Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 48 – 7 Georgia

Scotland v Georgia
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

International rugby returned to a practically empty BT Murrayfield (no, John, I will not make a joke about Edinburgh’s average attendance here) and saw Scotland record a resounding victory over Georgia ahead of next weekend’s big 6 Nations encounter against the Welsh in Llanelli.

Blair Kinghorn got proceedings under way, and although Georgia claimed the ball relatively easily, Hamish Watson stripped possession almost instantly to set Scotland into their first attack.

Debutant Duhan van der Merwe showed his power to take Scotland into the 22, and although the Georgian defence did well to hold up multiple short-range phases, they eventually conceded a penalty for not rolling away.

Price took a quick tap, only for captain for the night Fraser Brown to slip as he sped towards the line, however Georgia impeded again as the forwards burrowed toward the whitewash. This time, Darcy Graham went for the quickly taken penalty and zoomed in past the sleeping Georgian defence.

Although the Georgians are noted for their scrummaging prowess, Scotland won a penalty on the first meeting of the front-rows, loosehead Mikheil Nariashvili penalised for hinging against Zander Fagerson, however Kinghorn missed touch with the penalty to slow Scotland’s quick-fire start.

Scotland then had two incursions towards the Georgian line but were unable to convert pressure into any points. Kinghorn showed the mercurial nature of his game with a weaving run in the first attack but questionable decision-making in the second, when he had human tank van der Merwe on his left.

Some scrappiness allowed Georgian openside Beka Saghinadze to hack forward and subsequently forcing Adam Hastings to knock the ball into touch just shy of the Scotland 22 which gave Georgia their first attacking set-piece platform, however when giant tighthead Lekso Kaulashvili broke away from the maul, two “David”s, in Ali Price and Darcy Graham, took down the “Goliath”, and Price clamped on to the ball to win a valuable turnover penalty.

Fraser Brown soon rumbled over from a maul after Kaulashvili had given away a blatant offside penalty, and Kaulashvili was again about to be penalised for offside only 5m from the line, but perhaps fortunately for him, Scotland finished off the move. Hamish Watson – mullet in full, splendid flow – dived in at the left corner for his fourth international try.

The big Georgian tighthead was then involved again, this time winning a penalty against Rory Sutherland in the scrum, but another valuable turnover penalty from an unlikely source came Scotland’s way when Ben Toolis arched his 6’ 8” frame over the ball.

The break in the play for the penalty to be taken, unfortunately saw Matt Fagerson leave the field injured, with Cornell du Preez replacing him.

Another Scotland penalty – with the advantage lasting an age this time – saw Scotland maul to within 5m, then win another penalty with the clock now two-minutes in the red. Brown again went for the tap and go charge, and although du Preez did get over the line, he couldn’t quite convince the ref that he had grounded the ball properly.

Half-time: Scotland 17 – 0 Georgia

We always know there’s a mistake in Scotland, and when Hastings spilled a fairly straight-forward punt, Georgia took advantage at the start of the second-half and reduced the deficit.

TMO Marius Mitrea had a look at the finish, but decided that scrum-half Lobzhanidze’s pass had only gone forward to winger Akaki Tabutsadze via Scott Cummings’ fingertips, before the Georgian winger stepped outside, and showed good power, to fend off van der Merwe before crossing.

Scotland looked to hit back instantly, and more concerted short-range play (perhaps a work-on ahead of next week’s battle against Wales) saw Zander Fagerson stripped of the ball as he went to cross the line, but another penalty had already been awarded – this time against centre Sharikadze – saw Hastings kick to touch, and Fraser Brown crossed for his 2nd of the night from the back of a maul. Both of Brown’s tries had seen Chris Harris and James Lang join the maul, so may be interesting to see if that tactic is used in future.

In the 55th minute, the moment many of us had been waiting for occurred: the return of Finn Russell. He replaced James Lang, who had a fairly efficient if unspectacular game, and won his 50th cap in the process. It’s a bit of a shame that Russell couldn’t be awarded the ovation usually reserved for such an occasion, so he celebration of his 100th better be spectacular. Also coming on at this break was an entirely new front-row, including Oli Kebble becoming the latest in the line of “Spring-Jocks”.

Russell got straight into the mix firing passes out either hand, Darcy Graham being dragged into touch just short of the line on the right, but Georgia kept on giving up penalties and letting Scotland practice their maul.

Where Brown had left off, Stuart “Rambo” McInally, landed, continuing the prolific run of hookers in Toony squads.

With quarter of an hour remaining, Georgia went to touch with a penalty 5m from the Scotland line, but more excitedly, George Horne came on, making a Horneito-Hastings-Russell play-making axis.

Georgia made a mess of their line-out which gave Scotland the put in at the scrum, and once the home-side had worked their way upfield, Finn gave his proposed tackler the eyes and flipped the pass inside to the onrushing van der Merwe.

As has been the case in the last few years with Edinburgh, when the words “onrushing” and “van der Merwe” are combined, it usually ends with a “try”, and so it was on the occasion of his Scotland debut.

A Ben Toolis midfield breenge of Thor’s-muscles-like proportions gave Scotland excellent field position and saw a yellow card dished out to Gela Aprasidze.

Although the maul was stopped this time, Darcy Graham couldn’t be when he took Horneito’s quickly recycled ball into the corner. Graham may have not seen a lot of the ball, but when he did, he made it count.

With barely a minute remaining, a howling error by Giorgi Kveseladze saw Kinghorn’s ambitious chip bounce between his legs, allowing Kinghorn the chance to regather and further embellish the score to 48-7.

Comfortable and professional in victory, tougher fixtures lie ahead, but there was enough to be happy with in the performance, particularly amongst the forwards, where Georgia usually excel.

SRBlog Player of the Match: Bar getting slipped for the Georgia try, Duhan showed what a threat he’ll be with a thistle on his chest, Watson was as effervescent as usual, Russell was a point of difference in his appearance, but Scott Cummings showed why he’s been picked for the last 13 games in a row. He offers more going forward than the other locks, has solid set-pieces and still goes about the defensive side of the game.

Referee: Alex Ruiz (FFR)

100 Responses

  1. Kinghorn and Hastings both bit of meh. Russel to start next game. Prob Maitland at 15. Backrow needed more power since main and effective ball carriers are in FR. Cummings? Toolis was head and shoulder above him…

    1. Will be interesting to see if there is any comeback on Maitland for his transgression with the BaBas squad? From what I have seen it looks a bit more like an innocent, albeit foolish, mistake rather than just boys breaking the rules to go out on the lash.

    2. It was frustrating to see a few big errors from Kinghorn, but his try at the end was undeniably class. Really struggling to see the justification behind Harris’ inclusion at this point… blew overlaps and knocked the ball on, didn’t seem to contribute much

  2. A professional performance. Quite often we have failed to properly put away opposition that we really should have. Always difficult to determine whether the opposition were poor or if we made them look poor. For sure Georgia never really tested our defence. No doubt a valuable game even if it was just to test out and practice some systems. As Iain says in the article the forwards performed very well against the area of perceived strength for the Georgians. Russell showed why we have missed his presence when he came on, some very snappy passes and a couple of no lookers thrown in too. The cats at a rave system worked well, Hastings and Russell seemed to swap about a bit which will keep oppositions guessing. Wonder if the Hastings 10 – Russell 12 combo will feature more, maybe there’s thinking behind the lack of inside centres in the squad?

  3. My team for Wales

    Stuart Hogg – Duhan van Der Merwe – Chris Harris – Sam Johnson – Darcy Graham – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Scott Cummings – Jonny Gray – Zander Fagerson- Fraser Brown – Rory Sutherland

    Sean Maitland – Adam Hastings – George Horne – Sam Skinner – Ben Toolis – Simon Berghan – Stuart Mcinally – Oli Kebble

    If Johnson not fit… Russell/Hastings interchanging 10/12 is good enough for me to be tested over James Lang at this stage in that magnitude of game. (With Jones on Bench)

    Thought both Fagerson & Du Preez where decent at 8, Fagerson is still the in-form and just needs a run of games to do well at this level I think.

  4. Kinghorn and Hastings were extremely disappointing. Some of those missed kicks were nowhere near difficult for an international standard kicker. Kinghorn is making a habit of going for glory and butchering overlaps whilst Hastings shovels sh*t when the pass isn’t on and runs down blind alleys when it is. Felt really sorry for Lang who had no chance to show what he can do due to the lack of direction from 10 before he was replaced. The control and verve that Russell brought in the second half just goes to show what we’ve been missing in his absence, having forwards who are now providing a solid platform having a world class 10 to profit from that could take Scotland up a level

    1. Hastings lives and plays under a famous name but is average at best. Struts around as if he is top notch …. duh!

      1. He has had some great games but too often he gets panicked and makes a balls of it which invariably leads to a poor kick or being turned over.

  5. Hard to read too much into tonight’s game; Georgia squad short of game time as a whole and looked like they didn’t have a plan. Frustrating that so many chances went begging and felt like we should perhaps put even more points on the board. However, starting pack was good, scrums not quite so good when subs came on. Always thought Toolis got a raw deal and looked good in defence and loose as well as his normal set piece strengths. Really need to sort no. 8 position – would have liked Haining on before Du Preez – and a little worried about 12 shirt but enoughs been said about Scott’s omission. Kinghorn needs to learn when and how to pass rather than just run into a defensive wall. Unfortunately, Maitland has possibly done himself no favours this week.
    A useful run out, some more aggression up front but still need to cut out the same old errors – restarts, dodgy throws, giving up possession in the tackle – if we’re to overcome Wales next weekend.

  6. The forwards definitely looked good. Toolis had some slick play ball in hand as well as very professional lineouts. I get the impression the plan was dial back the creative back play and focusing on being tough up front. It was a satisfying performance but there is much tougher opposition to come.

  7. A bottle of whisky down and very happy.
    Front row excellent. McInally now #2 #2. Brown superb. We now have strength in depth for props.
    Toolis and Cummings were both great. So good that we might not need a Gray.
    Harley should be 6 vs Wales. Experienced and hard. Ritchie on for last 30.
    Difficult choice at 8 but DuPreez showed some fire.
    Watson is Lions #7 unless injured or Gatling in charge.
    Backs? Who cares? Just show offs.

    1. Have to disagree on Brown. Easy to score off the back of the mail. He made multiple mistakes in this game that were costly at times.

      1. Most costly than the two botched line outs McInally had? Neither is perfect but the scrum was solid under brown and the line out firing. Against wales we can’t afford to give away possession and pressure with a dodgey line out. McInally has struggled with this for a while.

      2. It’s interesting to note that I f being a good lineout thrower was a prerequisite for the 2017 Lions tour, not one of Owens, George or Best would have travelled. LCD is pretty poor at the lineout, too.

  8. Game was better in the 2nd half, I think to compete in the next game we have to quit the little chip kicks, Hastings continues with this play.
    Russell easily number 1 pick, can’t see Hastings being an option at 12, we have better options there.
    I hope Fraser Browns mistakes did not go unnoticed with his two tried on the end of the maul.
    Overall a good return to the field, hopefully they can step it up for Wales.

  9. We wanted a win, it was a win, we took the game to them upfront, we won the game upfront. In truth they were missing an edge this evening but we made the most of it. We capped new blood, all came through well. It was a forwards game, good job as well as the back line was disjointed. Finn showed us what we are missing.

    I think the second row is a tough choice. Shame anyone has to miss out. Hooker, I am a McInally fan, Brown gets injured ,a lot. McInally led by example in the turnaround at Twickenham, that will always stay with me.

    What a great start to the weekend. Well done to everyone, even Toony, he looked genuinely happy and relaxed.

    1. Brown was solid at the lineout, Mcinally was useless.
      Scrum wobbled more when Mcinally came on aswell (although that may not have been down to him)

    2. McInally at his best is excellent but he’s along way off his best at the moment, Lockdown hasn’t been good to him he doesn’t look fit and is carrying too much weight.
      But really our hooker comes down to who’s throwing the best and i think FB was close to 100% for his 65ish minutes whereas Mcinally was about 2 from 4 in his 15 minutes against a lineout that was barely competing in the air.

      If Turner can have some good games for Glasgow there is an opportunity for him to replace McInally as #2

  10. Was pretty decent overall considering how little rugby the team has played together since pre-covid times.
    Some great slick play combined with periods of rusty errors.
    Our defense is getting better and better…what a difference steve tandy has made.
    Thought our front row looked excellent. Toolis and Cummings also and both are more dynamic than Gray.
    Ritchie and Watson surely stick ons…no 8??? we really just dont have anyone who looks the part…Haining is probably the best in that spot. Du Preez looked like he ate all the half time pies…and then nicked the georgian pies too.
    Kebble & DVDM looked naturals at this level.
    McInally still cant throw a line out ball.
    Hastings didn’t have a great game…his kicking was awful.
    Kinghorn hasn’t progressed and matured like I hoped he would have..many mistakes..and still cant catch a high ball…yet showed flashes of great talent.
    Lang did little noteworthy.
    Graham looked extremely sharp…great player.
    Russell looks the best 10 in world rugby right now.
    Im sure the team selection will change a fair bit for the Wales game.
    If our defense keeps improving and attack gets slicker we could win.

  11. Decent performance, Harley and to an extent Russell turned the screw in the second half. Harley captain in Wales please.

    Hastings is trying to be too clever, force things. He needs a mentor, someone to help with his goal kicking too as that was poor last night. I’d try to tempt Dan Parks over on a decent contract, brief Hastings on getting a back like fizzing and crackling, and who can forget Dan’s late penalty from the touchline to win in Dublin.

    1. We have a captain, a true leader, no frills, no drama , a hard man of rugby, a strong , consistent, deep voice, no wee mouse , leads by example, tackles like the crack of doom and puts them back 5 yards in every collision. Dont we !

      Sorry I was getting mixed up , that’s Rob Harley ..You know what , I agree with you!

  12. Decent win against limited opposition.

    Russell looks the best I’ve seen him, the pass for the VDM try was a thing of beauty.
    Hastings struggled throughout & as I said last year impressed me more at 15. Looking forward to seeing Finn with Hogg, Graham & VDM behind him.
    Harris doesn’t seem to add much but GT likes him.
    Forwards did really well, Kebble carried well later on, with only McInally’s poor throwing a worry and I still reckon M.Fagerson not an 8, Haining should start v Wales add J Gray, Skinner to the mix too.

    Kinghorn has stalled in his progression, I’d have him back @ Edinburgh trying to find form, the kick into the in zone at the end of the 1st half when a simple 2 on 1 was on typified his evening. Huw Jones is in form & simply a better rugby player.

  13. Could someone please explain why the RWC seedings were finalised a couple of weeks ago just before the start of an international window? For the sake of a few weeks, surely it would have made more sense to wait and incorporate the results of this window (both NH and SH) to ensure the seedings were more accurate and current? It’s not as if they have made the draw and started planning so why finalise the seedings so early? I seem to recall 31 October/November being the original cut-off so why not stick to that or delay by 2-3 weeks? As things stand, the seedings are based on the Japan RWC plus half of a 6N which come 2023 will be incredibly out of date.

    1. The seedlings are based on placing immediately after the RWC I.e. before the 6N kick off.

      The argument is that some teams, Japan and SA included, won’t have the opportunity to play any rugby in 2020 so are at an unfair disadvantage.

      The is truth to that but why they haven’t opted for the obvious solution of delaying the draw is beyond me as the seedlings will be fully 4 years out of date by the time the RWC rolls around.

      1. Ummm…if you don’t play games you can’t lose your rating might go up or down based on other’s results. Safe to say Japan and South Africa would be happy with post RWC rating. It’s bunk. The usual “games” at World Rugby…FIFA here we come!!!

    2. Totally agree but I would add the seedings are done far too far in advance anyway. I don’t organise rugby world cups for a living but I fail to see why you need to have an exact fixture list 2-3 years before the tournament. They should be doing it 6 months to a year before max. The “tier 1” teams will still be the “tier 1” teams regardless of their exact ranking at that day in history when they do the draw, and will still draw the larger crowds / need the larger venues regardless.

    3. The conspiracy theorists , like me, or maybe I just think like an entrepreneur , would just look at the number of registered players by country. I wont spell it out, just go through it and think it out. How much growth is there in Scotland ? How much growth in Japan ?

      1. Japan do seem to be the darlings of World Rugby. Maybe this was a parting gift after hosting last year. It’s worth remembering that they got to cherry pick the group fixture list and venue planning so that they had favourable turnarounds etc. when they played Ireland and us. Yes they play less rugby in 2020 but one could also argue that Scotland have it tougher by having to play more tier one nations in the 6N and maintain ranking. Even the FIFA football world cup doesn’t afford the hosts the same level of advantage as this.

      2. 36k Scotland , 125k in Japan. Another successful RWC and they will have a gift that just keeps giving in Japan. I think we need more Japanese players with a Scottish granny in the future.

      3. The weird part is that we get loads of pelters for having players not born in Scotland in our side, but no-one criticises Japan for being largely mercenary.

      4. It could be a great place to go and play rugby. Nice people , culture, food and a wedge of cash. Shane Williams enjoyed it and Mr Greg may even open the door for us.

  14. Good to see such a solid set piece. Defence strong although not really tested. Cummings was my man of the match. Still not sure of the answer at 8. Darcy was excellent and Finn looked in a different league when he came on. Hastings and Kinghorn do good things but too many mistakes. The midfield lacked guile. Just kept shipping the ball wide when we went out the back and let he defence drift to VDM. Don’t see what Lang offers at 12. Would like to see us pick from a pool of Johnson, Scott, Jones and Hutch (when fit). Accept that Harris defends well and is solid. Excited for next weekend.

  15. Kinghorn and Hastings are both trying too hard/trying to get something for the highlight reel to prove they are as good as Hogg/ Finn. They both need to develop their own styles of play and offer a point of difference otherwise their only international rugby is going to come as replacements- they’re never going to be as good as the guys they are trying to copy

  16. Team for Wales?
    Hogg, Maitland (despite his irresponsible actions), Harris, Johnson (if he comes through the Glasgow game), Graham, Russell, Price, Sutherland, Brown, Z Fagersen,J Gray, Cummings, Ritchie, Watson, M Fagersen (if fit).SUBS: McInally, Kebble, Nel, Toolis (doesn’t deserve to be dropped but need to make room for Johnny), Haining, Horne, Hastings, VDM.

  17. Team for Wales

    Hogg – Maitland – Harris – Lang – VDM – Russell – Price – Du Preez – Watson – Ritchie – Toolis – Cummings – Fagerson – Brown – Sutherland
    Replacements: Hastings – Horne – Fagerson – Skinner – Gray – Nel – Turner – Kebble

  18. 15. Hogg
    14. Graham
    13. Harris
    12. Johnson
    11. Irn Du
    10. Russell
    9. Horne
    8. Haining
    7. Watson
    6. Harley
    5. Cummings
    4. Gray
    3. Fagerson
    2. Brown
    1. Sutherland

    McInally, Kebble, Berghan, Toolis, Ritchie, Price, Hastings, Maitland

    1. At least Russell makes about 3 tries for every intercept he throws – Sexton does very little.

      Finn might be back up to Gatlands 4th choice 10…. (behind Farrell, Ford and anyone with a Welsh grannie).

      Italy not doing too badly considering, showing promise in some areas but tiring now so might see a few more tries in the last 20.

      1. Ireland regretting going for the extra time try now…. might make the difference if they can’t beat France with a bonus point.

      2. I can’t remember the last intercept Russell threw. People talk about his inconsistency in generic terms, but can rarely (if ever) back it up with facts and examples.

        Italy need a new attack coach. They look directionless.

  19. I thought Russell was excellent when he came on. His vision and speed of decision making was on a different level to anyone else on the park. I also thought George Horne was really zippy when he came on.

    I dont think the centres worked. Lets hope Johnson comes through his game for Glasgow tonight and shows a bit of form and fitness.

    McInally didnt improve his case for being the starting hooker by fluffing his first lineout.

    Both Cummings and Toolis were excellent. Loads of aggression and plenty of skill on show. I think that was Toolis best game for Scotland. Still think he might be replaced by J. Gray next week though. Has anyone considered playing Cummings at 8?

    Well played by the two new caps, you will be getting more!

  20. On George Horne, I’ve not seen him much this season but I was impressed with him when he came on. I thought his speed of pass and accuracy was very good. Price was often taking 1 or 2 steps sideways before passing and Horne often wasnt taking a step at all. Didnt see too much of Horne standing at the back of rucks waiting for everything to get in to position either. Maybe he was getting good calls from Russell but the speed was noticably increased. Finally was also impressed with the speed of transfer of the ball for Grahams second try, if that had been Hogg or Russell we’d have been raving about it.

    I think Price will be feeling a bit of pressure from Horne after that display.

    1. Horne has been better than Price for 2 years IMO – just don’t think Price offers as much in attack, slow service and too interested in waving his arms and whingeing at the ref.

    2. We have a long standing tradition of picking the “wrong” scrumhalf. When we had Blair everyone wanted Cusiter, when it was Cusiter everyone wanted Blair back or Lawson, when it was Greeg everyone wanted Price, now everyone wants Horne…

      I think it boils down to the fact that we have never really been short of quality 9s which means we can have the arguments over who is better rather than least worst.

      That said I don’t think Price had a great game there either and also think its about time Hornito got a proper run out.

      1. Looking back is always flawed, we rarely remember the negatives but in this case I am sure, not one of current pair is a Gary Armstrong or even Andy Nicol. More recently Cuss had fast service and accuracy , Blair was an extra wing forward , but neither were as complete as their predecessors, with that pairing it was one or the other depending on what game we were to play. Fast forward , what does Price add ? Experience perhaps ?Horne is swift and gets things moving , how will he cope with a pack in retreat? When you look back, we have had quality 9’s , but I do not think this pair will be remembered for much in the future. As I write , I do think I will remember Horne , he energises a side when he comes off the bench and those gaps that appear when a side are tired are invaded by Horne. Is he a starter ? Is this the game to test him? I wouldn’t, but , I am not Toony.

  21. Price is dire , been saying it for 2 years now. Overrated and average. I am not surprised Toony is trying out a new scrummy, just surprised it is not SHC.

    1. Price was VC against Georgia, he is out SH for the next WC, just accept it. same with Chris Harris and James Lang.

  22. Price never learns from his mistakes. VC ! he is not fit to captain himself. Another poor judgement call, but makes me wonder if Toony sees him and Finn in tandem.

    We are a couple of moves away from a great team now.That’s all folks.

    1. I suspect Price plays exactly to the script but a scrum half who telegraphs his intentions as he does is a liability.

  23. I see Johnny Gray was rested today and only got 25 minutes today so should be pretty good to go next week.

    1. Yes congratulations to Exeter. All the Scottish boys there have made a contribution. Gray looked very good off the bench and SHC did too. Skinner did well. Looks like Hoggy was saving himself for his Scotland duty.

  24. Skinner and Gray (when he came on) were both excellent today. Gray superb in the lineout and Skinner showing great athleticism. With Cummings excelling and Toolis doing well last night the second row is looking rosy. Skinner is also a back row option. Wonder if he’s played at 8. We need some more depth there.

    1. Skinner has played at 8 a few times for Exeter but he’s not at home there yet. I agree it could be an option to explore though. Our best option remains Bradbury, who plays for Edinburgh tomorrow, so has a chance to stake a claim.

  25. France turning the screw against Wales. Let’s hope our lowly pool 3 2024 RWC seeds can stick one up the top seeds on their home patch next weekend and make a mockery of World Rugby for deciding on the seedings so early.

  26. After watching Wales lose to France I can’t help feeling that’s us media favourites for next Saturday…which means our normal role of playing a team back into forms awaits….

    1. When we stop worrying about opponents form and the media banter/hype ..and we focus on our on game is when we’ll win these matches. Wales have some good players…but so do we.. and the players play at same club level. We can win but we need to focus on improving instead of what opposition may or may not be doing. As long as we actually turn up and play results will play out fair and square over the piece.

    2. Deja vu. Like in the RWC preparation Wales are playing a match against top level opposition.

      Meanwhile we are playing a poorly organised Georgia, fostering a false confidence.

      No way are we mauling our way over like we did on Friday, neither will the halves get the time they had, and the penalty count will probably not favour us.

      Until we prepare better we’ll always be the hopefuls.

      1. France…let Wales play Georgia.

        But more generally, we have been touring the Americas/Japan while the other home nations are in NZ, SA.

      2. We warmed up for the last World Cup against France, so surely then you are saying we DID warm up against top level opposition if you are also suggesting playing them again the weekend gone?

        Scotland and France have played in the 6 Nations since then, they will play again in a few weeks. You are advocating what would have been a 5th game in a window of about 15 months, that feels excessive familiarity even by International Rugby standards.

  27. And by the way, since when did Ron Weasley have Welsh ancestry…. doesn’t look like their back row locker is as healthy as it used to be…

  28. After watching Glasgow play a few thoughts come to mind for Scotland selection:

    1. Sam Johnson is fit enough to start.
    2. George Turner had a really good game, particularly the 1st half, I think he is good enough to get an opportunity off the bench.
    3. Huw Jones attack is back to being World class, should at least be on the bench. (With Maitlands silliness this week as well)

    Hogg – Graham – Harris – Johnson – Van Der Merwe – Russell – Horne – Fagerson – Watson – Ritchie – Cummings – Gray – Fagerson – Brown – Sutherland

    Replacements – Jones – Hastings – Price – Du Preez – Skinner – Nel – Turner – Kebble

  29. The Glasgow game was funny, seemed to have a real advantage in the 1st quarter but seemed to sleepwalk thereafter & allowed The Ospreys to take control.
    Good news is that Johnson looked in good fettle & Huw Jones has definitely got his mojo back, quite simply he is too good a player NOT to be in the matchday 23 for Scotland.
    Richie Gray did well in the lineout but I thought looked somewhat cumbersome around the field, George Turner must be close to replacing McInally.

  30. France v Wales, France will do that to you if you give them the time & space. Very interesting the missed tackles, knock ons, Tipuric losing discipline completely & charging out of the line leaving a Tipuric sized hole to go through for the try. (for a brilliant player like Tipuric that’s very poor on a number of levels). Gatland had Wales brilliantly drilled & a nightmare to play against. The transition to Pivac is a work in progress. I reckon Wales really miss Anscombe’s creativity. Scotland will get chances to win on Saturday.

    1. Yes but a lot of Wales mistakes came from French intensity and pressure they still don’t make those silly unforced error that continue to plague us.

      Scotland score a quick try,
      Georgia kick the restart out on the full, Scotland win penalty from the resulting scrum. Pressure and momentum is now with us and what do we do.
      Miss touch with the penalty and then compound the error by throwing the ball out when receiving the resulting kick.

      It didn’t effect us against Georgia but you can’t do that against Wales, England or Ireland. Wales don’t do that (apart from Biggars kicking from tee which i don’t think i’ve ever seen before.) Generally their exit strategies are really solid despite being totally outplayed man for man and conceding some worldie tries they could have been leading going into the last 10 minutes just by virtue of getting their basics right. They don’t make those type of stupid mistake and they don’t compound them. if you give away momentum and invite them back into the game you’ll lose.

      1. Sam, I reckon Wales are struggling to morph from a pragmatic rigid Gatland to a more expansive free Pivac, and have they got the personnel to do it? Maybe Gatland played that style because he had to. Anscombe is a huge loss. Wales haven’t got a flair player at 10,12. The Tipuric example is indicative of the “whole thing” IMO. Re Scotland & decisions – Hogg, Johnson, Jones & Russell’s return will hopefully improve any decision making

      2. I hope you’re right John but the issues have been with Scotland for a long time. We must be a dream to play against sometimes as we just open the door for our opponents time and again. The issue was masked by Georgia’s inadequacies in this game but it’s still there.

      3. I doubt that Ireland, England, Italy or France would agree that we were a dream to play against this season.

      4. Really!
        Italy are almost as bad as Georgia, we should have scored 6 trys that day but only got 3 and missed out on the bonus point.

        I can’t remember how many times we got into Ireland’s 22 but didn’t score a try even dropping the ball over the line.

        Against France our best display in 2 years we played against 14 for a whole half and a failed to get a bonus point.

        and the England game was a joke as you well know TeamCam but the critical juncture was us failing to deal with a grubber inviting the pressure and they executed the chance.

        So which teams are fighting for the championship this weekend and which are not?

      5. We will find out this weekend.No injury ,all available,Toony has access to his best side and Wales are under par.The Table will tell if we are a dream to play against or just a wee bit stuffy.

      6. Well, France and Italy lost. Can’t imagine that was particularly dreamlike. Ireland were thoroughly smashed and lucky that the officials had no idea what a legal turnover was. Even Old Moaney said that it was an insanely tough game. England won because instead of showing Sinckler a YC for a blatantly illegal turnover, the ref allowed it and England did a great job from 5m out. Other than those two events, neither team looked like scoring, and I doubt either would characterise the game as easy. So, please, describe to me in what way we’re a dream to play against. When we’re smashing them in the scrum? Smashing them in the tackle? Smashing them in the maul? When we’re conceding far fewer tries than any other team in the competition? We’re far from the finished article, but so far this year we’ve been very tough to beat and unlucky that Hogg dropped a ball rather than sliding in for a try.

      7. I guess it depends on your expectations if your happy with galiant loses and blaming the referee than you are probably satisfied. I’d rather we won something.

        Also our pick and drive game from 5 meters out is woeful, have we scored a try in 2020 from battering away at the line? I can’t think of one.

  31. Slightly off-topic (but closest to a 6N thread so it’s going here).

    Thanks to everyone that didn’t realise the 6N Fantasy league had an extra round for the Ireland-Italy game with unlimited transfers, as I have moved to an all time high of 7th! (and 70th in the Scotland Fans group).

    There are also unlimited transfers for the final round next week.

  32. Matt Fagerson is never in a month of Sunday’s an international number 8. He shouldn’t even be playing for Warriors in that position.

    1. He is not your big ball carrying style number 8 but I think he can offer a lot in the position in terms of decent carrying/work rate and breakdown. A better all round package on recent form.

      He just needs some time in the shirt to cement his place I think.

    2. I think the entire time I’ve been watching Scotland this century there’s been a lack of a ball carrying no8 -6,4/5 around 110kg with the ability to actually break the gain line and give the team a platform to play. Such a shame now the rest of the spine is in place (2,9,10,15). The closest has been JS and at Twickenham it looked like Bradbury would kick on. But again team finds itself back in the same position.

      With that said, and I know the 8 is important for defence, and has a role in the scrum and line out. But with all this modern chat of versatile backs taking a position in the forwards – is 8 a position you could put in a Jonah Lomu, George North or, say, a DVDM? Get him on the ball regularly. Running off the first receiver or the inside ball from Russell, up the middle of the park finding space between props and clunky second rows. I dunno, makes some sense to me, every time you see him bulldozing through players. And there’s still Johnny Grays and Watsons around for other things. Intriguing experiment or disaster?

      1. I’d say Denton and before him Beattie and Simon Taylor were certainly reasonable ball carrying 8s.

        Get your point though, a real dearth in the position considering our strengths elsewhere. Bradbury could still be the answer but we seem to thrive on producing reasonable size 6/7 hybrids like Ritchie, Crosbie, Wilson and even Fagerson whereas our real big units tend to appear at lock and be of the lumbering variety. Skinner played a game at 8 for Exeter recently and could be worth a look if we want to experiment.

      2. Fair to flag those names, and even Ashe had a moment. I take that DVDM is a non-runner?

      3. It’s an interesting idea. However VDM seems at his best when he gets the ball in enough space to get up to full speed/gallop so I’m not sure how he’d do if tasked with making the hard yards in the tight. I’d like to see it though!

        He does have the look of a mini Denton but calling a 6 foot 4, 106kg man a mini anything just highlights how rare units the size of Denton that can still shift enough to blast holes are.

        I can envisage a tight 5 in a couple of years looking like Sutherland, Asheman, Fagerson, Cummings and Skinner which would provide an insane amount of carrying ability/power. If we had an 8 that could smash holes as well….

      4. Funny I was thinking the other day, given our issues with a lack of REALLY good centres (we have lots of pretty good ones it seems) that DVDM could be made into a high impact Centre? A Jamie Roberts style bulldozer – although not sure how good his defense is?

        Also – totally unrelated- anyone else a little disturbed by Stuart Hoggs completely anonymous performances in both the ECC and Oremiership finals? I mean I watched both games start to finish and he barely touched the ball and had zero impact beyond letting Umaga around him for Wasps try. I thought he was supposed to be on top form and loving his rugby etc etc? It seems to have gone unremarked in due to the fact his team win both games. I desperately want Hogg full of confidence and flying – this was not it, in the two biggest games of his career. Thoughts?

      5. The thing about Hogg at Exeter is that he doesn’t need to do anything spectacular, just do his job (offer a threat, catch run back retain possession, kick) and it makes the team better. His threat enables gaps for Slade and Nowell. He’s surrounded by other players that pull their weight. Yeah he had a flaky defensive moment in both games that could be put down to good attack from Racing and Wasps. But he rarely makes them and has been great all season a real boost to the team. He’s was good in both semi-finals too.

        The Scot who impressed me most in the finals at Exeter is SHC essentially shares the shirt with Maunder and probably looked the better of the two. Quite literally won the European final with his turnover and then came on when things were still all square against Wasps and controlled things well. Good decisions, solid kicking and very good passing. Should be back in the Scotland squad no question. There would be something reassuring about a SHC / Russell combo and both McPhail scholars of the same year.

  33. So many teams in the comments, so many of them daft.

    – Dropping Ritchie, who’s been our best back-rower over the last year?
    – Dropping Graham, our best winger, who scored two against Georgia?
    – Dropping Hogg for Maitland, who just broke lockdown rules again?

    When Ritchie was performing well, everyone wanted to bench Watson. Now that Watson’s performing well, why do you want to bench Ritchie? Let them play together. They’re consistently great when they’re both in the starting XV. Hogg’s our captain, and suggestions of dropping Graham are just size-based trolling.

    Let’s just stick with the side against Georgia, and replace Kinghorn/Lang/Hastings/Toolis with Hogg/Johnson/Russell/J Gray. Revert to a 5/3 bench split, start any of the 8s in the squad if Matt Fagerson is injured (I’d go with Haining), and no more funny business, because Toonie’s tinkering hasn’t helped us in the long run. Toolis, and Hastings with Huw Jones on the bench; don’t know who gets #20 as Harley can only cover lock and blindside, and Skinner’s untested in the other positions – maybe Blade Thomson comes in, if Haining’s starting?

    Price has needed dropped for a year now, let’s be honest. George Horne won the Scotstoun starting shirt off him for a reason. Nobody’s talking about Fraser Brown, who had an excellent game against Georgia. And I must have said this a million times by now, but Duhan (and I’m liking the IRN-DU nickname someone suggested) has to learn to dive over the tryline.

    1. I think most people have said much the same as you – only the usual trolls or massively biased posters suggesting most of those things.

      I agree with your 4 replacements (although would like to see Horne and Jones added to it as well but not going to happen). CDP did fairly well at 8 so given the options I would stick with him.

      Also, Fraser Brown has been mentioned frequently as now being nailed on at 2.

      As Maitland is now definitely out due to COVID protocols – Horne/Hastings/Jones seems the best back bench (although wouldn’t be surprised if it was Kinghorn instead of Jones).

      Forwards – Same front row on the bench, Toolis and Skinner maybe.

  34. Has Horne won the starting shirt at Glasgow? I would question that, a big game for Glasgow normally starts with Price.

  35. Irn Du is a good name but I’m going to put forward ‘The Springjocks’ as Scotland’s new nickname.

  36. Stuart Hogg (C) – Darcy Graham – Huw Jones – Sam Johnson – Duhan van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Cornell du preez – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie(VC) – Scott Cummings – Jonny Gray – Zander Fagerson – Fraser Brown (VC)- Rory Sutherland

    Sean Maitland – Adam Hastings – George Horne – Matt Fagerson – Sam Skinner – Willem Nel – Stuart Mcinally – Oli Kebble

    I would have Horne ahead of Price if there was not so many changes to the backline already.

    1. More or less this – Maitland is ruled out due to COVID protocols so with your starting 15, Kinghorn likely on the bench (although I suspect they will stick with Harris at 13 and hopefully Jones on the bench rather than Kinghorn).

      I think Price with Russell is less of an issue than with Hastings as he does steady Russell up a bit much like Laidlaw and stops things going too crazy. Price and Hastings just saps all the energy out of the backline.

  37. Good call on Maitland – that’s twice he has broken the rules.

    Starting team possibly – Hogg, Graham, Harris, Johnson, VDM, Russell, Price, Sutherland, Brown, Z Fagersen, J Gray, Cummings, Ritchie, Watson, M Fagersen. Subs: McInally, Kebble, Nel, Toolis, Haining, Horne, Hastings, Kinghorn.

    1. Johnson has not played since the restart. This is going to be an intense test match. I would be most concerned if he was picked even on the bench. Am I alone ? On the matter of the bench, ordinarily I would say contain them and win in the last 20, but with no crowd to lift Wales, fitness to last the 80 is paramount.

  38. I’d go
    Hogg, Graham, Jones, Johnson, VDM, Russell, Price, Sutherland, Brown, Z Fagersen, J Gray, Toolis, Ritchie, Watson, Haining.
    McInally, Kebble, Berghan, Skinner, Cummings, Horne, Hastings, Harris.
    (very close to having SHC starting, use Brown as back row if necessary)

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