Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


USA 30-29 Scotland

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg - pic © Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography
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United States

2018 Summer TourSat 16th Jun 2018BBVA Compass Stadium, HoustonKick-off: tbc (UK)30-29


There were worries going into this test in Houston about the hot, humid conditions and the physicality that the home side would bring to bear, but those early tensions were eased with a soaring opening try created by the pace of captain Stuart Hogg. Smart hands from debutant Matt Fagerson, Pete Horne and then Hogg’s burst between two American forwards at full tilt made a simple 2-on-1 to Blair Kinghorn which was perfectly timed for the big winger to dive over in the corner. He then converted from out wide.

In terms of the bigger picture of Scotland and away form, it was a perfect start, but there wouldn’t be a perfect end.

The rest of the opening quarter of the game showed that the USA were going to be a far tougher proposition than Canada last weekend. Sale Sharks standoff AJ McGinty took their first points after a spell of heavy American pressure characterised by hard running forwards and McGinty pulling the strings.

Scotland earned a second try following some nice half breaks by Nick Grigg and Pete Horne which led to George Horne breaking loose towards the posts. In a bit of a mismatch, he was tackled high just short of the line by Samu Manoa, the US lock. Although other defenders were present, referee Wayne Barnes showed the yellow card and awarded a penalty try.

McGinty kept the USA in touch with a penalty against Luke Hamilton for offside but George Turner stretched it back out again with one of his trademark rolling maul tries approaching half time. Scotland looked fairly comfortable, but the home team were determined not to let them get out of sight. They were rewarded for a period of strong pressure in the Scots’ 22 with a try scored by hooker Joe Taufete’e from a short burst under the posts, spinning away between Tim Swinson and Matt Fagerson.

Scotland did at least have the last word from a Blair Kinghorn penalty but they definitely were not having it all their own way.

Half time: USA 13-24 Scotland

The USA showed they had some set-piece chops of their own with Taufete’e stretching out after a confident maul. It was a start as positive for the hosts as Kinghorn’s try had been for the visitors, especially when followed up almost immediately by another penalty from the superb McGinty; Hamilton again on the wrong side of the referee.

That brought the scores back to within a point of difference and Scotland suddenly looked a little less confident. Gregor Townsend turned to the bench to add a bit of experience: Grant Gilchrist on for Lewis Carmichael – a lot less noticeable than on his debut – and Fraser Brown added as a back row replacement for Luke Hamilton, presumably for more impact at the breakdown, meaning two makeshift flankers with Tim Swinson still at blindside.

Scotland though, didn’t change much about the way they were playing, with kicking attempting to alleviate the effects of the heat but one spell of aerial ping-pong left Hogg up by the American kicker and Matt Fagerson couldn’t deal with McGinty’s return kick. The former Connacht man was able to regather and popped it to Germishuys to score in the corner.

With an hour played, the USA were in the lead, and they deserved it.

More of Scotland’s bench came on including Dave Denton, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and finally got Scotland back over the line, although Mark Bennett knocked it on in the act of scoring. In the build up there had been a great break by Kinghorn but he perhaps didn’t pass to the support when he could have, and Tim Swinson found himself free on the other wing after a lovely long pass from Adam Hastings and could have given it to Turner who was in support and didn’t. Everyone was perhaps too eager to make amends for a sloppy second half to that point.

It wasn’t going their way, with a few cute moves too many in slippy handling conditions. Six points adrift, Scotland needed a try against the USA who were on an unbeaten streak at home and the prognosis was starting to look a little worrying going in to the final ten minutes and that didn’t change as the scores stayed the same with just five minutes to play.

Scotland went to their trusted weapon from last weekend – the rolling maul – but they couldn’t get it, well, rolling. The ball was held too long until an error was made and from there the USA could play keep ball. Unfortunately, Warrior Greg Peterson was penalised with seconds left to give Scotland one last chance and water-carrier Mike Blair was issuing frantic last minute advice for the final lineout.

The USA conceded a further penalty but there was an injury stoppage with time up and some confusion over HIAs and eligible substitutes there was plenty of time for the Scots to consider their options. They went through phase after phase with Denton carrying plenty as the freshest forward. They really needed it under the posts, but when the pack were visibly making little ground it went back to Hastings who threaded a pass to Dougie Fife who went over in the corner. It was fitting that AJ McGinty forced Fife to stay wide and it meant Kinghorn had the result on his shoulders with the conversion to come.

Unfortunately the young man missed it, from a similar position to the one he had nailed earlier in the game. A first loss to the USA but in reality it was no less than this Eagles team deserved for a second half in which they dominated a disjointed Scotland.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

SRBlog Man of the Match: A tricky one this, as Kinghorn was probably the standout back but missed the kick at the end. George Turner was probably the pick of the forwards, with another try and good lineout execution all night. Everyone made small errors, and they all added up.

121 Responses

  1. Great win for the USA and hopefully shows they’ll be competitive at the World Cup. Gary Gold is a good coach

    But some people are reading WAY too much into this. Yes we should probably have won, development team or not, but ultimately if Kinghorn’s conversion had gone over we’d all be on here talking about how the young players had a bit of a scare but would be better for it etc.

    I think the only players who have done their long term prospects any harm with that performance are Hamilton, Grigg and McGuigan (and Hogg, in terms of captaincy prospects – doesn’t have the right temperament to be a captain). The young players can put it down to experience and learn from a bad team performance.

    Today has shown yet again we’re vulnerable with a lightweight pack, so next week I’d like to see:

    1. Dell
    2. Rambo (if fit, Brown if not)
    3. Berghan
    4. Toolis
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Bradbury
    7. Ritchie
    8. Denton
    9. SHC
    10. Hastings
    11. Fife
    12. Taylor (if fit, Pete Horne if not)
    13. Bennett
    14. Kinghorn
    15. Hogg

    Bench of Turner, Bhatti, Z Fagerson, Carmichael, M Fagerson, G Horne, Lang, Harris

  2. Can anyone explain why SHC is always looking backwards and talking to someone when the ball pops out of the ruck, before being snaffled by the opposition? Every single game it happens. He needs to sharpen up his act. His passing needs to be more accurate as well.

  3. Once the Eagles were able to get their big carriers on the ball at pace we had no answer. We needed to starve them of the ball and momentum, but were unable to do so. I felt that we missed Johnny Gray and his momentum-sapping tackling. I also thought – we need Greig to rescue this – but then George had a reasonable debut and SHC added some intensity when he came on too. Just too many errors all round and bit of a lack of leaders and experience, combined with difficult conditions and of course a fast improving USA side. I thought McGuigan’s kicking put us under a lot of pressure when we needed it least.Banana skin slipped on and it will be interesting to see how Toony reshapes things for next week. Also worrying given Wales’ composed performances against Argentina on a similarly depth-seeking tour.

    1. Matteo- George Horne had a fantastic debut – quick ball, great passing, good lines run – if anything SHC coming on probably caused our slump as he was unable to provide the same quick ball Horne could.

      1. I’d need to watch the game again to see if I agree with that Blake. My own impression was that he added his own kind of impetus. He’s aggressive and put in some good defensive work. Admittedly he did make a couple of bad errors (although he was far from alone there). Like others I grimace at 9s taking their eye off the ruck to implore the ref, whilst the opposition steals it. He’s a good player though and is a loss to Edinburgh (and possibly Scotland if things don’t work out with his move). I’d agree with your other comment that his move to Scarlets in a RWC year is folly. Unless of course Davies gets injured, in which case it could work out for him.

      2. Just looking at the timeline, SHC came on at 63 mins after we’d gone from 3 – 21 to 30 – 24. 4 mins later we have a tried disallowed and then we get one at 82 mins. So I wouldn’t say that SHC’s intro corresponded with a slump. Not to take anything away from GH, who I thought was very good.

      3. SHC’s problem isn’t Davies, he’ll only play 10 matches at most after 6N and AI breaks. His problem is Evans, who is a really decent and experienced Pro14 level pro. Is SHC good enough to be second starter for Scarlets, or is he backup to the backup? If the later, he is in the same, or worse, position to the one he found himself in at Edinburgh.

  4. Apart George Horne and Blair Kinghorn very few positives to take from this match

  5. Disagree a bit, we were always going to be up against it. Hastings had a few good touches, defended well even when USA started sending the big runners up his channel, didn’t do much wrong. Horne jr good, Hoggy good, SHC good, Kinghorn good. A few boys blowing away some cobwebs. McGuigan just not doing it for me. Bennetts also had better games. Can’t say I’m too disappointed,we need to remember this is a development tour. At one point we had a hooker and a 2nd row pairing a first cap in the back row, this wouldn’t be near our first choice side.

    1. This could easily have been a win, Bennett’s ‘try’ and Kinghorn’s conversion at the death, played in sweltering conditions against a very physical side. Our younger players have seen some action and that will stand us in good stead for the future. I would rather have a near miss with a young side than an old side getting thumped by South Africa. ?

      1. brain fart moment, think I meant that the pair of non-backrowers (Swinson and Brown) were teamed up with a first cap back-rower (Fagerson Jr).

  6. Going to the SH and losing by 2 or 3 scores is a development tour. Exposing players to an intensity which they are not used to, seeing what players are made of and how they can raise their game. Going away as 6th in the world and losing to tier 2 and 15th in the world is not developmental. It’s just embarrassing and again showed the lack of depth and quality we have compared to the rest of tier 1. What have we learned from this tour? Hastings has potential, Horne has potential, Fagerson isn’t big enough yet, Mcguigan is a bit one dimensional, Hogg isn’t captain material, Kinghorn is a real prospect going forward. Guess what, we knew all of that three months ago. This side will not win silverware because there is a lack of mental fortitude. O Hallorahan was spot on a few months ago when he said the Scottish psyche wasn’t a winning one and that our approach to sports psychology was stuck in the dark ages. If we are going to enjoy the ride this team takes us on winning some, losing others but playing good rugby then great, chalk this up as one of those days. If we are considering this to be a side to challenge for silverware then this should be viewed with significant scrutiny. Argentina will be licking their lips with a huge point to prove and if we lose that this tour is nothing short of a disaster.

    1. Agree that USA and Canada provide not much opportunity for developing high-level rugby (i.e. something comparable to a WC QF).

      At least the team were exposed to a test in hot and humid Japan-like conditions.

      Argentina have the background if not the form and a more “genuine” challenge.

  7. I assume that Turner was Scotland’s MotM – thought McGinty was the best player in the park.

    This would have been a good game for a proper 7 to be on the park. Thought Brown did that well when he came on. Not sure our big guys are really big enough to boss the breakdown, so where a referee will allow a contest, I think that should be the approach. If that is a lesson we learn from the tour, it’ll be a successful exercise.

    Good learning experience for a young and inexperienced Scotland side. Well played USA.

  8. I guess it’s not as bad as it seems. This would probably be my team if we had a full squad to choose from;

    15. Hogg
    14. Kinghorn
    13. Huw Jones
    12. Duncan Taylor
    11. Maitland
    10. Russell
    9. Laidlaw (although on the basis of George Horne’s levels of performance this season, especially last night George could have displaced Laidlaw by the start of the six nations/world cup)

    8. Wilson
    7. Watson
    6. Barclay
    5. R.Gray
    4. G.Gray
    3. Nel/Berghan
    2. McInally
    1. Del

    And only two of those players started last night, one of which is Kinghorn with just 3 caps. We’ve not got much squad depth and our 2nd team is pretty shocking but our 1st team is pretty good and i’m sure with most of these guys fit and firing during the six nations and world cup we can have a good 2019

  9. A lot of people have been lulled into forgetting where we were 10 years ago – a shambles on and off the pitch, with the money men hoovering around Murrayfield like vultures.
    Back then, we were p**s poor in the 6 Nations, the league and in Europe.

    We only have 2 pro teams, the smallest player numbers out of all the tier 1 nations, and a governing body that was run like a banana republic for most of its existence.

    And yet, in the past few years, we’ve beaten England, France, hammered Australia, and have had 3 wins each in back to back 6 Nations. Both Pro Teams are in the main European competition next season, and Glasgow are always contenders now in the league, and Edinburgh are heading in the right direction.

    Off the pitch, the SRU are back on a sound financial footing, we have a decent academy system, Edinburgh are getting a new ground at last, we’re getting a semi-pro league, and despite recent friction with Russell snr, thing look good, though I admit it’s not perfect, but it’s light years from where we were.

    So a starting XV that’s barely out of nappies and on a developing tour loses a game? No big deal for me. It’s 2019 what counts, and this will stand us in good stead as we boost our player depth and learn lessons.

    Never forget our starting resources compared to others, where we came from, and what we’re doing now. It’s all about perspective.

    Townsend and this team has my 100% support.

    1. Seconded. It helps give you perspective when you can actually remember the Matt Williams era…

      1. These posts are incredulous . In our more recent history we reached number 5 in the world. That is perspective.

    2. Very well said MC. Lots of people on here thinking we are the all blacks after a couple of decent seasons…

      1. How condescending are these ‘get perspective comments’ or you have my support comments. The disapointed care as well.

        We are not the All Blacks (if anyone said that would they please stand up!) We are , not Ireland, England,Australia or Wales but we are 6th in the world rankings, ahead of France and South Africa .

        We just lost to the 15th side in the world, that is a fact, you cannot change that.

        I say we could have won the game with a bit of thought, conservative selection , consideration of the hostile atmosphere and leadership. There was nothing to be gained from throwing away the game,it was avoidable , it was not accidental.

        If anyone disagrees lets hear it ?

      2. I disagree. For a long,long time we stunk the place up. Yeah, we’ve had two good six nations in a row, but before that? We spent years fighting off the Italians to avoid the wooden spoon.
        In that time, Edinburgh have been woeful in the league. It was only two years ago that Glasgow made it to the quarter-finals of Europe. They didn’t get out of the group this year. Yes, we’ve done bloody well these past 2 years, but we still need to keep building and avoid getting complacent.

        Ask yourself this: how good will those Edinburgh players be in 2019 with another year of Richard Cockerill coaching to their name? They will be as hard as nails and scared of nobody.

        2019 is the year that matters. Not a 2018 development tour to blood youth.

      3. MC: You can disagree all day long in this blog (it is encouraged) but you need to disagree with the points made in the post (read posting rules).

        We never lost to the USA till yesterday we are no 6 they are no 15. Explain that ?

  10. 1. Daryll Marfo
    2. Stuart Mcinally
    3. WP Nel
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Johnny Gray
    6. John Barclay
    7. Hamish watson
    8. Josh Strauss
    9. Greig Laidlaw
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Tommy Seymour
    12. Alex Dunbar
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Tim Visser
    15. Sean Maitland

    16. Ross Ford
    17. Al Dickinson/Rory Sutherland/Allan Dell
    18. Simon Berghan
    19. Scott Cummings
    20. Ryan Wilson
    21. Ali Price
    22. Matt Scott
    23. Lee Jones

    The point is that this is a 2nd/3rd and even 4th string side that played against Usa and thats what we are missing (Visser and Strauss are just hated by Toony i guess, i bet Visser would come out of retirement if townsend just apologized) Bench is a little weak but hey-ho.

    Im not sure why this tour against Canada, USA and Argentina were even classed as capped internationals, it was effectively our A side or Maori version.

    Credit to USA for sticking in and i do think they will be in the Teir 1 Nations within 10 years, but lets be honest a full strength scotland side is putting 40 points on USA atm.

    We were missing 6 Past Lions in Dell, Ford, R.Gray, Laidlaw, Russell and Seymour.

  11. What this says to me is that, yes, in general, and with a few provisos, we
    are getting better, but it seems that the USA are getting better quicker!

  12. Well, I’m glad I put on an insurance policy of USA winning at 10-1!

    I enjoyed that game and feel some posters aren’t giving the USA enough credit. They have some massively powerful players with some real skill and looked well organised and coached. We struggled with their power which is something we’ll need to learn to deal with. We did, however, make silly mistakes and until we can cut those from our game we’re not going to be challenging at the business end of tournaments.

    For me, Hastings looked good with the miracle plays but needs some composure in running the game. Great defence though. G Horne looked sharp and not phased by anything thrown at him.

    Kinghorn, cracking game, looks born to into international rugby.

    I agree with previous posters who said Grigg and McGuigan don’t look up to international rugby but they weren’t the only ones who made mistakes.

    As long as the team, players and coaches, learn from the loss then some good can come from the game. I still think we’ll give Argentina a cracking game.

    1. “I enjoyed that game and feel some posters aren’t giving the USA enough credit.”

      We were winning and comfortable at half time. We looked like we could score every time we were in their 22. Kinghorn missed a penalty and a conversion. Any one of those goes over, and it’s a different result. We made lots of unforced errors and missed tackles We were hardly blown off the park by liquid rugby.

  13. This game was Wales all over again. no disgrace the Eagles were an excellent side, a bit more preparation and we would have beaten a very competent side.

    As it stands, it is Scotland who have the questions to answer and you may not like it , but failing to prepare, is the preparation to fail and we did it spectacularly and not for the first time.

    Other than that , lots of people have learned a lesson that they wont forget. Unfortunately , we have forgotten Cardiff already.

  14. I think it would be fair to say biggest losers of this tour so far are.

    Swinson (more through carmichaels emergence)
    Hamilton (needs more game time as i have hope for him)
    Mcguigan (a good debut – but thats all it was apparently)

    Would be surprised if 1 of them gets a call up again this year or next.

  15. That was a very physical USA side and for a lot of the middle 40 mins we got bullied. Simple as that really. Hamilton looked out his depth and I felt Matt Fagerson was doing ok but was just getting blown back too much and then had his nightmare drop. Can’t remember use getting over the ball and winning a turnover or pen at the ruck in the first 60.

    When Gilcho came on and Brown in the back row we seemed to get back into physical parity which is when we then found all sorts of ways not to score the winner much earlier on. Special frustration was when Swinson got the ball out wide and ran through treackle he was shattered and never was quick in the first place. If it had been a faster player I think it would have been in.

    Oh and Hastings…. not so much. Every kick went straight to the man.

    1. Hamilton looks terribly out of shape as does zander Fag whos development seems to have stalled in the last few months

  16. Never like it when we are strong favourites on the road. Especially with anything less than a full strength team. I do think we need a psychologist in the backroom team as we don’t seemed inclined to put 2nd tier nations to the sword. Or as happened yesterday we get so far ahead and switch off.

    The plan to run the Eagles off the park didn’t work. Relatively maybe we’re not quite as fit as we thought. We are in trouble if the opposition has a lot of really big fit guys as we will get ground down eventually.

    Congratulations to the Eagles they are trending in a good direction. We’re treading water at around 6,7 in the rankings and its been hard work to get there. To get higher we’re going to need to take a few more scalps above us. If we take anyone from the next 10 in the rankings for granted then there are lots of potential banana skins away from home.

    1. Only caught the last 20, but if the plan was to run the Eagles off the park that would be brainless in those conditions. World Cup 94 (football)?

  17. Hopes for the foreseeable future:

    We’ve got some great centres. Just need them all fit and raring to go.

    Hogg and Kinghorn can get some more time together. That first try suggests there is more good stuff to come. However, Kinghorn was just doing what Seymour has done for a while, stay on Hoggy’s wavelength / shoulder and track his breaks.

    George Horne continues his current form and development trajectory. He could be our best scrum half since Armstrong.

    Our back-up back row can beef up a bit and challenge the incumbents more.

    We can see the Gray boys play together again so we can confirm that’s our best lock combo.

    Russell stays injury free.

    Our first and second choice front row can stay fit. Some of those guys are still pretty young and if they can get enough game time / experience they should be in decent shape for the world cup.

    Glasgow signs some serious Scottish qualified beef from New Zealand.

    1. If drifting off Hogg’s shoulder works, no need for Kinghorn to do anything else…

  18. In my opinion I think GT is the main culprit for this loss, which I think will do more damage than good to the young players. He picked a team to play Canada who are terrible that was more experienced and had more aggressive players than the one that faced USA. Anyone with access to the internet could have seen that USA were big and aggressive and required more thought to beat than Canada. He stated something about giving Glasgow players an extra week off but realistically it wouldn’t make much difference to them.

    Im all for developing players but its a balancing act, if you take a few heavy defeats or suffer humiliation it can set you back.

    Also does anyone accually know why Josh S is never called up. – im assuming him and GT have fallen out over him not wanting to leave Glasgow.

      1. But 30-29 is not a heavy defeat.

        I would rather we find out if players are good enough or not now rather than in the 6N or World Cup. What is shows for me is that 2 decent games for Glasgow or Edinburgh in the PRO14 does not make you the new Finlay Calder.

        So now we know young Fagerson needs more time, we know that Hastings is not ready to replace Finn, that by the way know that Carmichael needs work (he was not great today) and that Mcguigan cannot kick.

        We also know wee Horne is a player and that Kinghorn is one of our first choice back three.
        It would have been great if we had found another positive but you only find out it you ask the question.

      2. ‘But 30-29 is not a heavy defeat’ – precisely the point. I would sooner have a slim victory. All these blokes are learning is that scottish fans put up with mediocrity. They are better than that and they know it , why dont you ?

  19. If Scotland had went over with a full strength squad and turned over the USA for an easy win, we would have learned the square root of FUDGE all.
    Instead, a young team, in sweltering conditions similar to what they’ll face in Japan next year, played like a team with barely a cap between them, which is exactly what they were.
    And they will have learned a hell of a lot. And isn’t that the whole point of a development tour? Take Adam Hastings for example. He has what, 20 Glasgow games to his name, and had his first start today. Put in a decent shift to boot. Fast forward to the 6 Nations, and God Forbid, Finn Russell is crocked. Do we want Hastings making his first start in the pressure cooker of that tournament, or are we not glad that he started today?

  20. Shades of the 6 Nations match v Italy a few years ago when new caps Toolis & Watson appeared from the bench only to be shown as out of their depth at international level (at that stage of their development). That period around half time highlighted the lack of international experience with a total lack of cohesion. Well done to the Eagles who thoroughly deserved the win.
    If Hamilton wanted to highlight his employment prospects, then yesterday was a massive fail. Fagerson junior is not ready for international rugby and would have been better served joining up with the Under 20s.

    1. The nightmare drop aside I thought Fagerson Jnr was OK. But at no 8 against the big units the USA had he was always going to struggle. He just needs more beef. Bradbury is a couple of years older and bigger. Thats the difference.

      At least there is potential there. Hamilton looked like a headless chicken start to finish.

      1. Agree Fagerson would have been better off with the under-20s. Great prospect but not ready yet for international rugby. He carries hard but just needs to add another stone or more to go forward at this level.

  21. Seeing the five players leaving the tour makes picking the team for next weekend a bit easier, apart from centre perhaps. Hoping it’s from P Horne, Bennett and Lang. Only 3 back row specialists left so unless Rambo recovers in time, then Swinson to cover the back row if only 2 fit hookers left.
    Disappointed about the USA game – whole team just seemed to go into a trance either side of half-time – but on reflection, think it was good that new blood was tested. If not on this tour, then when else? Investing in a really good sports psychologist seems like a necessity right now – we can put together a good time and when the mindset is right, inflict serious damage on anyone. But the doubt and lack of belief can still too readily re-surface as of Twickenham ’17, Cardiff and today. Someone needs to teach the squad how to avoid hitting the panic button in those situations.

    1. Don’t think they hit the panic button at all. Granted they did poorly after half time due to US playing very well, but then when some replacements came on they focused on a try and ultimately got one … albeit out too wide for BK to knock over.

  22. Hogg is lucky Kinghorn is getting a go on the wing because on form he’s a much greater threat ball in hand than Hogg has been in the last 12 months(injured a lot I know). Kinghorns development this year has been sensational. Easily in the first choice back three now. Anyone have any insight as to why he has been kicking for goal? He’s landed some decent ones but with so many kickers in the squad I’m surprised he’s been doing it although maybe that’s an admission that he’s the only one who kicks on this tour likely to start in the Autumn.

    1. This is garbage. Kinghorn has long way to go before he’s anything like in the same league as Hogg.

      1. You mean self serving and hopeless in the tackle . Glasgow and Scotland have played very different rugby without Hogg. He does come at a price and I am not talking cash.#Just Saying

      2. I don’t understand the hate for Denton, but I understand the vitriol directed at our best player – who’s probably the best fullback in the world – even less. His tackling is fine and he’s created more tries than he’s scored, so your assertion is flat-out wrong.

      3. Hogg was pisspoor and went missing when leadership was needed. Running a stupid line straight into Fagerson then shouting abuse at him was petulant and the exact opposite of good captaincy. Best fullback in the world my arse. Not even close to LeRoux, Folau, Smith, McKenzie to name but four.

  23. Like I say only caught last 20, but saw Kinghorn butcher a clean break and look slow, SHC pass to thin air, Swinson butcher a nailed on try, Bennett look light weight and get held up, Hastings display no authority, Hogg be completely uninvolved, woeful failure to get the driving maul going or score from 3 or 4 close line outs, no go forward from the pick and drive and Kinghorn miss a penalty. Desperately missed Russell, Jones, Maitland and still lack any form of heavy ball carrier. Neil mentioned Strauss and that doesn’t sound daft unless Denton can start making some ground. D+ no prize second place or such shoddy rugby. All that said it looked sweltering and it was barely a cap worthy test

    1. Bennett never got held up he failed to ground the ball – presume you never even watched the match

    2. I don’t know why you would call this barely cap worthy. They are ranked 15th. USA are basically at the same level as Italy and Samoa atm.

      1. Because Scotland didn’t treat it like a full international. Not disrespect to the USA.

  24. Does anyone else ‘blood’ youngsters like this? I don’t really see the point in proving to us (and them) that they are not yet ready.

    At least one full season of regular starts in the pro14 (or whatever league) is a prerequisite for inclusion…so the likes of Bradbury, Horne and Kinghorn yes…Hastings, Fagerson jnr…no for me.

    I see the point in bringing in marginal players for integration purposes, like Lang, Hamilton, McGuigan…let’s not be picking unknowns in a WC year…

    1. Maybe depends on the position and other options. Can see the benefit of giving Hastings game time.

    2. I was agreeing with you but remembered that James Ryan and Jordan Uelese both got international caps before playing pro. Although I think we are blooding players hoping they magically step it up a gear instead of proving they should be there.

      Agree that neither Hastings or Fagerson jnr are ready.

      1. Ryan is something special it seems. Uelese I had to google but seems he’s not in the current Wallabies squad…

  25. Interesting the thought process come selection time pre USA game. A cursory look at you tube confirms USA are big and strong with some huge runners, with Gary Gold in charge they are also well coached. Also they are “on a roll” in terms of results. David Denton, James Ritchie, Grant Gilchrist, Simon Berghan should’ve started. Given the squad & the injuries not an awful lot of changes could’ve been made in the backs. Bennett in from the start (Duhan VDM would’ve been great……….)

  26. Many years ago some pioneering spirits left our shores and settled in a far off land. They were rugged, hard working , non nonsense types with self belief. They took only a bag and the finest game in the world with them . They made new friends and played rugby. Others stayed in the land of compromise and excuses.

    The world over the NZ All Blacks are the iconic symbol of Rugby Union and they are our forefathers.

    The difference between the sides is excuse hugging fans. Get a grip and get a passion. This was not good enough for us and not good enough for them.

    1. Whatever is the crucial difference between NZ and their rivals, including Scotland, it is certainly isn’t the attitude of fans. What a load of nonsense!

      1. Time for more perspective . Anything but nonsense. A man as well informed as you knows very well , that any All Black side coming home from a loss , is not made welcome. So why say otherwise?

        Reading the posts in here it is a love in. Losing to the USA by a point , could so easiy have been a win. Why did they not win, why should we not be pissed off.These are legitimate questions and not to be brushed off as negativity, trols or unrealistic expectations.

        I think the word ‘nonsense’ is a bit strong and you should reflect on that.

  27. After a great start I thought we lost our shape in attack which wasn’t helped by Horne Sr and Hogg popping up at 1st receiver all the time. OK as an option but not when it’s happening all the time. If Hastings is your 10, he has to be allowed to control the game from there.

    After Hogg sliced through for Kinghorn try, can’t remember him getting ball in that area again throughout match. If something works well, you repeat until oppo figures it out.

  28. Positives: Kinghorn – looks like the real deal – missed a couple of kicks but as not the frontline kicker I would give him a pass for that as well (1 stupid penalty that he will have to learn from).

    Ben Toolis – yet to see him have a bad game for Scotland – not great but he seems to have a high watermark and makes sure there is genuine depth at lock.

    Negatives: Kicking game, apart from one terrific Hastings kick that was a midges ‘ ‘hair away from going dead our kicking game was woeful.

    Stupid mistakes – 2 Fagerson missed catches resulted in 2 tries one at the end of the first half and one at the start of the second – this is really where the momentum swung. Also Kinghorn giving away a penalty for tackling in the air as per above.

    Lack of penetration – apart from a couple of Grigg bursts, there wasn’t anyone punching over the gainline – whereas the US seemed to make yards on every carry – with us having no ‘jackler’ until our replacmenet hooker !!! came on – our lack of power combined with poor breakdown work was where I think the game was ultimately lost.

    Defensive drift – Chris Paterson called it out in commentary, but we kept drifting in defence and allowing the superb AJ MacGinty to step on the inside and make considerable yards time and time again.

    Hastings: Like Fagerson Jr and probably Carmichael, he is not ready for this level yet. Swinson, Hamilton, Horne Snr and McGuigan are probably ready and capable to be squad players, but they were all long way short of the levels that should be expected of them.

  29. Seems to me that ahead of June tours and AIs you get lots of people on these boards calling for the latest wunderkind or flavour of the month to be capped and to use these opportunities for development, and the minute we have an embarrassing result it is all about how players weren’t ready to step up or the coaches underestimated the opposition.

    I think the truth is the team we put out was good enough to beat the USA, some poor game management and probably Toonie waiting to long to send in reinforcements meant we suffered an embarrassing loss. But this match really wasn’t important – it was being used by development and I think the coaches will have learned a lot about how some fringe and young players handle adversity. As all of these players will be competing for a small number of squad games places that aren’t yet sewn up I think this was useful for RWC prep. Let’s see how the squad responds next week – some guys have a lot to prove.

    1. Agree 100% . It was the right time to find out about players. We just did not like what we found out.

  30. To add a little perspective;
    If you were put yourself in the position of the americans for a second- had they lost on Saturday, which they almost did had Kinghorn’s kick gone over, against a team partially strung together with rookies (7 test debutants), in front of their own crowd, it would have been an absolute disaster for them. I can imagine they were as ‘pumped’ for this game as it’s possible to get.

  31. Some strong reactions here.

    Personally I think this loss is being blown out of proportion. Yes we were 2nd best for a spell at the start of the 2nd half and the result was probably fair, but this tour was always about trying out young/untested players.

    This is the only tournament before the WC that we can realistically try different players, some have stepped up (not going to name names either way) others haven’t, but it will have helped give Toonie a good idea about who he can trust and who maybe isn’t quite ready yet.

    Toonie will have learnt a lot about the players available to him and how they cope with playing away from home, in a hot & humid environment, similar to what they’ll face in Japan.

    Oh and with regards to Strauss, in 14 caps he was nothing more than average, more often than not poor. He had one good game. That I suspect is the primary reason as to why he’s not troubling the selectors currently. He struggled to replicate his club form, and he may also have fallen out with Toonie, but from my understanding the club didn’t want to keep him, rather than him wanting to leave, so not sure if there is actually any issues there.

  32. Peter Wright has made some very valid observations on the BBC website, particularly the inexperience at 8 – 10 which is a potentially big “experience hole” to exploit. Personally, I don’t think Hogg is the right person or in the right position to captain the side, great player though he is. I know others have skippered from full back but recall that Brian O’D mentions in his biography that skippering from the back-line presented its issues in terms of seeing what is going on up front.
    On a slightly different note, I’ve never bothered with the garbage spouted on BBC by alleged rugby fans, just too vitriolic to have a meaningful debate. Just hope this blog doesn’t go the same way – we all have views on what went well or badly and no doubt others will disagree but at the end of the day, we presumably all want Scottish rugby to do well and should remain united in our support and enthusiasm for the national team.

    1. Try reading the comments in the Guardian as well, and you will be even more grateful for the quality of the comments and debate on this blog!

  33. Given who is left in the squad for the Argentina game, it will be interesting to see who starts in a number of positions.
    Forwards you would have to go with mainly those that started against Canada, particularly back row will be much stronger. Backline is tricky. I’m fairly sure Price was the planned 9 for this game – in his absence I would have to go with Horne again. 10 is a nightmare – non left field options are Hastings, P.Horne or Lang. I thought Hastings was ok against USA so I would go with him again. Horne has the experience, but leaves a gap at 12 (and I don’t think Horne and Lang at 10 and 12 is a great combo). Lang might have the potential, but again it’s a big call to play him at 10 if he has been training at 12 (which presumably he has, 2 positions on debut tour is a lot to ask). For me Hastings 10, Horne 12 and Lang on the bench as cover. 13 I think Bennett gets the nod as Grigg fell short and Harris is not good enough. I’m assuming Taylor is still not going to be match fit – if he is it could change the whole backline! Wings have to be Fife and Kinghorn and obviously Hogg at 15.
    Still very much a development team, but I don’t see a huge amount of choice with what we have available.

    1. I hate to say it, because I like the guy, but Pete Horne at international level at 12 or 13 is too small, too slow and makes the defence too weak assuming there are smaller players at 9 and 10 and possibly 13. That said, I like him at 10, which plays to his strength in distribution and maturity. If Hastings isn’t going to be ready for the world cup, let’s bed him down in that position as back up to Russell…

    2. I think it will be



      I wonder if anyone will successfully fully predict a townsend 23 in the right positions …

  34. Ive said it before but you need experienced campaigners forming the backbone of the team. That’s 2-8-9-10-15. Starting Turner, Matt Fagerson, George Horne and Hastings was always a gamble and I think Toonie took it too far. Having just two of Brown, Denton, SHC and Peter Horne from the start in those positions would have helped.
    I also think he waited too long to bring those guys on (along with Gilchrist, Dell, Bennett).
    That being said USA were phenomenal in the second half, making very few errors. Especially Taufete, Dolan and McGinty – who each could have got MOTM. Funnily enough that’s 2, 8 and 10. Just to prove my point.

    1. Good point about the spine of both teams.

      How about Glasgow signing Dolan? Need another big carrier. He’s playing for a team in the US at the moment.

  35. The flaws in Scotland’s performance were lack of game awareness, slow reactions – leading to panicky decisions, and a real absence of tactical “go forward”. It is up to the management team to determine whether that is a personnel or a coaching matter, and in this case, probably both. I thought most of the newcomers did well but some of the old dogs just don’t seem to be able to learn new tricks.

  36. It’s not helpful that our 3 best option to partner Huw Jones – Dunbar, Duncan Taylor and Bennett – have been constantly injured over the past few years and unable to get a run of games at club or country. With one of Dunbar, Taylor or Bennett on top form partnering Huw Jones in the centre with a back 3 of Kinghorn, Hogg and Maitland and Laidlaw/George Horne and Russell at 9 and 10 we would be a serious outfit. Not forgetting that McInally, the Gray brothers, Barclay and Watson are all top forwards.

    1. Don’t think you can play Jones and Bennett together. It’s one from Jones, Bennett and one from Dunbar, Taylor. Scott is the only viable floater (not sure he’d like that description). Grigg is better at Glasgow.

  37. Hogg aside, I’m not sure anyone playing would be in the 1st XV (Kinghorn will be close now though). In some positions we were 3rd choice at best (Swinson at 6?!?!?). There was also the number of youngsters playing – G Horne was excellent, Hastings had his ups and downs but was not at first receiver much, Fagerson had a few good moments but two mistakes from him cost 2 tries (knock on from ko and failing to deal with high ball).

    Not too bothered we lost, US deserved it and it would have been harsh on them had we stolen it at the end – actually more annoyed about the performance in Italy when we won!

  38. Interesting point. Maybe the injuries to others will open the door to forgotten man Matt Scott now that he’s back at Edinburgh. He seems to be enjoying a good, injury-free run…

    But it is also a good point about form. That’s where the depth comes in handy – it allows GT to pick good players in good form.

    Not sure Huw Jones is a guaranteed pick, either. His form was pretty ordinary at the end of this term, and who knows who will be in form come the Autumn, never mind the RWC…

    1. I think Scott definitely deserves a look in at 12. He’s a great blend of big crash ball unit with former stand off playmaking skills.

      I think Jones is a guaranteed pick for now. At international level he’s been an absolute game breaker to the degree that nobody else in our team has matched. Needs to improve for Glasgow though.

  39. I believe Dunedin is the Gaelic name for ‘New Edinburgh’and we have loads of scottish qualified players because of emigration. He is not all wrong .

  40. Team for Saturday picks itself;

    15. Hogg
    14. Kinghorn
    13. Bennett
    12. Duncan Taylor (if unfit move Peter Horn to 12 and Hastings at fly-half)
    11. Fife
    10. Peter Horn
    9. George Horn

    8. Bradbury
    7. Ritchie
    6. Denton
    5. Toolis
    4. Gilchrist
    3. Berghan
    2. McInally (brown if unfit)
    1. Dell

    Replacements; Brown, Bhatti, Z.Fagerson, Carmichael, M.Fagerson, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, Hastings and McGuigan.

    Must win game so need to play our best team available.

    1. Didn’t realise that Taylor was one of those sent home either. For once, I pretty much agree with Blake! Suspect it will be Bradbury at 6 and Denton at 8, but otherwise hopefully that will more or less be the team.
      Lang onto the bench if Hastings is starting.

    2. That’s exactly the team I’d pick as well (minus Taylor and Fagerson obviously) and should be enough to see off a poor Argentina team. Would love to see George Horne play behind a pack that wasn’t on the back foot but Townsend may opt to start Hidalgo-Clyne as an extra kicking option.

      Heavy Edinburgh influence in that team (11/15 with SHC) and highlights how far they’ve come recently that it looks stronger for it.

  41. The last few years has brought many highlights, and we’ve beaten every major team except NZ and SA (who we haven’t played).

    And yet this weekend (and a peek at the ranking points) reminds us of how close we are to becoming part of “tier 1.5” again.

    This includes the likes of Georgia, Fiji, Japan, Italy, Argentina….teams with some infrastructure, but not enough to keep pace with the top 5.

    There is no room for complacency if we want to remain in contention for WC seedings….the annual rituals of a banana-skin tour game and the “its an away-game” 6N mental flop need to stop…

    Look at Wales, I don’t think they really have much more talent than us but they seem to find a way to win….or at least not lose…more often.

    1. I disagree that we can even remotely be considered tier 1.5
      We have beaten teams above us multiple times over the last couple of years and come very close to others.
      I don’t know why we always seem to struggle against teams a bit below us – it always seems to be closer than it should be, even when we win and we rarely hand out thrashings like other top teams do.
      The USA game and other development team games, I don’t think it’s really fair to give that much weight to in terms of how good our first choice team is. The pros and cons of blooding new players etc. at this time have been discussed ad nauseum (and I personally am in favour of it). Look at England, persevering with the same tired old faces that aren’t performing any more – they could be in trouble in some positions as they don’t seem to want to broaden the squad at all and if they do decide to make changes, the experience level won’t be there.
      I agree we need to find a way to start winning away games and stop having the occasional nightmare game (England last year, Wales this year), but really we are in a pretty good position going forward, and I believe will be better when the World Cup comes round because of the way we have approached tours etc.
      There are still the autumn internationals and 6N to really focus on our squad for the world cup (and 2 or 3 players given chances on this tour will be in that squad because of it).

      1. The answer as to why we struggle against teams lower then us is simple.

        we put our our average/inexperienced players with perhaps 1-2 first choicers against Fiji, Usa and others.

        What usually happens is we get physically dominated and dont play great as a team due to a lack of familiarity.

        To say we are 1.5 team is abit Ridiculous. You could name a better player in each of the 23 positions that were filled yesterday bar Hogg who himself has had very little gametime over the past year.

      2. It needs to be remembered that when we played the US in RWC 2015 we gave them a thrashing and the core of the US eagles team last Saturday, McGinty, Manoa, Taufete’e were in that Eagles squad.
        Townsend is experimenting. The trouble with experimenting is that you’re vulnerable to these kind of results and if you get too many it can start to erode a winning culture which has been carefully nurtured but is still thin after years and years of losing.
        The team will now be under pressure to win against Argentina in a way they wouldn’t have been had they beaten the Eagles, away from home with a bunch of scratch players at the end of a long season.
        That isn’t ideal.

    2. Wales have a much larger playing pool than us. Look at all the key positions and actually Wales have far more options proven at international level to some extent – and it isn’t surprising, they have twice as many professional sides, far more clubs and a much larger and higher standard club/schools game at youth level. The proof is in the pudding, Wales regularly put out development sides that perform well for the most part (Japan tour an exception).

      I think lots of people don’t appreciate how much we are punching above our weight at the moment if you just looked at the number of professionals available for selection and that is before you consider the quality of the professional pathways players come through.

      If we want to sustain that improvement we need to grow the game of course, but also raise skill levels throughout the Scottish game. We’ll never have monster packs, or the quickest backs but we can train an elite group to have the highest skill levels. SRU heading in the right direction I think and the national blueprint is an interesting approach.

      1. Wales have 50k registered players we have 39k . About 20% ish but what Wales are not doing is experimenting on this tour. Wales have a different culture and infrastructure and we are not there. Yet.

      2. Registered players a a poor barometer. They have twice the number of professional teams and a far stronger cultural attachment, plus more money. Not just generally: thanks to Gatland’s nepotistic Lions selections they got nearly a million extra quid this year. We’re definitely punching above our weight (except when we brainfart).

      3. Wales put out similar development sides against in the last 2 years against Japan and Georgia and would have lost/drawn AT HOME were it not for a last minute drop goal and a dubious refereeing decision regarding a penalty try. Our game was played in sweltering Houston heat against a team with a better player in MacGinty than anyone in those Japan or Georgia teams.

        Agree that the national set up is interesting and heading in the right direction. Results like this might sting a bit at the moment but a lot of players have been introduced to the national team and been given experience relatively under the radar and our squad will be better for it going forward

      4. Why can we never have “monster packs” or the “quickest backs”, do you subscribe to the viewpoint of Mr Strachan that Scots have a “genetic” problem?

      5. If you go to South Wales, which is the biggest population centre in that country, you will see that rugby defines them. It’s the only indigenous professional sport (professional football falls under the umbrella of the English leagues) and they have a hothouse culture similar to the borders, except bigger.
        their 50,000 strong player base is drawn from a population 30% smaller than ours, so it’s a game which elicits far more interest among the general population than it does here.
        Having said that, we can match them and the template for the way they reorganised their professional game and went from perennial losers to challengers is one we have drawn upon and benchmarked ourselves against heavily.

    3. Good points…I too think we are in a good place, right now…but how long will this last?

      Hopefully it lasts longer than the current batch of players (i.e it is not just a fluke of coincidental talent for a few years).

      It is easy to go backwards very quickly – see Argentina, who were very happy three years ago, but are really struggling now…

      Without a broader development pathway we will never be consistently “top flight”, we’ll often be beaten by better teams, and I am happy to accept that.

      I do hope that we can learn to avoid the “avoidable” losses though…

      1. Argentina’s success wasn’t based on broadening pathways – it was based on hot housing an elite group identified at a young age. Rugby in argentina is even more dominated by a select few private schools than Scotland or Australia. Argentina have actually got worse since trying to establish professional rugby domestically, which World Rugby and SANZAR insisted upon for their entry to the Rugby Championship. Whether that is cause or correlation I don’t know but the policy of selecting only domestic players is harming them significantly.

      2. FF: If hothousing does not work , then are we following the wrong strategy with the Academy system ? We have a decent number of players per your earlier post just not as many as Wales , which leaves a few gaps, number of pro sides and the standard of club rugby ? Is that a fair summary? If yes it would suggest the emphasis needs to be on raising the standard of club rugby therefore the Super 6 might have legs ? So is the Academy system a waste of cash and should it be pumped into clubs. We know a third pro side is a dream however at present we have a very limited attendance at our existing pro sides , admitedly for different reasons however I can not see a third side in my lifetime. Would someone enlighten me ? So much confusing and conflicting opinions which seem to change weekly,

      3. Yorkie – my post meant Argentina’s success was based on hot housing a small group of talent. It didn’t require a broad base just a very good pathway to professional rugby – it just so happened that as rugby in Argentina was amateur the pathway resulted in those players becoming professionals in Europe. Lots of players stepped up to perform in test rugby whilst still playing for amateur domestic clubs.

        They’ve slipped backwards since they’ve tried to establish professionalism domestically (not necessarily as a result though).

        So my conclusion would be that Scotland are more likely to punch above their weight by focusing on developing the academy system effectively. Obviously we want a broader healthier community and youth game as well, but ultimately it is excellent environments that produce excellent rugby players.

    4. I personally think it’s fair to class Scotland as tier 1.5.

      The top teams are challenging for honours, which is not something we are doing. NZ, England, Ireland and possibly Wales & Oz are tier 1, given they have won something in the last few years.

      We’re in the selection of tier 1 teams just below that, in that we can and have beaten most of the teams in the list above (NZ aside) but we’re not consistent enough, and when it comes time to give out awards, we’re sitting watching rather than collecting. I wouldn’t however include Georgia, Japan etc in that list, as I think they are tier 2. Tier 1.5 would likely be the remaining 6 nations and rugby championship teams. Better than tier 2 teams, but not good enough (currently) to win anything.

      I don’t see it as a bad thing, given we’re improving all the time and this tour shows that, as whilst we lost to a strong US team, we ran them close with a very young inexperienced team. If you went back 5-10 years we would have struggled to win that game with our first choice, let alone with a load of youngsters & squad players.

      However, on the point of WC seedings, we’re as far out from having to worry about seedings as we can get, so this is the time we can try these new combos and players to see how they get on.

      1. There’s no such thing as Tier 1.5. Sides like Scotland in the last two years or so, by dint of 6N table placings alone, belong in Tier 1.
        Yes, we’ve had a couple of Fiji- and USA-shaped banana skins in the last year which have been embarrassing and to a great extent self-inflicted. But the notion that because of those slip-ups we’re somehow not a front rank nation is ridiculously pessimistic.
        Our first choice XV would have overwhelmed the USA even in the heat and humidity of Texas.
        The best available XV available to us should be beating Argentina at the weekend too. If Toonie selects a XV to win the Test and doesn’t muck around with more experimental combinations.
        Frankly, I’m sick fed up of suffering defeats against sides we should be beating to further the cause of ‘team development’.

  42. I think the only available backrows available are ritchie,denton and bradbury, with that in mind and presuming Mcinally is fit which non backrow player would yous like to see covering spot on the bench out of Swinson/Carmichael or Brown ? i personally would like brown and Turner coming of the bench at the same time.

  43. When Scotland v USA in Leeds in RWC 2015 we struggled in the 1st half it wasn’t until Nel & Dickinson (Brown wee bit later) were introduced that we got a grip of the game. In hindsight a pretty much Scotland A team was 50/50 in Houston on a tight pitch

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