Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Autumn Nations Cup: Italy v Scotland Player Ratings


In picking up the bonus point denied them in the 6 Nations, Scotland continued the display of dogged muscularity and miserly defence that has been the hallmark of the team post World Cup.

It wasn’t all champagne rugby though – in fact, hardly any of it was. Scotland were badly under the cosh in the first half, both in terms of Italy’s defence and the referee’s viewpoint on almost anything they did – but as has also been somewhat of a hallmark, Scotland managed to adapt at halftime and make both those problems largely go away.

Effective would be the way to describe it, but a wins and win and Scotland now find themselves in uncharted territory with France and Fiji still to come and an unbeaten streak building.


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Set Piece

1. Rory Sutherland: Had the Italian scrum on toast in the spring, but it seemed like the reverse this time. May have been carrying an ankle injury - if he wasn't, he sure picked one up after a huge scrum from the Italian pack saw Scotland going backwards rapidly. - (A6/D6/B6/S4) Overall: 5.5/10

2. Stuart McInally: Given an opportunity with Fraser Brown's injury but still doesn't quite look like hitting the heights of recent years. Will probably feel aggrieved not to have scored a try during his hour on the pitch given the current hookers strike rate for Scotland but Italy were able to stop the Scottish maul on a couple of occasions. - (A7/D6/B6/S5) Overall: 6/10

3. Zander Fagerson: Managed to pick up a few points for his opportunistic try to counter the effect of a poor set-piece showing by Scotland - at least as far as the ref saw it. Typically physical in the loose. - (A7/D6/B7/S7) Overall: 7/10

4. Scott Cummings: Ran a huge Duhan-esque line hitting the ball at pace to score Scotland's third try; not even Luke Pearce could scratch that one off. It seems almost impossible to dislodge this Cummings/Gray partnership from the boilerhouse of this Scotland team now. - (A8/D7/B6/S7) Overall: 7/10

5. Johnny Gray: Occasionally a little outshined by his marginally flashier second-row partner but Gray is working as hard on the basics as ever - but carrying harder now too. He's not galloping into space but just busting those extra few feet is making a difference. - (A7/D7/B6/S7) Overall: 7/10

6. Jamie Ritchie: Didn't' see the best of Ritchie as he went off for a Head Injury Assessment early on and did not reappear. - (A6/D6/B6/S6) Overall: 6/10

7. Hamish Watson: Took until the second half to start making those trademark runs - to that point he was well shackled by the Italian line speed, as was almost every Scottish runner. Once he got going though, the Italians were on the back foot. As the Mish goes, so goes Scotland. - (A8/D8/B8/S6) Overall: 7.5/10

8. Blade Thomson: Still haven't seen much in the way of ball-carrying in the way that Scotland fans cry out for but then he isn't Billy Vunipola. Put in some excellent defensive work and found plenty to do out in the wider channels with the ball (he made the most passes of any Scottish forward) and without. - (A7/D7/B6/S6) Overall: 6.5/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Influence

9. Ali Price: Another excellent showing from the scrum-half. Created two very similar tries with pop passes close to the line and is marshalling his pack very well these days. Would like to see more of an attacking threat - of the 80 times the ball went through his hands he only ran 4 of them. - (A7/D8/B8/I8) Overall: 8/10

10. Duncan Weir: Played like a man given a second lease on life and while he did many things well and with no little amount of heart, still missed a key tackle to unleash Italy's long range try and never really unlocked the backs. Telling that Hogg dropping in at first receiver looked a lot more threatening (no, we're not picking him there). - (A8/D5/B8/I8) Overall: 7.5/10

11. Duhan van der Merwe: Made huge amounts of ground every time he got the ball (averaging 13 metres in each of his 10 carries), and went looking for plenty of work. Beat the same number of defenders as Hogg, Graham and Harris combined. Ran a lovely, near-unstoppable line to pop off Ali Price's shoulder for his try. - (A9/D8/B6/I8) Overall: 8/10

12. Sam Johnson: Both centres get through a lot of tackling - this is not a midfield built for swashbuckling - and Johnson made more tackles than Johny Gray (missed fewer too) while doing plenty of carrying even if it wasn't always noticed. - (A7/D8/B6/I6) Overall: 7/10

13. Chris Harris: Another mixed bag. As usual he made plenty of tackles but again dropped a pass from Hogg when the two of them had combined nicely to find some space near the 22. - (A6/D8/B8/I7) Overall: 7.5/10

14. Darcy Graham: Didn't get much chance to break loose given the suffocating Italian defence but still managed a couple of scampers to set hearts aflutter. - (A8/D8/B6/I6) Overall: 7/10

15. Stuart Hogg: A quiet day for the captain, who had a couple of half breaks and even stepped in at first receiver late in the game when he looked threatening as ever in broken play. Was possibly too "hands on" in the late stages of the game when he took on a lot of the work you'd think Weir could have handled. - (A7/D5/B5/I6) Overall: 6/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Impact

16. George Turner: A lively cameo with some excellent work around the maul and sniffling the bonus point try. - (A7/D6/B7/I8) Overall: 7/10

17. OIi Kebble: Once again had to put in a decent length of shift and didn't disappoint. Made a lovely break in true Ben Toolis/WP Nel style but did also concede a few penalties. - (A8/D6/B6/I7) Overall: 7/10

18. WP Nel: Given a run for the last quarter of an hour but the game was only really going one way by that point. Kept the scrum stable. - (A6/D6/B6/I7) Overall: 6.5/10

19. Sam Skinner: Came on for fellow sub Nick Haining which meant three locks plus Blade Thomson offering a multitude of lineout options by the end. Might well appear at blindside against France as he has too much class to warm the bench. - (A7/D7/B6/I7) Overall: 7/10

20. Nick Haining: Came on as an early replacement for Jamie Ritchie but was then subbed off in favour of Skinner. Not a ringing endorsement. - (A6/D6/B5/I6) Overall: 6/10

21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne: Finished off the match with a breakdown jackal, starting to become a bit of a trademark. Assured. - (A7/D7/B8/I7) Overall: 7.5/10

22. James Lang: Didn't have much to do in the last ten minutes, other than concede a pen. Unlikely to replace Weir against France but might he lose his bench spot to Jaco van Der Walt? - (A6/D6/B6/I5) Overall: 6/10

23. Blair Kinghorn: Made a tackle, but that was about all he had time for. Duhan's performance means he'll need to make more of his bench cameos from here. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

An honourable mention too goes to our former correspondent Jamie Lyall who did a sterling job on the comms for Amazon – the less said about the now traditional Anglo-centric pre-match, inter-match and post-match coverage the better.

Stats via ESPN.

13 Responses

  1. I think you’re right about Mish – when he plays in his trademark style, then Scotland are usually on the front foot. His influence on the team is massive. Encouragingly, Ritchie is also growing in this respect and they are head-and-shoulders above everyone else as a pairing right now.

    Suspect you may get pelters for Harris’ mark, but I agree that he did pretty much exactly what was asked. He typifies the pragmatic style of rugby we are playing now. Also, in both the last two matches, he’s been a better pass away from breaking the defence and scoring.

    1. I suspect everyone will be though. Or if they do field a team it’ll be a second string so we should put far more than 28 points on them!

    2. That’s a bizarre rule I find…I can see why it exists but it seems wrong just to get given a BP win and 28 unopposed points for sitting on your arse.

      Meanwhile we and Italy wear the “result” just as much as Fiji…

      Would prefer that France get a “tiebreaker” option….if at the end they are behind any team(s) other than Fiji, they can claim an equivalent result over Fiji as whichever team they are behind.

      That way they don’t lose out but they don’t get to beat you just cause they got 5 free points where you earned 4.

  2. I see jake Polledri is out with a significant knee injury , despite it being obvious ( even to mr pearce) the Italian doctor who insisted that it was a blood replacement requires to be heavily sanctioned.
    It is after all cheating.

    1. Yes, they really need to crack down on that sort of blatant cheating.
      Unfortunately the ref has to do what the doctor says – that doctor should get a lengthy ban.

      France were always going to get a box win against Fiji so I’m not too upset – if one of the big teams can’t play due to COVID it could have a massive impact though.

  3. Team for France-

    Kebble – Brown – Fagerson
    Gray – Cummings
    Skinner – Fagerson – Watson
    Price – Weir
    Johnson – Harris
    Van Der Merwe – Hogg – Graham

    Mcinally – Bhatti – Berghan
    Cowan – Du Preez
    Horne – Lang – Maitland

    1. Presuming all fit, I would imagine you’re right.

      Lineout seems to function better when Toolis is around so perhaps will see him on the bench instead of Cowan.

      Would also prefer to see Nel on the bench over Berghan.

  4. Right, this isn’t the team GT will pick but here are my reasonings – we need a perfect line-out, Toolis is our best line out exponent.
    M Fagerson lacks beef, Haining a shadow of what he was.
    Hogg at the very least keeps the French honest, with Weir they can pretty much ignore him & keep a closer watch on the back 3, Hogg is a maverick & needs to be watched (as long as someone tells him to behave (on occasion)).
    I can’t see many points emanating from Weir, Johnson, Harris
    Maitland is a Rolls Royce.
    Off course I assuming Ritchie, Sutherland are out

    Kebble Brown Fagerson
    Gray Toolis
    Skinner Du Preez Watson
    Price Hogg
    Johnson Harris
    Van Der Merwe Maitland Graham

    Turner Bhatti Nel
    Fagerson Cummings
    SHC Van Der Walt Jones

    1. Van Der Walt will only be emerging from his quarantining next Monday, so he won’t be able to train with the squad until next week.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion