Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland vs Georgia: Player Ratings

Scotland v Georgia
Graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

As openings to International window go, this was smoother than your average 6 Nations – which tends to be a mass of hype followed swiftly by a bump back down to earth. A gentle friendly might be the way to do this in future.

There will be plenty to work on following Scotland’s victory over Georgia, but with sterner opposition next week it went almost as smoothly as you’d want. The pack probably came out with the most credit, scoring repeatedly from lineout drives and suffering no real problems in the scrum.


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Set Piece

1. Rory Sutherland: Maybe didn't quite hit the heights of the first part Six Nations but was part of a solid pack effort. Gave away a breakdown penalty but countered that with a try assist. - (A7/D6/B5/S8) Overall: 6.5/10

2. Fraser Brown: Given the captain's armband and turned in a barnstormer of a performance in terms of workrate. A few errors shouldn't diminish the effort he put in to keep the team going forward. Led from the front. - (A8/D8/B8/S9) Overall: 8.5/10

3. Zander Fagerson: Scrum went well against the Georgians who are traditionally strong in that area. A bit quieter in the loose but overall he played his part. - (A7/D7/B6/S7) Overall: 7/10

4. Ben Toolis: Had a big game, including one galloping run through the middle of the park that should have been finished to reward his efforts, and plenty of work in the lineout and at the breakdown. Not making it easy for Townsend with Skinner and Gray coming back into the squad. - (A8/D8/B8/S6) Overall: 7.5/10

5. Scott Cummings: Bossed the lineout on a day when new pack coach John Dalziel will have been hoping for set piece results like this - the Scottish maul was unstoppable. Will surely partner Johnny Gray next weekend. - (A7/D9/B8/S9) Overall: 8.5/10

6. Jamie Ritchie: Went about his work quietly, which isn't perhaps what we've come to expect. - (A7/D7/B7/S6) Overall: 7/10

7. Hamish Watson: Excellent as ever, topping the tackle count with 13 and still finding time to pop up on the wing to finish a try. - (A7/D8/B7/S8) Overall: 7.5/10

8. Matt Fagerson: Looked pretty handy in the opening exchanges and put in a lot of defensive work before limping off with an injury. - (A7/D7/B7/S7) Overall: 7/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Influence

9. Ali Price: Took a cheeky turnover but only managed a metre in attack with the overwhelming majority of ball passed from the base. The threat of a running attack from the base is vital in the post Laidlaw years. - (A6/D6/B7/I7) Overall: 6.5/10

10. Adam Hastings: Distributed well for the most part but when he opted to run was less effective a finding holes. Although they play quite similar styles, the difference in quality of execution was noticeable when Russell came on. Missed conversions would have been more costly against better opposition. - (A8/D5/B6/I7) Overall: 6.5/10

11. Duhan Van Der Merwe: Was heavily marked on his international debut with a string of Georgians hanging off him every time he got the ball. Which will create space for the other backs. Couldn't fault him for effort but he had to wait for Finn Russell to properly unlock the defence for him in the 69th minute. A decent debut. - (A8/D6/B6/I7) Overall: 7/10

12. James Lang: Pretty quiet and didn't perhaps do enough to cement his place in one of the few open shirts in this Scotland team. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

13. Chris Harris: Very busy in defence but as usual the centres in this Scotland attack don't get as much work to do as the wingers. Made up for it by getting stuck into a couple of rolling mauls. - (A6/D7/B6/I7) Overall: 6.5/10

14. Darcy Graham: Energetic and well worth his two tries. Like Van Der Merwe, should start again next week. A bit like Watson, he puts in the work - and has the power - of a much larger player. - (A8/D7/B7/I8) Overall: 7.5/10

15. Blair Kinghorn: A bit of a mixed bag with an excellent solo try late on perhaps glossing over a few attacks where he should have passed to create the score. Will make way for Hogg next week, but may not have done enough to earn a place on the wing. - (A7/D6/B5/I6) Overall: 6/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Impact

16. Stuart McInally: As the endless rolling mauls continued, McInally slotted in easily at the tail to grab a try of his own. Lineout throws and to al lesser degree the scrum dipped in their effectiveness when the bench came on. - (A7/D7/B7/I5) Overall: 6.5/10

17. Oli Kebble: Made a good impression on his first cap, with some good link work at first receiver! No disciplinary problems at the set piece. - (A8/D6/B6/I7) Overall: 7/10

18. Simon Berghan: Put in some good defensive work but did concede a penalty. - (A6/D7/B6/I5) Overall: 6/10

19. Rob Harley: Glasgow's form player didn't get a chance to do much to influence this one. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

20. Nick Haining: Didn't have the impact he woud have hoped if he's looking to pin down the Number 8 shirt for the big games. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

21. Cornell du Preez: Brought on for Fagerson and almost had an instant impact until the TMO denied him a try. Was highly visible as he went looking for work, which hasn't always been true in the past. - (A8/D7/B6/I7) Overall: 7/10

22. George Horne: Lively as always, and showed some Russell-like hands for a cheeky tip pass to put Darcy Graham in. - (A7/D6/B6/I7) Overall: 6.5/10

23. Finn Russell: There's a slight but not massively convincing argument for Finn coming off the bench like this because the impetus he brought with the variety quality of his passing was simply too much for the tiring Georgians late on. The lovely inside ball for Duhan's debut try was probably the pick. - (A9/D7/B6/I8) Overall: 7.5/10

Stats used via ESPN.

54 Responses

  1. I think those scores are pretty good. The pick for me was Cummings and Brown. I thought Kebble looked better than Sutherland when he came on. I think George Horne was better than a 6.5 and Russell was better than a 7.5, although its always easier when you come on against a tired defense. du Preez probably did enough to start next time although Fagerson was doing fine until he did his ankle. Not sure what to do about the centres, maybe Johnson comes back in and Harris is retained.

  2. How can Watsons defence be given an 8 if he topped the tackle count, yet Cummings defence rated a 9 ?

      1. Thought most of Watsons tackles were dominant and he got at least 2 turnovers in the tackle as well, don’t really agree with this.

  3. I’d probably take a half of most and 1 off a couple – Kinghorn and Hastings
    Always easy to over rate players against such poor opposition as Georgia turned out to be. And even more subs who come on against a tiring team with loads of semi professional players. Not our players fault they can only play against what is on the field, but I didn’t feel we learned much from that at all, and few really shone as we might expect against them.
    Agree with Al, Cummings and Brown led the charge, Graham did what he does with little ball, VDM double teamed and had no space which is a success in itself for him, but we didn’t exploit the space that must have left elsewhere. And I’d say Toolis had a very good showing (ignoring the mad charge down the middle, just a bonus!) and has given Townsend food for thought for next week. How to pick 3 from 4 locks. Actually should be 2 from 3, Cummings has to be the go to guy these days

    1. I’d be tempted to stick Skinner at 8. He’s played plenty of backrow in his time and a few games at 8 recently for Exeter. Echoing others, not sure young Fagerson is quite ready for this level and CDP & Haining too often fail to deliver. That way we have on form players on the park with plenty line out options. Doubt it’ll happen though and think we’ll see Skinner on the bench with Toolis dropped.

      1. What did Fagerson do wrong in his performance, cannot help an injury, I thought he looked about as good as Duhan & Kebble and better than Lang for the players making what was essentially a first game (I know technically this is not the case for Lang and Fagerson)

      2. He gets himself about the park well and is aggressive but if you compare him to the starting (or even backup in a lot of cases) #8s for the rest of the top 10 ranked countries he’s pretty firmly at the bottom of the pile.

        It’s not his fault, he’s only 22 and been playing professionally for a couple of years and I do think he’ll grow into our starting 8, but I think he has plenty to work on at club level before cementing himself in the jersey.

        I’m certainly not saying that Lang was any better than him but he’s quite clearly not our first choice 12.

        Kebble looked very good when he came on and Duhan was being heavily marked yet still managed to make a significant impact.

      3. @ Scotty
        there is no point comparing to #8s for other countries. We pick from who we can pick and M Fagerson is the best option we have right now.
        Haining is behind and although Bradbury worked hard on Sunday like Kinghorn he just isn’t cutting it right now. Skinner should be considered as a lock, his game or 2 at 8 for Exeter 2nds recently were hardly a success

      4. Not sure how they weren’t a success – they won both games!

        Skinner also played 8 for England u20s so it’s not like he’s alien to the position.

        Blade Thomson is another option who’s been going well for Scarlets.

        With Matt Fagerson out for this weekend it’ll be interesting to see who Toony goes with

      5. conditioning for an 8 and for lock are very different. Skinner has been conditioned to play lock for years now, occasionally filling in at 6. That is how we should see him
        Which games did he play 8 at recently? I have a vague memory of seeing he started one

      6. Can’t remember which games he played 8, think it was when the games were getting crammed in during the midweek.

        He started the European semi at 7 though against Toulouse, that should highlight how good his conditioning is!

  4. VDM was double teamed but Kinghorn played poorly, this negated any space “earned” by VDM. Brown, Cummings, Kebble, Russell top performers on Friday.

  5. I thought Du Preez was pretty excellent, his best showing for Scotland. A lot of what has to be said about this game though comes with the caveat of just how poor Georgia are, which is also why I would be inclined to somewhat dismiss the display of Toolis and show concern about the performance of Kinghorn who to me took his downturn in club form into a Scotland shirt, a try will help with the confidence but a lot of his work to me is just well off the pace.

    The work of VDM was very encouraging, he mixed in the VDM all expected, the try, but the general use and involvement him was different to what is seen at Edinburgh, his ability to tie players in what great tactical use of him.

    1. I was a huge fan of Du Preez in his early day @ Edinburgh, injury robbed him of something, then he had that horrible throat injury, good on him.
      Any tactic that may give
      Hoggy more space is okay with me

  6. Don’t see why Cummings is getting so much praise. He did a competent job but I dont think he was outstanding especially against such limited opposition. If he can do the business against Wales then we can start dishing out high praise.

    1. so true, he’s lightweight, good in open space but with well organized defense easily nullified and not very physical – just check his ruck cleaning. Toolis got to be in driving position.

  7. Hastings is an average player with occasional good game. He is not International class that we need. We need another S/O to back up Finn

    1. Rubbish, watch the game against France this year and his run performances in Glasgow games. He isn’t as good as Finn. But at the same age Finn was as good as he currently is. All the players are coming back from a long break. Adam will get better and is a solid backup to Finn.

      1. I’m not convinced 10 is Hastings best position still, I think he all round game suits a 12/13 role.

        Unfortunately it’s the position Scotland needs depth in.

  8. At the age of 24 Hastings has a hell of a long way to go on his development curve before he is the player he is truly going to be, even at this stage of his career he is a bit ahead of the likes of Weir, VDW and Chamberlain, any mythical backup 10 Scotland might need at the moment in reality doesn’t exist.

    1. Yeah, I don’t get the obsession of some Scotland fans to have a pop at Hastings. He’s talented but still callow and could be special with hard work.

      At 24 Sexton did not look like a future Irish all time legend, but here he is, one of the most celebrated players in the world of his generation. Obviously also a prat but that is by the by.

      1. At 24, Sexton was slotting 50m drop goals to win a heineken cup, and en route to that was the now famous scene of him celebrating in O’Garas face in the semi. Even at the time that was seen as the changing of the guard moment where sexton was ready to become Irelands 10 going forward.

        Hatings is a talented rugby player. One of the most naturally talented Scotland have produced. But his decision making as a 10 has not improved since making his breakthrough over 3 years ago now. Hes still got time and credit in the bank, but he needs to start making his performances like that against france the norm rather than the exception.

      2. at 24 Sexton had just made his debut for Ireland. Hastings was 21 on his Scotland debut
        This is another silly comparison, players mature at different rates, and get different opportunities

  9. Cameron Redpath doesn’t seem to be in the England squad this Autumn. Would love to see Toony trying again with him to bring him into camp.

    1. He clearly does not want to play for Scotland and there are numerous better inside centres. Don’t get the obsession with him.

      1. To say “obsession” is slightly overstated, I would say though there is a want to see Scotland cap and get a hold of what is clearly a talented Rugby player who at the age of 20 looks destined to have a very stellar career.

        We aren’t a nation blessed with a massive group of talent, the more players we could have involved in potential International selection the better.

        Ignoring all of that, the general signals of player loss is clearly something to be concerned about, yes, it is money and chance related but the loss of a players son who Captained Scotland to England is clearly something that would lead to conversation among supporters.

      2. you are making an assumption which is not based on any facts. Door is still open for both parties
        he did not commit to Scotland as an academy player, that can cost you your job. Since he has been on a full contract neither Scotland nor England have called. When one does call he will make a decision

  10. Toony has his work cut out for selection for Saturday. Mainly in the second row and centres.
    The front rows are interchangeable, although WP Nel may feel hard done by if he misses out on the 23.
    I think Gray and Cummings will start, with Ritchie, Watson and DuPreez the starting back row, but who’s on the bench? Gilchrist, Bradbury and Fagerson are all injured, and I cannot see Cowan or Thomson or Gray Senior making the matchday squad, despite their good club form. Haining for me didn’t do enough to offer an impact off the bench. I’d like to see Skinner and Harley – covers 4/5/6 and Ritchie can cover 7/8 if there’s a problem. Harsh on Toolis as he had a great game but I think Harley and Skinner offer more of an impact in defence and attack respectively.
    The halfbacks won’t be a surprise – Price/Russell with Horne/Hastings on the bench. Neither will the back 3 – Graham/VDM/Hogg.
    It’s the centres where we have a problem. Lang and Harris are hardly setting the world alight. Is Johnson match fit? I love Grigg but don’t see him as international class. Harris at inside and Huw Jones outside him? Hastings at IC for a second distributor? Personally I’d stick with Lang/Harris as there is something to be said for consistency in selection. Huw Jones on the bench instead of Kinghorn.

    So my squad is Sutherland, Brown, Fagerson, Gray, Cummings, Ritchie, Watson, DuPreez; Price, Russell, Graham, Lang, Harris, VDM, Hogg.
    McInally, Kebble, Berghan, Skinner, Harley, Horne, Hastings, Jones.

    1. Didn’t know Bradbury was injured. Where did you hear that? He played the full game (I thought) against Connaught and seemed to be ok. I had expected to see him brought into the squad so maybe you some intel Merlot? Still think he’s our best option at 8.

    2. I think there is a lot of sense in here. I think Johnson is fit enough to come back in for Lang. I also think Grigg isnt too far off selection as he’s been excellent for Glasgow since lock down but I think Toony will stick with Harris. Skinner and Harley from the Bench, giving us extra line-out options, with Jones as the utility back are reasonable calls.

    3. Dunno, Berghan is still a liability to me, especially in the scrum. I’d have Nel on the bench, with Gray and Skinner and keep the starting locks. I’d also swap Jones and Harris.

      1. Team Cam I agree. He always gives away stupid penalties in areas of the pitch where the opposition can score from. ZFagerson to start with Nel on the bench.
        And with regard to Matt Fagersons rating. I’m sorry but he is never an 8. I think he would make an excellent 7. He does not have the physical attributes to play an 8 in the modern game.

    4. Bradbury must have picked up his concussion on Sunday v Connaught. Shame, he had a decent game (admittedly at 6) and looked the part, unlike Edinburgh as a whole.

  11. For once I don’t think there’s much controversy about selection, but GT will prove me wrong
    Sutherland, Brown, Fagerson, Gray, Cummings, Ritchie, Watson, Du Preez, Price, Russell, Johnson, Harris, Graham, VDM, Hogg.
    Kebble, McInally, Nel, Toolis, Haining (just maybe Skinner), Horne, Hastings, Jones.

    1. I completely agree this should be the line up but Townsend picked Bergan over Nel for the Georgia game even tho Nel was fit and played for edinburgh. Also with Sam johnson being one game back from injury and Lang is clearly the new Harris in Toony’s eyes I think Lang will bench instead of Jones. (although I hope he thinks shifting Russell to 12 and bringing on Hastings is the better option.)

  12. At some point I’d love to see: Hogg, Graham, Jones, Hastings, DVDM, Russell, Horne. Probably not very sensible, but I’d still love to see it.

      1. I think Matto’s going for the most attacking line up we can muster and that would mean two playmakers at s/o and i/c.

        I agree with him it would be great to see us just really go for it like that. I think it would be best used in an All Blacks game (if we still get to play them) where we have nothing to lose but need something special if we are ever going to beat them.

  13. I am looking forward to the weekend, this is how I see it going. Georgia surrendered, but we were not much better, it is even, you know, no more , no less, I am sat firmly on the fence. Cymru will swap out most of the front 5 however the backrow will remain and that is a problem for Yr Alban as we will target the distribution to Russell. Patchell will step up for Biggar and get it wide. It is time to see Louis Rees Zammit start, he will draw defenders and make space in the middle. Cymru have never seen speed like this lad in a long time.It is well known Yr Alban are undecided at 12 and 13.I think your boys might just do it this time , if you can pin us in the red zone. I hope not, but let’s hope it is a great game. Cymru am byth.

    1. Always good to read your contributions, Daihard.

      Hard to pick a winner based on most recent form. One side wins a Southwell claimer by a distance; the other loses a Group race at Ascot by a couple of lengths.

      I expect this to be close too, both sides having been strengthened in a few key areas since last week.

      It will be interesting to see your super-speedster in action if selected. I doubt he will get anything like the space and time that he enjoys at club level, but it’s always good to see how an exciting talent performs at Test level.
      Hoping for a good game and a Scotland win in a few days.

      If I knew the Welsh for ‘good luck to you, though’ I’d sign out with that.

  14. Selection is fairly simple to me thinking from Townsends point of view.

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

    Kinghorn – Hastings – Horne – Du Preez – Skinner – Berghan – Mcinally – Kebble

    This is assuming Matt Fagerson is out injured still.
    According to Townsend last week’s selection was as close to first choice as possible, which leads me to believe Berghan is ahead of Nel on the bench.

    Johnson showed proof he is back to full fitness with he appearance for Glasgow, no way should we have a raw untested Russell-Lang-Harris combo.

    Haining was the incumbent 8 and performed admirably throughout six nations, Cornell is flakey and is only being thought of as the next 8 in line due to us having 2 backrows on the bench against Georgia.

    Toolis can feel hard done by… but he was playing against Georgia, he is inconsistent against the top tier 1 nations – Skinner has to take his place on the bench, excellent versatility, consistently in form, has just won 2 cups & has I believe around a 70/75 % win rate for Scotland aswell as 80+ % win rate for Exeter. The guy knows how to win games.

  15. It’s a pity Haining isn’t in the same form he was in earlier in the year. If he can show up well in training then I’d be tempted to stick him in at 8 and hope he can raise his game in light of the occasion. Wasn’t Wales away the game Du Preez had a mare debut and was then in the wilderness for a while? I’m hopeful he wouldn’t repeat to the same extent but feel an in form Haining would be able to stand up to the Welsh.

    1. I also think the idea of Skinner at 8 has a lot of potential but probably not for this game.

      1. Agreed. Georgia would have been ideal to try this but he was obviously tied up with Exeter.

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