Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Ireland 19 – 12 Scotland

Ireland v Scotland
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

After all the Finn-anigans of the last two weeks, it was time for those selected to prove that they had put it all behind them and get on with the day job: playing rugby.

Due to illness, Simon Berghan had been forced to drop-out shortly before kick-off, so he was replaced by the “Willem-debeest”, WP Nel.

Scotland started brightly, Hogg and Hastings making sure to get themselves involved as early as possible and getting into the Ireland 22, only for a penalty to be awarded for no release, even though Stander appeared to come in at the side.

Scotland were then gifted possession back from a poor Murray box-kick, and they had come to play some ball.

Often, and correctly, derided for their slow starts, there was some slick off-loading, and forwards running onto the ball getting over the gain-line, until Ireland were forced into impeding.

Hastings, under the most intense of microscopes, knocked over the penalty to put Scotland in front.

Ireland may be renowned for their possession based, grind-you-down, style but in Jordan Larmour they have one of the most lethal strike runners in the game, and the first time he found space he hared into the Scotland half.

Debutant Haining had done well to retrieve a loose ball on the floor, but was then pinged for not releasing with no back-up able to arrive before Stander got there.

Sexton went for the corner rather than the equaliser, and although Scotland stopped the maul charge, Sexton eventually found an acre of space to cross the line, which he also converted.

Concerns over Zander Fagerson’s scrummaging are fast becoming a thing of the past. It has to be remembered he’s only just turned 24, so there’s still a lot of the dark-arts in the scrum he’s yet to learn.

He forced Cian Healy to change his bind, Hastings pinged over another penalty, just, to reduce the deficit.

An incredible Hogg penalty kick from inside his own half gave Scotland a line-out within ten metres of the Ireland line, but hugely frustratingly, it was knocked on in the maul following interference from the King of the Outhousers, Peter O’Mahony, an early replacement for the injured Caelan Doris.

Scotland were playing some fine rugby, Price was using the ball quickly, but with two decent attacking line-out opportunities.

Things were getting really feisty, and Ireland didn’t like it up ‘em. So much so, that Sexton took a dive. Watson may have hit him near the face, (depending on what replay you see), but Sexton played on until the relentless Scotland defence forced a knock-on in Ireland’s 22, so Sexton went down holding his face, looking pleadingly into Raynal’s eyes.

Murray’s insistence on box-kicking was not helping Ireland. He kicked it to Hogg, who returned it back to him, and hunted him down. After making the tackle, Hamish Watson tore in at the breakdown, but Hastings missed the penalty.

Sexton’s clever drop-out allowed Stockdale to make inroads, and a cheaply given away by Price allowed Sexton to increase the lead. 10-6 with 35mins gone, but plenty for Scotland to be pleased with, and a few things to be annoyed with.

Such as giving away cheap penalties. Gray entered a ruck at the side just a minute later, but thankfully for Scotland, Sexton didn’t hit it well.

With only four minutes remaining things went mental.

Bundee Aki hared into Scotland’s 22, Ringrose took it on, but then Conor Murray’s pass was intercepted by Sam Johnson.

Had it been Hogg or Kinghorn, you would have bet on them taking it all the way, but Johnson was snaffled. Scotland still made it into the Ireland 22, but Stander spared their blushes when he got over the ball on Fagerson’s carry.

A half of promise, but frustrating profligacy, meant Scotland hit the sheds behind, but only just.

Half-time: 10-6

At half-time, Ireland’s Garry Ringrose was replaced by Robbie Henshaw due to injury, and it was the men in green who first threatened.

Watson was penalised for not rolling away, so Sexton went to the corner. Scotland managed to sack the maul, but another easily kickable penalty was awarded, which was taken.

Scotland went close with a charge into the Ireland half, only for Huw Jones to throw an intercepted off-load near the Ireland 22, but Scotland kept pressing.

Johnson’s wriggling run when they played off the back of a maul took Scotland close, then there was an absolute disaster for captain Stuart Hogg.

He had nobody near him as he took possession just 2m from the line. And he dropped it. As a slight consolation, Hastings knocked over the penalty to make it 13-9.

Scottish indiscipline was costing precious territory, and Hastings high tackle on Sexton let him kick it deep again.

They sacked the maul effectively, again, but another penalty was conceded bang in front of the sticks. Showing no ill effects of his horrific injury, he booted over another penalty.

Scotland’s line-out was not going well at all, and once they had lost another, Ireland’s half-backs then decided to revert to type and just started hoofing it.

Hastings was forced to take into touch just 5m from the line, but once again, Scotland stopped it, and Ritchie stole possession back. Murray was then caught offside, so Scotland could clear.

Scotland were attacking with some glorious verve, little inside flips from Hastings, forwards off-loading, and were awarded another penalty with 15mins to go, which Hastings took. It was now 12-16, and replacements came on, including the livewire George “Horneito” Horne. (I may have to ditch that now that he’s the only Horne in the squad.)

When Ireland got the ball, they would just hoof it up, and Scotland couldn’t deal with it. Johnson impeded Conway, so Sexton went again for the sticks.

With 5mins remaining, a delightful delayed pass from Hastings sent McInally through, Watson kept the charge on and Scotland’s forwards went on, and on, and on again.

But as is always the case, they couldn’t break the green wall. Stander got over the ball, again, on a drive from just 2m out on Watson.

Considering what could have happened, an Ireland team who are usually dominant at home, this feels like one that got away.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)

SRBlog MOTM: Zander Fagerson performed well in the scrum and got himself about, but if you’re talking about players who get themselves about and get properly tore into the opposition, Jamie Ritchie is your man. Incredible work-rate in defence, hit rucks like a torpedo and took on some carrying. Definitely one of the first names on the team-sheet now.

229 Responses

  1. Has anyone ever visited ? So many anti Scottish Hogg haters on there who need to get back under their bridges.

    Respectable performance today even if we did leave a few tries out on the pitch. I think the new coaches have had an impact. Very relieved to see no injuries apart from Brown’s dunt to the heed which should see us field a decent 15 next week. Russell still out of contention apparently. Sad really.

  2. Irrelevant of the Finn situation Hastings should start next week. Pack showed up. Centres were average. They seem to be getting a lot of praise but I don’t see why, much better than RWC but that’s damning with feint praise. Hogg played well, one missed touch and that freak error. Defence was good and was clearly working very hard in his captaincy. Didn’t rate the ref at all but still some dumb penalties. Scrum was pleasing. Hutchinson needed to come on for Jones and much earlier. Johnson isn’t quick enough but I fear Townsend wants the stability of that Glasgow unit. Imagine if Skinner and Ritchie Gray were the back up locks rather than Toolis and Gilchrist, much more quality depth there. Ireland looked fairly uninspiring so perhaps we should temper the praise for Scotland with that.

    1. I agree there was a lot to be positive and proud about that performance. All the pack need to keep their places as they matched the aggression of the Irish which is rare for us. Hastings and price were also very good. In fact Darcy GRaham was maybe the cutting edge we missed. If anywhere the wings and centres need a sharper edge. I would like to see the bulk, speed and running lines if Matt Scott but overall much much better

      1. I do not think the ball got futher than 12 with enough speed to have that edge. We never saw enough of Hutchinson to assess his capability, I am inclined to build on yesterdays pairing.

      1. He needs a decent chance. 8 minutes out of position (he is playing all his rugby at 13) after half the team has been subbed off isn’t that.

      2. Are you actually seriously judging him on a cameo performance at the end of the game when we are 7 points behind with a few minutes to go.

    2. Cannot disagree with that. I would like to see what Richie Gray can offer , but it is a compromise as I think Townsend needs to find a side, be loyal to it and grow its confidence. I do think his search for the holy grail is destructive however yesteday felt like a new start, new team, new all grown up Townsend. I agree with FF, I cannot see where we can get a win other than Italy. All eyes on this afternoon, we have this pair at Murrayfield so lets see where their vulnerabilities lie.

    3. The pundits on RTE regarded it as a poor Irish performance. According to Shane Horgan, Ireland know they don’t have to play very well to beat Scotland. He basically described the Scottish team as little more than journeymen without a single world class player. This is typical RTE commentary where they very rarely have anything praiseworthy to say about Scotland.

      I thought Scotland showed a great deal of fight and certainly looked improved in defence. We were just let down by some poor execution and lack of discipline at times.

      1. It wasnt on RTE, it was Virgin Media. But apart from that I think your summary of the Irish pundits’ view was a bit misleading. Factually, a mediocre Irish performance did win over what a hugely variable Scottish performance. The pundits highlighted lots of good stuff from Scotland, more than expected, rightly or wrongly. But again, factually also highlighted the high level of errors by Scotland.
        Not to focus on Hogg too much, but it always amazes me why pro players take the risk of one-handed dot downs, showboat dives etc, not to mention touching down way too early leaving a more difficult conversion.

      2. Sorry, I stand corrected, it was Virgin Media and not RTE. I’d flicked over from ITV to hear Shane Horgan with his comments. I’m glad to hear that the other pundits had something good to say about Scotland.

      3. Paddy a dive is usually a safe way of finishing it off and sometimes a legitimate tactic to avoid being stopped. But the one handed I agree is madness. I felt the game was lost at that act. Did we ever score points and not concede at the other end without clearing our lines? That was probably one of those less noticed team errors in this game by Scotland

  3. Unfortunate that Scotland couldn’t turn pressure into points. May help make the case for Matt Scott? If he had some of the opportunities that Sam Johnson had, his speed could have possibly gotten through… Defensively looking much better so positive for the Calcutta Cup!

    1. Sorry but cannot get excited about another defeat.used to Go to all the Scotland games until the SRU chased the money and made it difficult to get tickets, but cannot even get up enough to jump off the couch.You know we will look great then drop the ball,get isolated or give away a cheap penalty . Glorious defeat is still a defeat.
      I was taught as a child, you get over the line then drop to touch down not use one hand like a prima Donna.
      If we can’t beat an Irish team playing as poorly as this then the wooden spoon beckons.

      1. Agreed. Until Scotland start turning these games into wins I’m not interested in positives. We had chances but old failings continue to let us down.Giving away stupid penalties, failure to take high kicks, forwards unable to grind a try out while camped on Ireland’s line, line out a shambles. Depressingly familiar.

      2. It does feel like our last two, 6 nations games , which were away from home , were there for the winning. Yesterday both sides tried to play rugby, no cards as I recall. England will be a different prospect, they will sek to frustrate the flow and provide a real test for the Scrum. It is not so long ago we never showed up for these matches, I think the clear out has been positive.

      3. Will England test our scrum, though? Kyle Sinckler is not a good scrummager, and (as we’ve learned) if you’re TH can’t scrum, you’re in trouble. That might change under Proudfoot, but it would be massive turnaround.

      4. Ben F if it talking about the clear out of coaches I agree but not the players. Had we had these systems in place anytime in past 4 years we’d never have been spanked in any game. This makes it all the more gaulling that we needed to wait till now to get defensively organised under Townsend….

    1. Although he did make both the 2cents Rugby and the rugby pass team of the round. So generally anyone who knows what they are talking about disagrees with you.

  4. Matt Scott often looks like he’s running in treacle too. Sam Johnson is an excellent all-round 12 and I’m Edinburgh. I’d like to see Hutchinson at 13 beside Sam J. Jones doesn’t do anything but score tries.

    Otherwise I wouldn’t change anyone from today’s team. Kinghorn in for Hogg at 15 maybe and Darcy on the wing. Hogg is one of the most brain-dead people in Scotland and I said as much before today’s laughable brain-fart.

    1. What nonsense. Kinghorn was probably our worst player today and looked out of his depth. Hogg played and captained well apart from that one (admittedly big) mistake.

      I suspect if Graham was playing yesterday instead of Kinghorn, there may have been an extra spark.

      1. Kinghorn hardly ever got the ball on the wing. He looked very good when he did.

        Don’t get me wrong, he definitely needs to work on his game under the ball or England will be kicking it down his flank all day. All the same, he wasn’t awful, all things considered. Plus he hasn’t had a chance yet to build up the rapport with Hoggy that Maitland has (and to a lesser extent his Hawick mate Darcy Graham).

        It’ll come, give him time.

      2. Kinghorn is also played out of position. FB for Edinburgh only gets selected on the wing for Scotland.

      3. Remember, if hogg hadn’t dropped that ball, Kinghorn would be getting praised for great hands under pressure to put him in.

        Yeah he was a bit shaky under the high ball, but his teammates didn’t get the ball to him either.

    2. Not always Hogg’s biggest fan …but …he played well today imo….will be remembered for the drop tho.
      Kinghorn had a poor match…id rather Tagive get a game there v England.
      H Jones kinda showed why he didn’t make the RWC. Time for Hutchinson at 13.

      1. Did Jones butcher anything ? I do not think the ball got out there much, There is a pattern here , 11, 13, 14 had quiet games, while 15 was involved . The ball rarely got beyond 12 and our forwards penetrated the gain line , except in the red zone.

      2. Jones was quiet yer only error was his world cup pass which had it been executed had Haining scoring in 1st half. Felt it was too risky and worth recycling ball at that point. Think he missed one tackle too. Kingjorn was quiet but wondered if he his defence well without fanfare. Someone could maybe fill me in

  5. Good performance, just lacking a bit of cutting edge.

    Assuming Darcy is still out injured this is my squad for next week.

    1. Sutherland
    2. Brown
    3. Fagerson
    4. Gray
    5. Cummings
    6. Ritchie
    7. Watson
    8. Bradbury
    9. Horne
    10. Russell
    11. Kinghorn
    12. Scott
    13. Jones
    14. Maitland
    15. Hogg

    16. McInally
    17. Dell
    18. Berghan
    19. Gilchrist (Line out)
    20. Haining (pleasantly surprised)
    21. Price
    22. Hastings
    23. Hutchison (with Jones to wing if back 3 injury)

    The front 8 i was very happy with, but 1 good performance does not make you a starter so Bradbury comes back in, Haining impressed so gets a bench spot)

    Horne/Russell/Scott are the form players throughout season, i thought Price, Hastings, Johnson had very good games but i rate the others higher.

    Jones stays as he has a great track record against England + he is a player that needs backed and regular game time to get into full swing (as we are seeing now at Glasgow)

    Berghan back in on bench over No impact Nel
    Gilchrist over Toolis, slightly better carrying and more line-out height, Bring skinner or R.Gray in during the first 2 week break but England to soon.

    1. Can’t really argue with much of that. I wouldn’t be too hasty bringing Gilchrist back in. For me he was part of the old brigade that needed sweeped away. I was worried about Toolis, but thought he bought enough energy to keep his place. Anyway – think we can agree that the line out needs fixed so whoever can offer that probably gets the nod. When is R Gray available again?

      Also think Haining did enough to keep the starting no8 shirt so would have Bradbury off the bench, but splitting hairs a bit. Could we finally end up with some depth in this position? It looks like good squad depth is kind of creeping up on us across the park, who’d have though it?

  6. Much much better but still one that got away. Ireland were poor except for outstanding defence and proved the cliche that defence wins matches. Many positives and credit due to Toonie & his coaches. Toonie not to blame for several brainless pens, wrong options, turnovers and Hogg howler (Hogg was otherwise very good and calls for his head are brainless). Not convinced by Johnson and Matt Scott may be worth a look. Hastings did well but we need Finn. Not enough service to Jones or wings. Pack fronted up well but lineout poor (R Gray anyone….?). Small margins at this level but Ireland made less mistakes and made more of their fewer opportunities.

  7. Much much better up front as we met the physical threat of the Irish forward head on. Our starting front 8 should all take a well earned bow, so much better than our last few outings against quality opposition.

    For me we lost the match with too many defensive penalties (many of which looked like tough 50/50 calls) and an inability to take our chances. Is this a return to white line fever ? Agree the Irish where nothing special which is a bit of a worry, and I think the better team won on the day. Even if Hog has put away the sitter, or our forwards scored after all that pressure, I’d still have fancied the Irish to slot a late penalty for the win.

    Scrum was way better than expected, line out was as bad as expected, midfield the big question mark for me. With all our options there i’d like to see us more productive in this area. Jones and Johnston not bad, just didn’t really get much going, and the Irish seemed to get several line breaks through the middle.

    For next week give me same forwards and effort, a little more adventure from the backs, and the conversion of some opportunities and I think we’ll be in the game.

    1. Thought Johnson had a really good game defensively solid and ran some great lines Jones was quieter but didn’t get that many chances Hastings played ok but prefer Russell. Kinghorn was worst back poor under high ball probably go same team again next week for continuity depends on Russell though maybe put on bench teach him a lesson no one bigger than team and go Bradbury on bench if injury free.

      1. People criticising Johnson’s pace tell me name me any 12 who would of ran in from that distance in six nations let’s credit him for reading the interception.

  8. I’ve never felt so satisfied with a Scotland loss. We really battled and you could see the Irish (forwards particularly) were dead on their feet at the end. We need to address the ruck defence – too often the Scottish attacking player was isolated resulting in penalty or turnover ball (legal or otherwise).
    Our scrum was immense as were all of forwards in other play.
    There did seem to be a lack of flow in the back line with a slightly predictable pattern of play which was easier to defend.
    I think that we’ll give England a good game.

    1. Unfortunately that’s how usScottish fans have been brought to our knees , to appreciate a satisfying loss.
      That was an error ridden shambles nothing more, useless at the breakdown and still Price kicked possession away on a hope and a prayer that the Irish players would make a mistake, because Scottish players had no chance of regaining possession otherwise. When Scotland kicked the ball went long and green. When Ireland kicked the ball went high and followed up by green.
      Scottish hands poor?
      Penalties conceded , It sounded as though big Jim Hamilton was on the pitch.
      Ireland probably won’t play that badly next week and if the do then the Welsh players will demolish them.
      We had no cutting edge.
      The only time that I’ll be satisfied with a Scottish loss is when Scotland lose Townsend.
      He got beaten by a guy on his first day in the job.

      1. This is very defeated attitude that clearly comes from years of pain and disappointment. A poor analysis of what was very solid performance in some areas and extremely brain dead in others.

  9. Pride intact but a frustrating defeat; we did everything needed to win except clinical finishing. A few points…

    I don’t think we should have kept kicking penalties when 7 down…we needed to apply more pressure, maybe get a yellow, or a try even.

    Haining had a good debut…nice to see some more aggression from the forwards in general…quite a few bleeding concussed and limping Oirishmen by the end.

    Scrum and defence were much better than last year/RWC…kudos to new coaching staff.

    On that performance I think we have a good chance of keeping the cup next week, just need to keep errors down. Hopefully the French batter les rosbifs today

  10. Yes we played better but we need to improve our game management – too many silly penalties and turnovers that quality teams wouldn’t give away. We don’t seem to have a plan for getting over the line from 5 meters out that Ireland, England and always seem to do against us. One moment for me summed it up and that was kicking the ball to Ireland with 30 seconds remaining in the 1st half allowing them an easy exit to half time … A couple of years ago Ireland played 20 odd phases at half way and then Sexton kicked a drop goal (yes in the 2nd half) but- we need to get that ruthless instinct to go for the points in these critical moments

  11. What we need to be careful of is playing the previous game.
    With regard to breakdown & turnovers it is almost entirely down to ref interpretation most of the time.
    Raynal won’t be there next week.

    1. Scottish players got isolated more often and so our clear out was slower. We gave the ref a decision to make and he made it. There is something to learn here, something for the players and coaches to work on.

    2. Happens too often to blame the ref. He is not the one who blatantly obstructed an opposition player – twice for goodness sake, tackled round the neck, hung on to the ball when all hope was gone a century ago, etc, etc.

      1. He did seem to allow Irish obstruction and late hits, though. It’s as much about the decisions he didn’t give as the ones he did. You can’t possibly have watched that refereeing performance and thought it good or balanced…

    3. Raynal will be running the touch lines next week, won’t he? With the just as inept Gauzere running the show…

      1. Correct but for whatever reason we have a much better record when Gauzere in middle which provides hope.

        Some very poor calls from ref but the two off the ball hits were bought but we have given them the ticket to do so.

        Ireland cheated but they know how much to cheat with which ref to stay clean in his eyes. They must have analysed by how much to cheat when getting battered for mins on their line and it worked. We must learn this skill and use training time to get this sorted. It’s costing us too much too often.

        15 pens isn’t just too many is way over the score.

        My most frustrating moment was our first three points. Blatant pen from Irish after we broke their line. We got the ball back after the indiscretion and Raynal blew rather than give advantage. One more pass and we were in. It was heartbreakingly bad law interpretation and process from the referee. Yet it was ok since there was an injured player. Awful!!!

      2. Have we fared better under Gauzere? If I remember rightly, he had no idea what a ruck was four years ago, yellow carded Barclay for hands in the ruck when there was no ruck, and Ireland went on to score during the periods we were down to 14. Based on what I’ve seen, French refs are as bad as Irish refs…

  12. Encouraging performance but same old result.

    We certainly need to back this up with victories in the championship, but it’s still hard to see where they’ll come. Calcutta cup game looms large – win that and pressure off against Italy somewhat, win in Rome too and suddenly we’re back in the hunt. England is a must win game now.

  13. The mistake by Hogg was inexplicable, however he played well against a hard to play against Ireland.
    Generally the magnificence of the Irish back row was the deciding factor, CJ Stander was immense.
    Scotland were competitive throughout & the forwards showed a pleasing physicality. Happy for Sutherland given his previous health issues
    Hastings played well but we so missed Finn Russell, his skill-set would’ve resulted in try(s).
    Sam Johnson did look as slow as a week in jail at one point, however he remains an excellent 12.
    Encouraging performance, Graham, Russell, Crosbie should be under consideration for inclusion into the 23, Hutchinson & Scott in the thoughts to start.

    1. Johnson realised he was running against outside backs and slowed to allow the support to link up.

  14. Johnny b – how long is Graham out? In Grahams absence I’d likely give Hutchinson a start

    1. Back for Italy.

      I thought Johnson played well. He has never had huge top end speed and it’s not a deal breaker for an inside centre anyway.

      He’s a good footballer, good in traffic and defensively sound.

    2. Worth a look but will he?
      The use of subs suggests not.
      Needing a score he takes off our most potent scorer for Harris. Form or not Jones is far more likely to find a try out of nowhere than Harris.
      And leaving the creative spark Hutchinson on the bench made no sense. If we had been 10 in front Johnson/Harris makes some sense. From 7 behind it makes none for me.

  15. Johnson is excellent, he’s starting 12 for me going forward. 13 is the most contentious decision for me – viable arguments can be made for Hutchinson, Scott, Jones & Mark Bennett.

    1. Jones just lost his shirt I think…nothing terrible but didn’t show up in a hotly contested position. Harris (likely) or Hutchinson.

      1. Got to stop shuffling the team.
        I wouldn’t drop Jones. He’s been out of the team for a while so needs a run.
        I might (might) swap Johnson and Hutch.
        Although Johnson played well and is a very reliable footballer, maybe you want more pace and Hutch would bring that.

      2. Before laying into the centres remember we barely saw Bundee Aki and Ringrose went off.
        They were tackled to a standstill. Johnson is an excellent defensive back and Jones did well too.
        Hutch might bring more pace and flair but you should be confident you don’t lose in defence.

      3. I thought Jones did well with the ball he got. I think Toonie should stick with him, he’s got a great history against England – 4 tries in 2 games.

      4. Look, this is starting to get ridiculous. How the hell are we meant to ascertain that Hutchinson is weak defensively for the national team when he never bloody starts for Scotland?

        He’s solid in defence for Northampton bar the occasional lapse.
        The same can be said for literally ALL of our other centres.

        Give him a try, we sorely need it.

        (Frustration not aimed at you by the way: it’s more general, I think mostly due to yesterday.)

      5. I partially agree, Sam B: he needs the opportunity, but by the same token I think we need to get a first-choice centre pairing. I think Hastings’s performance yesterday would have been improved had Townsend given him more exposure to international rugby, e.g. the France game last 6N. I reckon he’ll have learned a lot from yesterday, but he could have learned it a year ago…

  16. Firstly, I’d have taken this result and performance before the match. Severely disappointed at another one that got away, but proud of the boys. The bookies had us as 7 to 1 outsiders (or Ireland by 14 for spread bets).
    Think it would be a travesty to change the starting XV barring injuries. Maybe Russell, Bradbury, Gilchrist coming onto the bench.

    1. Taking a loss before a match is a pretty depressing state of affairs. Unless it’s a get the management out ASAP strategy, which would be fair.

  17. I remember the Wales game the year before last when Reid and Welsh were made to look very ‘old school’ against Wales mobile and aggressive props, I think yesterday was the first time we’ve seen two players players start for Scotland who looked like genuine modern international class props as destructive in the scrum as the loose. Dell, Nel and Berghan are good players but I dont think we’ve seen any combination of the three put a mark on a game like Sutherland and Fagerson, both should be in their prime for the next few years too.

    1. I was surprised and delighted with the scrum. Watching Fagerson fold Healy in half for the early penalty was a thing of beauty. There were at least two occassions when the Scottish scrum got the shove on the Irish that should have earned penalties but didn’t.

    1. Just like Kris Boyd only scores goals… too many people both fans and coaches forget that the score matters in sport and scorers are terribly important

  18. I think both backrows were outstanding but the Irish just shaded it and a lot of that came down to experience.

    I don’t think the breakdown battle was only physical, I think Stander especially but also vd flier and o’mahony are actually very clever players who are very good at using the proximity of the try line to sucker opponents.

    It’s not an accident that most of the Irish turnovers happened <22m from their line and the game ended with a turnover when we were camped on their line.

    These clever players know that a young Scottish team which is a bit short on confidence is vulnerable to impatience, so they sit back, conserve their energy, let you win 5, 6 or even 10 easy phases, crowd the outfield to cut off backline moves, make you believe you're going to roll them over the line in the forwards then as you get close they up the intensity of the hits to stop you making ground and just wait for an impatient decision which gives them the chance to pounce – the reach for the line, the slightly isolated runner, sealing off and so on.

    The edge in power which Stander gave them helped but this is clever play and clever understanding of opposition psychology and what sight of the tryline does to it.

    We probably need to vary our play in opponent's 22 to deal with it. Easy to forget that Ritchie is young and Haining on his debut – experience will help also.

    1. This seems to me like a really insightful comment. Hope the point is also picked up by the coaches. The penalties conceded from threatening front foot ball were absolute killers.

      1. I have no idea whether I’m right but it struck me that the irish didn’t turn us over between the 10m and 22 or in our half, it was almost always in their 22 and often <= 5m out.
        If the coaches tell the players that at this stage of team dev performance is more important than results then they can deal with white line fever imo.
        And if we as fans lend a hand by giving our support should help too.

  19. Analyst – Jones didn’t excel yesterday, that is true, however surely Harris can’t start?………he is a good player but you need a threat at 13. Jones was magnificent V England 2 years ago, so it will be interesting.

    1. Yes John. I said I think as there is a queue forming, including Toony’s man Harris, an in-form at club level Scott, and Hutchinson. It’s no slight but there’s a lot of options.

      For me, Jones makes sense to capitalise on offensive opportunities if Russell is back.

      Otherwise…I think it might be a strong point of contention. The need for defensive cohesion and gainline wins is as crucial as twinkly feet…

  20. The Johnny b paragragh(s) re “the clever Irish players” nails it. POM & CJ Stander are top 5 in the world – both are world class at doing what they did yesterday. Realistically Finn R apart I’d be happy with the same team v England

      1. Saying it’s cheating discounts the skill involved. All the turnovers they won were legit.

        I really think it’s a clever understanding of space and how the Scottish players are likely to respond if they’re frustrated close to the line having got close to the line with relative ease. I think it’s something the Irish forwards probably talk about as a tactic and practice, and we are quite vulnerable to the tactic because key forwards in our team are young and we are a bit short on confidence.

        Basically suckering us into white line fever.

        Then they turn us over after we’ve expended all that energy which makes it a double blow.

        Let them get close, crowd the outfield to cut off back moves between the 22 and 10 m lines (which is essentially a bit of a rest) then up the intensity of breakdown defence once they’re in the 22 and wait for white line fever to create an opportunity to turn the ball over.

        We’ve got the players to be more clinical but it might take some time to properly click.

      2. Well, you can it’s not cheating, but Stander was in at the side not supporting his own weight while Ryan was obstructing supporting players, so given that these actions are illegal, I’d say that’s cheating. Same as a high tackle or taking the player out in the air.

        I’m not saying we don’t cheat, but for Munster and Ireland PoM and CJS are most valuable in that capacity. And, in PoM’s case, the lineout. He’s a real menace there!

      3. Teamcam: When did that happen in the game, I would like to look at that carefully, to see how he does that . The game is timed, can you recall the timing ?

    1. I also agree that Johnny b paragraph nails it. I think it is relevant to note that Ireland were allowed to be offside when we were pounding on their line. There was a close up of Bundee Aki late in the game – feet fractionally over the try line (=offside line) but carrying his weight on his hands which were far over the line like a sprinter waiting for the gun. This head start he gets is utterly crucial and partly explains why we couldn’t convert from close range. I would like the ref to ref this properly but that’s life. But I would also like scotland to develop the street smarts to point it out. All game Ireland were much more in the refs ear. I don’t like it at all but it I think they do it because it gives them margins. We really should be pointing out Ireland getting away with offside.
      Getting away with it was offside is crucial to the result and we won’t win these games until we get more street smart.

      1. Correct Ian…I know that players will test the boundaries and get away with a little especially on try line but in that phase hammering the line Ireland were blatant and far exceeded any latitude any refs should give. Raynal should rightly be hammered for that. It was frankly terrible and cost Scotland as much as their own failings….

    2. Oh yes, the Irish have a plan only to defend on their try line. Sucker in the opposition by letting them get that far then go for the turnover. Lol. Natural increased intensity when points at stake, that all. Obviously. On a side note, only McInally seems possible of burrowing through a defensive line. Dell certainly doesn’t.

    3. Grumpy, it was the penultimate big offensive we made, maybe 76 or 78 minutes? Ben Kay shared a screen grab of it on Twitter from ITV’s post about Ireland’s ‘excellent’ defence.

      1. It’s true about the Irish being so “street wise”.
        But what is fixable from our side is if you look at that set of phases, our structure had gone. We ended up with around 4 phases of one off runners, no latchers or a pod, and that was just begging for a turnover. The chances of anyone getting over the Irish line as a one off runner are minimal.

  21. Positives:
    -We won the forwards battle yesterday: 17 more carries for 98 more metres, averaging 1m more per carry, beat more defenders, made more tackles, missed fewer tackles and minced their scrum and maul
    -Hoggy looked good for a new captain
    -We beat more defenders and had a better tackle completion rate
    -Hastings didn’t look overwhelmed, and will have learned a lot
    -We took kicks when on offer.

    -We lost. Again. And beat ourselves. Again.
    -That freak knock on…
    -We still can’t get on with French referees or adapt to their bizarre interpretations
    -Our backs made fewer carries, metres and metres per carry (this is skewed heavily by Larmor, who made nearly triple the metres of any other Irish back), and missed more tackles
    -We kept it tight when we should have gone wide, ironically… perhaps because our forwards were pumped up on confidence? Still, better game management would have made a difference here
    -Russell is still clearly, and understandably, better than Hastings
    -We’re still not close to an 80-minute performance across the whole team
    -Our lineout is still flaky.

    1. We won’t be a winning team until we have a generation come through for whom ‘going 110%’ is subconsciously associated with winning, rather than desperate defeats.

      Maybe this is beginning to happen, as we lose the likes of Laidlaw Gilchrist Barclay and Nel and gain Horne Cummings Ritchie and Fagerson.

      No personal meaning intended but my sense is the “older” players, including Hogg and Gray, are experts in being defeated.

      We need confident, belligerent and aggressive players who don’t know how to lose. From what I see, Russell, Hastings, Horne, Watson, Ritchie & Fagerson need to be the spine of the new team, psychologically.

      1. Agreed, but I don’t think Hogg and Gray are lost causes yet, and Brown and Sutherland still offer plenty of belligerence and strength.

      2. From the position we are in I think the way to being a winning team is to forget about being a winning team and focus on performance.

        There’s an analogy with business which sets out with a focus on profit v 1 which aims to have the best product.

        Which is more durable?

        The evidence is the business which focuses on having the best product.

        You should read obliquity by John Kay.

        Focus on profit leads you to make short term decisions which hurt later – firing employees, cutting corners in product dev etc. Focus on product leads to sustainable returns in the long run.

        Likewise obsession with results leads to pressure, forcing the game, shuffling selection, crippling fear of failure. Focus on performance takes pressure off and allows confidence to build.

        If the team goes in with a hoodoo about position in the table, what France did and how we’ve got to match it then forget it.

        They should think more about the level of intensity and performance they put in against Ireland and how that’s their new baseline which they strive for every game no matter who’s in front of them.

        Once you have the confidence of knowing how to win then you can focus more on winning.

        I hope fans support this. Of course we take pleasure in victory but beating England is not a right.

      3. Totally agree with this psychology point. Analyst’s that is. Focusing on performance alone isn’t enough. Plenty of data to back that up across fields. Need some winners with swagger. Another reason Russell should be in.

      4. Now that Edinburgh have got their act together, most of our players are in club teams that win at least as often as not, and are in a decently competitive state in Europe etc…maybe a few are not.

        I think that week-to-week successful feeling matters quite a lot to build trust in yourself and those around you.

        It’s a very good argument to focus our scarce resources on building two good Pro14 teams, not one (or three), and helping exiles find good deals at good clubs…

        At the end of the day the “lesser” Welsh and Irish teams usually provide relatively few players to the match day 23.

        Oddly, the Gallagher Premiership situation relative to England is somewhat reversed – lots of Leicester players also Saracens, plus mid-table Bath and Quins. Not a lot of happy fellows there.

    2. “Russell is still clearly, and understandably, better than Hastings”
      He is and he isnt.
      Hastings is naturally more composed even at a young age. Russells bag of tricks…is simply a bigger bag. If Russell doesnt improve his consistency…then it could just depend on who the opposition is and how they play.
      Hastings needs to cut out the high tackles tho ….daft penalties to give away.

      1. Yeah cos Tolouse or Toulon are lining up Hastings for next season. Solid debut and delighted for the boy. But Russell another level in all aspects of the game, consistency included. Do people really not realise how good he is.

      2. yes…Russell 27 Hastings 23
        At the same age Hastings is a more advanced overall player ..imo
        Will Hastings be a better player when he is 27 than Russell?…who knows…
        Someone suggesting Russell is consistent??…crikey…couldnt disagree more.
        Consistently inconsistent…about sums Russell up.

  22. That was a surprisingly decent performance yesterday. Ultimately with Scotland though, it’s the hope that kills you. We should have won that game yesterday and I think we need to be in the mindset now that it’s not acceptable to just lose narrowly to the likes of Wales and Ireland. Our pro teams are more than capable of beating them so our national side should be no different. Hopefully a line has been drawn in the sand now that the level of performance we seen yesterday is the minimum standard required. We need to add an attacking edge now to convert pressure into points and we won’t be far away. The big test is now backing this performance up next week, consistency.

    The forwards were excellent. Hard to believe how solid our scrum was when you think Of the problems we have had there for what seems like an age. Fagerson gave Healy a working over and Sutherland tamed one of the best THs going. Credit to De Villiers as well. Line out needs work before next week tho, it’s too predictable and we need to disrupt opposition ball more.

    Can’t see many changes next week. I would still prefer Horne to price but doubt it’ll happen. I would stick with Jones, we need consistency in selection and whilst he didn’t set the heather on fire he didnt so badly enough to merit being dropped. Brown/McInally is a close one to call would stick with former as scrum was so solid but need to sort the line out.

  23. TeamCam – re PO’M – I always say wherever he is in the line out, throw it somewhere else

  24. All the talking about cheating is over the top. Ireland don’t do it any more than Scotland..full stop. All professional rugby teams cheat..its the nature of professional sport.

  25. Better from Scotland but still not good enough; getting trashed at the breakdown; some stupid penalties; a lot less streetwise that the Irish, and good opportunities wasted (Hoggy is getting mercilessly trolled on Reddit). The new forwards did well, Price needs to stop waving his hands in the air and get to the ball, Hastings OK but without Finn’s magic, Fagerson could have been carded for at least two attempted ruck clear-outs but is becoming a class act at prop, and more sprint training needed all round. Sadly the performance during last five minutes reminded me of the days when Scotland were lucky to score less than a handful of tries during a complete 6N.

    1. Irelands players had plenty of imperfections too. I thought it was much better from Scotland….better aggression, resilience and organization.
      If Fagerson could have been carded so also could have Mahoney. Ireland make offside rulings look non existent… constantly infringing….and yet moaning at the ref.
      Reffing wasn’t great either…poor communication of decisions and lack of helpful critique to help the game flow.
      We do need to be calmer at the try line…easier said from the armchair than done in a high intensity match.

  26. Im enjoying this France – England game so far.

    Here is hoping a few of the Saracens players get put in there place while under the rucks/breakdowns.

  27. Lots of positivities to build on, aggression and a desire to win being at the forefront. However, lots to work on, success comes from doing the basics well, such as 2 hands on the ball. We lost to an unconvincing Irish side when at the least we should of drawn. Remember, honesty in defeat, humbleness in victory. Lastly, welldone Adam Hastings, you deserve your place on the field and to wear the shirt, do it justice against the Auld Enemy.

  28. Almost seems like the English boys don’t want to fight for each other on the pitch, they look like they have no passion.

    That said the French have looked extremely good.

    1. France put alot into that 1st half…then started to fade as England got some momentum. England didn’t play badly over the 80.. Too many of their supporters have unreasonable expectations of them. They are a good top tier team…they aren’t going to be dominant on the world stage though….other teams have lots of players just as good as them. All this rubbish spouted by Jones about being a world great doesn’t help them at all.
      The 38-38 draw with Scotland last year sums them up well…imo….as it does Scotland.

  29. Some points after reflection

    Thought we fronted up very well. A big criticism of the team recently has been lack of fight and desire, not the case yesterday.

    Backs didn’t show much. We have been credited with having exciting and creative backs in recent years but I didn’t see much of that. We were stifled by fast (offiside?) Irish defence but we should know how to cope with that, fast borderline, or just plain offside defences is part of the modern game and we need to be able to adapt to that.

    Following on from the above I think Russell would have been better at dealing with that. I thought Hastings played well, didn’t do much wrong but Russell in the form he is in just now is just a better player. He just seems to create space for others. I really hope the situation can resolve itself.

    Our aerial game hasn’t improved much and neither have our line outs.

    Scrum looked good, forwards in general did. I lambasted Zandbags yesterday for losing the ball a couple of times but on reflection it was just good Irish play.

    We have been guilty of throwing the ball wide for the sake of it and not trucking it up the middle, if anything it was the opposite yesterday, as above didn’t see a lot in terms of back moves.

    For next week I would be happy with the same pack, maybe get Bradbury involved if he’s fit. Don’t really know what to do about the backs, I would prefer Horne and Russell, think I gave Johnson too hard a time yesterday and the rest of them rarely got the ball.

  30. I wouldn’t make too many changes for the England game.

    The same pack would start. The front 5 did very well in the scrum, although the line-out continues to be a problem area.

    I’d add Bradbury to the 23 at the expense of du Preez.

    Price did just about enough to start again at 9.

    Russell would be back at 10 – we need his box of tricks. Hastings would offer cover for 10 and 15 (I still think he’s a more natural 15 than a 10).

    I’d stick with the centre pairing and would keep Hutch rather than Harris in the 23.

    Kinghorn was poor under the high ball, but keeps his place simply because there isn’t an outstanding candidate to replace him in the absence of Graham.

    Hogg had a decent game, so he’d stay at 15.

    Good enough to win? Who knows – it’s Scotland we’re discussing!

    1. Bradbury needs to start at 8….An impressive Haining off the bench to cover 6 & 8…Ritchie covering 6 & 7.
      Sutherland and Zander nailed on in front row. Easily best we have. Nel 3rd choice now.
      Id give Alex Craig or Skinner a shot off the bench instead of Gilco or Toolis…who to me …just look lame at his level…no impact from them at all.
      Centre isn’t balanced yet…..Jones?…I dunno what’s happened to him…exploded onto the scene but hasn’t looked the same player for a long time…I just dont think the rugby in the UK suits him….Super Rugby does. The pro14 has knocked his mojo out of the park. Johnson / Hutchinson next up for me. GT won’t pick Scott….he just doesn’t rate him…its obvious.
      Kinghorn is clearly an FB not a winger.

  31. That was a disjointed and stuttering England performance today against a somewhat revived France who themselves need to attend to their line-out and scrum if they’re going to kick on from that win.
    Minus May’s two flashes of brilliance, it would have been an embarrassing scoreline for England.
    Hope England remain disjointed next week, and that they continue with selection of a number 8 who doesn’t/can’t carry the ball into contact.
    Still haven’t seen our own game yet from yesterday, but from all reports it seems to me we’d want to keep the starting front five for next week.
    Think Eddie Jones May keep a lower profile in the pre-Calcutta Cup coach soundbites this coming week.

    1. “Think Eddie Jones May keep a lower profile in the pre-Calcutta Cup coach soundbites this coming week.”

      Exactly this. Came back like a boomerang to hit Jones right in the face.

    2. “Think Eddie Jones May keep a lower profile in the pre-Calcutta Cup coach soundbites this coming week.”

      …Would be nice…BUT…its a statistical improbability for wee man syndrome Jones.

    3. Apropos England v France / next week, I appreciated Eddie Butler’s commentary when he said (verbatim) ‘Owen Farrell got a bang to his shoulder in making the tackle’
      Nice one Eddie.

  32. Thinking about it McGuigan should come into Townsend’s thoughts too.

    Crosbie’s belligerence would be good vs this England back row, but whom would you drop??

    1. I’d have selected Crosbie ahead of Du Preeze…but I think the coaches dont seem to believe he is ready.
      Crosbie is a very difficult player to play against….very rangy and abrasive.

  33. I’m glad that Russell contacted Hastings before the game to wish him well and Hastings seemed to really appreciate it. This may be start of a route back for Russell.

    Also surprised we’ve not heard more from the camp about the illness in the lead up to the game. Lets hope everyone is well next weekend.

    1. We should be bringing back Russell for the Eng match… least off the bench. Discipline over …move on.

      Jones started his verbal ambiguity already….
      “We have to pick ourselves up, go to Murrayfield and have a bit of fun.”

  34. Playing Hastings at 12 and Russell at 10 needs a look at again I think. Far more threatening than the boring Ford Farrell combo overhype.A nightmare for a defense if they click. Not sure the next match is place to do it… maybe it is.
    Centre isnt locked down for anyone the last year.

    1. Agreed that centre is wide open. I am not dishing the incumbents as they thought they did OK but nothing special. I read a lot of people saying they were good defensively, not sure what game I was watching but I thought Ireland where well up on line breaks for first 60 mins or so and I thought I saw several through the midfield. Perhaps the stats closed as players tired.

      I like the call of having both Hastings and FR on at the same time, perhaps for last 20 mins or so. With Hogg behind them the defence wouldn’t know who to close down – definitely something out of left field. For me I would have Hastings at 10 and FR outside him. Did Finn not used to play as a centre? For a 10 he always impressed me at his ability to shrug off big hits and not get injured (touch wood). Any way, if we can front up again in the forwards, still be in the game for the last quarter, and then introduce some Finnsanity I’d say we are in with a good shot.

      1. So you see the sense of picking form players – but want to disregard that and then compound the stupidity by playing players out of position.


      1. Yes we do. And when they start helping us win games we’ll agree to pick them. Until then trying something different is hardly controversial, and having 2 number 10s on the pitch for closing 20 mins is hardly something new.

        We’ve just seen that picking form players helped with a massively improved performance, don’t know why you would want to limit that on the basis of the number on their back at club games.

      2. England have had some success with a 10 at 12 and New Zealand have never been shy about making sure they fit all their best players into their backline.

        Would prefer to see Scott get a chance first though.

  35. This is where we are, and that’s okay. 

    Defence was so much better it makes me want to sue Matt Taylor. Loved the way the wings were getting into the passer’s eyeline, similar to SA’s structure in the World Cup.
     Knocking Healy and Furlong back at scrumtime is no mean feat. Great stuff from props that will hopefully be peaking at around the next world cup.
     Also, it’s a genuine pleasure to see the spine of that seriously good 2015/6 youth team (Fagerson, Cummings, Ritchie, Horne, Hastings, Hutchison and Kinghorn, not to mention Graham and Bradbury when fit) coming into this level and looking like they belong. All those years they’ve played alongside each other will be a serious asset to the team as they develop.
    And that’s the problem – our spine is young and inexperienced. Ireland had six players with over 50 caps in their 23. Scotland had two. The captain, and a shy 25 year old who has been completely brilliant for Scotland but doesn’t seem to speak up a lot. 

    There’s no remedy but time. This is the first group of payers who’ve come through a fully formed professional pathway, so if you want to blame someone, blame the SRU of the 2000s. And there’s no shortcut, so if you want success right now, take up curling or something. Ireland went through a similar thing – Brian O’Driscoll was 30 before he won anything at international level. It’s not a straight line, but you do get the feeling that more and more pieces of the puzzle are falling into place.

  36. In reality Hogg’s mistake cost a maximum of 4 points (as Adam got the penalty), the try was on the touchline so it may have only been 2 points lost.

    1. I thought Hogg had the best game I have seen from him in a very long time. The incident was unfortunate, he will be suffering but I think the Hasting missed penalty at 7-6 was more important, it was the right time in the match to just get in front and scrap it out . One thing I cannot work out is where he was in the Sexton try, He didn’t seem to be covering back and did not appear to be caught up in the ruck. Did anyone work that out ! Was he receiving treatment.

    2. All of which is true. None of which makes it OK. I thought he had a good game and looked the part as captain. But he needs to score that. Before any thing else, he absolutely has to score that.

  37. Can hardly blame Hastings for missing that tricky kick though. Hogg on the other hand there are zero excuses and he was not unlucky. Trying to be flash, too much ego, lack of brain cells. Hopefully that embarrassing incident knocks some sense in to him.
    The fake celebration was funny though. Especially as 2 of the subs next to him instinctively put their hands on their head in disbelief, kinda a problem when trying to con the officials.

    1. Not blaming Hastings, it was the right time to get something on the scoreboard, it was always a 50/50. Maybe corner lineout drive would have been better. Relax, Hogg is captain for this 6N, the pressure is on now that we have raised the bar, your time will come , keep the powder dry.

    2. Give over.
      He dropped a ball. It was a freak error from a player who usually scorches the turf but you want to home in and have a go at him about it?

      I don’t understand that attitude.

      1. Busy Little Bee is a… special poster. He has some interesting ideas and a bit of a man crush on Dan Parks. Part of me suspects that he IS Dan Parks.

      2. Or Russian.
        Wouldn’t surprise me. Any way to get a bit of needle in.

        I’ll admit some of the Dan Parks posts have raised a bit of a chuckle.

        I’ve read similar comments re: Hogg’s fumble over on offsideline.

        What is it with these people?
        Do they really think having a pop at Hogg is telling him something he doesn’t know/ feel already?


      3. I’ve no idea. I thought he and his fellow leaders were generally good. Especially when you consider that it was his second time as captain, and first in a T1 match. And Dublin is a notoriously inhospitable place to play. As for putting his fumble down to ego… I don’t know what happened, but it looked to me like he was being lazy – it’s easier to place it than to dive over. I wonder what those same people think of Teddy Thomas or Mark Bennett or Owen Farrell or Freddie Burns…

  38. This was one really one win that got away. Doubt we’ll see Ireland play so poorly at home for a while. Our own daft penalties and bouts of white line fever did us in ultimately.

    Big plus was good defense overall, Steve Tandy is a good asset to get hold of. Good scrummage but wobbly lineout. Danny Wilson has good reputation around the set piece and is another good asset to have gotten hold of.

    Ali Price and Horne need to more assertive and curb the forwards endless banging away at the line. I didn’t feel we were going to score in any of these goal line slug fests. One time we did switch it up Hoggy got over and …… oops. Suspect Finn would have been screaming for the ball and come up with something. Hastings did have a very good game, but Finn was missed. He needs to be called back.

    I think the level of performance was a step up on last season and the WC.

    Why are people asking for Matt Scott? Don’t get it at all.

    1. Can’t really disagree with any of that. I said above that unlike in recent times I felt we kept banging away with the forwards too much whereas we had a habit of throwing it wide too early getting isolated and turned over.

      That’s kind of what I felt about Hastings / Russell too, Hastings was good and did nought wrong but I just feel Russell is more likely to unlock a defence.

      Defence in the tight areas I thought was a big improvement but out wide Ireland made ground quite easily. It seems to be our strategy that one centre flies out of the line, that’s fine if they make the tackle / interception (as Johnson did one one occasion) but it’s very high risk if they don’t and Ireland were able to make a lot of ground on a few occasions.

      1. Yes and no. Matt Scott has cut some great lines and made some scintillating line breaks which is what people tend to remember but he’s had a few poor games and defensive lapses too. It’s not clear that George Taylor hasn’t become first choice 12 at Edinburgh.

      2. Edinburgh have lost two games all season where Matt Scott started. Leinster and Bordeaux. Hes been in great form for Edinburgh and was selected for the Scotland squad on the back of it. George Taylor, fine player that hes becoming, wasn’t and is still behind Scott in the pecking order at Edinburgh. Injuries aside Scott will start for Edinburgh v Bordeaux in their challenge cup quarter which I think could reasonably be described as their biggest game of the season to that date which will confirm that pecking order. Will he start for Scotland next week, not a chance. Lets hope that any breaks fall to someone whose pace is not that of continental drift.

      3. Looking back at the match… Sam Johnston may not be fast but he was crucial to keeping us int he match… He seems to read the play very well. I noticed that especially in defence…

        In the first half he had that interception which he did well to keep alive and although a runaway was ideal it would be unlikely for anyone from you’re own 22… he did the right thing and it was someone else’s error (Or team on whole) that led to the turnover. Not to mention had he not intercepted I think it was a try we were really stretched.

        He then intercepted shortly after when Ireland were bearing down 5 yards out with an advantage. They took the penalty but again an almost certain try saved.

        He also interrupted a pass on halfway that led to our thrown at a line-out with a touch in flight. He gained possession for Scotland.

        These were mostly hidden from first viewing I think but crucial plays that should be applauded…

        Ali Price seemed to be the extra man that did the running out a lot as he may be seen as not the biggest or best tackler???

  39. I’ve just seen Sky Sports’ player rating for the game. They’re quite funny. Apparently Ireland’s front row had the better game…

  40. Neither Finn Russell nor Darcy Graham included in the 37 man squad for Saturday’s Calcutta Cup game. Very disappointing. We need both players back after the mid-tournament break. Skinner, Thomson and R Gray also omitted. Any one know the status on their injuries?

    1. Hopefully they will use the small break after the England game to sort things out.

      Time for Dodson to earn his stupid salary and mediate.

      1. Dodson is the worst person to mediate what a stupid suggestion, Townsend and Russell should just shag it out for dominance.

      2. In some ways that seems like the most sensible plan given the situation, avoids disrupting the team before the England game. Despite the importance of the game, I feel that a united 23 with no distractions has a strong chance given the glimpses we were shown in Dublin.

        We will wait and see if they use the rest week to reintegrate him with the squad and heal the divides though.

      3. My Dad would have banged our heads together by now.

        No matter what’s been said and done, it’s the bosses job to heal the rift the now…Toony needs to fix his senior players group, Dodson needs to fix Toony.

      1. They did lose but he got a good try from his own chargedown. I didn’t watch all of the game but he looked good. Young Harvey Skinner was playing 10 but turns out its no relation.

    2. Darcy Graham injured out until the Italy game.
      Thomson out and TBH given his history we might not see him for some time, if at all.
      It’s a head knock.
      Skinner played 1 comeback game so maybe a bit early, R Gray also injured.
      Russell we know about.

  41. Sure it would be great to have Finn back. The problem is that he did let his fellow players down, whatever his private reasons for his behaviour. It is up to Finn to make the first move, not SRU. So far he doesn’t seem inclined to do so. Meanwhile stick as closely as possible to the same game day squad, coach out the errors and let them gell as a unit. We could be onto something here.

    1. Not really surprising he isn’t in the squad against England – he missed the entire 6N camp and there is a week between Ireland and England.

      Of course he could have avoided this by attending the camp despite being dropped against Ireland – he didn’t, so practically it doesn’t make sense for him to come back until after England when there’ll be a longer break before Italy.

      1. Tom English tweeting Russell asked to apologise before returning to camp and is not inclined to. Also he’ll rejoin on bench rather than a lot straight into starting team.

        So perhaps Russell playing any part of this 6N looking less likely. Not sure what Finn wants out of this situation but can’t see how he expects to rejoin team without climbing down. It’s not like he stormed out on a point of principle FFS

      2. Between the lines I see two things on this with no evidence at all I add. Finn isnt that bright. I wouldnt be surprised if he thinks this is all a big joke and loves the banter Zebo is prodding him with. Also that he may well harbour some SRU resentment over his dads situation. He shared stuff about Dodsons salary, again not very smart. Its also a Lions year next year. He was a shoe in. Even if he comes back this championship he has severely tarnished his reputatation. Coming across as more a young Ciprian than Farell or Sexton. The most frustrating thing is I think Im on Finns side when it comes ot the original transgression but his conduct since (via social media anyway) stinks.

  42. He liked or shared a rugby pass tweet joking about things that cost way more than they should, a pint, iphone etc. But Mark Dodson was the punchline

    1. Im not on Finn’s side. It seems he did break the team protocol…and was disciplined accordingly for it…but disappointingly has acted like a petulant child ever since.
      All very irresponsible of him…. at a time when the team needed a togetherness to deal with a poor previous year of rugby.
      Its a team sport… as talented as he is at times…Im not sure his talents are essential for us to move forward. Hastings could well be a better long term option.
      Finns bag of tricks is a very big bag…BUT.. without a good level of consistency I just dont think its good enough. He needs to grow up…and at 27…I dont have a ton of hope for him. As someone said…its becoming Cipriani like…

      1. Difference is Cipriani did it in his youth. By 27 he was well and truly sorting his attitude out.

      2. I think Finns game management has leapt forward in the last year or so. Unfortunately he’s at risk of totally detailing his test career and instead of becoming a Scottish legend he’ll be that talented bloke whose promised loads and never really delivered when it mattered.

      3. I’m not on his side either. I think the rule he broke (from the stories) was stupid but it was a team rule nonetheless and you don’t just break it because you think you can. He’s also come across like a bit of an arse since then.

        I would have picked him if he was included in the squad (meaning the whole thing was over) but since not more experience for Hastings I guess.

        I’d probably pick the exact same starting XV with Bradbury and maybe Skinner on the bench. Steyn or McGuigan could maybe replace Harris on the bench as well but all much of a muchness really.

      4. I’m fully on his side. Management has been unaccountable and has a poor track record. He’s already delivered multiple times and this never needed to reach this stage. Sooner he is back or Townsend out the better for Scottish rugby. As Hastings senior says, unthinkable if he not back in the fold.

      5. “he’ll be that talented bloke whose promised loads and never really delivered when it mattered”

        Never had a player like that before have we…Oh hang on, he’s now the national coach!

      6. Toony was part of a 5N championship winning team in which he scored a try in every match, and went on a winning Lions tour as one of the Test XV. He had his moments…

      7. Fair point TC, but if that right management should have resolved this. No way should have got to this stage. Also do we know that for sure or just fan speculation without anything tangible. Do we know which senior players? Is this all to do with Hogg captaincy?

      8. Toony did deliver though.

        If only he’d had some other equally skilled players around we would have seen even more from him.

      9. Worth bearing in mind that as well as the 99 success and Lions victory, Toonie was in a Scotland team that came runners up in the 5N in 93, 95, 96.

        His achievements at test level can’t be written off.

  43. Am I right in thinking that Price’s box kicking is nearly always too long and not high enough (and that Laidlaw’s was no better)?

    1. Most definitely. There were a few box kicks that were nowhere near being contested, allowing Larmour to build up a head of steam. There was also that aimless kick into the 22 that he somehow got lucky on, with the foot in touch.

    2. I quite agree. Scotland could do a lot worse than bring in Henry Pyrgos. His box kicking and game management bring accuracy and a calmness that you dont always get from Price.

    3. Yep. Weirdly his box kicking against the ABs in 2017 was spot on, though, so he has it in him.

  44. In light of Finn’s absence I’d replace Jones with Hutchinson, need some magic in the 10-12-13, Huw Jones is a very fine player but what I’ve seen of Hutchinson he could be the one to make things happen, also a regular in the team 1 point off the top in the GEP confirms his form.

  45. Ok, so Hogg should not be captain. He can’t cope with playing his best and the pressure of leading the team. I think Watson could be the man to lead… we also need someone with more pace in the backs, obvs DG is quick but injured, and Johnson is powerful but no race horse. Hastings will grow into a top class player with this experience. Finn, sadly should apologise asap before he finds he’s lost his start for good. Altogether, this was a good tough performance, and boys should be proud. But England will be angry and wounded, and we’ll need the same dogged performance but with more accuracy.

    1. Hogg delivered a superb performance marred by two high-profile errors. He beat 8 or 9 defenders, kicked and passed well and kept the heid for the team, despite Raynal’s palpable disdain. I was extremely sceptical before the game, but I didn’t see any negative effects and thought his passion was well utilised.

      1. I really dont get the negativity arounds Hoggs performance this weekend. He made 1 huge error th elike of which he has never made before and I dont think he will likely ever again. Otherwise he seemed to be making a concerted effort at captaining. I agree on Raynals contempt for him, it was totally unnecessary & Im at a loss to explain it. I thought it was his most composed performance in a long time.

    1. This is because of the, in general, poor kicking compared to very efficient Irish kicking. Hogg could not run back as well as Larmour

      1. Maybe it’s also to do with tactics and kicking position. We have poor record of winning back box kicks so makes sense to kick longer from our last third of the pitch. Ireland contest every high kick well and know that kicking long to Hogg gives us great broken field ball.

        For all the hype around Larmour he was quiet except for one outside break early on and has never really stamped himself on a game at test level. Hoggy has been there and done that many times over so Ireland will tailor tactics specifically to limit his involvement in the game.

  46. If we want to play the box kick game, let’s use Pyrgos. He can play quickly when required, as he has for both Edinburgh and Glasgow (not least in our Pro 12 win). Hot take?

    1. Apart from his box kicking being terrible, he’s slower than a wet weekend in Bognar and his passing is fling and hope.

      Yes by all means bring in Pyrgos.

      1. His box kicking is pretty good for Edinburgh. And I believe his is playing the way he’s being asked to. He wasn’t slow for Warriors.

      2. His box kicking drives me up the wall – strange how two folk watching it can have such contrasting opinions.

      3. I didn’t say I liked box kicking. It’s boring af, unless it’s followed by Bradbury smashing the poor catcher…

      4. I didn’t suggest you like box kicking – I said I found it strange you though Pyrgos is a good box kicker.

      5. Crikey …Pyrgos??…he really is our 3rd choice …soon to be 4th choice SH…after a few games for Sheil.
        He’s been average at his very best….and mostly woeful…at test level.
        Box kicking?…why do we do it all…all our players catch it like a plate of hot pasta. Every time we do it I wince…its either a penalty or we just get nowhere near the ball.

  47. Sooo many of you eejits want to change the team for the sake of it. The boys did well last week and could,, should, would’ve won barring the odd mistake. Not one of us would have expected that (away from home against #4 in the world who we haven’t beaten for a decade). Let the boys gel, learn from their mistakes, get in the faces of the English. Maybe win.
    Calls for change are why we’re where we are. Keep the same team and that loyalty will be repaid.
    Not one player played badly enough to be replaced.

      1. I think Brown was at the heart of the Scottish defence, what has he done wrong ? in a few papers teams of the week. he is a total brute/jackler, extremely powerful at scrum time.

        Line-out needs some work but we do not exactly have tall players.

      2. Really exactly which papers? Set piece constantly malfunctions at the very worst moments when he is throwing in. Likewise penalties and moaning to the ref. Don’t like saying it, but doesn’t seem to have mentality for highest pressure international rugby (goes ok for Glasgow but doesn’t translate). Maybe he’ll prove wrong. But you have to ask how many high profile mistakes do there need to be… Sure McInally was frazzled in Japan, but breaks the gain line more often, scores tries and much much more reliable thrower. I want to like Brown but yeah. Course if either of them involved in Finn debacle (and goes for anyone else) should also be dropped for failing to resolve.

      3. He was selected by The Times, as was Sutherland. I thought Brown was excellent. He led the forwards well, carried hard, scrummed hard, defended hard. Did gave away a dumb penalty, but he was hardly alone in doing so. McInally is also excellent, but he doesn’t seem as dynamic as he did. I’d actually prefer to see Turner on the bench.

  48. Researching the match.

    4 and a half mins in and we have a Jonny Gray offload. Maybe Kevin Millar could confirm this is his first of his career?

    Still stands as i thought at the time…why were we not given an advantage with our first kick at goal? They were clearly stretched and giving a clear penalty away cos it suited them. So Raynal obliged rather than give advantage and watch it play out? Like he did for Ireland as they headed up the field.

    Defence is night and day as before makes life on a rugby field so much easier…

      1. He did so for Fagerson’s try against Japan, too, didn’t he? I don’t think it’s unusual to see him offload.

      2. Clearly not been watching and yes I now remember that fine offload in The World Cup but I was amazed at that one at the time. And just listened to Sale Away and that talks about that game…I’ll away and watch more rugby I suppose and try to rectify my clear ignorance…

  49. Crazy P I don’t think intelligence has anything to do with this. I met him and Ali Price twice in two nights after The World Cup. First night both were polite but were completely versed on what to say and what not to say to not get them into trouble by someone passing on what they said even as a thrown away line. He ain’t stupid and knows exactly what he is doing right or wrong or angry whatever it maybe.

    Even with a drink in him (second night) he still had a knowing for what was appropriate and what wasn’t….

    He seems angry at something and I’m not sure what as it seemed initially he took his medicine and as far as I had heard he had apologised. From what I heard from Andy Nicol on Five live (is he a good source I do not know) Townsend and Finn get on better than people think and certain speaking up and challenging ideas is encouraged.

    I think it is probably very like The Hogg situation few years back that did look a disaster at the time. Hogg has since spoke on it and said he needed to be taken down a peg or two. Russell now has no barriers with money, he is the big fish and treated as such in Paris by ex Internationals who have the reins off slightly now too. It’s hard not to be turned to believe the hype even for a wee while.

    Will it end the same way as Hogg I hope so but there are no guarantees here…

    1. There is no way he would have been back in the squad for Sat, unless Hastings got injured.

      IMO he’s serving his time and will be back in the squad for the Italy match.

    2. The only counter point I’d make to what you say, and everything we are all saying is conjecture, is that Hogg was far younger and didnt have the personal baggage Finn has. I can certainly see why you’d say he seems angry and if he is then that is a harder nut to crack, especially if if it stems in part from his feelings on the SRU hierarchy. I dont believe it can all be this otherwise it would have reared its head before now. Either way now the dust has settled if he wants to play for Scotland or the Lions he needs to put his tail between his legs and be a professional.

      1. Why would Russell’s feelings about Dodson and the SRU bureaucracy have any bearing on his relationship with Townshend and the senior players in the squad?

        I think it makes very little sense.

      2. For the same reason anything going work at work can taint the whole environment. Maybe he was tired from the game, with pressure and other things playing on his mind when some moron who’s achieved a fraction of what he has sidles over and starts telling him what to do. Not hard to see that pro sportsman with enough self worth to be a winner would think f that and f you. Set against context of getting stick for money, yet turns out to be a fraction of Dodson, of Hogg getting captaincy (having asked for it) ongoing disagreement on tactics, and maybe desperately needing a day off. Pretty easy to see how might react. Then maybe apologies, but rather than being treated with understanding is left hanging and told not in game and being made an example of. By a team you’ve put blood sweat and tears into to pay the man who sacked your dad. At that point you probably think, well if I’m really not wanted. Pure speculation there could be more to it than even all of that.

    3. Because the SRU are his employers when it comes to Scotland. The organisation and the head of it who were responsible for everything they did to his father are who he is representing when he chooses to play. It’s a job. Ofcourse it could affect him. I think you are being too romantic about playing for your country FF, it’s a professional era. Not Rocket Science is spot on.

      1. Fair, but think you’ll agree it is equally pure speculation to say the issues are definitively unconnected in Finn’s mind.

  50. Must must get the Finn thing sorted. Too soon to fix for England but must be sorted before Italy. All conjecture but the Tom English tweet sounds plausible to me. If it hinges on an apology then not clever by Toonie/SRU in light of the SRU non apology to his Dad. Can’t help thinking this would not have happened under more experienced coaches such as (hate to say it….Gatland, Hansen, Erasmus). The longer it goes on the harder for either side to back down. For the love of rugby it needs to be fixed.

    1. I think we are going to struggle to unlock Englands defense without him, i am concerned Jones and co will have worked out stuff from Tandys new defensive system and exploit it also now teams know what to expect, this is really going to be the real test off our defenses

    2. Gatland removed team members from an early Welsh squad never to return due to not tracking back hard enough when the team lost the ball…. I doubt Finn would ever be back if this happened under Gatland and may stop him ever being a Lion!!!!

    3. The situation with Finn’s dad is totally irrelevant – TOL like to shoehorn it in at every opportunity as it is their favourite axe to grind but it has
      no bearing on this situation (1) Dodson isn’t involved in this fall out (2) Townshend and the Scotland senior players had nothing to do with Keith Russell’s unfair dismissal. They are two totally separate issues and to assume Russell has fallen out with Townshend/the Scotland squad because of it is a pretty big stretch.

      Not to mention that people somehow seem to be blaming Dodson for the ongoing stand off. I’m not sure a coach’s position would be tenable if the CEO had to step in to heal relationships with star players – CEO role is on off-field concerns, not the running of the squad.

  51. It’s going to be fine Tandy and the boys know what the limited options opposition players will respond with. don’t worry it’s all in hand!

  52. Haven’t heard anything about any of our boys picking up niggles in Ireland. Is this the first time in living memory after an Ireland game that we can pick the same team due to a lack of injuries?

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