Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 61 – 0 Russia

Scotland v Russia
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

All eyes turn to Yokohama on Sunday, after another assured display saw Scotland comfortably dispatch Russia, whilst also keeping their opposition scoreless for the second game in a row.

Russia had built up a reputation as a team that likes to kick possession back to their opponents and soak up pressure, but they began this match looking to keep the ball in hand and run through the phases.

Scotland’s defence comfortably dealt with everything the Russians had to offer though, and once expected service had commenced, Scotland scored their opening points.

Having won a penalty against the head, Scotland opted for their own put-in deep in Russia’s 22. Ryan Wilson picked up from the base, passed to George “Horneito” Horne, who then fed Adam Hastings who dummied and scampered over the try-line.

The Scotland stand-off doubled his tally soon after with a slightly fortuitous individual score.

Peter Horne forced the ball from winger German Davydov’s hands in the act of tackling to return possession to Scottish hands. Hastings was given the ball on the half-way line, dinked over the top and chased his own kick, which he then nudged into the goal area. Russian full-back Vasili Artemyev, he of glorious moustache and bizarre accent, seemed to have the danger covered, but an awkward bounce took the ball away from his despairing grasp and allow Hastings the dot down.

The lightning fast speed of Horneito was then given a global stage, and left egg all over the face of opposite number Dmitriy Perov.

A perfectly weighted touch-finder from Hastings gave Russia the line-out 5m from their own line, and although Russia secured the set-piece safely enough, Perov’s pass back to allow a clearance kick was snaffled by the blue shirted blur. After a slow opening period, Scotland now nearly had as many points as minutes on the clock.

With half an hour played, Magnus Bradbury replaced Fraser Brown, in what was hopefully a pre-planned measure given the short turnaround to the next game.

As with the Samoa game, Scotland were happy to kick deep and force Russia to play or apply pressure at the set-piece, and as with the Samoa game, there was a final chance for Scotland to score with the clock in red. But as with the Samoa game, and a few other times to be fair, Scotland were unable to force their way over with the close quarters stuff.

Half-time: Scotland 21 – 0 Russia

Some early second half sloppiness showed, but it was from an error that the bonus point try was secured.

Cummings knocked on in the carry, but Russia kicked the advantage away. The kick was fielded by Darcy Graham on his own 22 and “The Prince of Hawick” carved through the Russian defence with ease. Once into the opposite 22, he had Horneito, who else, running a support line on his left shoulder to make it 2 tries apiece for the Warriors’ half-back duo.

The gap in class and fitness was starting to really show now. George Turner decided it was time for the forwards to get on the scoresheet, he spun out from the back of a rapidly advancing maul and ran home unchallenged.

Soon afterwards, after Russia had again been forced into a sclaffed clearance from deep, Tommy Seymour raced onto Blair Kinghorn’s perfectly weighted grubber for his first Scotland try in nearly a year.

Try number seven came down the opposite flank just moments later, and it was the hat-trick for Horneito.

With Graham having been replaced by Pyrgos after his earlier lung-bursting run, Horneito had moved onto the wing. He fielded another aimless kick, exchanged passes with Big Bro Pete, Pyrgos carried it on, and as the try-line drew ever closer, Horneito was there to outpace the last man and go in at the corner.

Scotland looked like scoring every time they had the ball now. Hastings squeezed through a gap in midfield and off-loaded nicely to Nel. He rampaged up the park, creating further disarray in Russia’s defence. Quick recycling led Horneito to think he had gone in for try number four, but upon review, the final pass from Bradbury had gone forward. Magnanimously, Townsend decided at this point he’d seen enough from his livewire number 9, who could not have put a bigger stake in his claim for the jersey, not only for against Japan, but longer term in the post-Laidlaw era.

As the game drew to a close, John Barclay sauntered over from nearly halfway, a tired Davydov falling all too easily for the dummy, and the hammering was complete when a superb length of the field move was scored by McInally. Hastings converted from a tough angle for his eighth successful conversion from nine, and a personal points tally of 26 for the evening.

Hastings thought he had also completed his hat-trick of tries when the clock had gone red, but TMO Marius Joncker spoiled the party by notifying Wayne Barnes that Seymour’s final pass had gone forward. Nonetheless, a great individual day for Finn Russell’s understudy.

Now we know exactly where we stand. There are 2 results which will see Scotland qualify; either win and deny Japan a losing bonus point or win with a try bonus point and only allow Japan one bonus point. Fingers crossed for either of them, and that Typhoon Hagibis stays away.

SRBlog MOTM: kudos to Darcy Graham and Adam Hastings, but how could the award go to anyone else other than George “Horneito” Horne. His first try was opportunistic, his other two were classic Horneito, and his speed around the pitch was too hot for Russia to handle.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

65 Responses

  1. Aside from some individual errors, Kinghorn, Bradbury & Seymour, I thought that a very professional display & credit to Townsend we looked well prepared and coached, varying play well, using kicking game 1st half before opening up 2nd half.

    1. Good point about credit to Townsend. I was concerned about the number of changes and our ability to underperform but they looked fired up and tactically sound.

    1. I have no idea what Toonie saw in Taylor during the summer but if it was what he’s served up in his performances in the RWC then Toonie needs a pair of specs.

      A player in the squad on reputation – hopefully the gamble will not bite us, but his lack of form dictates we will have little creativity at 13 with Harris there.

      Cracking result and apart from the 15mins in the middle of loose play was very professional.

      I thought Cummings dynamism really showed up – the difference between him and Gilchrist is stark.

      Really looking forward to Sunday.

      1. Unfortunately Taylor is a shadow of his former self, nothing against him, with the injuries he’s had it’s amazing he’s still playing at the highest level at all.
        Since we were on the front foot for basically the whole game, you’d think he’d have scored.
        Agree about Cummings, I was sad he started since it means he couldn’t start against Japan, he’s been our best 2nd row since his first cap in August.

      2. Taylor hasn’t been at his best but he is a kind of top notch solid player- high work rate, low error count, good decisions, decent pace.
        Most of the other top teams have midfield players like that- Crotty, Parkes, even Farrell etc.

        Interesting that most of them are inside centres rather than outside and inside centre is probably where Toonie originally saw Taylor but I can see the value in a player like that in a back division which has flair and pace but can be a bit wayward and error prone.
        Of course it’s legit to ask if Jones or even Hutch should have gone but to be fair to Toonie his centre options had been badly disrupted by injuries, some players form dropping off a cliff while others such as Johnson and even Harris emerged late in the day.

        On the plus with players like Bennett coming back and hopefully Jones finding form there will be plenty of good options moving forward.

      3. If Taylor plays, he should absolutely play at 12 with a flair player outside him. Something like Taylor // Bennett might actually be our best centre pairing going forward.

  2. With the exception of young Horne, do we think anyone has played themselves into a starting shirt on Sunday? Kinghorn, Barclay and Hastings possibly playing themselves onto the bench?

    It will be great to go into Sunday having not conceded a point for 160 minutes but I hope Townsend has been keeping some tricks up his sleeve for this one as it will be a very different beast we are lining up against.

  3. Adam Hastings was brilliant today and was my MOM, he oozes confidence, just like his dad, it surely inspires the whole team. Along with Horne, they look to be a great half back partnership for the future. I loved the pace Horne, Graham and Kinghorn add to the team. I know it was only Russia, but Graham, Kinghorn, Fagerson, Turner and Cummings are also great prospects for the future. I’m not expecting any changes from the team that beat Samoa to start against Japan but I would play Cummings instead of Gilchrist.

    1. Ok maybe the opposition let us do it but both Toolis and Cummings took the ball at pace rather than a standing start. Jonny Gray especially rarely takes the ball on the move..always from a standing start, even against “weaker” teams.

  4. Important job done well. Great to see the the young guns playing with confidence and even a certain level of composure. Like the way Cummings hits the line. Thought Brown’s contribution was better than Rambo’s. I know they were playing different positions, but I’m worried Rambo just doesn’t look in a great place. Great player, so hope he finds his mojo.

    1. I thought Rambo’s try was really poor play from him, there is no way he should nearly have been forced into touch. He really doesn’t look up to speed at the moment – mentally more than anything.

      Fumbles, squint throws, nowhere the dynamism he normally brings – I dont think the captaincy sits well with him and it’s damaging his performance.

      Fortunately Brown looks up for it.

      1. Not sure what is going on with Rambo. He really looked short on confidence and pedestrian.

        The same can be said for Taylor. Thought he had a poor game – he got an 8 over on rugbypass which i thought was overly generous.

        Having said that, it was a clinical performance and great boost to the points difference.

        Any chance we can give the Russell-Hastings axis another go?

  5. I think Toony will be delighted with that! When he talks about wanting to play the fastest brand of rugby he must dreaming of young Horne in full flow! The future looks bright for some of these youngsters! I suspect Laidlaw (and maybe a few others) now know that the next game Scotland loses will likely be their last game for the country!

  6. Finally Toonie gives Horneito a proper start and he scores 4 tries (yes, it was 4 tries).
    As much as we love Greeg, need Greeg, want Greeg – I would still have Horne start with Greig off the bench.
    Horne-Russell-Hogg on the pitch at the same time can show up Japan’s ”fast rugby”, and Greig is the best player in the 31 to close a game out. It just seems to play to our strengths more than the other way round.

    1. Totally agreed. I used to be very anti Laidlaw, especially when Price first came on the go, but had to admit after a while that we do still need the Greeg. But you’re right if we want to play rapid mental rugby then we need to pick the players for it, we don’t, but Young Horne is just the man for the job. Laidlaw is absolutely a man you would want to come on and close out a game, or steady the ship if it’s not going well. Although, a scrum half’s job is very easy if we have front foot quick ball, we haven’t seen much of if Hornito can do the backs against the wall digging it out of rucks with opposition hands all over it stuff. Greeg can play quick if he can / wants and he will start on Sunday.

  7. That reminded me a lot of the game against Argentina last year where the Hornstings tore them to ribbons. We did what we needed to do and it was a decent scoreline to bolster our PD after Ireland, putting us in a good position if it becomes a 3 way tie. I’ll revert to form and go all pessimistic though…

    Its difficult to read too much into the match, it is very easy to look good against poor opposition and Russia were very poor, never really fired a shot at all. I thought Seymour, Taylor and probably McInally (arguably all first team picks) looked lethargic, perhaps understandable given the others haven’t played much. G Horne and Hastings did what we know they can do, but they haven’t shown they can do that against decent opposition yet. Thought Brown looked a right menace in the back row for the short time he was on. What was good though was other than a couple of few minute spells I don’t think we ever really took our foot off their necks, it was ruthless and reasonably clinical. Thought G Hornes 4th try getting chalked off was a bit harsh, have seen plenty of them given before. Hastings one was probably the right call, but again have seen worse given.

    We have done what we needed to do, roll on Japan!

    1. In the case of George Horne because he has not been given the chance! (Argentina away notwithstanding) Who would Japan rather face?

  8. Well done Scotland team, you’ve put yourself in the best position possible in light of the Ireland game and under considerable pressure when it would have been easy just to let it go to pot.

    I hope we do our best on Sunday, hopefully win, better still with the bp and that this haggis tornado or whatever it is stays offshore for a few days.

  9. Not sure whether to laugh or cry, but there are an increasing number of stories starting to surface that game on Sunday is cancelled, and a request to move to alternative venue has been refused.

    If this is true, it’s so very, very Scottish :(

    The reality is that in all likelihood we wouldn’t have got past quarter finals anyway, but it’s still a heck of a way to go out. Astonished that all of the participating countries accepted this ‘rule’ ahead of the tournament…with a week until quarter finals, I simply can’t believe there isn’t an alternative option.

    I sort of feel bad for Japan as this will completely ruin the achievement of getting out of the group, it will be an empty victory.

  10. PRE-EMPTIVE EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re hearing rumours that the impending Typhoon may yet play a part in whether the Scotland v Japan game goes ahead but instead of ranting or venting conspiracies, please wait until there is an official announcement either way and we’ll put a post up you can comment on. Let’s try to stay positive and focus on the Russia game!

    1. hear hear positiveness all the way. Look what the boys have achieved. The lion is rampant. COME ON SCOTLAND.

    2. hmmm not sure I was ranting, but will hope for the best while fearing the worst.

      Any bolters from today for the Japan game? Pete Horne teaming up with Johnson seems a no brainer for me now. Also thought Gee Turner was really effective, but can’t see Toonie dropping his captain, even though he seems off the pace, and Brown is too valuable as back row cover. Toolis made a decent case for bench.

      1. Only injury concern is Duncan Taylor apparently. Which may not be a bad thing. Horne has played himself on to the bench at least for Japan I’d say. He might fancy Harris as who else really plays 13?

        Brown being a sub gives us chance to put another back in the 23 which means we might afford Horne and Hastings but might be too much.

        Hastings has done well today too. Townsend has some hard but good decisions now.

        I think we’ll have too much for Japan.

        p.s. don’t think World Rugby would get away with not playing such a crucial match.

      2. Wasn’t aimed at you Andy as yours went up while I was typing! Since binned about 20 comments though which shows the rest of you aren’t great at reading… There is now a post up for Typhoon discussion.

    3. We are bad eenough away from home…..imagine if it gets moved venue and we are playing double away ! Nightmare.

      1. No threat of a hurricane hitting Murrayfield this weekend… Seems like an easy decision to me.

  11. The limited pretty ordinary Peter Horne creating that second try with a brilliant tackle to turn the possession over. He made that try. Well done to finish with kick for Hastings too. Horne, Peter is running the show and doing the unseen work.

    George Horne has just won this game now great work and now we need to get to 60 points quick smart. Some great kicking from Scotland including a brilliant couple of kicks from The Very Ordinary Peter Horne.

    1. Thought it was exactly the performance Scotland needed.
      The whole team looked focussed on a game plan and excecuted it very a couple of mistakes here and there,
      G Horne and Hastings showed their is much more to Scotland than simply Russell & Laidlaw. I was really impressed with both. They looked class. Horne speed of play makes a huge difference to the team tempo and style.
      Russia began looking fired up and ready to outmuscle …when they realized that wasn’t going to happen they resorted to try and play a game that looked alien to them and were just totally gassed and outclassed in the end. Should have been 12 tries.
      Seymour looked slow…and he is surely on the way out at test level. Taylor was excellent…organising throughout…made couple for errors…but looked much closer to match fit. Toolis had a very good game.Turner also. I came out thinking tho …is Mcinally in better form than Brown??…
      Any attempt not to play the match against Japan either at an alternate venue or rescheduled time is rigged …pure and simple. Japan will have needed diapers watching that match.

      1. I’d agree we’re not yet seeing the Taylor of old, but actually thought he did a lot of good work today.

        Put in some thumping tackles, slowed ball, played the perfect dummy runner and was heavily involved in at least one of our tries.

        Think he could easily have ended up being the last man over the whitewash, but that’s how it goes with a team game.

        See him getting a bit of flak on PR forum too though, so might need to watch game again…… any excuse!

  12. Peter Horne was excellent today. Loved having that extra playmaker at 12 and he put in a proper shift. I don’t know if he would get quite the space to operate vs Japan but really out of all the centre options…who has done any better ? Not Taylor who was unfortunately anonymous today. I guess Harris should start again……but whats he done ?

    Hornito on the bench to cover SH and wing.

  13. I’m not always his biggest fan but credit to Horne senior today who put in a really solid performance. Now let’s keep Michael fish away from the weather report

    1. I thought P Horne looked decent…nothing more or less. I was more impressed with Taylor.

      1. Weather report projections on Sunday of….
        morning showers and wind
        40% chance of rain
        56% humidity
        21mph nw wind dropping to 12mph sun evening
        I lived in hurricane central USA for 5 yrs … I wouldn’t cancel my fishing trip on those numbers.
        What would you cancel based on that projections?… thats an average day in parts of Scotland!!
        Saturday sounds rougher anyway.

      2. Sounds positive regarding weather. No idea where ur getting Horne was average. Did everything well today and creating at least two of the tries I can remember perhaps more.

      3. I didn’t say P Horne was average .. I said I thought he had a decent game. Again … to me Taylor was more important .. despite a few mistakes. P Horne made a few mistakes too. Taylor communicated and organized the team very well which was critical in such a match.
        Horne’s bro … on the other hand played fantastic …definately our main SH very soon.

      1. Dammit… still, everyone’s lauding Japan and we’ve scored more points, more tries and more drop goals!

  14. I did suggest that some of the A team players would be necessary to beat Russia. Happy to have been proved wrong.

    1. ..well.. technically we did need a few 1st teamers. So you were correct.
      Its virtually impossible with a squad of31 in a RWC not to have to double play some players.

  15. Good discipline today, played as a team, 61 points is hard to deliver unless they play as a team. No drama, no ball hogging, just pinned them back and played in the right places.

    1. agree!
      Things that concerned me however , were that despite his try McInally isn’t playing that great .. he looks pretty shaky at times. Turner and Brown looked better.
      Toolis a Cummings both looked better than Gilchrist.
      Bradbury played a fair bit longer than I hoped he would. We need him at his max v Japan. Hope the coaches and fitness staff have got that right.

  16. Fabulous performance today, not letting Russia anywhere near the game, dominating the set piece, pinning them into their 22 and taking/making the opportunities as they arose. Excellent match strategy, well executed and also playing what was in front of them. A good confidence builder. Sunday will be a harder task but eminently achievable. GT now has selection issues, notably which front row to start with (Nel had a couple of great runs when things opened up so could be better coming on later while McInally looked off the pace and missed his arrows) the 2R as who should partner Gray (Cummings for his dynamism?), which of Laidlaw or Horne starts at SH and who partners Johnson in the centre (Taylor to start with Horne or Harris on the bench). The rest look to pick themselves but I’d have Hastings and Kinghorn on the bench. Some guys looked to have played themselves back into contention today. Toony has a few decisions to make. Can’t wait!

    1. Yup…. though I think he doesn’t have any decisions on who to start…I’d say he already knows that. Who is selected for the bench may have changed tho. Can’t see both Kinghorn and Hastings finding a spot… one or the other.. probably Hastings for 10,12,15 cover. Not convinced Gilchrist or McInally playing so well they start. Toolis Cummings Turner and Brown all put their hands up.

  17. There was definitely something steely and controlled about the side today that carried on from those first few minutes against Samoa, which were significant in setting the pattern for that match. Something has changed for the better inside the camp since that awful loss to Ireland. Carry whatever has changed into Sunday and we can get to the QF.
    Rolling maul featured prominently today and was well executed. Wondering if that foreshadows the use of that approach on Sunday to sap the strength of the Japan pack.

    1. I dare say Darcy will be starting on Sunday having been hoiked as soon as the fourth try was scored.

      1. I think Taylor really starting to show his quality. He is the type of player who would come into his own against better teams I just wish Hutchinson was there as well. Think definitely 4 tries in that team against Japan. A lot of talk about pressure. Think of the pressure on Japan

  18. Pretty certain we’ll be stuck with Laidlaw for most of the game. It’s a mystery to many people – playing the world’s fastest rugby with the world’s slowest scrum-half is a logic which only Borderers could fathom.
    Let’s just hope the game happens…..

  19. I personally don’t get the love affair with cummings in comment section? Decent player yes but he doesn’t do much of the hard graft I lost count the amount of times he was in the backline twiddling his thumbs while Toolis who played notably a better overall game was clearing rucks. Add to that Toolis is our best lineout operator and steal threat.
    It’s obvious cummings likes to carry but an international lock needs to get through a lot of work which I think he avoids at times.

    1. I’d imagine he’s in the back line because of his carrying ability and that he’s been instructed to do so. Not just because he feels like it.

    2. Thats why Cummings compliments Gray well. Gray does alot of grunt and Cummings likes to attack the line. Playing 2 locks the same skills set offers little at test level.

  20. I got mauled on another forum when I said this World Cup was being ruined by officiating and the conditions and those would be it’s legacy. I feel pretty vindicated now. As FF says, it’s Thursday. Pick a roofed stadium away from the storm and play it in an empty ground. Don’t encourage fans to travel, just teams and what’s required to televise it. We all know who would win without 50,000 backing Japan. World Rugby have dropped the ball big time.

  21. Getting back to the Russia game – it really seemed to me a changing of the guard match.

    All the youngsters really showed what they can do and were everything that was positive about the game. G.Horne, Hastings, Graham, Kinghorn, Cummings, Turner and Bradbury all played well and have every chance of being first choice in 4 years time (a few of them should be first choice now!).

    A few old warhorses gave their all, but are obviously at the tail end of their international careers and I suspect we shall see a few retirements after the world cup is over – Seymour was mostly anonymous, Barclay put his heart into it but unfortunately is looking like he is not going to get back to the top.

    I am going to go with the minority and say I didn’t think Peter Horne did anything special and really isn’t a candidate for the big games. Taylor had a few defensive wobbles and although I think he is the best 13 in the squad (probably the 4th or 5th best that is eligible….), hasn’t shown enough form to dislodge Harris. Outside centre remains the position that Townsend really seems to have got selection very wrong and is the biggest weak spot in the team.

    I would be very surprised if Laidlaw doesn’t start (if the game goes ahead…). Tactically and with his place and box kicking he is still ahead, but hopefully going forward Horne will start to get much more game time as he is miles better than Price and is the future.

    1. Bear in mind Fraser this was against a team with a short turnaround & should not have even qualified for the tournament.

      I was delighted with the performance mind you but we won’t know how good these guys are until they play top level opposition.

    2. This is why I believe we will peak from about 2021-2023.

      We have so many youngsters who are coming through. Once they solidify their places and get more experience they could become a great side.

      For example here is an U24’s side for us.

      ** = 10 + caps
      * = 3 -9 caps

      15. Kinghorn**
      14. Graham*
      13. Hutchinson*
      12. McDowell
      10. Hastings**
      9. Horne*
      8. Fagerson*
      7. Ritchie**
      6. Bradbury*
      5. Cummings*
      4. Skinner*
      3. Fagerson**
      2. Stewart

      Add to that players like:


      and we have a squad that could really establish itself and build plenty of caps together.

      Then we have those yet to make a name for themselves but have a bright future


      I’m still hoping for good performances in the present but the WC is a very awkward time to have a changing of the guard. Only plus side is it gives us a head start in the post WC rebuild as we have basically already done it.

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