Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 28 – 17 France

Scotland v France
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

France arrived at BT Murrayfield under the cloud of coronavirus, but the Grand Slam chasing Gallic horde were repelled by a strong Scottish defensive effort, which was made easier by a moment of madness from French tighthead Mohamed Haouas.

Nick Haining was penalised within the opening two minutes for not rolling away, allowing Romain Ntamack, so good against Wales last time out, the opportunity to put his side ahead from just inside Scotland’s half. Fortunately for Haining and Scotland, it drifted just right of the posts.

France were then reduced to 14-men for a period when Francois Cros and Paul Willemse tackled Grant Gilchrist and dumped him on his head. Willemse seemed to be the worst of the aggressors, but after a discussion between referee Paul Williams and TMO Bruce MacNiece, it was Cros that was sent to the bin for 10 minutes.

The familiar failing line-out stopped Scotland’s first chance to attack, but Ntamack’s spill of Hastings Garryowen gave Scotland a scrum in centre field just outside the 22. Not only that, but the influential Ntamack had to be replaced by Matthieu Jalibert after being injured when trying to retrieve the situation.

Scotland won the scrum penalty, and Adam Hastings eventually knocked over the penalty after readjusting his ball placement on the tee.

Jalibert threatened for France when he made a sneaky blindside break and chipped over Blair Kinghorn, but the Edinburgh man had enough speed to win the race and Ali Price cleared Scotland’s lines.

Another Hastings penalty extended the lead to 6-0, and halfway through the first half, France were looking a bit rattled. They were making handling errors, nipping in Paul Williams’ ear and being bettered in the scrum.

Damian Penaud on France’s right-wing may be a lethal finisher, but his defence can be sometimes lacking, sometimes non-existent.

Hastings was happy to send a few kicks his way, and one of them saw Penaud put under extreme pressure from Kinghorn. Penaud appeared to have the last touch, only for the officials to rule it had come off Kinghorn before crossing the touchline.

A few minutes later, and Penaud had done what he does best; score tries.

Jalibert broke down the left, and although Maitland did tremendously well to halt Fickou’s charge to the line and Scotland were in scramble mode. Dupont, who at times had looked lost without Ntamack beside him, saw acres of space out on the right, and cross-kicked for Penaud.

Good pressure from the restart saw Scotland win the turnover and then a penalty deep in the French 22. Rather than take the three, Hogg went for the line.

Illegal entry to the maul gave Scotland another penalty advantage, and at the next stoppage an almighty scrap broke out on the French 5m line.

Nick Haining and Mohamed Haouas started it, Jamie Ritchie came tearing in and Haouas swung a big right hook at him. It connected on his cheek, so Paul Williams called skipper Ollivon and Haouas  over before calmly explaining that he had no option but to send Haouas packing.

Hastings’ third penalty of the afternoon put Scotland back in front, and excellent breakdown work by Hamish Watson gave Scotland another chance with only one-minute remaining in the first half.

And how they took that chance. An excellent weaving run by Adam Hastings bamboozled the French defence, Sam Johnson cut a nice line to take the ball on, and rather than risk going himself, he unselfishly dished it out for Sean Maitland to dive into the right corner for Scotland’s first BT Murrayfield try of the Six Nations. A crucial score at a most crucial stage.

Half-time: Scotland 14 – 7 France

France battered the Scotland line in the early stages of the second half, only for the much improved defence we’ve seen in this campaign hold firm and stay disciplined.

Then, the lethal Scotland of two years ago poked it’s ahead above the waters again with a tremendous score to send Murrayfield wild.

Hogg spotted a forward to run at, Harris went deep, and although Price was stopped 5m short, Maitland was soon over for his second predatory score of the afternoon. Hastings superb touchline conversion made it 21-7.

The French really were shaken to the core. Gregory Alldritt had a lengthy whinge with dramatic hand gestures, and when they next had possession in the Scotland half, Jefferson Poirot cleared Jamie Ritchie from a ruck round the neck.

Anthony Bouttier has been a recent revelation for France, and his break into the Scotland 22 caused some panic, only for Jalibert’s grubber to be guzzled up by Hastings and thumped away, but it showed they were still a real threat with the lead at two converted tries.

With an hour on the clock France did reduce the deficit from the boot of Jalibert, but Scotland would have been relieved that they kept the like of Vakatawa from crossing the whitewash.

As some drizzle hit Edinburgh, a double rainbow arced perfectly over the roof of BT Murrayfield’s east-stand, and Stuart McInally claimed the pot of gold at the end of at least one of them

His own line-out was deflected back into his path, and when he picked it up, there was not a single French player covering the left wing. Having just come on, the hooker who can outrun Jonny May was gifted the score. Another excellent Hastings’ conversion extended the lead to 18 points with only around 15mins left to play.

Double try-scorer Sean Maitland made way for Kyle Steyn – winning his first cap – and the former 7s man nearly created another try when he leapt above Fickou to claim a Hastings up ‘n under and put Harris through, but he didn’t quite have the acceleration to go himself, or the ability to off-load for Horneito (who else?) who had popped up on his right shoulder.

With just under 5mins remaining, France did reduce the deficit with a wonderfully worked move, began by full-back Thomas Ramos and finished off by skipper Charles Ollivon, but la resistance proved futile, as they couldn’t reduce the arrears further which could have led to an all-important losing bonus point.

It was actually Scotland who rolled the dice one more time as they chased the try bonus point, alas Blair Kinghorn put too much juice on his kick ahead with both him and Hogg haring after it.

A much needed, morale boosting victory – the fourth in a row at Murrayfield over Les Bleus – all eyes now turn to the Principality stadium, and the possibility of a three-win Six Nations campaign which had all started rather bleakly.

Referee: Paul Williams (NZRU)

SRBlog MOTM: in a change to the official sponsor’s selection, but staying in the back-row, I’m awarding it to Hamish Watson. Two huge defensive turnovers either side of half-time swung the momentum firmly in Scotland’s favour. (And no, this is not solely to appease Cammy Black who thought I should have awarded him MOTM against Ireland rather than Jamie Ritchie.)

193 Responses

  1. Hate to say it but I agree with Brian Moore, not sure France would have won with 15. Plenty will be said about performance but let me start with the negative. That ref was spineless. Gilchrist’s upending is a red by letter of the law. I said as soon as it happened the ref would bottle it. Barnes made the call to escalate. Same for the actual red, you could see the ref was bricking it, Barnes made the call for him. We are in a period of real transition with international refs and it seems to me there is a massive dearth of talent. Owens has pint been great for a while and I believe Barnes only runs the touch now, like semi retirement. The drop off after those two and to an extent Poite is enormous. Wales are there for the taking next week.

    1. The ref seemed determined to find something to card Ritchie for and it was lucky the TMO found an angle showing the punch. It’s a bit barmy that not only the commentators but even refs don’t understand the framework for tip tackles.

    2. Thought the ref was awful. Indecisive… time wasted almost every scrum to stroke his authority ego. That 10-15 min period on 1st half was just rediculous and spoiled the game.

      1. Quite right and too much coaching from the ref as well. He slowed the game right down in the first half. Time to penalise teams and individual players for delaying plau

      2. If there was only maximum a free kick for scrum penalties we’d be off and running again fairly quickly…

      3. Referendum, I agree that to take away the penalty carrot might reduce cheating, but it also means losing the stick, so might have the opposite effect – penalties are needed to control behaviour.

        How about if a penalty or free kick is awarded from a scrum, a scrum must not be selected as the reward…I’m not sure if that is what you meant?

  2. An 80 minute performance at last. Powerful scrum, gutsy defence, control at half back and some great interventions by Hogg.

    Small mistakes meant we didn’t get the BP, but I’m really, really liking the improvements that Tandy and de Villiers have brought

    1. all 4 performances have been similar I think, very solid. Rome a bit less so perhaps. Today we had the bounce of the ball and played against 14 men for 55 minutes. McInally’s try from our botched line-out summed it up. That wasn’t good play.
      Haining is good for the team, he’s a bit of a dick and good at sparking confrontation and then laughing at his man. Sparked the red card today. Him and Ritchie are the kind of bastards we need in the team.

      1. I think we rattled the French (they said so themselves post-match). That’s when you tend to get the luck going your way. If we can sort out the lineout (a strength in the past) then we’re in good shape for next week.

  3. Completely agree with mom. Watson and Ritchie were superb. Sooo happy.
    Niggle France and it’s as Corporal Jones says “they don’t like it up em”. Control was never lost. It at least for more than a minute.
    Toonies naysayers should be rethinking

  4. Need to sign Tandy up long term. What a difference he’s made. We didn’t look outgunned in the forwards against a French team full of bug guys. Need to back it up in Wales now.

    1. I think it’s worth remembering that Wilson is forwards coach and de Villiers is scrum coach. They all deserve kudos, IMO.

  5. Initial thoughts – a positive step but hopefully people don’t get carried away (same as when we get beaten badly in a game….).

    Red card undoubtedly helped, although we had every chance without it from the game up to that point. I think Ntamac going off was a bigger game changer than the card.

    I thought Johnson stood out, Harris played well but his attack is just blunt strength which was effective against a very tired 14 men towards the end but not in other situations.

    Watson made some excellent turnovers, Ritchie is class and with Haining May be our first choice back row going forward.

    As people have said, if you rattle France they still have a tendency to fall apart a bit – but you have to do well to rattle them!

    I’m reserving judgement until after the Wales game, we need a good performance against them (even if not a win) to really see where we are.

    On a fantasy rugby note – having May, Tuilagi and Ntamac in my team this week is really going to hurt – just thankful I didn’t have the french prop…..

    1. Although … I really think we need to beat Wales in Wales to show progress. A loss won’t tell us anything.
      Wales look average overall this 6 N…. a few more losses and Pivac will be on a shoogly peg. they did however find their feet in the 2nd half v england

      1. That first welsh try was an absolute peach. I’d be happy if they score the pretty tries and we take the win next week though

    2. Harris did well in the build up to Maitland’s second try. I thought he was good today. Comfortable, even. I wouldn’t pick him over Jones for my mythical attacking side, but Townsend clearly has a different gameplan for which I have a great name but I suspect it won’t get past the filters! I think if you rattle any team they fall apart. Ireland were living off refereeing indulgence in round one.

  6. Thought Ritchie and Watson were excellent again. Front row was good and Hogg and Maitland were on form. However, I would also give a special mention for Sam Johnson. I thought he was excellent and is really a key member of the team now.

    One moment that stood out for me was the red card before half time. The two players that reacted instantly to the initial shenanigans were Ritchie and Johnson. Ritchie goes to defend the man on the ground and Johnson takes on the opposition props. Funniest moment of the game was watching Gilchrist hold back the French stand-off from clearing out Johnson rather than getting involved.

    Johnson is as hard as nails, plays for the team, runs good lines, draws players and makes the final pass, as you could see with the first try. He also regularly hits rucks like a number 7 and made the pass off the base of the ruck that led to the second try. He’s doing an awful lot of the unflashy stuff and it suits the current style.

      1. Couldn’t agree more as a 6’8’’ 2nd row myself who fantasised about playing scrum half this was such a great moment for me. Like watching John Eales taking the conversions back in the day. Passing that distance off the left hand at the base of the ruck with the speed, trajectory and accuracy under pressure to lead to the try hasn’t, in my opinion, attracted enough attention in the main stream. Forgive me if there are further comments on the blog.

    1. I thought Kinghorn was really good, too. And that was the best performance I’ve ever seen from Ghilchrist. Really impressed. Talks of the loss of the dressing room seem to be inaccurate…

      1. Teamcam: you should listen to JR’s MOM interview. I got the impression he credited the win to the ‘fans and themselves’ the latter being the players (I thought that was the context and it was in a direct response to a question about the players and coaches being under pressure to get a win). We should just enjoy the win for now and get next week out of the way. Maybe he meant them all ! who knows. The loss of Ntamack was the key point, much as we started well, when he went off, France were lifeless.

      2. J-B…. I noticed that also. He neatly sidestepped the question which was something like… “players n coach under pressure, how pleased are you to get this win particularly owed to your manager?”….. only mentions fans and ‘ourselves’ in response.

    2. Mike Blair for years in his column talks about “The Championships Minutes!” being the 5 before and after half-time. If ever there was a match to show that is this. Not sure how many times Scotland have been on the right side of this kind of thing. We’ve had countless against us. They get a Red card, we take three points then get a try. After half-time we get a turnover which looks try time from Hamish then up the other end to score another seven points. 15 points in that ten minutes and it really was over as a contest by that point.

      Well done Scotland.

  7. Very encouraging & controlled aggressive performance. Credit to GT, Tandy & De Villiers and ALL the players. The players with question marks over them such as Price & Gilchrist really stepped up. Loved the Gilco pass from base of scrum for first try. Back row and starting props fantastic also Hogg, Hastings & Johnson.
    Obvious work to be done on line-out and a bit more composure from Horneito required to close out games.
    Bring on the Welsh.

    1. Since when did Price have question marks about him. Best scrum half we have by a mile at the moment.

  8. The Welsh look a shadow of their former selves post Gatland and Edwards. Stats are against an away win but it’s got to come sooner or later?

    1. Need to sort our lineout or AWJ will be licking his lips. Otherwise, not sure Wales will be looking forward to our visit.

  9. Good win today but strangely Mrs B and I are a little ‘flat’ after it. Neither of us out of our seats during the match which is unusual. Oddly deflated. Maybe it’s because we really should have had the 4th try.

    Anyhoo. Some positives.

    Back 3 looks strong and Graham will only add to that.
    Harris had his best game in a Scotland shirt.
    Nick Haining offering a big ball-carrying option at 8.
    Gilchrist had one of his best games. Been underwhelmed by him recently but he played to his size today.
    Hastings controlled the game well from 10. He’s been under pressure this tournament, not of his own making, and has fronted up well. Fair play to him.
    Thought Hogg captained well. In the ref’s ear in the right way, at the right times.
    Flankers were superb.
    Mish doing Mish things.
    Jamie Ritchie exactly what we’ve missed for years. Tough, belligerent and a constant thorn in the oppos side. A total mongrel. We haven’t had that since Fin C. Love it. Future captain.
    What a difference in defence. Chapeaux to Steve Tandy!

    It was against 14 for most of the game.
    It was at home.
    We should have scored the 4th try.
    Sort the line out (this is our major weakness now in attack and defence).
    Horne should have been on earlier to exploit a tiring side.

    The next trial is going to be the bigger one. Wales in Cardiff. Can we win? Jamie Ritchie has it right. “Why not.”

    1. Yes … we’re still not ruthless.
      We left a try or 2 out there…and it could have given us a high table placing at the end of the 6N.
      Thought we really missed Finn today. Hastings has really stepped up and essentially given us 2 top class 10s ..which is great.
      I felt like with the defense playing at a much higher level than they have with Finn in the side..Finn could have torn France apart today. Such a shame he is fit and isnt in the squad. Needs to be sorted out for the sake of Scottish rugby.

    2. Very fair particularly about Horne he really needs to get a start. If you need a score he is far more likely to deliver it than Price .

      1. Think Price has scored plenty of tries for Scotland. He’s also a better all round player than George at the moment.

    3. Yes liked Ritchie saying that dead pan…good solid belief.

      We should have a fourth. Once kingjorn kicked why not a recycle of even recycle before the kick? We were in behind and so recycle will at least bring a penalty if there is ruck and with disorganization you usually get the try. I think we need to think on those situations a bit more. Like Hoggs late break against all blacks. Cut inside take the tackle recycle and await a pen or a better chance???
      I am nitpicking but point stands

  10. The result -and in particular the red card – went down like a rattlesnake in a lucky dip in France. Loads of complaining about the TV producers only showing selective camera shots of the incident which is comical to say the least given the way French TV operates at Paris fixtures. Jamie Ritchie is the real deal when it comes to sheer raw competitive aggression. And still only 23 . I’ll take that even with the obvious flaws. Maybe some hope for Cardiff.

    1. Selective Camera shots?…they mean the multiple camera angles that showed the full nature of the incident?
      Ritchie smacked square in the face …of ya go Frenchie…end of.
      Maybe they are just frustrated at their lack of ability to display discipline for 80 mins. Inducing discipline into the french mindset will be the toughest task Edwards faces. With no guarantees.
      Ritchie is class…imo…one of the best back row players around in world rugby.

      1. Reddit was absolutely crying out for Ritchie to be sent off as well.

        Not sure if it was my own bias but I didn’t think he did anything even remotely card-worthy.

  11. The whole thing that set the stramash off at 36 mins was a ball grab on Haining, have a replay…

    1. I thought it was hand in the face with fingers near the eyes from a French player on a Scotsman that started everything off

    2. I don’t normally comment on these things but you are the first person I have seen mention this, you are spot on.

    1. First time in a long long time not one Scottish player was below par got tactics spot on and never felt nervous watching them close game out.Toony and coaches enjoy your beer tonight.

    2. Well yeah..and if we beat Wales in Wales that’ll be progress….and he’ll deserve longer…if not then it’ll be back to square one.

  12. I’ve just done a quick scan of social media. Barely a single compliment offered to Townsend around game plan, preparation or selection. A few (generally grudging) positive comments about Harris.

    From my position in the stand today it looked a thoroughly professional, organised, victory. The team looked solid, defiant, aggressive and well prepared.

    Well done Townsend on bringing in both Tandy and De Villiers. They have transformed our work in their respective areas.

    Delighted for Rory Sutherland, such a great comeback to international rugby from all his injury woes. I hope he stays in Edinburgh for many a day.

    Also delighted for Chris Harris. Was Vakatawa even playing today?

    I was sceptical about Hogg as a captain, from a temperament perspective. I was completely wrong. He is absolutely the captain we need right now…and Ritchie and Cummings are already developing on the international stage for the future.

    The curmudgeons will no doubt remain negative. I frankly couldn’t care less. Many know as little about rugby as some of the people sitting close by today, who consistently advocated running the ball from deep in our 22. It seems like the people who appreciate what is actually happening on the pitch drops year by year.

    Talking of understanding the game…take a bow, Sean Maitland. Rarely puts a foot wrong for Scotland.

      1. Yes.
        He doesn’t have the flair of Hogg but he’s such a great balance in that back 3. Always makes good decisions, rarely makes mistakes and he’s got good pace for an oldie.

    1. Hmmm – while I don’t disagree with much of your analysis, I think getting overly positive about a single good game (particularly vs. 14 for a lot of it) is no better than the negative people who do the same after a loss.

      It was good, but one swallow and all that…. let’s see some consistent performances.

      1. Fraser, I think we have seen some consistent performances, at least in grit and defense particularly. We’ve only conceded 49 points/4 tries in 4 games. That is remarkably consistent. We’ve now scored six tries in two games (albeit that’s three against Italy and three against 14 men). Next week will definitely be telling.

    2. I’d agree with this. It was a wee bit disappointing not to turn the screw for the BP, but at the same time there was a clear game plan to win the match. Intense defence, keep turning them, protect the lead, destroy their will, sap their energy, turn pressure into points.
      Still the Wales game to go to evaluate where things are at. The new defence and intensity are keepers though. Opposition will find it a lot easier to work out how to nullify a fast and loose high risk game than an aggressive disciplined one. Think Edinburgh post HC semis and Scotland by the RWC. New coaches must stay. Would be nice to see a bit more ruthless conversion of opportunities thrown into the mix.

  13. Massive congratulations to the team. That we can look at that game and think it was a BP gone begging against as strong french team is a credit to how well the team played, line out aside.

    Agree with the comments that Gilchrist played like we probably all expect him to every game. Haining was better even than his very good first game. I thought Cummings had a good game as well.

    Really need to get the line out sorted. What I hope is that the team take confidence from this and realise that we’re not beaten as soon as we get on the pitch against the big teams. We can battle and fight and go toe to toe and come away with the win. Could/should have happened against Ireland and England. Did happen against France, let’s keep it going against Wales. People are saying wales aren’t as good as they were. Possibly not, but at home they’re they’re going to be fired up and when they string it together they have still looked good. It’s going to be quite some game next week!

  14. What about Gilkirst pass from the ruck for the first try. Must have been about 30m and moving at speed

  15. Maybe defensive Scotland will grow on me. Great performance, intense and focused.
    And some good tries scored too.

    1. I’m assuming adefensive team with Hogg, Graham, Johnson & Van Der Medwe in it is no bad

  16. I was put off from posting anything positive in response to the team selection on Friday by the quantity of negative comments about the “uninspiring” choices. Given the comments about Haining, Gilchrist and Harris today, there seems to be some consensus that they looked reasonable choices afterall.
    For me the individual performances are pleasing but the improvement in the systems is the key thing. The defence is stronger looking than at any time since Jason White retired, and we now look to earn the right to go wide, rather than slinging it out because we have got bored after 2 rucks.
    Ireland and Wales have beaten us with better systems over the past 10 years, not necessarily with better players. It looks like we have woken up to the reality this is a team game. Hopefully we keep true to it.

    1. Yes …not surprised by Haining performance. He looked really good v Ire.
      ..but Gilchrist and Harris both stepped up today..arguably their best performances for Scotland. They need to progress from this…they have set the expectations higher.

  17. Well done Scotland! Obviously the red card was a big turning point in the game but thought we controlled the game really well up to that point although we did seem to be trying to bore France to death. The scrums took forever and Brian Moore’s request for a crossword book summed it up well.
    I really thought Scotland made there own luck today and the French no3’s hay maker was probably as much to do with the fact he was getting hung out to dry at scrum time as the dance request from Ritchie.
    Pretty sure that was Gilco’s best game for Scotland but the work rate (and consistency) from Ritchie and Watson is setting the bar very high. Like the the balance with that pair and Haining in the back row and Bradbury needs to up his work rate to regain the Jersey.
    Great to see Fagerson dispensing with the Zandbags and focussing on his game – both starting props played very well.
    Bring on the Welsh – should be a good game.

  18. Cheers Scotland! Very nice win-the boys came to play today. I think Ntamac going off was a bigger factor than the red card. I also thought France looked a bit sloppy (possibly rattled). Another very solid defensive effort but I would like to have seen another try for the bonus point.
    I am hopeful that Darcy Graham can return. His speed should help the offense, it’ll be needed next week. Sure wish Finn was on the team as well. Now, let’s not overlook Wales, that will be a tough match in Cardiff. Take home a win next week for a strong finish to the tournament!

  19. Disappointing not to get a try bonus, but that’s a significant improvement. The team were on message from the start today, and earned their win. Yes, they made some mistakes, but overall they were better than the French. You’ve gotta give credit to the coaching staff for that. Also, despite our concerns, Gilchrist, Harris and Haining all justified their selections. That doesn’t mean Jones et al. would’ve failed, but it means there should be less fear.

    1. I worry about Gilchrist every time he makes an upright tackle – he’s a tall man and he always looks about an inch away from a high tackle penalty to me!

  20. For once this year we seem harder than our opponents…indicates real positive physical intent. Not coincidentally we have had relatively few injuries in games…

    Wales had a few injuries and their team might be a bit shuffled about…every chance we can take them.

    1. If we can keep all the pressure on Wales for next week, we are in a good place. They are at home, uncharacteristically below us in the table. Hold them early, allow the crowd to turn, frustrate them into indiscipline and we are back in business.

  21. Continuing to over-analyze…

    France have been much improved this 6N, but their three-wins were a case of beaten a very scratchy England, sub-par Wales and getting past Italy (at home)…they are not world beaters yet and proved it testerday.

    Lose next week, and lack of bonus points/tries will cost us a place in the table…100% for LBPs but we must put games like yesterday’s and vs Italy to bed with 4 tries, not 3. We need Darcy back and I think with Finn in the team (as a sub even?!) we score 4 tries.

    There is a need to get more transition into our game I think, once we are 10 points up or more, to switch over to attack as the priority…saw hints of that today after McInally’s try, but it didn’t really stick. Bench selections/substitution strategy maybe needs a re-think there…

    I think our bench mindset still needs to shift from “replacements” to “finishers”. Front row aside I would support no specific position cover…no point if guys are just there as injury cover, everybody needs a defined role in the 80 minutes.

  22. That was the most complete Scottish performance I can remember in a very, very long time. Shame about the red card, as I’m pretty certain we would have still taken them at 15 men. When was the last time we played 80 minutes without at least a ten minute period of wobbliness?

    Thought Harris was superb, and he’s had a pretty decent tournament. Will folk now get off his back? Sadly, I do wonder.

    Funny to think that just a couple more moments of composure in those first two games and we could have been looking to a Grand Slam confirmation in Cardiff next week.

    Still, happy with where we’re at.

  23. Only four tries and 49 points conceded in four games. That’s pretty remarkable.

    1. Sadly, the table looks at points-difference which is skewed by high scores…we are 3rd on points difference now, with Wales 1st, England 2nd, France 4th and Ireland 5th. If we look at %ages we are better placed:

      #1 Wales (130%) #2 Scotland (129%) #3 England (121%) #4 France (114%) #5 Ireland (110%) #6 Italy (23%)

      If we take away the Italy games….

      #1 England (121%) #2 Ireland (110%) #3 France (100%) #4 Scotland (94%) #5 Wales (80%).

      Without Italy, points difference ranking is same as %ages.

      Based on the performances I’ve seen, I think this puts us in the right spot…4th, but well above Wales, a shade behind France overall…

      1. If you torture the numbers for long enough they will inevitably confess to anything you want them to.
        Personally I couldn’t give a toss about the points difference or the lack of try bonus points. If we beat Wales 6-5 next week I will be over the moon.
        Beating Italy and France was the minimum I expected from this championship, after putting up a fight in the first two games. This win means we travel to Wales with hope, if not expectation.

  24. If Scotland can put in a similar performance against a poor welsh side and come away with a win then that’s a monkey off the teams back. Hastings looked like he was playing his more natural game. Watson and Ritchie put in their regular hard working outstanding performances. Overall it looked like some lessons were learned and that getting players to do what they are good at, usually gets you somewhere. Although what’s happened to our lineout is a mystery.

    As good as Hastings is we really need Russell back if only because all it takes is for Hastings to get crocked and we’re done.

    3 wins from 5 would not be a bad return. It does make the loss to Ireland all the more galling.

    1. I don’t think wales are a poor side – it is the same squad that won last years 6N and got to a RWC SF bar a few injuries.

      They are having a bit of a rough patch as they try to evolve their style but they have experience, some classy players and will be playing in one of the most intimidating venues in the world. It’s a big challenge but also a great opportunity as you say.

      1. It’s the same players but the team is performing poorly based on the last 10 years. Just shows the difference a decent coaching setup can bring. No doubt wales will get it together at some point but we won’t have a better chance to beat them, than next weekend.

  25. Sorry, against 14 for nearly an hour, no Ntamack, they still put 17 on the board and this is considered a good result for Scotland?

    1. Ach, bore off Eeyore.

      France scored 7 of those points while they had 15 men, Jalibert is a good alternative to Ntamack. We were playing very well before their man swung his fists. A good win, maybe use it as a chance to inject some extra joy into your life?

      1. As the great Plum once said, “It is never difficult to distinguish a Scotsman with a grievance from a ray of sunshine!”
        Yeah, despite leading at the red, and they still managed to scrape 10.

  26. Solid team performance and we did get some luck with the bounce of the ball for a for a change. Great back row performance against a very good (and big) French back row. Like others, I think Ntmack being subbed was a bigger deal than the red card. Just like to say that Rory Sutherland has been outstanding in all games so far. Scotland’s player of the tournament for me with Zander not far behind. Scrum looks very good, shame about the lineouts! I remember the last time we went to Wales in confident mood and we got a ‘shellacking’. Good performance needed as there is little to choose between the sides at the moment.

  27. It’s been a long time since we went to Wales and won and as per comment above, last two visits to Cardiff, we started in the vein of the performance vs. Ireland in the World Cup… soft / under prepared.

    If we don’t cough up easy points early and stay close to Wales (or god forbid be ahead!) then we have a chance. Too many times we seem to fold against them so we need the mental “hardness” that has been present, to degrees, so far. Gatland didn’t rate Scottish players and am sure there was an interview a while back where he questioned our mentality.

    More of the toe-to-toe vibe we saw from Ritchie yesterday is required and ideally Biggar being clattered (fairly) in the first 2 minutes too. As another poster noted above, Sam Johnson also waded in without any hesitation when the stramash started … good to see the team standing up for each other.

    In terms of memories, can still recall Mr. Gatland’s face at Murrayfield in 2017 when beat them so would be delighted to see more of the same on new coach’s face.

    1. Unfortunately Gatland never lost to Scotland, he was on Lions duty in 2017 so Howly was caretaker. If we do beat them then it speaks great volumes to his coaching ability!

  28. Like most folk I thought that was as close to an 80min performance as we have come to in years and I have no doubt we would have won that match even if the French had kept 15 players on the park. Tactially Toonie and his team must take great credit for the performance – they were spot on, as Kevin showed earlier in the week the French tactitcs in the last three games was not massively complex, but equally combatting it was more than just make your tackles. We very aggressively (I want to see this matched on Sat) took the game to the French, never gave them a second of peace and generally messed up their game.
    We looked very assured throughout which is a very different experience for a Scotland fan, yes the French had moments and their second try was very dissapointing, but I watched the game without the massive levels of anxiety I normally feel when watching Scotland.
    The back 3 had excellent games – Hogg and Maitland especially, I would have said the same about Kinghorn if he had kept the ball in his hands at the end – we were going for 4 tries.
    Centres – Johnson had his best game since Twickenham, but I really dont get the fuss about Harris – he made one break outside a slow lock but missed 4 tackles – I know there wont be changes for next week but if you’re going to pick a centre for his defensive work I dont expect him to miss 4 tackles.

    1. Half-backs – Hastings had an excellent game – started the game very deep, but with the French blitz it was understandable – but he’s looking very composed now and when he takes his time kicking for goal his % is high. After nearly 20 years of mediocrity at 10 it’s brilliant we now have 2 test class 10s. Sadly the same cannot be said about 9 – I thought Price was poor, continually faffing about at rucks, whinging to the ref when he should be getting on with it, one nice support line off Harris does not compensate for another disappointing game. Horne comes on and subsequently tries too hard – it’s kind of understandable considering his lack of gametime but the senior players need to calm him without ruining his natural game. He’s not well suited to this new Scotland, but there will come a time when we will need to open up a bit more – we will not get much joy in the summer just being hard to beat for example.
      Front-Row – with the exception of our hookers throwing in we now have a front row to match anyone – but they dont just keep it for an impressive scrum, Sutherland and Fagerson are a big reason why our belligerent aggression has gone up several notches. It’s now essential to our gameplan, allied with two former flankers at 2 who are superb in the loose and two replacement props who are more than capable – we have never been in such a good position.

      1. The same cannot be said for our lineouts – I am going to be controversial here and blame both our hookers – their lack of confidence throwing in is apparent in their body language and oppostion teams know it. The bare minimum of throwing the ball straight appears to be too much for them at times. Normally a hooker of the ages of Brown and McInally will be able to fall back on 15yrs+ of throwing in, calmly call on that experience and settle themselves down – Brown and McInally dont have that and it shows. It must get better, when a side gets a reputation for a poor lineout they become much easier to defend against and attack.
        Second Rows – Mixed bag, I thought Cummings was largely anonymous, the poor lineout toll appears to be damaging his confidence and he’s no longer as prominant in the loose – I suspect he might be dropped for Skinner. Gilchrist was better than I thought he would be – but he still never set the heather on fire – the tackle that should have resulted in a red for the French 5 came about in part because he was utterly dominated again in the contact – he’s a big lump but just never uses it – kudos for his discipline though, he normally gives away at least a couple of pens and he didn’t.

      2. Back-row – Outstanding – both flankers had world class performances, all over the park – ruined many French attacks at the breakdown and their beligerance is a delight for someone who grew up watching Fin and JJ. Haining had a very solid performance – doing the 8 duties with aplomb – he doesn’t have much of an engine, but that’s fine with Bradbury on the bench. He too likes a scrap and it’s fantastic watching him and Ritchie going about their work.
        There are still areas of concern – whilst our breakdown work is superb in defence, we are rucking poorly with some dissapointing technique on show, we lose too many balls in contact – but like lineout throwing, it can be improved with practice and coaching.
        Next week is not the time to find this out but we will need another string to our bow to win games away and against the SH big teams and that is expanding our offensive game.
        Feeling good about next week – the Taffs will be rabid for the first 20, if we are still in sight after that I think we have a game to more than match them.

      3. So much nonsense in your above posts.

        I agree on Harris being poor defensively but acknowledge he offered a lot today outside of that for a change. I would keep him for next week now but still believe Jones or Hutchison is the answer going towards the 2023 WC.

        Lineout does need a specialist coach brought in based on this Six-Nations, South Africa & New Zealand will dominate that area in the summer if huge improvements are not seen.

        Not a full 80 minute performance and the team needs to improve/ get the win on Saturday to convince me Townsend should stay for summer.

        My team for next week.

        1. Sutherland
        2. Brown
        3. Fagerson
        4. Cummings
        5. Gilchrist
        6. Ritchie
        7. Watson
        8. Haining

        9. Price
        10. Hastings
        11. Kinghorn
        12. Johnson
        13. Harris
        14. Maitland
        15. Hogg

        16. Mcinally
        17. Bhatti
        18. Nel
        19. Skinner
        20. Bradbury
        21. Horne
        22. Hutchison
        23. Steyn

      4. Agree with your team Neil. Although I’d maybe swap Cummings for Skinner, there was a ruck where Cummings couldn’t dislodge the French hookers arm from the ball which cost us a penalty. I think he’s lacking a bit in strength as he should have been blasting him away there and he could do with improving there as the rest of his game is good.

        Gilchrist was pleasingly and surprisingly good so stays for now.

        Agree on Dell being dropped. I’ve previously been a fan but I think the drop off from Sutherland has been stark. Problem is I’m unsure Bhatti is in any sort of form and neither is anyone else so Dell probably stays by default.

      5. Love the depth of you analysis Stu but feel you are being a bit harsh on the 2nd row but not on Brown and McInally….their throwing needs to improve fast.

        Harris had a good game..very much a 7/10 performance. I noticed that one of Harris’ misses was an almost impossible tackle and he made it easier for the 2nd and 3rd man in with his efforts. On another he also ‘missed a tackle’ by opting to let the 2nd and 3rd man finish the job by bailing mid tackle and getting back in the defensive line to make better use of himself.

        The other 2 I can’t account for but Vakatawa is a special player.

        There’s just some things that stats don’t give us. Gilchrist for example did an excellent pass for one of Maitland’s try’s and made his share of dominant hits….Nothing superb but it’s good to give credit where credit is due.

        The most disappointing performance was George Horne…tried way too hard and justifies his place on the bench…price had a solid game I thought.

        On a side note if we beat Wales this will probably be one of it not our most successful 6N’s ever.

        I really think Toonie is showing a knack for learning from past mistakes…it took him a while but the toombala is gone and tactics easier to execute. I think line-out and ruthlessness in the 22 are our 2 big work-ons for summer/AI’s.

        If Russell is back Johnny Gray, Darcy Graham and we get Big Duhan qualified then we are looking in a much better place than we were in 2019.

      6. Bazz, I thought I was quite critical of our hookers – just to confirm they couldn’t hit my mother in laws erse from 2ft.

      7. Sorry, I should have been clearer. I agreed with your critique of the throwing but a bit harsh on Cummings, Gilchrist and Harris.

      8. Bazz, fair enough – I am happy to accept that it’s best to view my criticism of Harris and Gilchrist through the prism of the fact I dont rate them. I understand why people are talking up Harris, but I really dont think he did much – his break was like watching Bruce Hay running – live and in slow mo at the same time. He’s got no pace and no hands – but that currently suits the gameplan so he will stay and I am not that bothered. Bear in mind next week Wales will play Parkes – quite the most mediocre player I have seen in a Welsh jersey for years – but he won a GS last year.

        Cummings was the one that disappointed me – but he’s young and his form will ebb and flow – he seems to work best with a tighthead lock, Gray/Toolis – Gilchrist is too like him.

  29. Let’s look at the facts. This was a victory against 14 men and we were losing until that point. Odds swung in our favour at that moment and less of a victory than beating 15 man Italy. Fully expect indignant responses – would have won anyway, can only beat what in front of you, Harris could be an All Black, but yeah whatever. Toonie should still be out.

      1. Not to quibble, but don’t think there is a single statistic in what I said.

      1. No harm in acknowledging the reality, i agree with NRS in a lot of his post.

        Lets not stick our heads in the sand just because we won – there was a lot that can be improved from that performance and the final 40 was somewhat disappointing despite some good things.

        In saying that i’m happy with a win at this point.

      2. Cheers Neil. Yeah Stu, losing interest in this set up, not even the plucky charm, or sideburns, of the Dan Parks years. Until certain players are brought back or used. Don’t trust GT or his miserable run of results / approach. This one man advantage victory doesn’t change that. Surprised people are suddenly hopefully for the Wales game.

      3. I predicted we would win, I posted we would win, I called it right, Scotland did take control of the game from the kick off and it is our players who made it happen.

        But, Neil and NRS have a point ,like them, I have not seen enough yet, to convince me we are over our problems. But it is something we can build on. For once we got the luck and we earned it from the off.

        We all know where we stand in the GT, stay or go argument. Lets leave it out for a week and get behind our players.

    1. NRS – we’d actually only been losing for three minutes and had a penalty kick awarded in front of the posts. We had far better of the first 30minutes – Frances try was a bit of genius by DuPont but they’d been struggling to get anything from our defence.

      Furthermore, a red card isn’t an automatic victory even though it is a big advantage. Just before the 6N Saracens came from behind with 14 men to beat Racing for example, racing losing the chance for a home QF.

      Ireland beat SA in 2016 in SA with 14 men for three quarters of the game. There are plenty of other examples.

      1. FF there some fair points here, but doesn’t change facts that we were losing at the time we were handed a massive advantage. Even if there are exceptions that prove the rule.

      2. We may have been losing and that is important but we controlled most of the match up to that point. France hadn’t been in our 22. Worrying in one sense but excellent in another. To keep any international team whether down to 14 or not for 30 odd minutes is an amazing achievement in my book especially one going for a grand slam at that point.

  30. Im happy your happy at this point Neil! I’m sure Gregor and the boys will be doing there upmost best to keep you happy and possibly put an smile on Not Rocket Sciences face this forthcoming weekend – or in October possibly!!!!keep the faith you never know we might even beat Wales – you know optimism and all that but you don’t want too much of that now.

      1. Tam if Townsend gets a win in Wales this weekend (which for me they have to) i will be very happy and he will have turned me around, i will hold my hands up and admit i have been wrong during this six nations.

        I do question if there is anyone left that cares about you in life Stu, or if you care for anyone.

        Such consistent trolling is usually a sign of problems in a persons life so i will let this slide and understand you might be going through some things 👍🏿

        Try not to attempt to belittle others, i will be ignoring all negative comments from you from now on.

      2. No I apologise because I’m not one to be sarcastic but more the case as a nation we need to continue to have faith more than anything even when the chips are down. It hurts more than most people to realise when for far too long we haven’t hit the marks that we could have done so easily. I understand when people have had enough but its at those moments when we even as supporters need to come together because when we do its an alliance which bonds us together. And when we win we celebrate together and if we lose we still need to stick together and for the team alone. Here’s to victory – it is coming. You never know how much just a bit of positivity can make. For a change in our nature lets give it – that includes us all! Rant over – Have faith and lets get behind our nation more so at a terrible time amongst all people – but lets show them what it means to be scots! We could be on top of the 6 nations table for 7 months here boys!

  31. Watched the game again this morning – really impressed with Haining’s performance. Hit a lot of rucks, put in some big, big carries at close quarters. Maitland also made some very nice interventions (in fact, the way we used our wingers was very good overall).

    Beat Wales, and it’s a good tournament. Close losses vs two good teams, two away wins and one home win vs a good team.

    I suppose we have to think of this as kind of a re-build tournament, even though a lot of the same personnel are in place in the coaching and playing staff. We’ve lost some senior leaders, ditched some underperformers, and we’re embracing a different way of playing. Our defence has been superb, best in tournament. We no longer look soft – in fact, we look like a nightmare to play against. That’s fantastic. Our attacking play has stuttered, but loads of teams find it difficult to improve defensively while maintaining a free-flowing attack. Russellgate aside, the squad seems united, and most of Townsend’s selection choices have been justified.

    1. Gregor, please get off ScottishRugbyBlog and get on the phone to Finn!

  32. Alternative view.

    The Finngate nonsense has allowed us to truly blood Hastings. It has shaken Toonie up. It means Finn will come back more mature – he doesn’t get everything his way. He has to kiss and make up with his teammates.

    We therefore will go to SA with Darcy back and a certain Duhan VdM. We now have a tight 5 and backrow that’s as good a unit as you’ll get (lineout aside). We may even have the two Grays back.

    So our team will be tighter. And our coaches and coaching better.

    Good result. Bodes well.

    1. Would be nice, this isn’t so much an alternative view as much as gazing into tea leaves.

  33. One point, the ref was originally looking at Jamie Richie running to get into the battle. Now the cheating welsh will have noticed his fire and and try and wind him up. Just a tip , but if a scuffle arises, we need more than Jamie Richie running in , or he will be off next time.

    1. He’ll only be off next time if he throws a punch which as you can see he is a controlled aggressor and knows exactly what he is doing at every point so wouldn’t throw a punch. Zander is on that I could see throw a punch as the mist goes down. I have never seen anyone at that level of rugby get anything other than a wee word for starting a rammy with a push or two…you do what Farrell does and grab a leg for 5 mins or whatever then a penalty but Ritchie is far too smart to lose it. He knows his role and will grow into a great Captain for Scotland.

  34. I didn’t turn against Townsend after one poor game, it took two years of turning an upwards trajectory into a downwards one culminating in the world cup. So it’ll take more than one good result to get me back onside. However it’s a results business and if the results keep coming I’ll adjust my view accordingly. I agree with a lot of pks’ points. A win in Cardiff makes this a good 6N. We need a good away win. This was the most balanced performance since England 2018. I don’t care about about the red card. So many teams have beaten us over the years as a result of our own errors, many times we have failed to punish theirs. We got in their faces with disciplined aggression, rattled them. They made the error and we put them away. It’s a fine win against a top side.

    1. We need to appreciate how good that first 30-odd minutes were up to the red card.

      France had been trailing for something like 3 minutes in the entire championship. They’d started every game at a canter with quick tries. We managed the tempo, got in their faces, got our noses in front and points on the board. We put them under pressure and rattled their confidence like no other team had managed this championship – and they crumbled.

      France have actually shipped lots of points and lost the second halves of their other games but they were so far ahead it didn’t matter. I have no doubt without the red card we’d have brought the result home as we managed the game to perfection.

      It’ll be interesting who starts the first test in SA. If we win in Cardiff (and it’s a big if) I don’t think you can drop Hastings.

      1. FF: I do not entirely agree , I think you may be exaggerating our part in the first 30 minutes, though I acknowledge we were not phased prior to the red.

        Is it not as simple as this , France were at home to England and Italy, they were away to Wales and that was close, 23-27. What is more they were trailing Wales initially for 6 minutes and Wales came back to within a point at 50 minutes, and were back within losers bonus territory in 79 minutes.

        I think you are missing the obvious, they do not travel well. I would not be surprised if Ireland get the better of them in Dublin.

      2. C.C.A.H.B.

        Are you looking forward to the 2021 Championship???

        France play Ireland in Paris this year and so they will be at home. Might make a difference. The issue that will probably be in England’s favour is that both need a big win and loads of tries. They may know by how many points they need to win by as well depending on the sequence of the matches that are to be played are played. I think England’s match is first up and France V Ireland is last. But two teams desperate to score and get a big lead might end up a very open game and no one getting very far ahead.

    2. SL totally agree. It has taken almost 2 years of losses in the 6 Nations and WC (not one win in 9 games against teams above us in ranking) to arrive at a point where many supporters wanted a change in management. One good result does not instantly change that perspective. We need to continue winning and an incremental step on that path would be a victory against Wales. Should we win then Townsend continues but under scrutiny, should we lose the France game is just a positive blip and he needs to go.

      1. TT, an alternative view: we got a losing bonus point against Ireland in Dublin, a losing bonus point in a gale against England, beat Italy by a record-equalling margin away and nilled them, then put away with aplomb a French team that blew away the world cup finalists. We’ve conceded only 4 tries and 49 points in four matches (unheard of for us). Non-Scottish analysts are consistently saying Scotland are looking like a proper test team.

        I agree that playing Wales in Cardiff will be the best test yet of how far we’ve come and if we get smashed (i.e. we’re clearly not up to it physically and psychologically) then that would be a huge step back in my view of GT. However, to say that he needs to go if we lose (regardless of the type/degree of loss or the performance) is not reasonable or evidence-based.

      2. Professional sport is all about winning. I’m personally not excited about being a gallant loser no matter how few tries we give up. You want some evidence to back up why I think Townsend should go if we don’t beat Wales….chew this dismal record over. Until Saturday we had not won in 9 competitive matches in the 6N and WC against teams other than Italy. Under Townsend we have lost all our away games in 6N outwith Italy. We have never beaten Ireland or Wales under Townsend. You think that’s acceptable.

      3. Believe it or not Tasmanian Tiger Scotland are winning – no matter how you twist it.

        Try smiling.

      4. Who has got a better record than Townsend for Scotland, though? For instance, Cotter beat Ireland and Howley’s Wales, but couldn’t beat Aus or England. Johnson… let’s move on. Robinson? Since professionalism we’ve been playing catch up and our win ratios show this. Our performances since the RWC are on an upward trajectory, and even the likes of Andy Goode are noting that we’re an unfortunate drop and an unlucky bounce away from being the only team still on for the GS. Is this good enough? Are we satsified? No. Of course not. But it’s promising and platform upon which we can build. Firing Toonie now, when we’re starting to build something, would not be a prudent decision, in my opinion.

      5. Against teams currently in the World’s Top 8, Cotter had 3 wins in 19 games. Townsend has 6 wins (and a draw) in 19.

      6. TC: Who has a better record than Townsend ? Are you asking or telling !

        It depends what you compare him on , World Cup Exits , no question, he wins, Top of the pile on that one.

        Place in 6 Nations Table , he got us to 3rd , he is equal with Frank Hadden’s best season, and Hadden is the pantomime horse of Scottish Head Coaches.

        Win Ratio he is 51% Cotter ended 53% and we did not renew his contract forcing him to accept a very lucrative post in France.

        However as Townsend is still in post he can equal or better Cotter. That is positive, if he does not , that is different.

        Perhaps some are just looking at this and saying we unseated a man with a better win ratio and this far , we have not bettered him.

        You may not like it, but hard to argue with that logic. Though I feel sure you will try !

        Should he stay ? in my opinion, yes, for now, but we really need to decide what we want from the Head Coach and what success really looks like !

        An Exit at the Group stages for example, is really not a KPI for any Scottish Head Coach.That is an unquestionable stain and were he a NZ AB Coach, he would have had his passport revoked.

      7. I’ve seen 51% quoted a lot in the last couple of weeks. His win ratio is 54%. He briefly dipped below Cotter, but he’s played one fewer game and has the same number of wins and a higher win ratio. This makes it a lot easier to argue against the logic for now at least. He’ll be on the same win ratio as Cotter after the match in Cardiff, though, but he’ll have beaten England, drawn at Twickenham and scored the most points and tries that anyone have ever scored in a capped match against England at Twickenham, beaten France four times, beaten Aus home and away and run the two best teams in the world extremely close, with those teams relying on some shenanigans like the hand of Read to secure the W. He’s also smashed Argentina at home and run Ireland far closer in Dublin than Cotter ever managed. However, his RWC record is poor, but he’s addressing the issues that affected us. I’d have kept Cotter on, personally, but that’s now sci fi talk…

      8. TCam: For completeness we should mention Townsend lost to teams we have never lost to before (and below us on World Rugby Rankings) and he has only equaled Frank Hadden’s third.

        Based on your win Ratio a loss to Wales should bring him level with Cotter, is that right , a win would improve on Cotters win ratio ?

        Is the point not that we had hoped to improve on Cotter?Perhaps not, maybe that was never the intention of appointing a new Head Coach.

        I hope we do it and we can assess properly if the appointment has worked. Like you I would have preferred we gave Cotter more time, but see no point in discussing something we can not change.

        I am surprised no one has argued Cotter had taken us as far as the SRU wanted from him.

      9. He’s ahead of Cotter now. I was cheekily implying a loss to Wales, which would bring him down to Cotter’s win rate. If we win he stays ahead of Cotter.

        You’re absolutely right about those losses. Fiji was bad. The US was forgivable, in my opinion. Sadly it’s been a one-off for them.

      10. FF:I am not sure what you mean.Are you correcting the careless post or just not concerned that this Scotland team , at this stage in its maturity,lost to Fiji in 2017. Or do you mean something quite different ? You are correct Scotland lost to Fiji in 1998 . I personally do not think it was necessary to lose in 2017.

  35. A great performance and result. We can ache at missing the BP but given expectations I’m still delighted. Last year we were really crying out for Plan B where our champagne rugby approach failed. It appears that we have Plan B now but Plan A has been quietly relegated. To be honest I think if this is the new normal, ie winning but not being “cats at a rave” then I’ll take it. Winning is nice. I’m in a better mood all round.

    I also think the coaches and players deserve great credit. I noticed the tactic of conceding the mainline but holding the player up to make it into a maul (or close) and that was a great tactic for slowing them down as well as getting in their faces. Great tactic from all the coaches there, that worked. It took almost 30 minutes for France to figure out that was going on and to go to ground earlier. And the players executed well and cleverly.

    We’ll give Wales problems, and without Gatland, I think there is far less to fear. But we should not underestimate them. Will be tight. We should talk as them being favourites at home etc.

  36. It doesn’t surprise me at all that our resident Toonie out brigade don’t appear to have enjoyed our victory at all.

      1. FF :TC I believe all Scotland fans want Scotland to win,they are happy when they win, just like you.They want to smile more, enjoy winning more, unlike you they believe we have the depth , they believe we have the players, unlike you , they simply believe the Head Coach is not making the best of those resources and is culpable in letting the players and the fans down.

        They simply have a different perspective on what is needed to win more and improve our players morale ,enjoyment and success rate.

        Unlike you,they have not come up with a collective name for those with a different opinion.They may find that offensive
        .Some do not think it is simply 2 polarised opinions.They are all passionate lovers of scottish rugby.

      2. TENC that’s a lot of assumption and specious reasoning masquerading as a response. Quite inaccurate, too.

      3. Teamcam: Well done. Just goes to show there is more than one opinion, which was the point.

      4. You thought I was operating under the assumption that there is only one opinion? Are you trying to be funny?

    1. Munster beat Warriors with 14 men. England beat Argentina. Ireland beat SA in SA. Saracens beat Racing 92. Warriors beat Scarlets. Being reduced to 14 men isn’t a death sentence, and often galvanises the affected team. So I certainly wasn’t ruling it out.

      1. Face-punching normally doesn’t happen by itself, they are made by pressure…kudos to the entire team for getting the French to the point that they lost their discipline.

        Penalties and cards are earned not given…

      2. Didn’t Edinburgh beat Glasgow with 14 for a lot of the game a couple of years ago as well?

    2. That is quite a simple really. Displays a significant bias towards short term, less important, benefit. Can’t blame you for that I suppose, pretty common irrationality.

  37. Well done Scotland, we’re starting to get a decent team together now with some good young players coming through. We’ve got better as the 6 Nations has gone on and will continue to get better if we keep the nucleus of this squad together. Credit to Hastings who has stepped up and proved himself, the whole Russell debacle could have derailed us completely. I still think our line-out is better when Toolis plays but Gilchrist played well and adds power to the pack. I’m looking forward to Graham returning and adding that extra pace, which we need and will make a real difference. Let’s get a result in Wales and prove we can win away, apart from in Italy.

    1. Lineout went well in Italy with Toolis at the heart of it all. I know we have a problem with the darts but surely our hookers need all the “Toolis” they can get for Wales. I know it is harsh to change Gilchrist/Cummings but it was very harsh to drop Toolis in the first place. Also he will bring a set of fresh legs – useful with a six day turn around.

      1. It may have been the idea all along to make sure we had a fresh hungry player to come in???

      2. Line out is an issue & not entirely sure exactly where the problem lies; can anyone enlighten us whether it’s the thrower or the catcher or the combinations that has hobbled us there? It did seem to function better with Toolis which raises a big dilemma for 2nd row after Gilco finally produced the kind of performance we’ve been waiting for. He’s also a bit of an illegitimate tackle (not the Marler kind) magnet, which seems to provide 10 minutes of player number advantage (not a serious reason for selection & glad he’s survived the involuntary acrobatics). Interestingly, the Glasgow line out seems to function well with Wilson almost at it’s core & he was certainly another reliable option we seem to miss, though he has fallen behind in terms of what the current back row can offer around the park.

      3. Referendum….yeh maybe. Hopefully. Wonderful if you are right. I wish I could believe in such masterly planning. Give me enough time and maybe it will become obvious this was indeed the plan. I believe, help my unbelief.

      4. Ian,

        It may or may not be but Townsend has had very little injury to deal with for the first time in his time leading Scotland and we haven’t the old Toonie Tombola as much but look at how many players have been used this championship without many injuries. Maybe Kev can give us some light into this. But he hasn’t made wholesale change to the starting line-up either but there has been enough and change on bench are hardly ever highlighted.

        He seems to be giving many a chance to get a cap or some game time at least being rewarded for getting into the squad. May not be his purpose but it has been the result.

        Look how many have had one sub appearance this year.

        De Preez, Skinner, Berghan, Weir, McGuigan, Steyn,

        Nearly a full bench there of folks who have been brought in not that others were dreadful but thought they were the men for that game.

  38. Mike Blair for years in his column talks about “The Championships Minutes!” being the 5 before and after half-time. If ever there was a match to show that is this. Not sure how many times Scotland have been on the right side of this kind of thing. We’ve had countless against us. They get a Red card, we take three points then get a try. After half-time we get a turnover which looks try time from Hamish then up the other end to score another seven points. 15 points in that ten minutes and it really was over as a contest by that point.

    Well done Scotland.

  39. Am I right in saying the visiting team get to call on roof open or closed at Cardiff? Thoughts?
    Wales will want it closed but does that give them an advantage? Do we say keep it open and risk pissing them off and it backfires as we face a fired up Welsh team?
    Personally, unless the forecast is for a monsoon, I would keep it open and try and diminish the noise and atmosphere.

    1. I don’t think so. I believe the protocol is the roof will be open unless both teams agree to close it.

  40. From a Scottish perspective, it’s been a fascinating tournament. Ignoring the off-field distractions, we appear to have made a big tactical change & executed it on the whole pretty well within a very short space of time. I was happy to reserve judgement on GT until after this 6N & perhaps we’ve seen some astute management? For all the accusations that GT is very stubborn, won’t listen etc. he appears to have taken on board that things needed to be changed & “fast ball” didn’t seem to be working and/or we couldn’t execute that game plan accurately enough. He’s obviously realised it was working as planned, made a load of changes in his coaching set up and things look significantly healthier than RWC just a few months ago. We need to remember that having resorted to “Plan B”, it is only a Plan B if we still have a Plan A i.e we need to turn on the quick, unstructured play when appropriate. Hopefully now that we have a more solid foundation, that can be built on top. Still not totally convinced our midfield has quite the right balance- if he’s given all the other centres a go, why not Scott for that extra creativity and power – but Johnson & Harris have both grown into their roles and hard to argue they should be dropped at the moment. Would obviously like a win in Cardiff but really want another strong performance and this time away from home.

    1. This is an excellent comment. Puts words on what I am thinking or feeling. I think we have a very good group of players and before I felt frustrated that we were underperforming (saying this does not make me a signed up member of the “Toonie out brigade” whatever that may be?)

      It still feels quite fragile. Far too early to think we are on the brink of a renaissance. But at the same time it is very hopeful. I thought Townsend’s post match interview was superb. The way he carefully acknowledged the coaching team was beautifully done. And I reckon such graciousness become self-fulfilling. To my ears, I heard someone who is able to lead by the way he gives credit to everyone else. If he continues to do this, then he really will build a formidable team who will play for the jersey and the coach. This seems different. Has something clicked? If it has, then we really do have something to get excited about.
      ps note to self, slow down we have only beaten italy and a french- 14.

  41. My Ratings

    1. Sutherland – 8.5
    2. Brown – 7
    3. Fagerson – 8
    4. Cummings – 6.5
    5. Gilchrist – 7.5
    6. Ritchie – 8.5
    7. Watson – 9 (most tackles and 4 turnovers)
    8. Haining – 7.5
    9. Price – 7
    10. Hastings – 8.5
    11. Kinghorn – 6.5
    12. Johnson – 7.5
    13. Harris – 7
    14. Maitland – 8
    15. Hogg – 8

  42. 4 solid performances so far. No surprise at the negativity after match 2 and now excessive positivity after match 4 as most people only analyse the results. Break down the botched line-out which resulted in 7 points for us in McInally’s fortunate try, against Hogg’s 1 in 1000 error which cost us several points after a good passage of play v Ireland. Big swing.

  43. The scrum, which has long been a problem area, is now a strength of ours. It’s arguably the best scrummaging unit in the tournament, probably on a par with England. It’s been a long time since we have dominated the likes or Ireland and France in this dept which is nice to see. Sutherland has been a revelation, he’s bullied everyone he’s been up against and Fagerson has been excellent as well. The priorities in the near future must be to get de villiers contract nailed down and ensure that Sutherland gets more game time at Edinburgh. It’s a definite worry for me that he goes back and is playing second fiddle to Schoeman. Going forward it’s going to be interesting how that develops as obviously shoe is quality but Sutherland is too good to sit on the bench every week also, something will have to give. real thinker for cockerill/Townsend etc. Kebble also comes into the equation this summer I believe which will give us a lot more depth, It’s been noticeable the drop off when dell has came on. Kebble could also cover tight head for us as well which is good as there’s a real lack of cover there once WP retires, Berghan needs to step up but has never fully convinced. Hopefully the likes of nicol and winning can really push on over the next 24 months. Also interesting to see what will happen to Jamie Bhatti, perhaps a move down south would be a good one for him as unlikely he will see much game time at Edinburgh just now.

    1. I wonder if Sutherland could move down South. I hope not but he’s far too good to be second choice at Edinburgh and he will have caught the eye of some coaches with his form for Scotland.

      1. Props need rotation – I have no problem with him sharing the jersey with Shoeman. Sutherland needs carefully managed because of his injury – the last thing he needs is being overused like Hogg is.

      2. As long as he and Schoeman are managed properly, we should be OK. The worry is Bhatti. Cockerill should be able to turn him into a monster (and McCallum likewise), but not without minutes…

    2. I’d keep him and Edinburgh and keep him fresh. He doesn’t need to play every week as he’s already at International standard. The project South Africans will just add to the competition for Scotland places which is great.

  44. Re the Haining citing, anyone thought to ask what Haining reacted to? (an dnot, that was not an attempted gouge in my opinion). Check out what Haouas was doing with his right hand during his tackle on Haining…

    1. Has he actually been cited? I can’t see any reference to it.

      France reported him to the citing commissioner but he has to decide if there is a case to answer. Marler and Lawes have been cited from Saturdays game so I guess we’ll find out today?

    2. He hasn’t been cited – the French are using some still images of proof of an accusation of gouging.

      Really disappointed in their pettiness – thought better of Ibanez.

      1. AWS match stats on 6N site says Gilchrist made 5 dominant tackles – France made 7!

        What a performance by him.

      2. It was also the first time I’ve seen him consistently make ground from carries. More of that, please. I’ve been surprised by how quiet Cummings has been. I was hoping he’d carry his Glasgow form into this tournament and be our James Ryan.

  45. Agree largely with Warks Scot, GT certainly seems to have learnt post RWC. The ridiculous fastest game in the world & the “tactics” completely falling apart if the opposition weren’t kind enough to kick long to Hogg or give Finn space, well changed days. GT has been lucky in some respects – the re-emergence of the excellent Sutherland, Haining. I reckon as painful the defeat v England was (not as painful as the subsequent walk from Dalry!!!!!!) the weather made it impossible to glean anything. So a 7 point loss in Dublin (inc. “that Hogg drop ball”), a solid win in Rome & Sunday’s game.

    1 swallow doesn’t make a summer, however given a wee bit of luck we can give them a run for their money.

    I reckon Toolis should play & I still like genuine pace/flair @ 13

  46. Townsend deserves huge credit for picking Tandy and De Villiers, whose appointments were all lined up to be criticised.

    There’s been a lot written about change of strategy but much more important has been a change in attitude towards defence. We are no longer the soft touches that we have been for a long long time. Matt Taylor may be an excellent coach but his approach clearly wasn’t working for Scotland. Steve Tandy’s approach clearly is. The comments coming out of the camp about now enjoying defence should be music to all Scots fans ears.

    Our pack remains underpowered, compared to the very best. There’s no easy solution to this and we are not alone. Neither Ireland nor Wales can stand toe to toe with England either. Sutherland and Fagerson have both had wonderful championships but rugby is now a 23 man game and until we have genuine scrummagers coming off the bench we will still be susceptible in the last 15 minutes, especially on wet weather days. England at Murrayfield and the French U20s at Netherdale both won their games on the back of a powerful replacement scrum.

    We’ve lost more lineouts than England, Ireland and Wales combined three years running but there’s no easy solution whilst playing both Ritchie and Watson in the back row. What we lose in a dominating back row lineout option we are certainly gaining in belligerence and skill at the breakdown. Not sure how we solve that conundrum, to be honest.

    1. I’d say the problem is with the throwing in the line-out. There’s no reason Ritchie can’t be a lineout option either. He’s tall for a flanker and not too heavy…Similar to Peter O’Mahony who has been a real asset in Ireland’s line-out over the years

      1. Ritchie is a lineout option already, he was in the air for the lineout that led to McInally’s try, if memory serves.

    2. Having kebble qualified in the summer should give us more depth, we just need to find more cover at tight head. Be interesting to see if Glasgow continue the experiment of playing him at 3 again this season? Hopefully the likes of nicol, mccallum etc can start to push through over the next year or so.

  47. Structured Scotland are looking decent.
    Townsend has picked players who want to play for him too.
    I think that’s clever.
    Players like Chris Harris and Nick Haining. They’ve reached the top the hard way and they look hungry to play for the coach who’s given them a chance.

    Very promising.

    And nobody got indecently assaulted in a melee either.

  48. Just read that Hastings, Ritchie and Fagerson were 5 years old when Scotland last won in Cardiff *gulp*

    We’re solid underdogs but what a great chance to overturn that record.

  49. Just commenting on forward play for now, a few of us said before this year’s 6N started that gaining parity at the very least up front against other Tier One teams was a must if we are to become seriously competitive, consistently. So far in this 6N, there are clear and pleasing signs of achieving parity and, in some areas, ascendancy. It’s been great to watch and it’s been even better to see rotation of a number of forwards who’ve delivered when they’ve got their chance. Meaning there’s a pool now of can do forwards to select a starting pack from.
    It was clear on Sunday that up front the French were stunned and confused by their inability to out-muscle our pack. I think they thought they were going to trundle all over us.
    Big ask again up front this Saturday against a Wales team desperate to turn their season round and likely to field a pack of berserkers to try and smash us up front and early.
    Even bigger asks up front to come in SA and NZ in the summer.
    But for now, just good to watch a really aggressive and powerful Scotland pack slug it out on equal terms with top European sides. Reminds me of the Scotland pack of the mid-80s to around 1990, who feared nobody up front.

  50. As you might expect , I think this is a game too far for Yr Alban. I am not denying you are a better side mind, but Caerdydd seems to intimidate Yr Alban into errors.

    I think Stuart Hogg has a good kicking game, but Hastings is not as confident. Price had a dreadful game 2 years ago , I think there is a lot of pressure on him., and he is not at his best. Williams is stronger and in better form, Webb is not far behind and has out gunned Price before.

    I think you all underestimate Harris mind. He has made an impact at Caerloyw. Parkes is not what he was last six nations. This is the best chance you have had for a long time, it could be close, but we will want it more. Cymru will need to finish with a win , I really think the pressure of the Principality will get to Yr Alban. Rygbi is everything to Cymru, the Principality is a shrine!

    I hope as many of you can get down for the match and our hospitality is warm.

    Cymru am Byth.

    1. Can’t argue with you on Price (despite him playing very well at the weekend) but reckon Hastings is just going to keep improving, and will have taken a lot from the France game.

      Just hope it goes ahead – should be a cracker. I fear we could still see a last minute cancellation though. Despite nullifying the home advantage I really would hate to see it played behind closed doors though – always such a special atmosphere down there (friendly off the pitch, terrifying on it!)

    2. I think the only Welsh player who’ll likely be playing on Saturday who’s looking better than their opposite number is Dan Biggar. There are a fair few equal players, e.g. at SH, in the back row, at OC, but on the whole I think we look stronger. Certainly in the tight five. And have better form coming into the match. We’ll still lose, of course. As is tradition. Wales will see to that!

      1. Oh no, I do not agree , some over-optimism, that is just playing into the welsh hands. Halfpenny is no match for Hogg. But I think Liam Williams is a dangerous player and Ken Owens is technically a much better hooker than Brown.

      2. Williams isn’t looking great right now, though. He’s a great player on form. Is Owens technically any better, though? He misses plenty of lineouts and isn’t any better in the tight or the loose.

        With both teams on form, I think it’s probably 50/50 in terms of who has the better players, but Wales have consistently been better than the sum of their parts, and much mentally stronger. I guess we’ll see if that’s still the case under Pivac. They were mentally tough against both France and England, so I don’t expect a win.

  51. Not often I agree with Teamcam but I get that point.Owens is an old fashioned front row ,knows all the tricks, Brown is a different kind of player. So is there really a lot in it ? Hard to say , maybe wait and see on Saturday.

    However Owens is a lion and I believe he captained them during the 2017 new Zealand tour.Can I ever see Brown doing that, probably not.

  52. I think you have a point on Brown v Owens.Lets wait for the Head to Heads. 2 different players. One point I think we are overlooking is Owens Toured NZ in 2017 and I believe was captain in some matches.

  53. We have missed a couple of tries recently – e.g. Blair Kinghorn at the end of this match, due to inability to control kicking ahead when going for the try line. This skill needs to be learnt. I remember as a boy being taught to “dribble” the ball, rather like in the round ball game but more tricky with the egg-shaped one. Maybe needs to be brought back.

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