two penalties that missed touch, the one over-kicked positional punt in open play and the missed tackle. He made a fantastic tackle on Deymarou in the second half. His passing was indeed excellent and he tidied up bad ball by willingly taking it in and recycling – he never got turned over unlike some of our other ball carriers. I still think he would have made more of the French tiredness at the end if he has stayed on.
      I think he could have a great game against the English but I hope the negativity around him on-line and in the press does not affect him.

      1. Totally agree with this and the above by martin. The chat on national threads is gleefully dismissing him as a flake or whatever else. I hope he is selected and can turn in a top class performance the like of which we all know that he is capable of and which will shut up some of the critics. The one good thing is that our opponents may hopefully be falling into the trap of dismissing us again.

      2. There is some hysteria I agree but mainly its the missed kicks. I’d say most are just asking for that part of his game to be tidied up or taken from him. The majority aren’t asking for him to be dropped. And not for England game. Who’s the ref btw?

  57. I think Russell took a knock. He got hit very hard by Beauxis on his kicking pin about 20 mins in and it was after that that he lost it.

    1. Except I don’t think phrases like ‘he lost it’ are particularly helpful as didn’t; he continued to play well with ball in hand and lead Scotland’s attacking well. If you mean he felt his kicking was affected after the injury then maybe he should have been even more conservative in his angles aimed for or voluntarily passed it to Hogg.

    2. You’ve mentioned this elsewhere, and it could have affected his game, but as I’ve responded he should have passed kicking duties to someone else if he wasn’t right, so not smart rugby whichever way you look at it.

  58. Reading the comment son Russell I’m reminded of Sexton. Back in the day he was the golden boy of Irish rugby, but was considered way too flaky to be trusted over O’Gara. So they kept picking O’Gara and even when Sexton locked down the 10 people thought he wasn’t reliable enough. And now look where he is.
    So I’d cut Finn some slack. I think he’s lacking confidence and all the smiles and winks are him trying to tell himself he’ll be OK. Greig’s fatherly arm around his shoulder at one point speaks volumes for me. And we know that he’s capable of absolute world class performances; complete control of a game. So that’s still within him; I don’t see him as arrogant at all. I’m simply praying that the Finn from the AIs turns up and just smashes Engerland

    1. Yes, Sexton had the luxury of being the understudy for a long while, gradually easing into the role of first choice 10. Finn seems to have been first and only choice 10 almost from the first international he’s played. He isn’t going to be perfect every game.

    1. Mark Palmer (whose predictions on twitter are normally correct) has tweeted that Leicester is where Denton is going and Tigers Fans twitter thinks so too.

  59. I wrote a reply on here and it was taken down. Does this happen often and could someone explain the reasons for taking it or posts down?

    1. Rosco, can’t see any of your posts in either the moderation queue, spam or the bin so not sure what has happened. When did you post it? If it was a reply to one that was junk/trolling the original might have been removed, not sure what happens to replies in that instance. If it was off topic (unlikely in this case) it might have been moved to another post.

      Some insights as to why posts might be moved/removed can be found here:

      1. Rory, thanks for replying. Was put up on 11th Feb. Was just curious. Merited being dumped for being grumpy anyhow. Cheers for facilitating great blog.

  60. I have no doubt that the online negativity will not affect Finn. And the press and bloggers dismissing him as flaky may well rue their words. Let’s hope England dismiss him too.
    However, at the time, watching the French game, I was cursing him with the best of them. The missed tackle was forgivable (almost) but to follow it up with two missed touch kicks from penalties and an out-on-the-full kick from hand was infuriating. These are not cancelled out by the rest of his good play. Four serious mistakes by ANY player in a game would result in them being replaced.
    For instance, Harris only made three mistakes against Wales (and one wasn’t his fault – the knock on from a fired pass to his head) and was unceremoniously dropped and will be lucky to get another cap in the foreseeable.
    If say Wilson, who is not a darling of the SRB, made that many unforced errors (a couple of knock-ons, an offside penalty at a ruck, bouncing off a tackle) we would be calling for his head. And rightly so.
    To err is human, to forgive divine. I can forgive the missed tackle and the punt straight into touch – these things happen. But to miss touch from not one, but two penalties is tough to bear. Especially when it looked like he wasn’t concentrating.

    1. I agree. I was incredibly frustrated with Finn but after reflection can forgive the mistakes…BUT…mainly because we won the match.
      He needs to mature. He needs to improve his kicking and his match focus. He needs to start doing these things now at test level for both himself, his teammates and Scotland.
      His creative play and handling is exceptional …right up there with the best in the game.
      His mistakes don’t half make the blood boil…but that is in large part because everyone can see his raw talent and wish for him to reach his potential.

  61. Finn looked crestfallen in the lap of honour. He needs Toonie’s arm round his shoulder a video of the Racing games and a big bag of sweets – ‘Listen here, you’re that much better than Dan Carter, so Ford & Farrell can’t touch you!’

    Denton – bosh.

    Maitland (at least a 7) and Jones looked class all day from the sideline.

  62. Had to chuckle at Thughead Marler’s press comments….

    Marler fully expects Scotland to try to wind him up if he gets to win his 54th cap in Edinburgh – but it is not something he is losing any sleep over.

    “Scotland talk Murrayfield up as a hostile and tough place to go, but, for me, it is just another place to go and play rugby,” he said.
    “Wales is my favourite away game – because of the passion and the hatred from their side ­towards us over the years and the tussles I have had with ­different characters.
    “The old cliche you will always hear from us is that our next game is the most important, but I haven’t lost to Scotland and I don’t necessarily find it a tough place to go.”
    Pretty sure there’s a more diverse sphere of hatred than just Wales, Joey boy.

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