Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs Italy: Player Ratings

Scotland v Italy
© Scottish Rugby Blog

Not even a game of two halves this: a game of 70/10 with much to admire in the first half but a disturbing lack of leadership late on to keep Italy out with a man in the bin. Cammy and Rory rate the players.


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Set Piece

1. Allan Dell: Struggled in a scrum with neither side getting the upperhand. Needs to step up against what's coming his way in the coming weeks. Made 11 tackles and got around the park in attack. - (A7/D6/B7/S3) Overall: 6/10

2. Stuart McInally: Put in plenty of big tackles - including one dangerous clearout against a prone Italian - - (A7/D7/B7/S7) Overall: 7/10

3. WP Nel: Were it not for miscommunication with Wilson he might have had a try. Did well in the scrum and got around the park well. Has played 80 for Edinburgh and Scotland might need him to do the same given the form from the bench. - (A7/D7/B7/S6) Overall: 7/10

4. Ben Toolis: Has struggled to make an impact at international level of late. 6 tackles made and 3 missed. Coasting due to injuries elsewhere but needs to up his games otherwise he might find himself way down the pecking order come the World Cup. - (A6/D6/B6/S5) Overall: 6/10

5. Grant Gilchrist: Scotland's top tackler with 17 and carried well punching holes in the Italian defence and always looking to link with the backs rather than taking it into contact. A partnership with Gray Jnr. could make life very difficult for an opposition attack and defence. - (A8/D7/B8/S6) Overall: 7.5/10

6. Sam Skinner: Very little involvement due to an early departure forced by the ankle injury that's seen him returned to Exeter. Another missed opportunity to see what the Chiefs man can do. - (A6/D6/B6/S6) Overall: 6/10

7. Jamie Ritchie: Pinball who? Ritchie seems to grow with every performance in a Scotland shirt. Perhaps (whispers it) he even offers a little more in attack than The Mish. Ran a wonderful line to split the Italian defence and was a constant nuisance at the breakdown. Scotland's second top tackler with 16. - (A8/D6/B9/S7) Overall: 7.5/10

8. Ryan Wilson: We already know he can do it against the likes of Italy but can he do it against Ireland? Very efficient and good covering tackle to prevent a try. Usually looking to offload and carried well. Leadership was missed when he left the field. - (A8/D8/B7/S5) Overall: 7/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Influence

9. Greig Laidlaw: A classic Greig performance but will be annoyed to have a blemish on his recent fine kicking record with that early missed conversion. As always, Scotland could have done with a bit more speed from the base of the scrum. Game management is one thing but missed some opportunities to speed up play and put Italy to the sword much earlier. - (A8/D6/B8/I9) Overall: 8/10

10. Finn Russell: A classic playmaking Finnsanity performance refreshingly shorn of the more Finsane moments. His astute kicking game was sublime and played space and time like a sorcerer supreme. One classic Finn moment when he decided to play at captain late in the game and possibly didn't relay any referee's messages to anyone. - (A9/D6/B7/I9) Overall: 8/10

11. Blair Kinghorn: The hat-trick king took three wingers tries in brilliant fashion, while also making 12 tackles, missing none (more than Hogg and Seymour combined). Poses an interesting selection question if Maitland is fit - but should keep his place on this evidence. - (A8/D8/B7/I9) Overall: 8/10

12. Sam Johnson: A superb debut, which strangely saw a lot more ball routed through 12 than when, say, Dunbar plays. Passed, ran and tackled as well as his best outings for Glasgow suggested he would. - (A8/D8/B7/I7) Overall: 7.5/10

13. Huw Jones: A little less noticeable than usual but wasn't the awful game some have suggested. One big fluff powering an offload too high and too fast over Josh Strauss's head but wasn't as involved as he could have been. Is the new focus on a ball-playing 12 depriving 13 of ball in space? - (A7/D5/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

14. Tommy Seymour: Had a few sharp breaks, and like Jones was perhaps deprived of a glory moment or two by players not passing in time. Still safe in defence. - (A8/D6/B7/I5) Overall: 6.5/10

15. Stuart Hogg: Up there with one of his most influential performances and incredibly unlucky to have a world class solo try chalked off. However, leadership was lacking in the final 10 minutes and he was one of the more senior players left on the pitch. - (A9/D6/B6/I8) Overall: 7.5/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Impact

16. Jake Kerr: First throw in went astray. Highest tackle rate of the second half replacements but still played a part in the 10 minute meltdown. - (A5/D7/B5/I5) Overall: 5.5/10

17. Jamie Bhatti: Collapsed the maul on 70 minutes which led to Italy's first try and allowed the floodgates to open. Luke Pearce just carded the first man he saw on the ground which happened to be Berghan. Gave away another penalty for being off his feet at the ruck. Was slow to set defensive line when Italy did cross the line and on wrong side of ruck for another Italian try. - (A7/D6/B1/I4) Overall: 4.5/10

18. Simon Berghan: A victim of mistaken identity when yellow carded. Didn't shore up the scrum but scrum didn't suffer when he came on either. Huge job ahead of him this weekend with the news that Nel is unlikely to play as Ireland will surely now target the scrum. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

19. Gary Graham: Came on with 8 minutes to go for Ryan Wilson. Didn't get an opportunity to do much with Scotland on the back foot but not at fault for either try scored when he was on the pitch. - (A5/D6/B5/I6) Overall: 5.5/10

20. Josh Strauss: Replaced Skinner after just 20 minutes and carried well and often. Was on hand to provide the assist for Harris's try. As with Wilson always looks good against teams like Italy but remains to be seen if he can consistently reproduce such performances against bigger opposition. Is he too upright to burst through the Irish defence? - (A7/D7/B7/I8) Overall: 7.5/10

21. Ali Price: Unlucky to be penalised for blocking during the Hogg non-try, and looked to take the game to Italy when he came on including a great kick to touch that led to Harris's try. Guilty of not sticking it up the jumper when Scotland dropped to 14 men in the closing 10 minutes. - (A8/D6/B7/I5) Overall: 6.5/10

22. Adam Hastings: On for 4 minutes and little time to make any impact when Scotland were firmly on the back foot with heads already in the changing room. Along with Harris, was caught out a little for the final try. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

23. Chris Harris: One of the replacements who came away with any credit. Generally tackled well flying out the line to disupt Italy when others were happy to coast. Made good attempt to bundle his man into touch to prevent Italy's second try. Took his own try well. However left gap on wing and slipped tackle which allowed Italy in for their third. - (A7/D5/B5/I6) Overall: 6/10

Stats via ESPN.

14 Responses

  1. Hmmm, not sure how you managed to give Seymour a higher rating than Hogg? Thought he was average at best and Hogg had his best performance for some time!

    Otherwise ratings seem about right and some of the comments are spot-on.

    If Nel is injured (as everyone seems to be saying but I haven’t seen an official report yet?), then it is a big concern for the Ireland game. If we can’t at least get parity in the set piece, we are going to be in for a long day – especially if it’s wet.

  2. The opening try is not unlike the tries Finn Russell was setting up in the European Cup for Racing.

  3. Agree that Hogg is seriously under-valued here. I would give him a 9, even with your point about leadership in the final minutes.

  4. Not sure I agree about Harris being at fault for Italy’s third try.

    For the second try, he takes his man out well. Sure, as mentioned on the podcast, it would have been even better if he’d managed to prevent the offload, but I think the defender who could have done more was Hogg (who was phenomenal overall). Hogg’s normally outstanding at anticipating the pass/offload and getting between the opposition carrier and the support runner. Instead, he didn’t trust Harris to make the tackle so had eyes on the carrier instead of the support runner. With his pace, he should have had no difficulty getting in between the Italians.

    For the third try, again Harris was taking down his man at the side of the ruck, and again another Scottish player (Hastings this time) didn’t trust him to make the tackle, so was sucked into tackling the same player as Harris. Having done this, at the very least Hastings needed to tackle the Italian in a way that prevented the offload. He didn’t, the ball was offloaded and Italy were away down the flank. Seymour was on the floor because he’d been taken out (arguably illegally beyond the ruck?) so the flank was exposed.

    I guess we could ask why two teammates didn’t fully trust Harris to take his man, but I think he did his job.

  5. During the game I immediately thought (Italy tries 2 & 3) that it was a somewhat passive tackle(s) by Harris on both occasions, allowing the Italian to get the pass away . Upon re-visiting the game I don’t know, we can analyse every minutiae of every movement, perhaps Hogg & Hastings didn’t expect the ball to come out so readily.

  6. Don’t really understand why Dell is rated lower than Nel. From the overhead views the early scrum issues were very much on Nel’s side and Dell was steady with the early engagement penalty coming from the tighthead side also. Dell also much more visible in the loose with 11 tackles to Nel’s 6 and 10 metres from 6 carries to Nel’s 0 from 2. Have you got the ratings the wrong way round?

    Also Gilchrist punching holes in attack and Toolis coasting? Toolis 12 metres from 8 carries, Gilchrist 5 from 10…Also Toolis was scrummaging behind Nel where your stronger scrummaging lock goes due to pressure on the tighthead prop. Toolis is so often written off as the lineout lock but he’s criminally undervalued in the tight by fans where he does so much unseen graft with that being one example. He plays tighthead lock in an Edinburgh pack that dominates most opposition.

    1. I wondered about Nel/Dell too Scrummo. The ref mic suggested that the ref’s issues were primarily with goings on on our tighthead side.

  7. I cant remember Gilchrist punching any holes in the Italian defence – being tackled and presenting the ball is not punching holes. Gilchrist is in fine form but his carrying is a huge concern for a pack that has so few big carriers.

  8. strange comments among ratings at times. Some already covered (Toolis point is a good one, but I think the ranking fair on the lack of carries and missed tackles), but for me…
    Berghan didn’t shore up the scrum but the scum didn’t suffer – can I suggest he shored it up then?

    And Laidlaw. First credit for the snipe down the blind side which created a try. But yes, he could and should have moved the ball quicker at times. Too slow and his pass laboured with no distance unless he lobs it. Also we were hammered at a ruck because he would not commit to it as first man there, poor stuff. But worse was the try he butchered, an easy run in if the so aware petit general had any awareness.
    He had overall a decent game, but you marked him 2 points higher than he deserved

  9. “…including one dangerous clearout against a prone Italian…”

    Well, it wasn’t dangerous and the Italian wasn’t prone. The refereeing team were oddly fussy about that and Greig was right to argue the point with Pearce, even if Pearce didn’t change his mind.

    I think Hogg, Kinghorn and Russell all deserved 9s, and while Ritchie offers something different to Watson and is potent in attack, I wouldn’t say he’s better. Also, Strauss was pretty good against Ireland last time the teams played at Murrayfield – he was better than the revered and overrated Stander, in my opinion – so I think it’s just a case of will he give a ‘proper’ performance or just coast?

    1. Maybe not “dangerous play” in the eyes of rugby law but clattering anyone in the back who isn’t fully expecting it is dangerous to their back… there was also a danger to his team if he got carded for it when it wasn’t needed.

      1. If you’re obstructing the challenge for the ball, you should be expecting to be clattered, and to me it seems less dangerous than charging shoulder-first into rucks (which went unpenalised, as they often do). Budd wasn’t there by accident, after all. I think the penalty was harsh and a card would’ve been ludicrous.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion