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6 Nations 2018 : Ireland 28-8 Scotland

Ireland v Scotland
© Scottish Rugby Blog

The atmosphere around Dublin might have been damp but this was an engrossing test match at the Aviva Stadium that Scotland were heavily competitive in during the first half, but were ultimately the creators of their own downfall.

The first half was a tactical affair, both sides attempting to nullify the other’s strengths. High kicks from Jonny Sexton were peppered down but not on debutant Blair Kinghorn, but Sean Maitland who was able to the task. After just 5 minutes, Ireland were kicking penalties to the corner, supremely confident in their abilities. They threw the lineout to Watson, but it was an early sign that Ireland were planning on heading in just the one direction: forward.

The big carriers in the Irish pack weren’t punching big holes but they were always making ground, forcing Scotland to scramble as they did often and pretty well. Despite a misfiring lineout and a missed knock on from Huw Jones, Scotland took the first point with a Greig Laidlaw penalty.

Good hands by Kinghorn and Wilson in the wide channels were a promising feature of Scotland’s first incursion into the Irish 22 but were marred by a serious looking head knock to Ryan Wilson. He went off for an HIA but did not return.

The bad news got worse as Pete Horne attempted a Finn Russell style loop pass but it was more like the one that Jacob Stockdale picked off against Wales two weeks ago to end the Welsh challenge. He did it again here, and while it didn’t kill off Scotland’s chances it was a hammer blow, especially in light of the butchered opportunity at the other end minutes later.

Innocuously trucking it down the wing, Huw Jones chipped into a space behind the Irish defence and regathered suddenly leaving him just a 2 on 1, with Stuart Hogg the supporting man. Simple, right? Sadly Jones’s pass off his left hand was a horror show, bouncing behind Hogg and blowing the try.

Yes, this Scotland backline can create tries from anything. But they don’t always score them, as we saw today.

Another try for Stockdale just before half-time was killer, the lively Garry Ringrose showing why he is held in such high regard. Much was made before the game of the matchup between Jones and Ringrose, but the Irish centre came out on top on this occasion.

Half-time: Ireland 14-3 Scotland

Ireland came back on to the pitch intent on knocking Scotland out of this as a contest, while Scotland knew they really needed to score first. Kinghorn made a half break, but was penalised for holding on and Ireland were right back into Scotland’s 22.

While not particularly lovely to watch, Ireland led by Sexton were pinpoint accurate in their pressure on Scotland in the 22 while Scotland did not get the change at the breakdown from Barnes that they had from Nigel Owens in the Calcutta Cup. A penalty was kicked to the corner, Connor Murray sniped off the back of the maul and dotted it down through a mass of Scottish defenders.

At 21-3 after 49 minutes, that did indeed look like the knockout. Joe Schmidt’s Leinster practically invented “championship minutes” as a phrase and they were there for all to see. Scotland were always chasing it after that.

Scotland had another clear scoring chance when Hogg passed it over Kinghorn’s head on penalty advantage, but luckily they had a second bit of the cherry with a set piece from the penalty scrum and nice hands executed a very nice try for Kinghorn on his debut. Laidlaw’s conversion from out wide fell just short.  Kinghorn was assured and looked comfortable and should get another chance against Italy. Having almost silenced the doubters two weeks ago, questions will resurface about Pete Horne who left several big holes in the defence, and threw that interception.

Horne and Jones were again finding holes with a little improvement in confidence from the try, but the inaccuracy of the last pass was perhaps caused by overambition – or misjudging lanky Kinghorn’s height quite considerably and opportunities were passing Scotland. It was at least refreshing to see Scotland working calmly to get back into it rather than chasing too hard too soon.

But Ireland had a steady stream of penalties to put them back where they wanted to play – and where Scotland didn’t – which undid all the good work by Scotland, of which there was plenty.

By this point Joe Schmidt’s men were mentally chasing not only a Grand Slam but also the bonus point that would potentially secure the 6 Nations Championship a week early and like all very good teams when they are in determined mood, it can be very hard to change the momentum in the other direction. For Scotland, this meant a second half spent tackling and trying to stop mauls like the one that gave Sean Cronin the bonus point try with ten minutes to play.

Ireland are brutal to watch, but brutally effective.

They gave Scotland enough chances to keep this as competitive on the scoreboard as it looked on the pitch, including a knock on at the line in the final minutes. For mostly mental reasons you suspect, the Scots couldn’t take them and this will remain a game that got away from them.

Over the course of the game, there were probably 3 or 4 guaranteed tries left out there, and that will rankle the team in preparation this week to think that the scoreline could have been much closer. Scotland were good, but not great. You don’t beat the top 3 teams with good. Ireland took the few chances they have, and that was they key.

Scotland can take much from this performance which was dogged and at brief times truly inspired, but was not clinical enough when the opportunities presented themselves to reverse the recent tide of history away from home in the 6 Nations.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: A hard one this as everyone who performed well in a Scotland shirt still probably had a black mark or two against their name, especially in the backline. Stuart McInally was tireless and put in a huge amount of work especially once Wilson went off, but must bear some responsibility for the lineout. Finn made few errors but couldn’t quite get the sparkle going and Huw Jones was very mixed. For me the tireless Hamish Watson never gave up even with the clock past 80 minutes and with John Barclay fought hard once they lost Wilson against an oppressive Irish defence.

159 Responses

  1. We didn’t lose because of Barnes, but his second-half performance determined the margin of victory. Useless.

    1. I thought Barnes ref fed the breakdown badly Ireland should have been pinged for holding on a few times Scotland got no favours.

      1. There was an interesting article on the Grauniad after the England match on how Owens was a pro14 ref and England failed to cope with the different interpretation of the breakdown.

        Perhaps a bit of the reverse here today.

        I’m just hoping we now finish above England.

    2. Watch the first scrum after Nel comes on. Scotland get a push against the head and it goes straight down on the opposite side to Barnes. Ends up in a penalty to Ireland. Unbelievable!

      1. I noticed that. The Irish loosehead hinged first taking Nel down, but Nel got penalised. That was at an important moment, too.

  2. Ireland deserve the win. They have been more efficient…nothing spectacular though.
    Their gaelic hoofball kicking was very good whereas our was poor. Our catching of the high ball was terrible.

    Horne had a poor match and butchered another try… should have been replaced much sooner than he was.
    Simply wasn’t as good a performance as vs England. Had it would have been close. Match highlighted we aren’t quite there yet and there will be some more changes in selection before we get it right. Scoreline flattered Ireland a bit…not a whole lot in it.
    Well done Ireland! Don’t like watching your boring brand of rugby…but well done!

  3. Positives- we defended well. Kinghorn. Scrum was dominant late on.

    Negatives – Horne, Jones, Lineout

    3 butchered tries and a freebie. Can’t win by doing that.

    1. Two freebies. You don’t lose a try with a minute left in the half with a lineout on halfway.

      1. 2secs after losing that line out Gilchrist commits an utterly brainless pen that gives Ireland a free play – result another 7pts loss.

      2. Absolutely spot on. The last thing we needed having been so competitive first half was that minced line-out.

  4. Ireland deserved the win, but not by that margin imo. We got on the wrong side of Barnes in the second half in particular. Just can’t afford to butcher opportunities and offer gifts in return to a side as good as Ireland. Disappointment and a shame, as that was the quietest I’ve heard the Aviva crowd for long passages of the first half.
    Thought Kinghorn had a more than decent debut.
    No radical changes please, Toonie, for Rome as it would be satisfying to see the side end this 6N in some style.

      1. Agreed. Give them a let-off, they’ll prosper. Give them gifts, they’ll take them. A highly effective side.

  5. Credit to Ireland done the job.
    Damn is it boring though, 40 secs break for the Irish each time to the whistle goes ? literally walking as slow as they want to the line-outs and scrums.
    Referee seemed to have it in for us, bitter from the drubbing we gave England or did we not play him right ?

    1. Barnes has been no lover of Scotland as far as I can remember but we’ve got to look at our own deficiencies first

    2. Barnes was “ok” for him…I didn’t spot many massive errors, but clearly he has a sympathy for the Irish style of play…much like we got “sympathetic” reffing grom Owens.

      2 things…

      What’s with “Conor” “Jack” etc…versus “blue 6”. Bad look in my view…get both sets of names or neither!

      The Cronin try was scored after about 3 metres of “truck and trailer”…last I checked it’s obstruction…but maybe thats not the zeitgeist in refland…seems to happen a lot

      In all I thought the score should have been about 1 try closer.

  6. Horne was very poor. Didn’t think Jones was that bad except for the pass to Hogg. Kinghorn did well.
    Very small margins so not a bad performance and probably would have edged it at home.
    I don’t like Barnes’ reffing style, but we didn’t play to the ref as well as we should have so we have to work on that.

    Should have pulled Horne and Laidlaw sooner.

    Nothing like the disaster against Wales and plenty of positives.

    Would like to see a few changes against Italy (but not too many).

    1. That’s 21 points in direct errors (+14 & -7) that he’s been directly responsible for in the past 2 games. For this supposed intelligent player we build him up to be that isn’t really good enough.

    2. Horne to me has shown that he is not of the International class required ….. we need a good I/C. Would bring Gray in and drop Swinston out of the 23. If Wilson is out the not Denton

  7. Think Horne is being singled out. I thought he had some good and bad moments, as did Jones, Russell, Hogg etc.

    Ireland did what they needed to do. Scotland had chances to still be in the game in final quarter and butchered 3 chances. At least 2 looked like tries.

    That’s the difference between the teams for me.

    Front rows- quite even
    2nd rows- pretty even
    Back row- maybe shaded by Ireland but not a lot in it
    Half backs- again for me not a lot in it
    Centres- due to ringrose, Ireland
    Back 3 – finishing, Ireland but Scotland’s back three still looked good.

    Scotland were a lot closer to Ireland today than the score suggests.

    1. I like Horne, but its fair to single him out as we have many other centres behind him that deserve a chance if he doesn’t perform.

      What will make or break this team is whether we can develop a clinical nature in the key moments, and Horne hasn’t shown that these last two weeks.

      I thought Aki was the pick of the centres today.

  8. More disappointing than Cardiff, because we had the measure of Ireland for most of the game and the foundations for a victory were there, but we threw it away in spectacular fashion.

    Several good performances throughout the team nonetheless and on another day the result could have been very different. Pleasing to see Kinghorn make an assured debut, but Horne was exceptionally poor and should have been hooked long before he was. The lineout was an absolute joke as well.

    1. On what basis was Horne exceptionally poor- bad pass for interception and then another after making a great break. Other than that I thought he played well.

      17 tackles and only 1 miss is great shift for a ‘wee’ inside centre.

      1. Gave away 2 brainless pens. Gifting 7pts and butchering 7 equates to a poor performance in my book.

        The interception was a disgrace, the wrong pass underpowered.

        Brainless playing is becomming a common theme with him.

      2. According to the match stats he gave away 1 penalty. The same as kinghorn who ran away from his support (led to Ireland try) and Barclay who was clearly second man to the ruck(led to Ireland’s 4th try).

        My point is there always seems to be a scapegoat- Russell, Barclay, usually Wilson and today Horne.

        He has many virtues that Rennie and Townsend see and I for one think, whilst not perfect, him and Russell are growing into a good 10/12 combination heading towards the World Cup. A second playmaker at 12 suits our style and take pressure of Russell and I think we should stick with it.

        These guys are part of the best squad we have had in decades and think they deserve support. They were not far away today.

      3. Horne’s made two shocking passes and cost us any chance of beating Ireland on their patch. That’s not making him a scapegoat – they’re his errors.

  9. 1. Far better than the Wales game, especially in the first half.
    2. Ireland clinical but their vulnerabilities not punished.
    3. I don’t think any Scot played badly. Horne created great chances, but made a couple of poor choices at critical moments. Unfortunately, that’s two games running for him with ‘scoring’ passes. Clear area for him to work on.
    4. Imo, Barnes had zero impact on who won that game.
    5. Passes off the left hand were unsympathetic or we tried to do too much with them. Imo, that’s the difference between home and away. Too up tight in key moments to make the right decision or pass cleanly.
    6. If chances had been taken, the whole atmosphere and maybe the result would have been different.
    7. Had hoped Ringrose would be rusty but he was class shutting down Jones and creating opportunities himself.
    8. Well done to Blair Kinghorn on a great first-full-test performance.
    9. Must put out our strongest team against Italy and give them respect, especially in Rome. No complacency.
    10. Will still be optimistic/confident for our World Cup match with Ireland next year.

    1. Yes, I’m with you on the RWC forward look, Andrew. They know they were in a real contest today, and I am aching to see payback in Japan for that Ireland player who punched the air with joy on learning we were drawn in the same group.

    2. Horne was ok distributing, apart from the intercept and a few others. A couple of nice kicks. But he always is, you expect that from a 10/12. But he is too lightweight / flatfooted and was exposed a number of times in defense, you just can’t play Laidlaw, Russell, Horne away to teams like Ireland and expect not to lose out to big guys through the middle or get blown off the ball quickly at the tackle. How did people really think the Bundee Aki match up would go. Also I think it was a blessing in disguise when Wilson went off to Denton who made some crunching tackles and given Barclay was getting pinged.

      1. Denton had a good 60 minutes. Still think he goes to ground too quickly when carrying. He’s got the bulk and strength to be our own Billy Vunipola and I’m sure he could make more ground. Good to see him back in the Test reckoning though and doing pretty well by it.

      2. I thought Bundee Aki was kept very quiet for the whole game. It was Ringrose who stood out.

  10. We were not bullied. That is important. In the space of 4 months, our pack has stood up well to the packs of the clear top 3 teams in the world.

  11. To allow our flair boys (Hogg, Russell, Jones, Kinghorn) to play we need front foot ball & space, to get this we need physicality & Dunbar has this (& happens to be a very good rugby player to boot), Horne did ok today, did some good things, threw that pass, got burned by Ringrose. Do think Bennett has to be involved somewhere as he is top class.

    Win v Italy & 3 wins (which most of us would’ve accepted) will be ours.

    1. Agreed – a more physical approach to go along with speed and creativity is the way forward

  12. Looking at the fourth try again. Gilchrist brings the man to ground, completing the tackle, and the Irish player jumps to his feet and scored. Should have been a penalty Scotland.

    England have crawled yards after the tackle on at least half a dozen occasions in the first half too. This needs clamped down on.

    1. I also thought that he was on his knees and held by someone (not sure who). However Barnes had his arm out so I’m not sure if he thought that player had come round illegally (they didn’t seem to have) or collapsed the maul (although to me it was a tackle as it was against the ball carrier) so he discounted the player being on their knees? Seemed harsh to me.

      1. Did Conor Murray drop the ball for his try? I was surprised it wasn’t sent upstairs to be confirmed (or not).

    2. The “worm roll” is not only unedifying…its against the rules! You can hardly defend it legally…ditto sliding into “tackles”.

      Neither ever seems to be punished.

  13. There is a huge difference between the way Ireland thrashed us to win the title in 2015 + our performance today. We looked good in attack, had plenty of ball, defended well in large parts but whenever we got in their 22 Ireland always looked like keeping us out + whenever they got into our 22 they always looked like scoring. Ireland were the better team but lots to be positive about in the future

  14. good post Not rocket science,

    Horne is as you say, solid citizen but not what we need.

    From a strange, remote unexplored part of my brain I like Mark Bennett @ 12, I know what folk will say “to small” but he is an absolutely brilliant rugby player….. let our opponents worry rather than us

    1. I don’t agree that Horne is ‘not what we need’. He is a very very good player and we can’t dismiss our best players because they make mistakes, especially given the risky high-tempo rugby we play.

      It doesn’t mean we always have to play him but he offers us an important option. Your comment also doesn’t give him the opportunity to develop and learn from mistakes.

      1. Many were looking at Horne as man of match last week. And today had those passes went to hand he may have been. Fine margins and the errors were poor. But doesn’t make him not an international. Too knee jerk once again. Liked ur ten point summing up Andrew agreed.

      2. Horne is a good PRO team player but not up there for International class. Just average at that level

  15. As Not rocket science correctly says Horne’s flatfooted, a wee shimmy or a dummy “buys” 1/2 a yard & then Hogg, Jones, Russell are away. Horne for all his admirable attributes can’t do that. We have Dunbar to add his beef to the line, Bennett would add soft feet & a step to the centre conundrum…

  16. The good points. The general game plan works, we look like scoring tries in every game. Russell was excellent as were Gray and Gilchrist. We did well in the contact and looked after the ball when in the tackle. We dealt with the high ball no problem. The scrum was excellent, Gordon Reid has been outstanding.

    The bad points. Obviously execution, Peter Horne isn’t the answer at 12. If Grigg can only get ten minutes today he shouldn’t be on the bench, we badly need a fit Duncan Taylor. Ireland make good capital out of the fact that Laidlaw isn’t fast enough to defend Murray, either Price or Horne need to in place by Japan. Both times we defended the maul well but not the edge, even though the second one was a joke. Two many missed tackles by Horne, Kinghorn and Jones.

    The main problem is leadership and decision making. Exactly the same problems as at Glasgow. The line out in the final minute of the half was a terrible choice, it has to go to the front. Our tactical kicking game disappeared in the second half. Extremely stupid penalties at vital times by Berghan and Bhatti.

  17. 20 point loss = you got your arses handed to you. Only the Scots would be seeing the positives in that just like Andy Nicol drones on about on BBC

  18. I would say to my fellow Scots not to be to disheartened with that. The execution and accuracy wasn’t there to today, but we have a style that suits us going forward. The game plan was pretty good for the first 40 mins, and if not for an intercept, and a misfiring lineout, it would have been a good 1st half. If Hogg got that try, HT is either 10-7 Scotland, or 14-10 Ireland = totally different 2nd half.

    We cut Ireland open 3 times out wide, and if passes stuck, well, who knows?

    Going forward, we have key personnel coming back. We’ve bloodied new caps in the front-row, Kinghorn had an assured debut., and our pack stood up to the beasts of France, England, and Ireland. If we beat Italy next week, that’s 2 six nations in a row where we’ve won 3 games. That’s good consistency for us.

    The players have 18 more months of quality coaching from Cockerill at Edinburgh and Rennie at Glasgow, plus more time with Townsend. We will be a formidable team come Japan, which is remarkable for the resources we have as a rugby nation. I think we’re the worst in the world’s top 10 for resources.

    We need to beat Ireland in 2019 when it counts, so this result doesn’t bother me too much. Our next 2 games against Ireland are not in Dublin = totally different ball game.

    I think we’re still on a upward trajectory, and I’m keeping the faith.

    1. Well said. The general trajectory for this side is positive. More and more players of proper Test class are emerging and putting their hands up for selection.

      1. Let’s not forget that we have 3 winnable home games in the Autumn, and 3 home games in the 2019 6 Nations, plus two games in the summer against USA and Canada to blood Hastings and the younger Horne.
        Townsend’s style and gameplan absolutely suits us. It didn’t work out today, but if we tighten up the lineout, and make those passes stick (and some games they will) we need fear no other team.

  19. Don’t like the stick Pete Horne is getting, it’s out of order. Quality guy, top pro, does loads of good stuff. He said himself he probably wouldn’t be starting if Dunbar or Taylor were fit. Not his best game today but he’s made a big contribution to the improvement of the team in the last 3 years.

    Kinghorn was good. Almost everyone played well. Ireland are boring but efficient and there’s no shame in losing in Dublin.

  20. Team for Italy after today’s performance and the need to refreshen up the squad.
    Front row
    1. Jamie Bhatti
    2. Fraser Brown The new killer B’s
    3. Simon Berghan

    2nd Row
    4. Richie Gray <—- Lineout fixed
    5. Grant Gilchrist

    6. Luke Hamilton
    7. Hamish Watson
    8. Ryan Wilson

    9. George Horne
    10. Finn Russell

    12. Huw Jones
    13. Mark Bennett

    Back Three
    11. Tim Visser
    14. Blair Kinghorn
    15. Stuart Hogg

    Experience and explosions

    16. Stuart Mcinally
    17. Daryl Marfo
    18. Willem Petrus Nel
    19. John Gray
    20. Johny Barclay
    21. Ali Price
    22. Alex Dunbar
    23. Sean Maitland

    1. I thought the debate at 12 regarding Jones was settled for this year. He’s not an offensive defender like Dunbar or a distributer & kicker like Horne he’s a finisher. Based on today you want Hogg to be making the line breaks and Jones to be finishing rather than the other way round.

  21. Don’t get the ref blaming to be honest – thinknitnianjust frustration.

    I don’t think we were a million miles off – a couple of passes stick and we take them to the wire. Sadly, Jones, Hogg and Horne all threw one sticker when it mattered and that was the game.

    Big loss but I don’t feel that deflated by it – we’re edging closer and looked much more competent then England or France today.

    Speaking of which, if Ireland beat England next week we’ll probably end up third without england fourth. Don’t think anyone predicted that at the start FH the championship.

    1. I’ve looked back at first half and we had 3 penalties early for good jackalling that Barnes allowed. Think our speed to breakdown or a change of tactic by Ireland made it it less effective as the game worn on.

      1. Probably fatigue as we had to make far more tackles and play without the ball for far longer than Ireland.

  22. Gah! That was frustrating. So much good undone by silly mistakes, both in attack and defence. Better than the Wales game but still hard to take.

    I’m doubly annoyed as I had a tenner on Scotland to score more than 1.5 tries!

    We’ve a pretty poor points difference and no bonus points. For a team that’s meant to be all out attack is that a worry? So is it our attack or defence that has let us down most this championship?

    1. In our defense we haven’t played Italy yet and that’s where most of the other teams got their try bonus points.

      1. Wales – try bp against us.
        Ireland – try bp against us and Wales.

        In fact, are we not the supplier of the second highest number of try bp’s after Italy?

      2. We are…maybe…relearning how to do well in the 6N.

        Tenet 1: wins away from home are rare (vs Italy aside)

        Tenet 2: Try BPs are rare (vs Italy aside)

        By extension away BP wins are like hens teeth….

        So open attacking “risky” rugby makes sense at home where you already have a good chance of a win and some chance of a BP.

        Away, your best chance is to keep it tight and try to pinch one, but otherwise nab the BP (e.g. Ireland and England in Paris).

        Schmidt, Gatland, Jones certainly recognise this. We’re trying to apply a “home” tactic in an “away” setting.

        And getting gubbed. 20 pts is a lot for what was quite a close game on the pitch…added to the Cardiff mess we are looking at 4th after 3 wins…

        GT…lets have a proper away game strategy! At least for the 6N if nowhere else.

  23. Was far better than the Wales match where we didn’t turn up. Nothing to fear from Ireland going into the world cup… they are efficient at their style of play..but watching them.. even the average punter like myself can see where they are putting the ball. It either goes up in the air and comes down with ice on it… or it gets bludgeoned up the park.
    Had some of our passes been a touch cleaner there was nothing in it…and we didn’t even play our best.
    Kinghorn will be class for Scotland.

  24. Can we just stop with the ridiculing Horne right now? Rounding on one of our players is an annoying new trait among Scotland fans, I notice the calls for Russell, the worst flyhalf we have ever had, to get dropped have all gone quiet recently? Anyway, yes Horne threw a couple of woeful passes but so did Jones and Hogg among others. I liked how we were using Horne today, he came in at first receiver quite a lot and was useful when we were switching direction.

    Lineout, shockingly bad, like almost as bad as a few years ago bad. You know it’s bad when you are taking a scrum instead of a lineout in their 22. Need to sory this out it’s been creaky for the last while but fully imploded today, it wasn’t just the ones we lost, even the ones we won we were struggling to get clean ball.

    High balls. Now I’ve calmed down I’ll give Ireland credit here they are he masters of this but our kicking seemed to always be for distance, we weren’t putting up contestable kicks we were just hoofing the ball back to them. Ireland on the other hand, every kick was contestable and they got good returns from this strategy.

    I didn’t like our endless crabbing from side to side, we were making some ground out wide but the support play couldn’t keep up and the guys ended up isolated and Barnes was remorseless. I thought we learned the hard lesson in Cardiff that we need to “earn the right” to go wide, it would appear not. Would have liked some more direct running from Denton, thought he was quite ineffective today.

    On the positive side our scrum was solid and I thought Barnes was very harsh on us a couple of times I thought it was a clear penalty our way rather than against. Our defence was also pretty resolute. I expected Stander and co to steamroller us but it never really happend. The possession and territory that we gave them it was inevitable they were going to score.

    1. The main problem with P Horne is so many times he has cost us what looked like a dead certain try. That awful pass in the England game when he had such a massive overlap cost us a bonus point and today if he had just pulled off the pass to either Maitland or Huw Jones after we scored our try we would have certainly been under posts and the score would have been 21-15 and it would have been a completely different game in the final 20 minutes. He’s always struggled with his passing when we’ve needed it and in many cases all that was needed was a simple pass-that’s what so frustrating about him

    2. Horne played poorly. To my mind very poorly. Sadly he has played poorly several times in blue and admirable player and man that he is it has to be accepted.

      I get that we use him as a second 5/8 in the Kiwi mold and its what allowed Hogg the room he had but he made several game altering howlers.

      I agree about the lineout though. Although Ireland are masters of that.

      1. Agree Horne is taking far too much stick. Hogg threw a pass off the pitch, Jones threw one on the ground. There were a number of passes rocketed at shoulders and thrown a bit too long. Seems strange this happened to a number of players. Different type of ball? Too much sticky spray on the fingers? I don’t know, maybe I’m seeing something that wasn’t there.

        One thing I did see was the backline looking a bit flat as Glasgow were doing for the first part of the season. Slightly over eager maybe.

        Disappointing loss. Shows continuing fragility that we’re not finishing opportunities away from home. Should’ve been well in that game.

    3. You start off complaining about people pointing out Horne’s errors then launch into an attack on the players involved in the lineout..

  25. Frustrating game today. We had the right tactics to give Ireland a scare but we know our backs can be better than they showed. Probably more passes went to ground than in the last 2 weeks of training. I give the Irish some credit for that as our boys hurried things that they normally wouldn’t. Maybe we need a bit more intensity in training? Maybe that’s where the mental away hoodoo is hurting us?

    I thought our scrum was very good today. Both sets of Irish front row are class and we showed that we are too. We seemed to get a nudge on with the subs after Nels first penalty. No-one is talking about the Scottish scrum being a weakness anymore.

    We need to have a look at whats going wrong at the lineout. I thought Brown’s throwing was better when he came on but otherwise McInally has been excellent. Think we might see Richie Gray start next weekend. Also think we will be having a debate about who is best placed to cover no 8. Wasn’t that impressed by Denton. He seemed to hit a lot of rucks and went straight through them without taking anyone out to the annoyance of Barnes. Don’t remember any significant carries either but he did contribute to the tackle count?

    Also think Dunbar will start with Peter Horne on the bench. Might also see Laidlaw give way for Price and maybe George Horne on the bench.

    1. Actually I thought Dents played OK. He was very unlucky to get pinged for rolling into as scrum half looking to milk a penalty and otherwise at least ran hard and made ground.

    2. Peter Horne on the bench as far as I am concerned the only bench I want to see him on is in QUEENS PARK, and I do not mean the football club (god bless them)

      1. you are out of your time, Dinosaur. That is the calibre of comment you don’t even find on the bbc hys

    3. Rather George or for that matter Mrs Horne.I wont be forgiving him a cap unless its dunces one , no way

  26. I think we competed well and played with intensity, main objective accomplished; no repeat of the other two away games – no complete meltdown occurred. I’m happy about that at least.

    This match was a big step forward in the right direction.

    As I watched, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed over our inability to finish at critical points – which must have really frustrated the boys. This was a very tall order.

    Blair Kinghorn, what a player he is, to play under such pressure – I’m happy about that too.

    Broadly speaking Scotland exposed Ireland’s weaknesses, with more experience of this type of pressure, these would have been converted, that will worry them some…we may get just enough of that experience before RWC.

    Also, none of the top tier teams will be playing at home in RWC – so its a level playing field (apart from Japan) – I’m happy about that idea.

  27. As I have posted on youtube I am so gutted that Peter Horne cost Scotland a try in the second half at murrayfield and then he throws Ireland a try and then throws away another try ,three massive blunders in two massive games and the effect it must have on team morale ,it seems Joe Schmidt might have been cuter than you think when singling him out as great distributor . A bonus point at murrayfield and what a opportunity in Ireland thrown away, no pun intended .

    1. So what about Hogg, he cut in three times when Maitland was on his outside, overthrew two passes and was partly fault with the 2 on 1 one that was butchered.

  28. What strikes me was that we were by and large not less talented than Ireland today. And thats a big step forward from the last 15 years frankly. What we have not yet is consistant and a well oiled machine like they are.

    Sexton and Murray ran the show brilliantly. When they had a chance they usually scored points. And they have terrifying depth all over the park. And we still left a load of points on the pitch against them. Its annoying and frustrating. But its not a disaster.

    Plus they deservedly won the Championship with a game to go. I know this is a Scottish Blog but sometimes we should acknowledge the other teams too.

  29. Has Hogg been carrying a slight injury this tournament ? he seems to really have struggled in comparison to previous international games.

    If thats the case i would like to see Kinghorn in at 15 if Seymour is back fit.

    I would also like to have Richie Gray come in for his little brother for this particular game.

    I would keep Horne in despite some criticism, i was 50/50 on starting him against Ireland due to his opposite number and how they play but Italy is the sort of game where the backs should tear them apart.

    This would be my Team based on form this season

    1. Marfo
    2. Mcinally
    3. Berghan
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Hardie
    7. Watson
    8. Barclay
    9. George Horne (good game for debut)
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Seymour
    12. Peter Horne
    13. Grigg
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Maitland
    16. Brown
    17. Bhatti
    18. Fagerson
    19. J.Gray
    20. Wilson
    21. Price
    22. Bennett
    23. Huw Jones

    I think it is important to keep getting Kinghorn comfortable on the wing until he has gotten 10-15 caps under his belt and start at 15 in some of the warm up world cup games and easier pool ones to rest Hogg.

    1. Apologies i changed my mind when thinking about it and would want to keep kinghorn on wing and Maitlands experience at fullback for the immediate game.

  30. Assuming wales win tomorrow am I correct in thinking we can’t finish higher than 3rd and possibly 4th? This assumes we beat Italy and France and Wales don’t draw (we’d be 4th it England some how beat Ireland).

    1. To finish 2nd, we’d have to beat Italy by about 65 and hope other results go our way. For all intents and purposes, you are correct.

  31. The score flattered Ireland but they deserved their win. Unlike the England game Scotland failed to manage Barnes and were always on the wrong side of his decisions, although there were a number of dubious calls at critical moments, but as Paul O’Connell said when you retro analyse any ruck you will see lots of penalties that your team should have had.

    IMO some players did not do the basics today when it was required of them and whilst I don’t believe it would have changed the outcome Scotland’s needs 100% of their players to be operating at 100% of their performance ability to break this away game challenge.

    If it’s any concelation, it is clearly not just a Scotland problem and ‘mightier’ teams than Scotland have the same challenge despite the crap we heard from the ITV commentators today.

    This Scottish squad know they can beat Ireland so let’s hope they restate that in the 6 nations, 2019 before doing them in Japan.

    Final thoughts: well done to Blair Kinghorn – a great first try on your second cap. Secondly, Scott Hastings – I know they pay your fee but you should be objective; you were pathetically sycophantic at times today just as the main commentator kept repeatedly telling us this game was only about setting the target for Engerland to win the 6 nations. Please!

    1. Agree on the commentators, very Irish biased until the game was out of sight and then they deigned to give Scotland some credit for being on the pitch in a quality match.

      Hastings was happy to toe the party line. But he was also really bland and added nothing to the commentary.

    2. The coverage one ITV was shocking, so shocking I actually uttered “I would rather have Inverdale and Butler than this pish” that’s bad.

  32. Looking back at the match as the studio said the lineout failing on halfway was the match done. Through everything else and all the errors that was the big one. We dominated large parts of that first half in possession and territory and you go in 7-3 down there is nothing in the game. We were never really punished fully to the extent that the game was gone up to that point.

    Ireland were rattled at that point. They were making errors and giving away penalties probably in equal proportion up to that point. I’d have put Scotland favourites for the match 7-3 down at half-time.

    So frustrating that we couldn’t show a result for the parts of the performance. In Wales we showed very little. Today I think we showed that we were the second best team in this competition.

    Wales will finish second now I think. And yes we could get third which will be decent.

    Although I don’t see an English win next week we could do with it to avoid Irish dominance of this comp for the next few years. They must feel invincible right now.

  33. A good blog. Scotland were very good. They blew a few chances no doubt. Ireland were a little nervy as it was a final of sorts yet they trusted their system knowing its weakness out wide. Incidentally..Ireland won’t be standing still for a year either..we are unearthing fresher talent and have an expansive game available to us when appropriate. Next year the 6n will be a testing ground as we are finally going to prioritise a WC over the 6n. Thats the cushion a championship win gives the coach. Again our Scottish brothers had sparkle and its great to see but but the well polished lustre of Ireland looks good in most lights. Rugby of course was a banned garrison game by anyone (most people in Ireland are GAA people) wanting to play Hurling or Football so our early 70 years of rugby were a tiny tiny few boarding school boys. We all play everything now here..point being we are way behind the 5n teams still in terms of Cships..but we’ll catch up now soon.. Alba go brách, Éireann Abú!

    1. Thanks for your comments, Connacht1. Congratulations on the victory and the Championship! And we’ll be rooting for you for the Slam.

      Please come back to the blog in the future to give us an Irish perspective. Always welcome.

    2. Good and very welcome points made by another nations fan.
      Im sure Ireland are not standing still…no team is really. This is really just the start for Scotland…the young players currently being developed look even better than the experienced ones in posession in this transitional phase for scottish rugby.
      The path is being structured though. Exciting times ahead.

  34. Its fascinating how over the past couple of years the plays, the passes have stuck, we’ve played scintillating stuff AT MURRAYFIELD, whilst away from home especially recent visits to Twickenham, Cardiff we have somewhat imploded.
    Even yesterday the Jones pass, the Hogg pass would’ve almost certainly been completed if it were in East Edinburgh & 12-14pts would’ve been added to the scoreboard.
    Is it physiological………………..answers on a postcard.
    As for the Italy game, I’d like to see Hardie, R.Gray, Toolis & Bhatti given a start

  35. Get a grip. I’ve spent the entirety of 6 nations supporting and paying to watch a truly awful team largely made up of nobodies. No we have a team which is truly world class at home, 2 rising and exciting regions, we are everyone’s second favourite side and we play great rugby. I for one am loving every second of this side because it mat we’ll go as fast as it came. So we might not win a championship, we are winning games and it’s light years away from what most Scotland fans have had for decades.

    1. Comment of the day for me. Absolutely spot on. We are miles behind other nations for cash and player resources, and yet, we can put out a highly competitive and exciting team that can beat anybody at home. If somebody have offered me that 15 years ago, I would have bitten their hand off.

    2. Totally agree. Maybe some people here didn’t live through the Williams era :D

      This is an exciting team still in a two-steps-forward-one-step-back stage of progression. There’s more to come and it is an exciting journey that we should all savour….

  36. Entirely agree with your positivity JP, some of the stuff we play is absolutely magnificent to watch. The point I was making is that “it” (the thrilling rugby) is almost always in Edinburgh (V Australia last summer an exception). I too have watch some turgid fare over the years, this is different

    1. I really don’t care, our benchmark isn’t Ireland or England it’s us. I’ll happily trade all these away losses for our home form. 3 six nations wins two years on the bounce. Every side beaten over two competitions I’ll take that.

      1. I’m pretty sure you if you asked the players if they’d be happy with just winning at home you’d get a different answer. And while you are right to highlight the progress and be positive, why be happy with the progress stopping with home wins? This group of players are the best we’ve had in a generation and we should be encouraging them to aim for the top: win a 6N, a first win over NZ, winning at Twickers, a grand slam, a World Cup final, a World Cup win – we shouldn’t be limiting our ambition to winning at home.

      2. It is indeed ‘us’ to benchmark against…so why is our most talented team in over a decade suffering worse away defeats than usual?

        Have the others markedly improved at home? Unlikely…

        Have we become a team that often twists when we should stick? Partly…

        Can a change in match-day tactics change this and lead to bona-fide series results and confidence? Yes…of course.

        We (finally) have a strong team, so why are we getting battered away?

        I don’t think its wrong to celebrate our successes at home, and yet wonder why we are so vulnerable on the road…

      3. James has a good point, Dodson got ridiculed a couple of years ago for suggesting that Scotland should aim to win the world cup. I’m not sure we ever will but we have the game now and sufficient top class players to beat or at least scare the life out of anyone at home. We just need to find that little bit of magic we are missing away from home and we will be ranked higher than 5.

      4. Dodson got ridiculed because Scottish forums were still dominated by bitter old fans who’d survived the various club wars after the game went pro and whose main motivation was tearing into the SRU. What they didn’t realise at the time is that Dodson is of an entirely different ilk to the previous SRU regimes that almost drove Scottish rugby into its grave. We are now seeing the revival of Scottish rugby and there is almost no limit to the potential of our current squad – with the small caveat that the test arena is brutally competitive.

        Read the article on Dodson on the BBC 2 days ago – he said this Scottish squad can become totemic and inspire the entire nation, regardless of Saturday’s result. Again Dodson hit the nail on the head. We should be very grateful we have an administrator of rare vision and leadership. Let the good times continue to roll.

  37. Disappointed to see scapegoating of Pete Horne. He was responsible for a couple of howlers but so were Jones and Hogg – our accuracy was just a bit off across the backline.

    I think we’ve been playing our best rugby with Horne at 12. If Dunbar or Scott want his place they need to offer similar distribution. It is good to have this competition even if 12 is the one position in the backline we don’t have one exceptional candidate.

    1. Duncan Taylor or Alex Dunbar at 12 for me when fit. Top quality centres. We don’t require the luxury of a second distributor.
      Surely to God the one thing that HAD to be drilled in to the back line was not to throw a Hail Mary pass with Stockdale waiting to pick it off. And lo and behold it came to pass !
      Sorry Pete Horne but games turn on such big plays going wrong. For me his minuses outweigh the pluses.

    2. Its kinda pointless scapegoating Horne…but he didn’t have a good game imo. He has played because of injury to Taylor & Dunbar.
      Horne’s a good player to step in …but not 1st or even 2nd choice.
      To me Duncan Taylor is the centre we miss most of all. He can do a bit of everything and does it all at test class level. Dunbar can play great…but hasn’t for a long time.

      1. Bennett and Scott are both fit and firing, and both can play 12. That said, it’s a big rest starting an untested centre pairing against Ireland in Dublin. Or Wales in Cardiff…

      2. I’d like to see Scott have a go at 12 alongside Jones, assuming Dunbar and Taylor are unfit. He’s had a long wait for a proper chance. Huge fan of Bennett, but I don’t see him anywhere than 13. Then again there’s always the Jones at 12 experiment, could be worth seeing again with Bennett outside…

  38. Paul O’Connell made a great point about the clarity that Ireland have with what they want to do and how it enables them to play with an intensity that the other sides can’t match. We’re maybe a season away from that still.

    As for the Peter Horne bashing. To be honest he’s caused more harm than good in the past few games so should be rightly criticised. Has had numerous critical errors in Internationals before that also. A great honest pro and a club legend for the Warriors but maybe a bit short of what we need going forward at international level as a starter. Still a good option to have around the squad though.

  39. Thought to see more analysis here of the effect of Wilson going off. Was there a down turn in success at rucks from that point? Is that when the line out started to go wrong? Denton has his virtues but they are not the same . This means others have to adapt their responsibilities, perhaps at the cost of weakening their own contribution.

    1. I suspect that Wilson is a master of the dark arts of niggling and rankling the other team…he makes himself a right nuisance – we missed that after he left the field.

  40. i agree Wilson going off I thought was crucial – he is such an underrated player and showed some lovely hands before the unfortunate head knock. Denton gives loads of grunt but doesn’t keep a defence on its toes by shifting weight and angles, etc.

  41. Having reflected on this over rather more whiskey than was advisable, I’ve decided that it’s not all bad. Yes, we left four tries on the pitch, but on the other hand we left four tries on the pitch! No-one else has looked like scoring five tries against Ireland. Some of the mistakes were due to excellent Irish defence, but others were unforced, probably due to the pressure of the game and being so far behind.

    Barnes was inconsistent and wrong on occasion (e.g. the three penalties leading to Cronin’s try, the scrum penalty against Nel (I think)). He refereed the ruck differently in the second half to the first, and refereed Ireland differently to Scotland. But it didn’t lost us the game, and the disappointing thing is that we failed to adapt, even if it is tougher to adapt to inconsistency.

    I thought the forwards were really good (line out aside), certainly a match for Ireland’s much heralded forwards. Ironically, the game was lost in the backs with passes that normally would have been completed with ease going anywhere but to hand. Horne had a bad game in attack, but he wasn’t alone in that. We were also much slower from the ruck, it seemed like last round’s Laidlaw had been replaced with the 2015 model.

    I think Kinghorn looked really good. Can’t even really blame him for Stockdale’s second try – he got stepped, it happens. On that note, Stockdale is looking pretty damn good. Ireland are going to have a good backline for the RWC and will be formidable.

    Much as I’d like to see Bennett in the centres, I think we have to play our strongest team against Italy, and post-injury Bennett is unproven. We’ve a hell of a points difference to make up and need to get a solid win.

    There’s no shame in losing to the 6N champions, and they’re to be congratulated for their performance, but I hope the guys are disappointed at losing a winnable game through silly, costly errors and rectify them by next week.

    1. Ireland deserved their win. They were efficient. I just wouldn’t call their back line formidable by any stretch….they got their opportunities on a very nice platter.

      Very solid and efficient overall team though…and if you dont take your chances …which we didn’t.. they’ll win.. which they did.

      Unfortunately for us Kinghorn, a real class player in the making, is a natural FB…and we have Hogg.
      No real option right now but to play him on the wing.
      GT likes his Wing to interchange with FB so it could materialize into the backline GT sees as ideal anyway.

  42. More positives than negatives i think:

    – Russell managed our game very well
    – In the first half especially we managed to disrupt the flow by turning over ball at the right times
    – Hogg looked very sharp and always seemed to get uas good gainline success and make the ball available
    – Kinghorn for a first start looked dangerous
    – Scrum was excellent and actually probably had the nudge a few times – if we continue to do this I think we will probably change the subconcious of many refs who always seem to penalise us becuase they preconceive us to be weak.
    – Game plan seemed to generally be right and fits our strengths
    – we created at least 3 gilt edged try opportunities against the 2nd best team in the world in their own backyard – we did that by having really creative midfield patterns and having attackers who can exploit space.

    Negatives / Work ons

    – Passing at crucial moments (covered exensively already)
    – Stupid penalties giving away territory and inviting pressure
    – fringe defence (gave away a load of yardage with simple inside plays from the Irish forwards – clear that our forwards are not as dynamic in the loose as theirs)
    – drift defence – like the inside ball issues it looked like we were drifting a bit too soon offering the likes of Earls, Kearney and especially Ringrose a simple step back in field. I woud rather have conceeded a couple more yards but forced them to wider rather than shoot up but leave the inside shoulder exposed.
    – Lineout ( we dont realisitcally challenge opposition ball and our own looked poor at times – I think we need Gray snr).

  43. Reading between the lines of Eddie Jones comments about Power after the game last night it looks like England are responding to the demise of globogym rugby by going globogymMAX.

    He wants more power. From a 940kg pack. How long till England start fielding a 1 ton pack?

    1. I find Jones approach quite strange but Im not too bothered. When you look back at how Japan played in the world cup they didn’t have a massive pack but they did well by playing a super fit very high tempo, fast rucking and fast passing game. He’s gone completely in the opposite direction with England.

    2. Who cares what he is doing?…its rugby ..not tug of war. Maybe he should focus on skills.

  44. At the end of the day this was for the most part an evenly matched contest away to the in form No 3 team in the world. They might well be No 2 if they turn over England next week. On other days the passes would stick but the rugby gods favoured Ireland yesterday.

    Pretty philosophical after 30 years of going to Scotland games. I like the style and ambition we play with and I wouldn’t change too much about what we’re doing. Ireland knew they were in a game yesterday. Respect is building internationally for this team.

  45. This was good rugby from Scotland, they were pushing Ireland behind the gain line , but not enough. The Horne intercept was a cetain score for us and it turned into their 7. Give Horne a break, he didnt lose us the game.

    No one seems to be mentioning the missed touch kick !

    1. I agree. This backline thrives on confidence. They don’t need the supporters eroding that confidence. They are good enough to know what they have to work on. Pretty sure after the Italy game that Toonie will send them all back to their clubs with some extra homework.

      1. Horne deserves criticism – of course he didn’t lose us the match, but this is the second game in a row he’s butchered a score. He’s a professional rugby player who appears to be unable to pass off his left hand properly.

        We have far too many good centres waiting in the wings – time for others to get a change.

    2. Still no one wants to mention the missed touch find by Hogg, The one he got was magnificent but the one he missed was yet another momentum swing .

      They all have good and bad days. Horne probably does deserve some criticism but it is getting tedious now, we seem to be picking on the weakest link.

      Move on, one game to go and we can evaluate , that table looks interesting with permutations.

      1. True, but good to see Hogg getting decent distance from using the good old-fashioned spiral – a seemingly lost art these days.

      2. Personally i’d rather see a player risk trying to gain 40-45 metres from a penalty than playing it a safe and gaining no more than 20-25 metres from a kick to touch from a penalty and gaining no real advantage. It may be frustrating but i’d rather see us go for it and take a risk rather than take the safe option which will not lead to any real chance of gaining points/momentum

      3. It just seems to me that you cannot ‘gain points oR win momentum’ without the ball and winning a penalty and giving the ball to the opposition , is no advantage whatsoever.

        I dont think it is frustrating, I think it is fundamental to know your capabilities and play to them.The place for ‘risks’ is in the training camp. Let’s see what the player ratings say.

      4. I think the irritating thing for fans about Horne is not the player or man – who is hugely respected and our current second choice 10 – but that we were crying out for a different option on the bench beforehand, as were concerned he would go poorly at 12 in this type of match. As far as we were told, there was a fit Dunbar in the squad ready to go, but instead we got Grigg who was not trusted to come on until the game was over. What is the point of that! Agree with everyone’s comments about moving in the right direction, but hope GT looks back on selection for these away losses.

  46. Comment from Irish Independent …

    This was a hugely entertaining game, helped by a pitch that dried out well from the early morning mist and rain, and a Scotland side that did what they do best: play with width. Had they not been guilty of the butchery Schmidt referred to, it would have been a different afternoon.
    Three likely tries went south on the back of poor passing decisions, or execution, by Huw Jones, Peter Horne and Stuart Hogg.

  47. Also, Murray kicks Denton in the head but Denton gets penalised?! Wayne Barnes was actually quite bad, on reflection.

    1. I thought that decision to penalise Denton for rolling away in the wrong direction was unbelievable! At this point he’s just making up new laws to penalise us… What’s Denton supposed to do? Turn his body around and then roll away, has this guy ever played rugby?

      1. Especially as Murray bought the penalty by approaching the ruck in the most illogical manner, all so he could get a penalty. I’m not a fan of ‘gamesmanship’, but that’s all part of the game.

  48. Frustrating afternoon. Big grooves in my carpet where the armchair is going back and forth! It is a puzzle though. We have a brilliant back division, fantastic back row and a pretty good front five. We have made great strides and have claimed an impressive number of big scalps this year and last. But as soon as we get south of the Tweed something strange happens. North of the border (or south of the equator) Bannockburn, South of the border, Flodden. It is clearly psychological. Not sure what was done about it after Wales, but clearly not enough. GT and the SRU need to recognise what is happening to the minds of the team and sort out this aspect. Target, retaining the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham next year – and beating Wales in the “extra” game this year.

  49. Incidentally Sean Maitland is starting to look like the player we all hoped he could be. Successive good games against top opposition

    1. Maitland is a classy player, doesn’t always show off like Hogg or Jones do but he quietly does his job.

      I think there is a discussion to be had over Kinghorn, until last year my impression was that he was playing 10 then he switched to 15 for Edinburgh but Townsend is viewing him as a winger / fullback, could he suffer from what Patterson had to put up with for years? Personally I think we’ll see Hastings coming through at 10 so therefore Kinghorn should deputise for Hoggy at 15. I don’t think he’s a test level winger to the standard of Jones, Seymour, Visser or Maitland but I believe we could be a classy 15/10.

  50. A few short years ago Mark Dodson announced that the ambition for Scotland (Note: Not the “prediction”) was a place in a world cup final. He was roundly derided for saying it and was subjected to various insults from social media.

    Then the RWC 2015 QF happened and suddenly, as Scotland ended up oh so close to a winnable semi final against Argentina, those critics quietly disappeared into the ether.

    Fast forward a few years and we’ve now beaten England and given the World’s second best team (see the rankings tomorrow) a very tough game on their home patch. So what ambition should we hold now?

    Ireland have the world’s best coach, of that I’m convinced. The thought of him one day spearheading the ABs is truly terrifying. In a ruthless way, with extreme attention to detail, he’s now created a team where the individuals don’t matter, so to speak…a true “next man up” approach. There’s no point taking about Irish individuals any more..its the collective knowledge and detail of how they want to play that’s awe-inspiring.

    It’s clear that had we taken our chances we’d have made a real game of it. The real question is, would Ireland, like the ABs, have then have found another gear to take themselves to victory. We’ll never know.

    One thing is clear. If we want to be a genuine force then we have to expect more of ourselves. When the RWC2019 draw was announced there was general delight from Scotland fans. I’ve no idea why. We have to beat the world’s second best team and the host nation in order to (probably) avoid playing the world’s best team in the QF. It is idiotic to believe that that is a good draw.

    Unless, of course, deep down fans believe that the real objective is getting out of the group.

    If we really want to be a top side we have to want so much more than that…we have to justify being in that conversation for 4th/5th best side.

    If not, we should simply accept that Ireland have now moved far beyond us and we can not compete.

    Everyone happy with that?

    1. Agree with most of this. Certainly I think our WC draw is poor, and that the Irish model is what we should aspire to.

      I do think that you’re underestimating how far behind we are though. The initial vanguard of talented Irish players who reshaped the whole rugby paradigm there are now 5-10 years retired. Our equivalents are just hitting their mid-twenties.

      Our players are building a rugby culture rather than slotting into one. It’s hard to credit how much that takes out of you, how much harder that makes literally everything for Jones and J Gray rather than Ryan and Ringrose, for example.

      As for expectation, it depends what you mean. Some people seem to think that “expecting more of ourselves” means the same thing as “throw a hissy fit every time we lose”, and I don’t think that helps anyone but the egos of the fans who indulge.

  51. First of all, congrats to Ireland on their win yesterday & their Championship success. They’ve been building their style of play & players to execute it for a while now & although not my cup of tea to watch, it works for them.

    We are still at the early stages of our development & whatever happened this 6 Nations, we’ll have done a shed load of learning from it. I am not despondent. I’ve been going to Scotland games for 45 years now. This squad & the others on the sidelines have the potential to exceed what limited success I’ve witnessed to-date. We’re starting to build some real strength in depth & are playing a really exciting brand of rugby which will only get better building towards the RWC. Let’s back Toonie & accept everything might not be perfect every match. We’re on the right path, no doubt.

  52. Watching Italy’s first half performance against a much changed Wales side suggests it would be unwise to make too many changes to the 23 for next week in Rome. Yes, their fitness might give way in the second half and they might not have much to offer from the bench, but they are absolutely no mugs, deserve plenty of respect next week and have bossed large parts of this match so far.

  53. Despite the defeat, yesterday was another step in the right direction. We didn’t play badly away from home, we lost the game by giving away two tries when we had control of the ball and wasted three good try scoring opportunities.
    We missed Wilson not only around the ruck and maul and general handling but also at the lineout, I’ve never thought Denton is good enough at this level and didn’t see anything yesterday to change my mind.
    Very impressed with Kinghorn who looks to be comfortable at international level, I’d already rate him ahead of Visser.
    Well played again the Scottish pack, I think we need to stick with Gilchrist who’s bulk I’m sure is helping our scrum.
    For the Italian game, I would like to see Price start and would also like to see Bennett playing in this team but would not be dropping Horne because of his mistakes as I believe he brings a lot to our style of play. I’m sure Bennett, being the quality player he is could adapt to 12. I remember centres playing right and left, is that still possible in today’s game?

  54. We need to go absolutely full strength for Italy. The summer tour is for experimentation and development, everything else has to now be about building consistency and confidence.
    On a separate note – big shout out to Scotland women – what a result!

    1. Only changes I’d make vs Italy would be bringing Toolis in for Gilchrist to shore up the lineout and Price in for Laidlaw who probably needs a rest.

      Denton in for Wilson as well if he’s unavailable is the obvious choice but I’d be tempted to try Bradbury. Would be a good chance to get a proper look at him.

      1. I agree that it’s tempting to try Bradbury if Wilson is out. I’m not convinced that Denton’s bosh is what we need in Rome, and Bradbury offers a solid line out option too. Might be worth Barclay at 8 and Magnus at 6, possibly with Hardie on the bench. We need the more athletic guys in the 23, as we’ll be looking to take advantage of an Italy who seem to fade after HT.

      2. I was at the match and noticed at the end the Scotland squad who travelled but weren’t on the bench went out to do some fitness training after the match. Marffo, Hardie, Toolis, Horne JR and Hastings were all there. Will be interesting to see if any of them make an appearance next week. Good to see the younger guys travelling though and at least getting a feeling for it all

  55. Italy in Rome will be handy , We need a win, they do not fear us. There is no room for experimenting, best side we can muster IMO.

    Another question from me , we have had many calls for Denton to be first choice 8, I think we missed Wilson and really never gained anything from Denton. Happy to be persuaded otherwise ?

  56. I would put out a full strength team against Italy but, if the game looks won, would use the bench earlier. I’d like to see more than 10 minutes of Nick grigg, I’d like to see Bradbury start as I think he offers more than Denton, and I’d have Hamilton on the bench as I’d like to see more of him.

    I’d start Laidlaw as we need as much leadership on the pitch as possible – it is still an away game, Italy will chuck everything at us. I’ve only seen their games against England and Wales but for large parts of both, they looked good and far more incisive than before. No room for a hint of complacency.

    1. Yes, Italy have looked good at times, but have then faded. There is always a risk that they get ahead when the sun is shining and really get the bit between their teeth. They will want to go out on a high note and we will need to go in full on to make sure that doesn’t happen. A win for par and a bp to fight for a respectable table position.

  57. Just home from Dublin and not had a chance to rewatch match yet but congratulations to Ireland on winning 6N and the better team yesterday. First time at Aviva and great atmosphere with large travelling support making themselves heard – at least in first half.
    As to the game itself I think hugely frustrating but cannot fault the effort Scotland put in but we had to be at our best to beat Ireland and we weren’t.
    Frustrating thing was we did so well until gifting Ireland their first try ( still not sure who the pass was meant for!!) they were looking a bit nervy and the crowd was getting frustrated and getting quieter by the minute. We just had to keep doing what we were doing but despite the intercept and Jones throwing a shocker of a pass to Hogg the game was won and lost in the 2 minutes before half time with the lost line out and their second try a few phases later. If we had managed to go in at half time at 7-3 it was still game on but at 14-3 down Ireland were never going to let us back.
    As I said can’t fault the effort and thought Hamish Watson was outstanding once again and scrum was rock solid but struggled at lineout to get any quality possession. Really must finish off with bonus point win in Rome.

  58. Against Italy I would like to see a balance between just chucking 15 random guys and selecting the same team who played Ireland. With just 18 months before the world cup we need to build a squad and find out a bit about some players outside the starting line-up but by chucking in 15 players with little international experience who have never played with each other we will not learn a lot about their true capabilities. Instead lets bring in 3 or 4 of the best players outside of our starting line-up and bring them into a settled team to give them a proper chance.

    I would go with this 23 for Italy;

    1. Bhatti
    2. McInally
    3. Berghan
    4. Gilchrist
    5. J.Gray
    6. Barclay
    7. Watson
    8. Denton
    9. Price
    10. Russell
    11. Maitland
    12. Dunbar
    13. H.Jones
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg

    16. Brown
    17. Marfo
    18. Nel
    19. R.Gray
    20. Bradburry
    21. G.Horne
    22. Laidlaw
    23. Grigg

    Biggest omissions from the 15 are Laidlaw and Reid. Don’t get me wrong I’ve got nothing against either of them and would probably start them if we were playing a top side but we know what they are both about and fail to see what they will prove against Italy.

    Reid is a solid yet unspectacular scrummagger who has often been criticsed for his lack of tackling/carrying. Yes he may not dominate or win penalties at the scrum but when he is in the scrum you are unlikely to go backwards, concede penalties or be dominated by the opposition – very useful indeed but heading into the world-cup it can only be a good thing to look at a few loose-head’s with a more dynamic allround game.

    Same with Laidlaw does everything to a decent level but would love to see a couple of more dynamic threatening 9’s like George Horne and Ali Price given a chance to show what they can do.

    Would love to see George Horne and Magnus Bradburry get plenty of game time in the 2nd half

    1. We have lost to Italy more than any other side in the 6N.

      The table suggests we need a win to finish above 5th.

      I might be a bit boring, maybe even traditional but my opinion is we should just pick a team with the objective of beating Italy in Rome.

      Laidlaw will start , he is our kicker and the best leader we have in that side.

      Reid, he has not done enough to lose the jersey yet , in fact he has riased his profile. If there is one area Italy know they can dominate , it is the scrum.

      I dont think anyone else has done enough to take the jersey back yet either. An early bath for Reid perhaps , when the win and bonus is secure, but he should start.

      Winning in Rome is a serious challenge.

      1. 6N is no place for experimentation and a loss in Rome would go a long way to undermining some of the recent progress we’ve made. So I agree – strongest team available and aim to rack up the best performance we can.

    2. Winning a couple of big home matches doesn’t give us the right to think we can field a weakened team away from home against a team who, whilst are the weakest in the 6N, are good enough to sneak a win if the opposition drop their standards. It could easily go from a 6N of steady progress to a failed 6N in a single match.
      Develop the fringe young players during the summer and AI matches ..not during..the 6N or World Cups.

  59. Has anyone else noticed that we could win in Italy – have 3 wins from 5 – and still end up being 5th in the championship? If England beat Ireland and Wales lose to France, but get a losing BP, and we fail to get the BP win:
    Ireland 19
    England 14
    France 14
    Wales 12
    Scotland 12 (but a worse points difference)
    Italy 0.
    That’s probably fair as Wales beat us soundly, but it still seems ridiculous.

    1. So we’re hoping for a the two teams who have beaten us to win? Even though that means Wales finish second? Tough break. If France beat Wales and Ireland beat England and we beat Italy with four tries or more, we come third. So our best bet is for Ireland and Wales to win and hope for any kind of win over Italy. To be fair, it’s tough to argue with a final table of:
      Ireland 23
      Wales 15
      Scotland 12
      England 11
      France 11
      Italy 1

    2. Better yet, Ireland beat England, France and Wales draw with neither getting four tries and we put enough points on Italy to over take Wales into second place ??

  60. Intercepted passes are rare in rugby, unless you are playing Scotland (3 in 4 games, this 6N!) and Italy will be looking for that opportunity in the next match. Some of you may remember, Italy 21 – Scotland 0, after six minutes of game time at Murrayfield some years ago: charge down x 2, intercept x 1. The player who gets caught out by such challenges has either, failed to see what is unfolding in front of him; is slow to react accordingly, or as is usually the case, both. Fast rugby is exciting rugby and the type of game which GT is developing with Scotland is more entertaining than the turgid grunt and kick version to which many games default. It would follow that, as well as the skills training and set piece rehearsals, an improvement in reaction times needs to be included in the coaching programme (lots of computer programmes designed specifically for this – e.g. training of military pilots). Sticking with that theme, GT would do well to note the military dictum, ‘no plan survives contact with the enemy’. The point being that a plan is merely a framework for deploying your assets to achieve an objective, and it is up to those assets to recognise and seize the opportunities that appear in front of them – so the importance of quick reactions combined with strategic flexibility is crucial. In simple terms, good teams have lots of way of winning. Having said that; against Italy, do not leave big empty spaces behind the attacking line and perhaps fewer flat passes to a receiver stand still.

    1. Disagree that intercepted passes are rare in rugby….perhaps in the NH…but definitely not rare in SH super rugby..and thats the style of rugby that Scotland are trending towards.
      To play any style of rugby at the very top …focus is if the focus slips playing fast attacking rugby intercepts are where every team will look to exploit.
      I wouldn’t trade that for the turgid stuff that some of the other home nations see as the path forward.

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