Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 14-9 Argentina

[Edinburgh, UK. November 19, 2016] Cómo se dice 'stramash' en español? Scotland vs Argentina in the Autumn Test at BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh. (c) ALASTAIR ROSS | Novantae Photography Photo Credit: Alastair Ross / Novantae Photography

The weather and atmosphere at BT Murrayfield was a bit too dreich in the early stages for a party to welcome the new Rustings/Hassell 10-12 axis (call it what you will) as a starting combination and that may have hampered the ambition available to either side with a slippery ball.

It meant plenty of kicking; the ball hanging high in the Roseburn air long enough to gather a bit of mist on it before dropping towards the arms of, say, Stuart Hogg who would fail to gather. It did also mean that in turn the multitude of grubber kicks tried by Adam Hastings became more unpredictable for the Argentine defence to handle, but nothing they weren’t able to handle.

Overall, it was probably advantage Argentina despite an early Laidlaw penalty giving Scotland the lead well into the 27th minute until Sanchez equalised the scores. Scotland were also lucky that a loose, swinging Fraser Brown arm during a tackle didn’t earn him any time off the pitch.

Jamie Ritchie had a good opening half hour, getting involved in the lineout, and managing a rampaging carry off the back of a typically mazy Adam Hastings run that left Argentina with no option but to slow the ball illegally. Laidlaw restored Scotland’s lead and it remained at that cagey scoreline until half time.

After a good performance last weekend, it wasn’t great to watch but Argentina were doing what they needed to do and Scotland couldn’t impose their gameplan in the conditions. Is there a version of Chaos Rugby that works in the rain?

Half-time: Scotland 6-3 Argentina

Sanchez opened the scoring early into the first half after Adam Hastings was caught sealing off the ball at the ruck but conditions did seem to be drying out a little. Scotland were at least starting to look like they might try something, if only they got some ball or could hold on to it for more than a few phases.

While Russell was quiet moved out to 12, Hastings was responsible for about every decent break Scotland had in the first hour. One such scamper and the Scots being a little more savvy keeping the ball moving led to a high tackle on Huw Jones which earned Laidlaw an easy 3 points. Argentina on the other hand had missed three to that point.

On the hour mark Hastings was replaced by Dunbar to restore a more familiar structure to the backline.

It was Stuart Hogg though who created the game’s opening try, spotting a lack of defenders on the blindside and screaming at Laidlaw to switch direction. The scrum half was brilliantly deceptive and give Hogg an easy two-on-one to put Sean Maitland away in the corner. Laidlaw’s kicking was unerring from the touchline, especially in comparison with Sanchez who was essentially giving Scotland the cushion they needed to stretch out a lead. It’s worth noting the scoring position was also thanks to a decision to remove the ball from a rolling maul going nowhere the phase before.

The inability of Sanchez to slot the straightforward kicks perhaps altered their thinking when Argentina were awarded a scrum penalty under the posts. Knowing they needed at least a try and a 3-pointer to win they took the little one first in the easiest of situations when perhaps pressure on a new front row – McInally appeared to be carrying a shoulder injury – might have been more profitable. Such were the decisions by the visitors that perhaps took the pressure off Scotland in a game they could easily have lost.

As Scotland had opened things up, so had Argentina and they were starting to make line breaks. The “slippery ball” perhaps sparing Scottish blushes once into the 22 although the scramble defence was up to the task.

Scotland had their last decent chance in the dying minutes when Finn Russell weighted a superb chip kick for Byron McGuigan to gather at full tilt but the winger opted to chip on himself rather than pass to the flying Huw Jones inside him. Instead the move ended with the usual collection of rucks, and Argentina conceded another penalty. The range was just too great for Laidlaw but he used up valuable seconds on the clock.

Argentina played with the most intensity they had all game in the last minute, but they were chasing a wonder try deep inside their own 22 and Scotland’s stout defence kept them under pressure until the game ended, fittingly, with a knock on.

(apologies for old picture – Ed)

Referee: Paul Williams (NZ)

SRBlog Man of the Match:  It wasn’t one for the swashbucklers this, although Adam Hastings gave it a shot as best as he could. Greig Laidlaw showed composure and leadership (this was a perfect Greig sort of game) but for me Jamie Ritchie was tireless from start to finish, had a huge game in defence and set-piece and gets the nod.

See how the players rated here.

176 Responses

  1. Wow, that was awful. Lucky Sanchez had an off day, although Laiders did, too. Dunbar was good off the bench, as was Wilson, oddly. Knock-ons aside, Gray was pretty damn good today, as was Ritchie. Is Hogg our most important player? He was the difference today.

    I thought the ref was pretty good today – he seemed consistent even if I disagreed with some of his calls. Think he’ll be in trouble for not carding Brown, though.

    All in all that was a poor AI series. Lost two games we should have won and scraped a victory against an inconsistent Argentina. I really hope this is the end of Toonie’s tombola for this cycle – we need our best team (injuries permitting) playing and gelling. And what has happened to fastest rugby in the world?! Unless something changes, I can see us competing for the wooden spoon again in the upcoming 6Ns.

      1. One each ? I don’t think so. I counted 3 for Wilson. The most infuriating part of Dunbar’s miss was him waddling back into the line – without a care in the world.

      2. Well you should probably apply for a job as Chief Counting Officer at ESPN, because their stats say one each.

  2. Conditions poor – looked very slippery so can’t really expect amazing rugby.

    Positives, we closed out a tight game in those poor conditions, some good breaks, solid defence. Good try and Hogg really took a playmaker/leader role.

    Negatives, Argentina’s awful kicking gifted us the game, we didn’t finish off the breaks we had again, too many unforced errors even given the weather.

    Kinghorn looked green – trying too hard and a few poor decisions.
    Line out and scrum need work.
    Hastings isn’t quite there yet.

    Watson excellent as usual, Ritchie played well, as did Skinner when he came on.

    Overall I’m a little disappointed in the performance, but we won and conditions played a big part.

    Does it rain much in Japan?…..

  3. Ha. Laidlaw and Ritchie? With the greatest respect, I clearly watched a different game to you. Out of interest were you at Murrayfield (I’m guessing) or watching on TV…

    1. Laidlaw again slowed things down when ball needed moved. Felt sorry for Horne. He needs game time but doesn’t get it.

      1. Laidlaw was trying to get his forwards to hurry up – several times he was ready to go and they weren’t in position. I find it surprising that people still buy into this myth.

    2. My point is he presents no danger himself.
      Which reduces the ability of others to play. Setting aside those controversial looping – non-looping passes. Also nothing in defence (albeit less of an issue for sh).

  4. Dell 7
    Brown 7
    Berghan 7
    Gray 6
    Gilchrist 6
    Ritchie 7.5
    Watson 6
    Strauss 6
    Laidlaw 6.5
    Hastings 6
    Kinghorn 6
    Russell 6
    Jones 6
    Maitland 7
    Hogg 7

    Not a great game and few stand outs. Set piece went well with Dell nd Berghan showing up well at scrum time. Ritchie played well. Russell clearly best at 10 and we missed Horne.

  5. Ahh people will be negative but we won. It’s difficult after the gargantuan effort against the Boks to get up for a game like this and Argentina are a good team who’ve been playing badly. They would have been absolutely desperate to avoid a whitewash and we changed our team. Toonie said he would change the team and considering we’ll have the same schedule in RWC 19 he was right to do that imo but it carries a risk. The pack was changed and we started with a completely untried at any level 10-12. Argentina are a championship side who scored 2 wins against the Boks and Wallabies last season. They’re not mugs and can turn you over.
    So be happy that we got there. Lay of Adam Hastings and take it.

  6. I think we learned who our first choice players are.

    1. Dell
    2. Mcinally/Brown (Either is good)
    3. ?
    4. ?
    5. ?
    6. ?
    7. Watson
    8. ?
    9. ?
    10. Russell
    11. ?
    12. ?
    13. Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    For me we know only 7/8 of our first choice team.

    Second Rows need Richie Gray and Skinner back, i feel they offer better all round games and are international class.

    Backrow has to many options, just needs powerful carriers so i would probaly keep Bradbury at 6 for the whole 6 N.

    8 is open to Barclay/Wilson/Strauss/Denton/ Fagerson/Ashe or who i would be looking at is Thomson.

    9 – Horne Needs to start, Price is out of the reckoning for me. Laidlaw does not bring the attacking intent we need but would be perfect to close out the games from the bench.

    11 – Open to Seymour/Mcguigan/Graham/Jones/ Kinghorn.

    12. This is the biggest conundrum.

    Horne stepped up and Dunbar looked good of the bench.

    I feel the backline need more directness, so that we can open up space out wide.

    I would be look at Taylor/Scott or Johnson for 12 position, pick one and stick with it.

    So first choice side i would like to see consistently for all of 6N.

    1. Dell
    2. Mcinally (Captain)
    3. Fagerson
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Skinner
    6. Bradbury
    7. Watson
    8. Thomson
    9. Horne
    10. Russell
    11. Graham
    12. Taylor
    13. Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    1. Disagree. We actually know very little more. The following are first on the team sheet (and already were going into the start of these tests):
      4-R Gray

      1. Actually, I think Nel’s played his way out of clear first pick status over these 4 games. We’re losing too many scrums when he’s on, and he just doesn’t seem to have the impact he had a few years ago. With a good return to fitness and form he left on, I think Zandbags probably has the spot.

      2. I agree about Nel, I also think Berghan has hands like coos tits and has no impact at rucks.

        Hurry back Zander

      3. Suspect McCallum will usurp the lot of them within a couple of seasons and may have Nel’s spot in the world cup squad before then too especially as he’s genuinely competent on both sides.

        Fagerson, Berghan, McCallum and two or three from Dell, Bhatti, Sutherland and Allan will make for a strong group of props.

  7. A game we won when we should have lost. Entering into the Autumn I thought we could win 4/4 or lose 4/4…the way we played, 2 wins from 4 was fair, just.

    Townsend was totally right to try out lots of combinations this series and he’ll have learned a huge amount.

    As for today, one game in wet weather is not enough to draw definitive conclusions. That said, those who got giddy at the thought of our “all-out-attack” back division got a wake up call. You don’t pick 11 centre forwards if you want to score goals in football. On that note Russell/Dunbar, Russell/Taylor (or even Russell/Horne) is far superior to Hastings/Russell as a 10/12 combo, at least at this point. Dunbar providing a focal point changed the shape of today’s game in both defence and attack.

    Interesting that no-one mentions Maitland much…basically he rarely puts a foot wrong.

    Our forward pack is all over the place. We have two first rate hookers. Our props are doing all they can but aren’t going to dominate anyone decent. As for the back five of the scrum, Skinner is a great find and Ritchie was excellent. Losing Thomson to concussion robbed us of the chance to see whether he can step up to international level.

    What the optimum back five of the scrum is, Lord only knows. We are getting consistently beaten at the breakdown (and let’s stop whining about refs and get on with it) and lack balance between carrying/lineout/breakdown skills. Whereas we may have 4 or even 5 players that can play 7 to a good standard (and Hardie will come back into the picture) elsewhere we simply don’t seem to have the players, or, more worryingly the technique, to win the contact dynamically. Teams like Ireland and Wales will be licking their lips unless our pack improves dramatically. It’s worrying how one paced some of our pack look at times. Our forwards coach has a lot of work to do.

    1. What happened to coach Ritchie Gray (Gala) – I thought he was working on our breakdown. Our rucking, defensively and offensively we have gone backwards.

      1. Mega-€€€ at Montpellier with cotter and Nathan Hines I think. Montpellier still flatter to deceive despite the enormous budget.

  8. 1. Allan Dell
    2. Stuart Mcinally (Captain)
    3. Zander Fagerson
    4. Richie Gray
    5. Sam Skinner
    6. Magnus Bradbury
    7. Hamish Watson
    8. Blade Thomson
    9. George Horne
    10. Finn Russell
    11. Darcy Graham
    12. Taylor/Scott (Dependant on oppositon)
    13. Huw Jones
    14. Sean Maitland
    15. Stuart Hogg

    To close out the game/Not Add impact.

    16. Fraser Brown
    17. Daryll Marfo
    18. Simon Berghan
    19. Ryan Wilson
    20. John Barclay
    21. Greig Laidlaw
    22. Peter Horne
    23. Lee Jones

    I would be looking for Toony to keep a squad consistent to this and only 1 or 2 rotation players.


    Let other players fight for the positions they are playing in.

    I.E. Kinghorn only pushing for 15 spot.

      1. Grant people were saying that about Strauss for the past year, only i stuck with him. No look where he is.

        Same will happen with Marfo.

      2. Aye , but Strauss was playing well in the English top division

        That’s where Darryl is missing out , start backing “ foot and Mouth” as the dark horse prop , he has a shout

    1. Neil is there any chance you could discuss the game rather than posting future teams straight off? Plenty of opportunities to pick your fantasy squad in the coming days…

      1. At least he’s only got Marfo on the bench now. I think Dell has shown today that he can scrum solidly at this level even if that Argentinian scrum isn’t as strong as in the past, Medrano is normally rated a decent scrummaging tighthead. Gray and Gilchrist both normally scrum on the tighthead side so that extra power behind will have helped.

    2. I don’t like to criticise individual players too much, but really, Marfo is a journeyman who lucked his way into some caps last year. He’s now fifth choice loose head for Edinburgh, far less Scotland.

      1. That may be the case but he certainly didn’t make an arse of himself, performed very well. If he’s out of form fair enough but if he does rediscover some form I see no reason why he shouldn’t be considered.

    3. Would love to see Skinner and Ritchie Gray in the 2nd row as 1st choice. However, concerned that Gray seems to have injury after injury…the latest requiring back surgery…a 6’10 lock rugby player with back surgery to recover from?? …I cant see him playing at test level for the 6 nations…maybe in time for WRC…but even that seems a stretch. Look at how long it took Andy Murray, a fit guy, to recover from back surgery in a no contact sport. Shame …as he is without doubt the 1st choice lock. J Gray has played/stagnated his way into a bench lock….even then I would rather see Cummings get a shot.

    4. Neil you consistently pick players who have not played for a while or have yet to be tested at international level. Why don’t you try and pick a side from the players available rather than this fantasy-football stuff?
      Fagerson, Richie Gray, Taylor and Scott have not played for months. Skinner, Bradbury, Thomson and Graham have half a dozen caps between them. Yet you think they’d be better than players in the current squad that have narrowly lost to South Africa and beaten a decent Argentina team.

    1. Stu2 or should i say .. Blake Westwood!, Sanchez missed about 4 kickable penalites. if he had brought the right boots with him we would have lost that.

      1. Neil, how do you know we would have lost it if Sanchez kicked his penalties? If he slotted what was presented then it would have effected how the game was played.

        It’s a game effected by situations. Too many people count points in matches as if you can just tally them up.

  9. The Scots needed creativity, accuracy and grunt up front and they didn’t get any of these things until the bench was utilised late. From the great Tom English. Come on Toonie. We have our best stand off in decades and a rookie understudy. Play Finn at 12 and rookie Hastings at 10? Bonkers against a four nations side, and it showed. Townsend to his credit is a highly educated coach but all the signs were clear last week. Our glittering backs need a platform. Russell is on fire in France due to playing behind a quality pack. Dropping Gilchrist for Tooolis last week and having Horne over Dunbar, one of the top inside centres in the NH, was a significant reason as to why we didn’t beat the boks. It has taken Rennie one season to clock this. Hopefully, and I’m ever the optimist, Gregory has used this series to experiment. Danny Wilson seems to have made his mark. Our defence today resembled Wales or Ireland which is step forward. But I really hope that Townsend has learned the oldest lesson in the book. You have to earn the ability to play expansively. That requires a solid platform. And given what Ireland did to the ABs, that platform can win you games either by going out side or through the middle. Perplexing.

    1. Wilson is our fowards coach, not our defence coach, and Rennie is a huge fan of Horne. Just saying.

    2. Our defence wee giving up yards with almost every tackle. Only one in every 5 tackles was really dominant like the Welsh defence has been all Autumn

  10. A slugfest at a soaking Murrayfield showed we can win – just, and benefitting from poor Arg penalty kicking – slugfests against sides like Argentina. I wonder how we’d have fared against NZ or Ireland in the same conditions.
    Scrum looked pretty solid throughout, but the way Argentina dominated possession and territory in the first half was a worry. They clearly also had had a good look at our difficulties in dealing with rush defences, tried it themselves and were pretty effective.
    Hastings didn’t have a complete mare, but looked hesitant at times and generally the 10/12 axis with Russell wasn’t a disaster but it wasn’t a great experience for a first time combination at Test level.
    Agree with a comment above about Maitland. He’s at the top of his game and I hope he stays fit for the 6N and beyond.
    So, 2 from 4. One of the wins scrappy and at least one of the losses could have gone our way. Not a brilliant Autumn, but not doom and gloom, and a good number of players have had a shot at gaining some/some more Test experience.
    If I have one real worry, it’s that we’ve not in this series produced a truly dominant performance against good quality Tier 1 packs, especially at breakdown time.

  11. I am going to add to the negative I am afraid. Was at Murrayfield today and the game was poor. Equalled by the lack of atmosphere. Give me Scotstoun any day.

    My thoughts are:

    1. Tombola needs to stop. Pick a 23 and players then earn in or out of it.
    2. Hastings is not an international 10. Possibly yet. But not now.
    3. Russell has to play at 10. He isn’t a 12.
    4. Pete Horne has probably played himself into the 6N squad at 12, almost by not being there today. With Dunbar, depending on what type of player Toonie goes for. If Scotland fans don’t want him, happy to have him at Glasgow running the show with the dirt trackers. See last night.
    5. Did my eyes deceive me or did Ryan Wilson make a difference off the bench?? If Barclay isn’t fit, he starts at 6 in 6N and World Cup.
    6. Could the Glasgow team from Friday night beat Scotland of today. Quite possibly.

    Overall I think scotland haven’t moved forward this Autumn. Teams have worked out how to play us and that is concerning.

    1. Wilson did make an impact off the bench, as he did against Wales. Personally, I much prefer Wilson coming off the bench, he seems more focussed, fired up and effective. Same for Swinson.

      1. Thanks Teamcam.

        Horne and Wilson. Hated upon by the part timers. Both exceptional professionals who bring a lot to club and country.

        I assume Rennie and Townsend probably no more than me and all of the other posters who decry them constantly…

      2. Can’t argue with that assessment of them. And they obviously care so much and try so hard – I can understand frustration, but not hatred.

      3. Stu2. What’s it got to do with you or the validity of my opinion on an open forum how long I have watched rugby? Indeed your assumption is incorrect.

        My point is people on this forum criticise Wilson, Pete Horne and Laidlaw constantly but their coaches always pick them when fit.

        Also, so what if I was a new fan of rugby? Should new fans not be welcomed? Because my school doesn’t have an FPs team doesn’t mean I am less of valuable contributor (financially through my season ticket) or fan than other people. It’s that sort of attitude that turns people off rugby. Would you rather the pro teams had 500 folk and Scotland had 40,000 at the games? Couldn’t possibly want to expand the fan base….

    2. More or less agree with that, also thought Wilson made an impact.

      Yes teams have worked out how to deal with us, get up in our faces, deny us quick ball, we don’t have a credible plan B so watch us implode as we try and force things. Without being too negative it’s like we’re the opposite of what we were 10 years ago, then we had useless backs but a tough pack that would try all day and ground out the few wins that we got. Now we have a back division that most teams in the world would be at least a bit envious of but we are too easily bullied.

  12. Scotland look light years behind Ireland, Wales and England who have all stepped up the intensity and physicality enormously in the past year or so. As I’ve been saying for a while now, it’s time for the Glasgow Warriors players to get out of the Finsbay Flatiron and into the gym. We are woefully underpowered and the defence is rarely dominant. Our back row has been rendered obsolete. A change of culture is required as it looms like we are a bunch of fancy dans who don’t quite fancy the tough stuff

    1. Have you watched Warriors this season? They’ve matched and exceeded some tough packs. Your comments appear I’ll-informed. And England ain’t light years ahead of us.

      1. The problem with our pack is simple. FFS it’s not rocket science. We lack a loosehead – dell is an underweight prop, so cover it with Reid or whichever ‘journeyman’ is fit. And we need to play a big no8 be it Strauss, Denton or Thomson (who I have never even seen play). Fagerson or Wilson or Barclay or Ritchie at 6. Watson or Hardie at 7. Toolis or Gray or Skinner partnering Gray. We also need a hooker who can hit his man in he line out which is why McInnaly starts. Done. Nae bother.

      2. Absolute bilge. Dell was rock solid in the scrum today and carried, tackled and hit the rucks as well as anyone else in the pack and contributed a couple of turnovers to boot. Why would you want Reid back in who it’s pretty widely accepted just holds the scrum up whilst contributing little in the loose? As much as I look forward to a return to form of Bhatti and Sutherland both have a lot of ground to make up on Dell. Even Neil has cordoned on to this…

      3. Yeah cos you said bilge you’re right. But the reality is the scrum doesn’t give ground any time it’s been Nell partnered with a Dickinson, Sutherland, Marfo strength loosehead. Jeez do you remember the Fagerson Nel destruction. Why do you think even GT didn’t dare start him against SA. And yes today he still went backwards in the tackle. Also you’re arguing against physics.

      4. Clueless. Dell may be lighter than Reid though a similar weight to Dicko or Sutherland but you’ve advocated Skinner starting at lock, he’s undersized when compared to the rest of our locks, but it’s ok he played well against Fiji.

        And arguing against physics? You’ve just watched Dell keep our scrum rock solid all afternoon, you’re arguing against what you’ve just watched.

      5. No I said there was competition at lock for the berth alongside Gray. You could find room for Skinner there or at 6. Though don’t see how that’s rwlwvant to the two salient points hat we need a heavy scrummaging loosehead and a real number 8. Frankly give the option I’d have Du Plessis over Dell! Let’s not redo the old Edinburgh published weights ‘bilge’.

      6. The only heavy scrummaging loosehead we have is Reid but he’s invisible in the loose. Dell carried and tackled visibly throughout the game yesterday and ripped the ball on one occasion to win back possession PLUS the scrum was rock solid. On what basis would Reid have been a better pick?

        If Bhatti or Sutherland can get any game time ahead of Schoeman (and Dell) or Kebble they will come into the equation for the 6N and both are better options than Reid. Until then Dell is the man, you need to forget about the France and Ireland games two years ago, Dell is a much better (and bigger) scrummager these days as he’s worked hard at it. And I think you’re having a laugh if you think Cockerill would entertain an underpowered prop.

      7. I am usually critical of Dell however have to agree with Scrummo , he had a good game yesterday , I think he has come through well in these Autumn tests.

      8. What has happened Bhatti?… he was rapidly looking like 1st choice LH …then just disappeared off the radar.

        The more he played the better he became…great in loose and solid in the scrum…with a bit of demon about him. Far better than Dell …who looks imo a soft touch against the top scrums.

        Why wasn’t McCallum given game time?….another really promising player who can play either side..Nell is not looking 2nd choice never mind 1st.

      9. Can’t believe anyone is touting Dell at the new loose-head messiah. He isn’t. Yesterday was the first game I’ve seen Dell play for Scotland where he held his own in the scrum (against a young tighthead tbf). Perhaps scrummo can explain all this good work he does in the loose? I must have blinked as I don’t remember seeing him do anything. Defo a weak link.

      10. Nobody has touted him as the messiah, just simply stated the fact that he’s the best we’ve got and nae a bad option at that. Rewatch the game if you missed it and watch more closely I’m not going to hold your hand. If you’re still in doubt the ask yourself why Cockerill and Townsend consistently pick him. Even Neil can see it.

      11. Yep Scrummo

        Dell – British & Irish lion

        Probably our best ball playing loosehead just piping Bhatti, has a big work rate.

        His weakness over the years has been the scrum, but this whole season he has held his own, will never drive the opposition forward but our gameplan does not rely on a super dominant pack, just needs to hold its own and let the backs do the rest from set piece moves.

        This is why i advocate Daryll Marfo so much, as he brings the best of both worlds (When in top form)

        Was extremely solid at scrum time, had strong breakdown skills and put in a shift around the park.

        Atm Dell is the only LH who can do the job at set piece but also offer us the fastest brand in world style all action gameplay.

        Reid is the opposite of this and i have no idea why he was considered for the squad.

        My list of LHs in order

        1. Dell
        2. Marfo
        3. Allan – Not an 80 minute man apparently.
        4. Sutherland – Solid in Set Piece, Average in loose.
        5. Mcallum – Wildcard for Wc
        6. Bhatti – Needs to find some form.
        7.Reid – Strong in Set piece, Useless for our gameplan in loose.

      12. Got to agree with Scrummo, Dell is first choice. He holds his own in the scum and offers a lot round the park. Could he be better, sure, but for now he’s the best we have.

        Neil – Marfo isn’t currently good enough to play for Edinburgh and from what I understand is struggling to get into the Boroughmuir team, there is no way we’ll see him in a Scotland shirt any time soon (if ever again). He’ll be away when his Edinburgh contract is up and I doubt it would be to a team playing in a top division.

      13. Dell is receiving acclaim he doesn’t deserve. As soon as we come up against a decent pack, his side of the scrum will start wilting. Scrummo, I couldn’t care less why Cockerill and Townsend pick him. I also noticed you couldn’t give a single instance of the ‘spectacular’ work you say he does in the loose. “Evan Neil can see it”, is precisely why most people would disagree with it as a knee-jerk reaction. Strange allies you have? Just admit it. Reid is still the best loose-head we have until the new boys mature a bit.

  13. Ugh, well a wins a win I guess but that was turgid stuff. Conditions obviously played their part, I’m told it didn’t come across on the TV just how horrible a day it was though so the conditions obviously played their part.

    Struggled to get any kind of rythym going until the end (not sure if it had dried up a bit by then?). They had the superior kicking game I thought, we dealt ok with most of theirs but ours never really put much pressure on them. One observation, not sure what happened, we had them pinned back around the 71 min mark the scrum half box kicked (a very good kick) to around half way but they got the lineout? Hogg caught the ball and briefly considered a quick throw. Tv showed a replay of something then it cut back to Argentina with the throw? Did Hogg catch it still on the pitch or something? Didn’t look like it to me. I’m sure there’s a good reason but I was raging at the time because they made a break from the lineout and had us under the cosh.

    As for individuals it was a difficult for anyone to shine but notable ones for me were Laidlaw who kept a cool head and steered the ship well, he was quick when he needed to be (not that it came to anything). Richie had a good game, pinball tried his all as usual but was pretty ineffective imo, Strauss was pretty anonymous. Again we struggled to get much to forward. Scrum seemed a bit creeky when Nel came on. Not the best day for trying Rustings, Finn looked better when Dunbar came on and he went back to 10 (again had it dried up a bit?) Hogg played well, had a lot to deal with and for the most part dealt with it well, excellent vision for the try. Kinghorn and Jones were quiet. Overall it was an awful day, Argentina were effective in disrupting anything we did, our defence was stout and we were lucky Sanchez boot was having the day off but I’ll take the win.

  14. Hastings ain’t up to it, at least not yet. I’ve never understood the hype and today was confirmation. How many times is he in totally the wrong position when tacked and gets turned over/penalty conceded.

    No doubt in my mind we’re best with Russell-Horne. I’d really like to see Horne-Russell-Horne at 9-10-12 but Laidlaw ain’t getting dropped any time soon.

    Strauss isn’t good enough, he’s just big.

    1. His penalties were harsh -plenty of others got away with the same offence this week and last. Still, he’s no Dan Parks…

  15. Some things I think we have learnt this month, many of which were confirmed today:

    1. Russell is not an international class 12. If we’re playing a 2nd playmaker at 12, the list of options starts and ends with Pete Horne.

    2. Hastings time will come. It can be seen in flashes but he seems to try the same things more times than necessary when it’s obvious they weren’t working.

    3. When Hogg or Russell aren’t firing on all cylinders against a Tier 1 side then we will struggle.

    4. Our rucking needs some serious work. Three games out of four we have been out-fought, out-powered and out-gamed i.e. not played to the ref.

    5. Jamie Ritchie has proven he is international class. One of the few to take a step forward this month.

    6. When it clicks, our all-action game is exhilarating to watch. Sadly, that only really happened against Fiji, in flashes last week and for about 10s today (leading up to the try).

    7. Sean Maitland. Well-played son. Never should his contribution be doubted again.

    8. There isn’t much to choose between our hookers, but the first of them to start regularly nailing the throw to the tail will claim the jersey.

    9. What has happened to WP? His time looks like it has passed. In serious danger of not making the WC squad if Fagerson returns to fitness an form and McCallum make a progress.

    10. Against Tier 1 nations, TAKE THE POINTS!

    1. Can’t disagree with any of that, really.

      I hope that you’re wrong about Nel, but Murray McCallum’s versatility could well see him being 5th prop in the RWC squad.
      Glad someone else notices Maitland’s contribution…just such an intelligent player, who rarely puts a foot wrong. You can see his New Zealand upbringing.

    2. Agreed. Other than Ritchie. He is not, yet, an international 6.

      Stu2 – ha, personal insult are unworthy. I can comment as much as the next person.

      Hastag been following Scottish rugby since mid 80s

      Hashtag Glasgow is the future

    3. I disagree with that. Don’t understand the received wisdom on Ritchie. Was blown off the park against Wales and the same again today. Needs some heft. Talk of Nels decline is so premature as to be laughable. Again Strauss the only one who can break the tackle.

      1. Genuine question…I don’t remember Strauss breaking a tackle today, so did he actually do that? I might have missed it from my seat in the North Stand, so if you can point me to it, I’ll take another look.

        We have to be careful not to place too much hope in Blade Thomson as the future in this respect, though until he’s had a chance, we’ll never know.

  16. I thought Jonny Gray played really well. 17 tackles, always around the action. His dominant hit led up to one of our penalties. I was there and watching him very carefully. Strauss was poor today, really struggled to get back in line. Wilson though not great did bring some more line speed

    1. I’m a big fan of Jonny Gray and would have him in the first pick team alongside his brother every week. That said, today was not a performance to remember. Wet conditions or not, 3 (that I can remember) unforced knock ons is pretty shocking, and lost us key attacking positions.

      1. I think it was two, but his defence was solid, he was a menace in the mails and his carries were good, too. In any important game, his presence reassures me greatly. I don’t get why so many rag on him and expect things of him that very few other locks provide.

      2. To be fair Jonny rarely knocks on. He might not make the barnstorming runs but is usually a safe pair of hands to recycle. Bad day for him in that respect but the rest of his game was excellent. 19 tackles, none missed.
        Jonny gets a lot of grief for not making those big hits, driving players back. But if you watch the game again the number of times he tackled the man behind the gain line was impressive. His anticipation and line speed meant that Argentina had very little go forward. Why do you need to stop the man on the gain line and drive him back when you can stop him from even reaching it??

  17. Overall, where are we now?

    Well…forty tries or more in a season for the second season in a row (and the only other time in history was when we beat Spain and Uruguay in RWC1999). So we can score tries against anyone.

    Our third winning season (wins/losses) in a row.. only the second time that that has happened since World War II. So we can beat lots of sides, especially at Murrayfield.

    And still…I’d say there’s a clear gap between us and NZ, Ireland, Wales, South Africa and England. At a neutral venue, with all players available, we’ll struggle against those sides, which makes us about the 6th best side in the World, I’d say. Given we have an almost optimal sequence of 6Nations fixtures in 2019 (an opening game against Italy hasn’t happened for a long time) we have a lot to prove if we want to change that view.

    Given our World Ranking, our target should be a RWC 2019 semi final place…and with Ireland in our group and a likely QF against NZ or SA, that’s a tough task. The delight some seemed to take-in our “favourable” RWC draw seems misplaced to me.

    We’re a good side, an entertaining one to watch (usually) but still one having to work bloody hard to keep up in the face of ever increasing standards globally.

    1. Our draw looks an absolute dog now. Japan too could embarrass us but they are an enigma. Looked highly polished against England but lucky to beat Russia this weekend.

    2. I don’t think we’ve really gone “backwards” since last year, and forward since 2016…but Wales, SA and England have regained some form after last years wobbles…

      I think we are going to be halftime heroes in terms of the world cup cycle…can’t see us peaking for Japan

  18. Neils Official Player Ratings: Scotland.

    Dell – 7
    Brown – 6
    Berghan – 6
    Gray – 5
    Gilchrist – 5
    Ritchie – 7
    Watson – 6
    Strauss – 5
    Laidlaw – 4
    Hastings – 6
    Kinghorn – 6
    Russell – 5
    Jones – 6
    Maitland – 8
    Hogg – 7

    Mcinally – 7
    Allan – 6
    Nel – 2
    Skinner – 7
    Wilson – 7
    Horne – N/A
    Dunbar – 6
    Mcguigan – 8

    Front row was solid and kept themselfs busy.

    Locks did the set piece aspects to a decent standard and defense was what you would expect. No Brodie Retallicks in those 2 though and it showed in attack.

    Backrow was ok.. ish. Ritchie got stuck in, Watson appeared unaffective and Strauss appeared not to deal well with the conditions when trying to power up a run.

    Laidlaw … Points for consistency from boot, thats about it ? Gave the backs no quick ball to even try to work with despite getting decent ball from the forwards. Infuriating at times. Did not give the Hastings/Russell axis a chance to show what they are capable of.

    Hastings, Some strong line breaks and some nice touches but also some honkers, Did not help having extremely slow ball.

    Russell / Jones – Solid if unspectacular, all comes back to Laidlaw.

    Back 3 – Solid under highball for the most part although hogg was shaky at the beginning, what you would expect from 3 full backs though.

    Kinghorn had a nice break but little else, Maitland was very secure and appeared one of the few who was able to show some class.

    Hogg… Not his best game but marshalled the back 3 well and set up a nice score.

    1. Why does McGuigan get an 8? All I really remember is him failing to put Huw Jones through when the inside pass was on. He was able to at least recover his kick, but I’ve no idea why he’s getting higher marks than everyone else in the team.

  19. Not a great game but on a positive note – when was the last time Argentina failed to score a try against any other team??

  20. I don’t think Gregor knows what our best pack is, and neither do I after the Autumn games. I am really concerned because we got smashed at the contact area in large parts of 3 of the games irrespective of personnel involved. We have backs that thrive off front foot ball but that was in limited supply this Autumn. I understand trying players/combinations but for me there were too many which led to a definite lack of continuity throughout.

  21. After the list of previous fixtures before the game today I googled the side who got beat by the Argies in 2005. Gives some good context on hiw far we’ve come these days:

    15.Chris Paterson, 14.Rory Lamont, 13.Marcus di Rollo, 12.Andrew Henderson, 11.Sean Lamont, 10.Dan Parks, 9.Mike Blair, 8.Simon Taylor 7.Ally Hogg, 6.Jason White (capt), 5.Scott Murray, 4.Craig Hamilton, 3.Bruce Douglas, 2.Dougie Hall, 1.Gavin Kerr

    That 10-12-13 axis compared to the options we have now…

    Mind you that backrow certainly stands up to the test of time.

  22. Hogg had a bit of a shaky start. Turning point for me was when he got smashed after calling the mark and started screaming at the other backs. Really starting to show some leadership. Good marshalling of the defence and attack after that. Great shout for the try. I can see a future for him in coaching if he can read plays like that.

    As a few have said Maitland is very good and was probably our best player today. He has a great knack of popping up in the right place in both attack and defence.

    Not sure what’s happened to our rucking. We’re getting destroyed at the breakdown and I’m no longer confident what our best backrow combination is. Not sure the new coaching set up is working there. Might be worth contacting Gray to see if Toony can get some consultancy before the start of the six nations.

    Thought Hastings was incredibly unlucky to get pinged for sealing off at the breakdown as at almost every ruck the Argies were doing the same. There was one moment just before half time where one of them ran into the ruck from our side and all the backs were shouting at the referee and linesman for illegal entry without success. We’re not getting the better of referees yet.

    Having said all that Brown was lucky it wasn’t Lacey that was adjudicating as he’d have been in the bin.

  23. Was it just me or was there an incredibly high number of neck rolls today. Mostly by us. The Argies were coming in to straight on tackles with their heads down and we were pulling them down by wrapping them around the head. Watson and others had a couple of very dodgy clearouts around the head. I thought if the referee sees that on replay hes going to get carded. We got away with it though.

  24. People expect a 50 point win against an Argentine team that caused Ireland and France a bunch of problems and beat the Boks and Wallabies. Crazy!
    Townsend has been experimenting. Some of the combos haven’t clicked, but jeez we have 2 fly halves like Russell and Hastings. Most of the time I’ve watched Scotland we’d have given our left arm for one. And check out Fiji. We beat them by 40 points and they’re about to upset France.

  25. Was at the game today and frankly was an absolute shocker as a spectacle – especially the first 40 minutes. Some comments about progress in that we closed out a close game but that was more down to their kickers having a day they will want to forget rather than anything we did. Indeed if Argentina had scored a try at the death to win the game I don’t think it would have been a surprise.
    I know the conditions weren’t great but I’ve seen a lot worse and Argentina seemed to play the conditions much better than us. Agree with comments re breakdown – we have really struggled in this area and have frequently got on wrong side of ref as well.
    We won
    We beat an improving Argentina side while being far from our best
    Sean Maitland is a class act and rarely if ever puts a foot wrong
    Hogg for the one moment of magic that got us a try
    Ladies toilets ( that’s from my wife)
    Mexican wave
    The breakdown
    Long line out throws
    Finn’s daft short 22 restart doh!

    For me I would give a 6/10 for AI’s ovet

      1. I don’t think we’ve gone backwards and a lot of different combinations/fringe/ New players have been tried out which is a real positive but we certainly haven’t taken it to the next level.

  26. Wales had poor AI results this time last year winning 2 of 4 games, with both wins being very close.
    They surprised everyone with their following 6N results. Now ranked 3rd, last year seems a long time ago for Wales.
    Hopefully the same theme will apply to Scotland this year. The difference being Wales had been consistent long term previous to last years results. Last year Scotland exceeded expectations in the AI’s and the 6N was a bit of a let down England and France results apart.

  27. Really finding the McInally/Brown back-and-forth perplexing. Genuinely can’t decide who should start and who should bench. McInally is a great leader, and a decent jackler, but every match when he throws into the back of the lineout, he overthrows it. Brown is also great in the loose, but is no captain. Neither are particularly great scrummagers. Are they truly interchangeable?

  28. My takeaways from the autumn.

    Nothing new. We are exciting as hell at home. We are pretty weak away. We will struggle with big powerful sides and in the RWC are well capable of pulling a shock but not capable of winning 6 or 7 on the bounce, particularly away.

    Front row, good depth without real world class other than the hookers. Nel seems to have declined but exciting youth.

    Locks: 6 good, capable and consistent locks. None truly world class, won’t make many mistakes but no game breakers. Gray x2, GG, BT, TS, SS all fairly interchangeable without losing much.

    Flanker: Ritchie had a fine autumn but looks a bit lightweight, Watson had a strong series. A shame Thomson couldn’t debut and Bradbury was injured but look strong here

    8: let’s hope Thomson is the man we need because we don’t have anyone close to international standard at this point.

    9: Greig is the man, Price has lost himself. GH firmly second choice now

    10: Hastings ain’t ready yet, being rushed in won’t do him favours. We need to treat him like NZ treated Barret, 30 odd caps from the bench. Weir is in fine form if we are stuck but clearly only one choice here

    12: it’s Hornes shirt to lose. Unimpressed with Dunbar, some really good stuff but some brain dead and sloppy stuff too.

    13: Jones shirt to lose.

    Back 3: it’s the three main men with BK next in line. Maitland for me was quietly the player of the autumn, he really is excellent. Closely followed by Hogg and Ritchie.

    1. I don’t understand why you think Ritchie looks lightweight. He’s not lightweight and doesn’t look it either.

      1. Yeah Ritchie is definitely not lightweight. I think he’s tall and looks rangy and mobile which gives the impression that he could bulk up to be a really brutal carrier in the 110-115kg class like Bradbury. Adding weight isn’t always best and I like the way he plays as it is though. If you’ve got Bradbury to carry then a more mobile backrow like Ritchie can complement that.

      2. He seems to be putting on a few kgs year on year, so he may beef up to that 110 – 115 over time, but a totally normal size for an international flanker as things stand. Agree that Bradbury is probably the current best new hope for the missing ‘power forward’ role, assuming Denton and Strauss out of favour or injured. It might be 3 or 4 years until we see the best of these young lads though.

      3. Agreed with all that. I think we’re in a good place with Bradbury, Crosbie, Ritchie, Smith and Fagerson all beginning to come through and a few more in the pipeline like Darge and Boyle.

  29. Today’s game was poor, but it was poor with a win. Sanchez kicking was terrible which let us off the hook but how many times in years gone by would we have lost that? With a different 9 on the pitch today, I don’t think we would’ve won that game. Game management from Laidlaw is up there with the best. He may not excite everyone but he is always there and always reliable.
    We need to focus on the breakdown, too many penalties today.

    Also, £3,20 for about 150ml of hot chocolate. Have a word.

    In response to many of the opinions above. Yes we want to win every game but if Townsend can’t try new things in the autumn a year before a World Cup then when can he?

    He needs to know that if Finn gets injured is Hastings up to it, he needs to know if Skinner is an option. Heknows what Hamish/Jonny G/Wilson/laidlaw/Finn/P.HorneHuw/Seymour/Maits/Hogg bring to the table.
    Folks calling Kinghorn green and Ritchie undersized, how are we finding that out without playing them at this level? Only way to become less green is to play them and get experience. It’s a double edged sword. Give guys experience now and they are better for it come the RWC next year.

    At the end of the day, my only major gripe from the AIs is giving away silly tries against the Boks which in turn cost us the game however, if we learn from that like Toonie has said we will then now is the time to be making those mistakes.

    Fine tune the squad over the 6N, calm the rotations down to a sensible level and we will be firing come the World Cup.

    1. ‘Only way to get less green is to play them…’. This is why George Horne needed to start this. We know what Greig can and cannot do. If Horne has started his energy may have driven the team to more intensity and roused the crowd and there may have been a completely different game…or he would have tried too much and we would have needed Greig on to steady the ship. my point is we now don’t know because it wasn’t tried. I think it should have been Horne – Russell half backs. I think it must be a distinct possibility that we will be better with that pairing than with Greig. Watched the Wales game afterwards and the speed of pass and the running threat both teams’ scrum halves showed were light years ahead of the benefits of Greig’s ‘game management’. This anyway is questionable given his poor box kicking. Laidlaw has been an absolute stalwart but scrum half is one position you can kind of measure the technical skills and I just don’t think they are really good enough , especially his pass.
      Obviously this is a view that divide us the fans and is not, apparently, yet shared by the coaches, but it would be good to be investigating this. It seems GT can’t bring himself to play anything other than safe on this position despite the tombola elsewhere.
      I hope that G Horne plays some stormers, esp in Europe, before six nations to maybe shift this situation.

      1. I get it why people love Laidlaw. He’s an honest, hard-working, sensible Scotland captain. Who can even do a job at 10 if neeeded. But, you know it’s gone too far when you have the podcast saying – aha because he’s slow and offers nothing going forward it means he’ll always be there at the back of a ruck. Genius.

      2. Laidlaw is more than just honest and hard-working.
        He has a real tactical appreciation of the game – when to speed it up, when to slow it down, when to box kick, when to run it.
        That’s why he’s 1st choice. The other players, Horne, Price and even Hidalgo Clyne are all similar. Loads of pace and eye for the gap. Their time will come but right now it’s correct that Greig starts.

      3. I thought Laidlaw was the perfect Captain yesterday and in the conditions was well within his rights to keep it at his “slower” pace. There was one passage of play where it was a bit glacial even by his standard….but did you see him attempt one wee snipe and get mullered ! Leave it to Hornito wee man !

      4. Totally agree. Wee Horne should’ve started. Laidlaw & now Price slow the game down too much. There is a time & place for doing this when we have a lead to manage & when a ‘close out’ specialist is required.

  30. Hear me out here lads I think there is three problems in the pack and I’ve ideas to solve them:

    1. No jackaler
    2. No leadership
    3. Not enough abrasive carrying

    Barclay provides the turnover threat and leadership at 6 but leaves the backrow underpowered so play him at 7. But Watson is our best forward you say.

    Convert Watson to hooker then is my idea. He’s squat, compact and immensely powerful so would be a great hooker. Do it now and there is enough time to learn the technicalities and add a few kilos to neck and shoulders before the world cup. Barclay plays 7 and Bradbury goes to 6 to add power.

    Secondly convert Denton to lock. He’s same height as Skinner and the same weight as Gilchrist and Gray. I think he even played lock for the under 20s. Teach him the line out calls and then imagine the improvement in hard carrying and aggression we’d have from the boiler room compared to current options. A proper powerhouse at lock to complement the workhorses.

    1. I remember in the VC era we were almost unbeatable at the breakdown,

      we had the following people starting alot more back then.


      Perhaps we just need to train every squad member to work on breakdown skills from 1-15

    1. Maitlands a deceptive speedster, his running style makes him look slow but he is actually pretty quick. I remember a commentator once describing him as like a Rolls Royce as his acceleration seems so effortless.

    2. Yeah I thought that too, as Scott M says he’s deceptively fast. Hogg is rapid and the speed he moves his legs at is a blur, Maitland is a more longer stride and less of them kind of runner but he is pretty quick too. Can’t remember if it was yesterday or last week but when Hogg kicked and chased Maitland was actually catching him as they both chased. Have been very impressed with Maitland this autumn.

    3. Thought Maitland oozed class this Autumn. Really good lines, support play, no panicking and some great positioning for tries. Brilliant.

  31. For me, that was not a successful AI series but the proof will be whether the coaches and players have learnt lessons to take into the 6N and RWC. From the evidence of the last 2 Wales games I’m not sure there has been much improvement so I’m not hopeful.

    I can see us losing to Wales and Ireland at home in the 6N and can’t see us beating England away. So suddenly it’s Italy at home first up, and we know we’re not fast out the blocks in the 6N, and France away, and we know we’re not good away, to avoid the wooden spoon.

    Perhaps I’m being too pessimistic.

    1. Watched Wales SA yesterday and SA were not allowed to compete as aggressively at the breakdown by the referee and Wales and they just are not the same team that was playing Scotland we should have beaten them. Wales are very streetwise know how to play the ref.

  32. My world cup team:

    1. Bhatti
    2. Watson
    3. Fagerson
    4. Denton
    5. R.Gray
    6. Graham
    7. Barclay
    8. Bradbury
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Russell
    11. Seymour
    12. Horne
    13. Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    Dell, Brown, McCallum, Cummings, Hardie, Horne, Hastings, Kinghorn.

    Basically the backs are great but the pack needs added bulk and aggression.

      1. Bradbury happy at 6 or 8. Barclay was a 7 long before he was a 6, remember the killer B’s? Watson has the ideal build for hooker and frees up 7 for Barclay so that the back row isn’t lightweight.

        Denton is the same height as Skinner but as heavy as Gilchrist and has played lock before so will add genuine power and aggression to our locks which we lack massively once he’s learned lineout calls.

    1. You think that we should get our best seven to switch to hooker? Even though both of our hookers are converted back rows who are adept at getting turnovers, making tackles and carrying?

      1. Barclay and Watson must play but our backrow is too light with both, Watson would thrive at hooker.

        As would Denton at second row.

    2. This is a wind up right?

      I mean there is so much wrong here it’s outstanding.

      Ignoring things like Bhatti, who isn’t even 3rd choice for Scotland currently, moving to 1st choice LH. I assume you think he’s going to have an outstanding couple of months for Glasgow and somehow get ahead of 3 other players to take the starting spot in the 6n?!

      More concerning is you want to move our best 7 to replace probably one of our best players in McInally (and Brown who is arguably level or just slightly behind), and not only that, you want to do it in the space of a matter of months. It took McInally a couple of years to learn the position from playing in the backrow, but you think Watson can do it, and do it to a standard to play in the WC in less than a year!

      I’m not even going to bother touching on the Denton move.

      I can only assume you are new to the game of rugby, so welcome to the sport. Give it some time and you’ll see why your suggestions don’t work.

      1. Why not Denton? He’s tall enough and given all our locks can’t carry would transform the engine room…

      2. For a start he doesn’t like playing at lock. For another thing we’ve already got several locks who actually play in that position more than adequately.

      3. Yes but none of our locks can break a tackle or get over the gain line. Denton can be just as good in the lineout and tackle harder and carry much more effectively.

      4. I understand but why don’t we break the mould and do something different to all other teams and have a lock who can be a primary carrier smashing tackles and making big metres.

    3. Hersch

      Based on the forward pack suggestions, I have to ask:

      10. Russell, is it Finn or Archie?
      12. Horne, is it Pete or George?
      13. Jones, is it Huw or Lee?

      I am astounded that you think less that 12 months out from a RWC that we could do really bloody well in that you would even consider moving a 7 to hooker, and when its one of the top 5 7s in world rugby it makes it sound even more insane. Oh and a sluggish back row to 2nd row.
      Cummings and Hardie?

      You have watched rugby before this Autumn yeah?

      1. The former for all three players in the backs.

        Perhaps Watson would be a longer term thing then I didn’t know it could take so long.

        I really think Denton would add another dimension to our locks.

  33. I don’t get the Laidlaw criticism, he was man of the match. Argentina beat us in our last meeting and adapted to the rain much better than the experimental Scotland side. Not a spectacle, not reassuring, but we finished the game much better than we started. Desite the obvious lack of cohesion , we won , not a lot else to say about this game.

  34. 4 games behind us: what have I noticed.

    We are not ruthless when the opposition drop to 14 men.

    Finn Russell did not bring his french form with him and much as I had predicted that, I would rather have been wrong.

    Our flat defence was only tested a few times, I am amazed with a dead ball the size of Murrayfield, we did not need to pay for that.

    I am not sure what we learned that we did not already know.

    2 wins and lost 2 games that we could have won, we are getting better, but so is everyone else.

  35. There were moments that will stay with us from this from this series (Hastings-Russell-Hastings against Fiji, a beautifully worked try against Argentina, both tries against the Saffers were gold in their way). But overall, yeah, it’s didn’t feel like an advance.

    I felt like our main issues were mental: poor decisions under pressure (I’m a massive Jonny Gray fan but if he hadn’t gone for the double-movement against south africa, we might be toasting a winning series), forcing the play, not picking our moments. This is all completely expected and totally understandable, given the experience of the team.

    There’s this stat going round that you need 40 caps to feel truly comfortable at test level. We had four active players in our squad (Laidlaw, Hogg, J Gray, Seymour), who could boast that number. For comparison, Ireland had 11, Wales 10, England 9. This is what happens when you more or less write off a generation of players and start over with a fresh, young team. It happened to Ireland on their path from whipping boys to untouchables, even though they had the BOD/ROG/POC generation coming through (remember their annual bottling to France? O’Driscoll was 30 before he won a championship.)

    That said, they can beat anyone on their day. The best we’ve played over the past couple of years (Ireland 2017, England 2018, NZ 2017, Australia away 2017) have come when very little was expected of us and the pressure was off. When we’ve played poorly (England 2017, Wales 2018 (twice), Italy 2018, Argentina at the weekend), it’s always been preceded by our chances being trumpeted and clowns on here talking about “must win”.

    I know it’s easy to say “But they’re professional rugby players” (as if the other team aren’t), and I know we’re hungry for success, having been starved of it for so long. But this team is doing well to have us where we are.

  36. Feels like a half-step backwards this Autumn but I think in reality we will look back on it as an opportunity to try a few things and test some combos. We went toe to toe with a resurgent SA team who I would be confident of beating if we played again. We lost to a dull but effective Wales team who know how to play us and the ref at the breakdown. I think the most worrying game was the Argentina one but I think again the coaching staff will have learned a lot. I like the switch to 4 AIs and its given us the chance to dish out caps and mix it up against some decent teams.

    Fiji result looks even better after that Fra vs Fiji game…..and Japan less of a banana skin after the Russia game !

    I think we might surprise a few at the WC. It would not be beyond us to run Ireland closer than they expect given the green hype at the moment.

    1. I think we know how to play again Ireland – as well as beat them at club level.

      If we can get a pack that will match them in the physicality stakes then we have every chance.

  37. Slow Laidlaw Comments is my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE drinking game. I’d play it now, but I fear my employers would not look kindly at me being sloshed at my desk on a Monday lunchtime.
    It’s ENTIRELY relevant to compare Laidlaw’s speed to the base of the ruck with Hornito usually being at the bottom of it. Don’t get me wrong, Horne Minor is my absolute boy – he’s exciting, he’s keen and he’s talented. But your scrum half is there to do a job – deliver the ball to the first receiver. He can’t do that if he’s got 3 Argentinians on top of him making him eat turf. By all means bring him on once the opposition are breathing out their @rses. But he’s not got the cool head that Laidlaw has to reel people in, or let them go play when it’s safe to do so.

    And yes, I am almost certain that the weather played a big part in that game. A massive part. Much as we’d have loved to have seen some twinkle twinkle, sparkle sparkle from Hussell (I’m sorry – Fistings is just not going to catch on) it’s really hard to fling a ball about like a timebomb when it’s slippery and wet. In the last 18 months, I’ve been to 9 games at Murrayfield. That’s the first time it’s properly rained (that I recall. It could have thundered and snowed on Silver Saturday – I couldn’t tell you my name that day). We’ve got so used to perfect conditions, I think many folks have forgotten that talented though some of our boys are, they’re not superhuman.

    Finally *whispers* I think we missed Horne Major and Tommy. I think Horne especially does an awful lot of hard work that goes unnoticed (especially in the ruck and clear outs) that no one really notices or gives him credit for.

    1. Spot on Rhi.

      If Greeg could improve the quality of his pass it would go some way to alleviating some of the genuine complaints.

      1. Or if Horne was given the game time to learn to curb his attacking instincts when appropriate we would gain the fast long pass, the near unreachable instinct for tracking AND our backs would get the ball more often against a disorganised defence in more space!
        Basically it comes down to this: Horne’s weaknesses will diminish through learning, ie game time, but I do not think Laidlaw can do much to improve his physical and technical weakenesses at this stage in his career. Or another simplification would be ‘Who would the opposition rather play against?’
        I think the Laidlaw question does split fans. It would just be good to test then theory by backing another option more consistently. One bad result seems to become the Laidlaw replacement’s fault but we have had plenty of poor one’s with Laidlaw in the team.
        Final point would be that defences in tier 1 have gone up another level again in the last 12 months and I think this brings the argument more the way of Horne; nearly all our best moments in Cardiff came after he came on.

      2. Both in the squad for now. We use Laidlaw and his Petit General approach. Aye, he can’t loop a pass, but his speed has improved immensely in the last year (that intercept for the Lions and the offload to Tommy will be played at my funeral. No, Mum, it absolutely will) and he’s still got a few tricks up his base layer. Imagine Hornito with Laidlaw’s nouce. Nouse? However you spell it.

        The main thing Scotland has had over the last five years is conditioning. Last World Cup – “we’re a second half team”. Big issue right now is do we tinker with the forwards, bulk them up a bit? Do we want to go back to playing the crash ball again? We did pretty well on Saturday in defence. Horne Minor coming off the bench DOES make an impact because they’re all puggled, but our bench isn’t and our backs still have gas in the tank. That’s when we were most effective. That’s what everyone has clocked onto. And that’s what we need to find a diversion for now.

        I digress. I want the bastard love child of Laidlaw and Hornito, holding the game by the throat and choosing just the right moment to wring its neck and go for it.

        That got dark quickly. Sorry. You see where I’m coming from though?

    2. I also thought that the support play was below par in this game. Both P-Horne and Seymour are very good at supporting the opportunity and run and hold very good lines. There weren’t a lot of breaks, but I did find myself asking ‘where’s the support’, which is not typical of this incarnation of the team.

  38. The only team where laidlaw should be starting is a plan B for scotland with the biggest pack and most solid backs, Kick rugby irish style, no open play.

    1. Reid
    2. Mcinally
    3. Berghan
    4. R.Gray
    5. Gilchrist
    6. Bradbury
    7. Strauss
    8. Denton
    9. Laidlaw
    10. Weir
    11. L. Jones
    12. Scott
    13. Dunbar
    14. Maitland
    15. Kinghorn

    He does not fit in a weak carrying team.

    Biggest pack (Not best)
    strongest defensive backs (little attacking intent/flair)

    a 10 who kicks to corners only.

    That should be our plan B team (2nd choice)

    1. All. You. Need. To. Do. Is. Score. More. Points. Than. The. Other. Team.

      The actual only purpose of the whole game.

      Why does Laidlaw need to attack? He’s got Russell, Horne, Seymour. Jones then Maitland. Hoggy behind him. In front he’s got Mish. *Insert as appropriate*

      Why have a dog and bark yourself?

      1. I… Just….

        I refer you to my previous comments on the matter. One day I am actually going to time Laidlaw at every single ruck. Not from when the ball is available, but from when he gets the nod that all his little chickees (i.e the backs) are where they need to be. I’m also going to count the number of offloads that he receives and services through a game (have you noticed that? Did you see how quickly he was behind Hastings on Saturday? Cos Hastings is really bad when he goes to ground, but that’ll come in time. But Laidlaw KNEW that and was ready for the offload when it came. If it came).

        I’m really new to rugby. Hence why I mostly talk about backs, not forwards (that’s a dark art and I haven’t had nearly enough pub sessions explaining that to me). I’ve only been following seriously for about five years now. But even *I* can see the change in Laidlaw’s game to fit what’s around him.

        And now I need to have another drink. Cheers for that.

  39. It is tedious that whenever Scotland struggle a section of fans pin the blame on laidlaw and say everything will be better if we just dump him for Pyrgos/SHC/Price/Horne. Challengers come and go but Laidlaw keeps getting picked by coaches because he is a leader, competitor and beating heart of our team. Scotland are a better team with him in it.

    Whilst Prygos/SHC/Price have all slipped into mediocrity Laidlaw keeps his standards high and now plays for a European giant. It is just madness to hold tight to the belief that he is somehow crap when he has earned the status he has.

    Now I think Horne can be something special. But he is just adapting to test level and has very little experience of top level rugby (in Europe or international level) to draw on. Scotland are very callow and lack leadership throughout the team. Junking Laidlaw before the World Cup just ain’t going to happen.

    1. Spot on FF.

      Greg infuriates me at times with his faffing about – but it must be weighed up with all the other benefits he brings to a side that does lack leadership.

      Laidlaw is here to stay until after the RWC – people need to accept that and direct their ire at players that deserve it.

      Like Wilson ;-)

    2. Interesting points. I used to be a bit irritated by Laidlaw myself, then the penny dropped – his service is only really slow when we don’t get quick ball at the ruck. Anyone spent much time watching him play for Clermont? He probably looks a different player behind a dominant pack.

  40. It’s fair to say that we’ve come a long way in the last few years. There is undoubted hope that we can not only play well but beat any on our day. I think we all agree that we are still short of strength in depth in all positions compared to those above us in the rankings. But when you think we should have Barclay, Gray Snr, Fagerson Snr, Dunc Taylor & the Blade to come back into our 1st team, we’re not in a bad place. Certainly better than we’ve been leading up to previous 6 Nations & RWCs. Hopefully my ‘half-full’ glass stays that way!

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