Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Autumn Nations Cup: Scotland 15 – 22 France

Scotland’s winning run is over after a crunching encounter at BT Murrayfield was sealed by Virimi Vakatawa’s early second-half try, although Scotland may have had the chance to steal a draw at the last were it not for Stuart Hogg’s horrendous kick with time in the red.   

France opened the scoring through the boot of full-back Thomas Ramos, and increased their lead from the same source, although it could have been worse for Scotland with Vakatawa just short of touching down Gael Fickou’s grubber.

Ali Price’s kicking looked sharp early on, and his excellent clearance from inside his own 22 was chased down by Watson and Weir to force the penalty just inside the French half.

Although seeming within Hogg’s range, the captain went to touch and Scotland forced another penalty from much closer range.

Duncan Weir slotted it over to score first in the side-story of the Two Reserve Fly-Halves, although Mattieu Jalibert had kicked well from hand after one early high-ball spill.

Weir then levelled the scores with a longer-range effort, but Jalibert then stroked a penalty to the edge of Scotland’s 22.

Although they made a mess of the set-piece – Dupont’s pass flying over his fellow half-backs head – Ramos ran from deep to make the yards back, leading to the young Bordeaux-Begles’ stand-off slotted over a drop-goal to reinstate France’s lead.

Weir’s boot again drew the scores level after Dylan Cretin’s failure to move out of the tackle area, but straight from the restart Matt Fagerson was snaffled on the floor and Ramos also made it 3 from 3 off the tee.

Hogg’s restarts had been causing France a bit of bother, and Bernard Le Roux’s spill created the first scrum of the match after half an hour. Scotland never made it over the gainline until Weir then got stripped by Dupont, but when the star scrum-half’s kick was returned by Hogg, the awkward bounce went the Exeter man’s way.

Any pressure Scotland were starting to exert then got binned when Blair Kinghorn booted the ball over the dead-ball line, but France’s scrum went a little awry and the loose ball ended back up in Scotland’s hands.

They worked their way upfield and secured another penalty at the breakdown which Weir converted with the clock ticking down, and with only 30secs of the half remaining, referee Wayne Barnes had a big call to make.

Camille Chat’s elbow went close to Jonny Gray’s throat, but it was decided that he was trying to brace the contact rather than lead with the arm, so possession went back to French hands due to Jamie Ritchie’s knock on off the high ball.

The Scottish pack, shorn of Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson in the front-row, went backwards. Barnes’ arm went out and France went to the touchlines with time up.

But the seemingly inevitable never happened. Chat peeled off the maul, but Kinghorn and associates managed to hold his charge towards the line.

Scotland stopped the pick and gos – France’s powerhouse hooker wrestled to the floor by Duncan Weir all of people – and although Fickou did manage to get across the line when they put a bit of width on it, somehow Scotland managed to hold him up and prevent France from taking the lead going in to the changing rooms.

Half-time: Scotland 12 – 12 France

The psychological boost from preventing France from scoring didn’t last long.

Although Scotland stopped a scrum from making any ground, Vincent Rattez found a hole between Weir and Price off first-phase ball. Rattez fed Vakatawa who held off the attentions of Kinghorn and Hogg.

Another excellent restart from Hogg saw Scotland win the ball back in the French 22, but this Shaun Edwards-led French defence don’t give tries up easy, although they did concede the penalty from which Weir again scored.

Vakatawa slipped past Duhan van der Merwe out wide and put a grubber in for Teddy Thomas to chase, putting Scottish hearts in mouths but Matt Fagerson dealt with the threat well.

Kinghorn then went on a bit of a gallop through Vakatawa and Jalibert, only for Scott Cummings to spill as he went to take the ball at pace, and a few handling errors started to emerge from the slippery ball.

Regular starter Zander Fagerson had come on after the French try, and he joined a tiring Oli Kebble, while France were able to bring out top-class replacements. Les Bleus won the penalty, their maul also started to show it’s power and they marched into Scotland’s 22, with penalty advantage on their side.

Although Wayne Barnes did call “advantage over”, Jalibert didn’t heed the call and his attempt at a cross-kick was claimed comfortably by van der Merwe.

From the clearing kick, France again mashed the Scotland maul defence to bring a penalty advantage. Hogg prevented Rattez scoring a try in the left-corner, but Ramos extended the French lead to a converted try with another simple kick off the tee.

Ali Price had kicked superbly throughout, and with Sean Maitland now on in place of Blair Kinghorn, the returning, Barbarian in exile, started to force Rattez into mistakes under the high-ball.

One such error gave Scotland the put-in at the scrum on the French 10m line, but the front-row now consisting of Bhatti, Turner and Fagerson were penalised, Bhatti blamed for dropping his bind.

France completed their line-out, but a thumping tackle from Turner on Alldritt disrupted France’s momentum and Dupont’s pass went forward.

After the way the scrums had gone so far this may have you filled you with a bit of fear, but it’s a scrum so Scotland won the penalty this time.

Hogg’s grubber was bundled into touch off Fickou – who may have had a point about van der Merwe pushing him – but Sam Skinner’s failure to take the line-out saw the chance go in the bin.

Ritchie failed to release, then got marched back 10m. He conceded another penalty for not rolling away seconds later, so Ramos looked to finish the game off with only 3mins remaining.

Ramos’ effort dropped short, and he compounded that error by kicking out on the full to give Scotland the line-out in France’s half.

Cretin got up superbly to nick it ahead of Matt Fagerson, and although Haouas spilled the ball forward, Turner ran into Sam Skinner off the back of the scrum to hand the penalty to France with under a minute on the clock.

France couldn’t see the game out as they spilled the line-out with merely seconds remaining, leading to the slimmest of hopes, but Hogg pulled off an absolute shocker to kick the ball into France’s in-goal area and the awaiting arms of Arthur Vincent.

SRBlog Player of the Match: even with a European Champion on the bench, Ali Price played the full 80mins. Dictated proceedings very well, kicked from hand superbly and there was less of the barking at the ref and teammates. Maybe they’ve started listening to him.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

104 Responses

  1. Overall great performance from most of the team. Apart from his shocker, Hogg looked properly world-class today. He’s not the speedster or linebreaker he used to be, but he’s matured into a brilliant kicker and game manager. I’d rather see him at 10, and reshuffle the back three a bit with Kinghorn, Graham, van der Merwe and Maitland. He’s already a playmaker, would make captaining a bit easier by being closer to the referee etc. Thoughts?

    1. Eh no, disagree, he needs to take others with him, 23 men make a team. That will always be his downfall and we encourage it.

    2. Yeah… his kick at the end put forward such a strong case for shifting him to 10!
      He doesn’t have the consistent composure to be a 10. He’s overall our best 15… leave him there. Its his career position.

    3. World class what today? Chump ! he is burdened by his ego. Despite our obvious frailties, we were not out of it till the second half. Which reminds me, stop Hogg taking TV interviews.

  2. The best team won, simple as that. No cards, no really controversial decisions IMO. We did well to stop the drive just before halftime. Scotland turned up , yet again,today, I wonder who might end up with the cup, could easily be France.

      1. Ruggers : well they are good enough to beat us and before the game we were all super confident because we have won 5 games and the last time they came to Edinburgh we thumped all 14 of them. Why could they not beat England ? I think they could and we might get perspective from that.

  3. Deserved win for France. We got destroyed up front and they should have won by more. What’s happened to the scrum? Defence decent again but absolutely no go forward. Tough balancing act now between retaining the likes of harris who is so good defensively but doesn’t do much offensively and jones who will do the opposite. Weir did well, taking his kicks well and is a good 3rd choice but we need Russell in these kind of games to unlock the defence. Berghan is really useless in every facet and no surprise he was subbed at half time, Altho WP is past his best at least he does all the basics really well.

    1. If Hogg could tackle we could play Jones. Sick of pandering to his greatness. Bergham was always going off early, I just do not see why we did not start with Zander, have Nel on the bench . Bhatti is not quite at the right standard as yet.

  4. Toonie needs to grow a pair and give the captaincy to Ritchie – Hogg has neither the brains or balls for the job. Far too many stupid errors don’t compensate for the increasingly rarer moments of genius.

    That last 10mins were an abomination – Barnes had spent the previous 10mins gifting the game to France and then turned it around and we couldn’t put a coherent 2mins together – shocking second half from the team.

    We need to move on from this kick and hope game – it’s utterly tedious.

      1. Stu is right. We need a forward as a leader , someone who can lead by example and understands the true value of the man next to you. Hogg was our shining light in the darkest days, his abundance worked then, he was our hope. We are no longer there, we turn out 15 shining lights every game, we do not need one that shines brighter than the rest, he needs to stop proving himself. The kick error was sheer frustration.

    1. Totally agree. Hogg needs to be free to play and not try and captain. He ends up doing neither that well. Ritchie was born for the role.

  5. This one doesn’t sting as much as a close loss usually does. I think because there isn’t really a sense of injustice. France probably deserved it. Scotland defended well, kicked their goals but couldn’t manage much else. Although in the first half we got some decent quick ball in attack.
    If Weir is 10 then this is the game plan. There’s no point in trying to force him to play flatter and go for wonder passes. His strengths are what they are. We don’t really have a creative 12 to balance him out which is a shame. Once Russell is back Weir has proven he’s a solid option to bring on and close out a game

    1. I dont think Weir has proven that either. He has really just consolidated he isnt better than a 3rd choice 10.
      Both Hastings and Russell are far more talented rugby players….and we have yet to see what Van der Walt offers at international level…

      1. Hastings kicking isn’t as good as Weir’s. France would have been out of sight. If Hastings was playing.

      2. Hogg has done the kick-offs and the corners ever since Russell on average missed two kicks to touch every match. and it has worked very well for Scotland overall.

        Hogg made a high profile error at the most crucial time but I thought he played well without being brilliant but being that team player most of the time. The work he did to disrupt a French attack where he tackled then stole the ball was immense team work ethic.

        He isn’t the only captain on the field and allows others to chip in and we make team decisions. We are clearly annoyed at not having the chance to draw there and he has made some high profile errors. Yet again we go crazy due to a loss and a few errors against the best team in the world on form right now.

        We did well and competed and hung in there when it was really tough. A bit of perspective would be good and not doing the usual throwing rotten fruit from the gallery.

    2. Spot on wilky. Could we have taken that with Finn or Hastings? Possibly. But Weir has been good and I like him at 10 as a ‘finisher’. Something we’ve lacked in the past.

      Finns best games are when we’ve had a second 5/8th at 12 (Pete Horne) and we could have done with that today. Sam Johnston for all his clear skills is not that player.

      I’d have been interested to see how that went with Lang at 12.

    3. I have to acknowledge that Weir has done a decent job at 10 since he was called up for this series.

      His time at Worcester has made him a better player at Test level.

      I wasn’t the only one on this blog giving him pelters after, I think, Dublin 2016 when he was just not up to the job.

      Anyway, he’s come on and I’m pleased for the lad.

  6. Assuming the remaining games go to form/ranking and we finish second along with Ireland. Where do we play them in the final round? Dublin or Edinburgh or does it depend on the group points tally i.e. most points gets home advantage?

    1. Dublin regardless. Big game though. If we pull that off, and I back us to do so if we dust ourselves off from this one, then we can justifiably claim to be No. 3 in Europe.

      1. Agreed it’s a real chance to get another away win which would be four in as many games and when we’ve waited so long to back one up and not had an away win since
        2010 in Ireland
        2002 in Wales
        1995 in France
        1983 in England

        Need to check France one.

  7. Well a few questions answered. Berghan not good enough. As I said before the game Fagerson is not an international class number 8. In fact he shouldn’t even be playing for the Warriors in that position. Kinghorn not good enough. Weir I’m sorry to say is the same. In most other areas I thought we played very well against a huge French pack. The better team won what turned out to be an arm wrestle. A lot of positives to be taken out of the last three games.

    1. I wasn’t convinced with Fagerson as Scotland’s 8 before this (and I suppose I’m still not fully convinced) but I thought he looked decent today. He actually made some metres. When was the last time a Scottish 8 did that? With no one else putting their hand up I’d keep him there for the next match

    2. Lack of creativity in the mid field. Also Hogg back to I can run through them rather than draw and pass.

      1. I think Hogg takes too much on his shoulders when Russell isn’t playing, especially now as captain.

  8. Many errors from both sides today made for a frustrating, stop-start match.

    France are a very good side now and there were a couple of passages of play that made me worry we were about to be overwhelmed. Yet we weren’t, and it was good to see that as Toony fed in replacements we probably got stronger up front.

    Still, on balance I think France deserved their win today so well done to them.

    We kicked away possession too often today. As did France. Clearly a game plan adopted by both sides.

    Can’t remember ever seeing or playing in a rugby union match at any level that sees 30 minutes of play before the first scrum. A record maybe at Test level?

  9. Hopefully Toonie now realises that the best back three is Duhan – Hogg – Maitland/Darcy

    I think Skinner at 8 needs to be given serious consideration. He has grunt and athleticism.

    1. Skinner doesn’t play like an 8 either… imo…he is 2nd row and 6 option.
      We simply dont have a single natural 8 to pick…. like we just dont breed them as a nation. We should have searched harder in SA for a resident prospect years back. The lack of an 8 is holding us back …amongst other things of course.
      We have almost a production line of 6s and possible 7s.
      Luke Crosbie plays like an 8 but is built like a 6….if someone could cook some meals for him and he used the gym more than I do.

  10. I understand the horses for courses nature of picking Kinghorn to field kicks but I think we can say for certain now that Darcy Graham is a cut above him as a winger

  11. If you don’t win the collisions and go backwards at scrum time you cannot complain when you lose.

  12. The games in the last knocking and Scotland need a full score to draw. The scrum is not going backwards and the ball is in the second row but Price is hopping up and down, not fetching the ball out. Explanations please.

  13. All in all France deserved it. We defended well and stuck in but offered virtually nothing in attack. Other than Duhan coming off his wing looking for work a couple of times I don’t remember the wingers touching the ball. Hogg’s fully back to trying to do it all himself and runs down blind alleyways every single time. I would berate him for that hideous last minute kick but he’ll beat himself up about it far more than I could. I thought M Fagerson looked decent, not a brilliant game by any stretch but the most “8 like” of any of our recent games and he broke the gain line with numerous carries.

    Most annoying thing for me was yet another botched long throw high pressure line out, Ritchie then gets isolated and pinged, then gets wide and marched back 10, France boot it well into our 22, 5m attacking line out to defending one in our 22 in 10s and nothing to blame but ourselves. The centres created nothing, although I realise that probably wasn’t in the plan. France made a lot of ground with Weir or the centres (not sure who, Amazon far too pixelated despite a 100mb connection that manages to stream everything else just fine…) flying out of the line and missing their tackle, again I think it must have been a tactic as it happened too often to be a moment of madness from the player in question, but it didn’t work.

  14. Never looked close to scoring a try – attack is blunt.
    Russell would undoubtedly improve this, but we also need at least 1 genuine attacking centre.

    Kinghorn was very poor and shouldn’t even make the bench in my opinion.

    I don’t think Hogg’s abuse is really justified – he gets double marked as the opposition know they don’t have to worry about our midfield and only ends up trying to do it all himself when nobody else is doing anything and he needs to. Poor kick at the end though.

    Forwards struggled a bit but against a very good French pack. Fagerson was mixed – made a few bad errors, but also some decent runs.

    Overall it was closer than I thought it would be and France are the best 6N team by a distance at the moment so not a disaster that we lost – would just like to see some attack and don’t understand how we have gone from most tries in a tournament to this. Townsend has gone from one extreme to the other and we need to find the right balance.

  15. I think that there more to be learned from that game than was lost .
    The form France were in today they could have run riot over any team in the world.
    But they didn’t run riot over Scotland!
    Well done the boys.

  16. I’m a little surprised that many seem to think we played quite so badly. I agree that i dont think we really ever looked like winning and yes, we certainly shot ourselves in the foot repeatedly in the final quarter and yes, the attack was about as sharp as a pillow, but I think there’s plenty to build on after a dogged performance against a very good side.

    Firstly, to only concede 1 try is excellent work. France probably will think that they left a couple of tries out there, but our defence on our own try line is leagues ahead of where it was 12 months ago and we have got real intensity, accuracy and discipline in this area.

    Secondly, we have been god awful at restarts and the aerial game for a decade, if not longer. It’s nice to see us actually compete in the air and cause some difficulties

    Thirdly, I think we learned a lot about our ‘fringe’ players. Matt Fagerson, whilst by no means faultless, provided real vigour. Turner always seems to make an impact. Kebble can come unstuck against better scrummagers, and Berghan probably feels more like third choice.

    Anyway, disappointing that we didnt produce our best stuff. But lots to work with, and a 3rd/4th place play off in a couple of weeks is probably an accurate reflection of where we are as a side. A win against ireland in dublin would be a real step forward.

  17. Lack of creativity in midfield cost us as we were too easy for France to defend. It looked like a chilling echo of all those Wales games where a Shaun Edwards drilled defence manage to cope with what we throw at them without breaking sweat.

    For all he was SRB MoM I would have liked to have seen SHC on for the last 10 to see if his speed could spark something different.

    I thought M Fagerson had a few good runs and wasn’t that bad.

    We seemed to be back to passing behind the oncoming player when we tried to shift the ball along the line. There were a number of attacking moves stopped due to poor passes.

    I thought running into your own player was accidental offside and a scrum not a penalty? I also thought you can’t kick the ball out of a ruck these days. Barnes seemed to be inconsistently fast with blowing up for holding on, seemed like some players (on both sides) hadn’t even hit the deck when he penalised them yet other tackled players seemed to hold on for ages. I don’t think it affected the result as he was equally poor for both sides but I felt Barnes ruined the game as a spectacle.

    1. Agreed re: Edwards influence.
      He is a difference maker in defense coaching ability. Wales really need him back asap. Probably best defense coach in world rugby.

  18. The lack of any set plays to go to when we have penalty advantage or from set piece in the dying minutes is really worrying. Townsend is the attack coach but he appears to have nothing but maul.
    Bergan can’t scrummage at this level.
    Kinghorn may be a good defensive decision maker but he still falls off tackles was completely anonymous today except for kicking the ball dead at one end and then committing a stupid obstruction when dupont kicked the ball out on the full at the other end. that’s literally all he contributed today.
    M. Fagerson was decent
    Chat was lucky. the difference between a red and nothing is very fine.
    I thought Hogg was average again.

  19. Does anyone else find it annoying with Amazon that you can’t see the picture when you fast forward or or rewind when watching the game? I quite often like to rewind, for example when a penalty is given, to see what went on that I’ve missed in live play but find I can’t do that on amazon as you can’t tell where you are.

  20. Blunt in the centres yet again . This doesn’t seem to bother Townsend but no attacking flair won’t beat the top sides. Lack of threat here makes Hogg feel he has to do it all on his own and means we are way too predictable. Give Jones a game for goodness sake .
    Thought Fagerson had some decent runs which belied his seeming lack of size. Don’t think he is the answer at 8 though we have limited options here.
    Kinghorn not up to international standard.Ditto Berghan. Very evident against the better sides.
    Don’t get Hastings as a ” special ” player either in all honesty as I think he flatters to deceive. Does something decent compounded by something rank and falls off too many tackles.

    1. I think Jones and an attacking full back will not work. He is an intuitive player, being burdened with numerous plays that include Hogg will not work. Just an opinion.

    2. Have to agree about Berghan and Kinghorn. Also Hastings – who is a talented rugby player but is miles from being an international class stand-off.

      Not having Nel in the 23 is always a huge mistake when Fagerson and Berghan are the other options.

    3. I dont get the ‘Hogg has to do it all’ thing.
      He doesn’t…. the reality is the forwards to the hard yards stuff. Hogg just needs to do his own job.
      Look…I appreciate Hogg is our best full back option…but he has his flaws and these ‘brain farts’ or ‘school boy errors’ as he calls them are proving increasingly costly. His defense has improved a bit over the years but his attacks come to nothing more often than not.
      His attacks haven’t been hugely productive for several years…yet people talk about him like the rugby FB messiah. If he could just be solid and reliable that would be great! Russell provides far more flair and talent than him anyway.
      Id much prefer Jamie Ritchie as captain also…a very professional, consistently high level and vocal leader.

  21. Jones plays what’s in front of him . When he does this he can be devastating – his two tries against England in 2018 ( and several others ) were very much down to his playing heads up rugby. We need more of this in the centres and less prescripted stodge. This must be at least as an option to keep defences guessing.

    1. Its very ironic how it seems GT just doesn’t rate H Jones…when Jones essentially plays the game the way GT has always idolized throughout his career.

      1. You know what i reckon it is Ruggers? Jelousy.

        He cant handle seeing players that are better than he was in a team, he has even changed the whole style of the team to stop our backline looking good.

        Bring back Vern Cotter i say!

      2. BLB….and what were peoples saying when we were lesking tries, scoring loads but losing many a game heavily…..???

        It wasn’t jealousy then it was stupidity….so he canny win….

        Think we’re in much better shape now than a year ago

  22. Does anyone have any lowdown on Russell’s return? Just looking for some optimism on this Sunday evening….I hate losing on a Sunday…..

      1. That’s the last heard as well. Just wondered if there was any chance of an early return v. Ireland, though to be fair, Duncan Weir has not let us down (as usual) and his kicking from hand and tee was first rate today. Personally as 10, I think he should be taking dead ball kicks from hand, but Hogg doesn’t look keen to let that go.

      2. Weir is a far better player at 10 than Hastings, you can’t afford to miss your kicks at this level. Weir is also more physically talented.

      3. That just isn’t true. I like weir, he does some things very well. But we lack threat with him at 10, so whilst he is a good cover is select Russell and Hastings ahead of him every day of the week.

        We don’t have the pick to just grind our way to low risk victories as this match showed – we did lots of things we’ll but didn’t have the muscle to win a game like that.

  23. Have recorded the game to watch later (2am kick off here :ph34r: ) but seeing 1st the scoreline and nature of the scores then skimming the comments/commentary here, this is what I expect to see on review from us.
    A team that has (voluntarily) foregone attacking capacity for defensive solidity founders against a team that can also tackle. Relies on “give it Hogg/Duhan” whereupon one gets isolated & the other wastes 1 of the 2 opportunities that comes their way.
    Game is lost as team bereft of creative spark finds 5 penalty kicks at goal insufficient to win a against a below par opposition who are guaranteed to score 21 minimum on a bad day.

    What a f***ing surprise.

  24. Thought the defense was excellent.
    Pack was up against it.
    This is probably the best French team for a decade so some of the comments are harsh.
    With 2 attacking fly halves out there’s maybe a tricky decision for Townsend to make about whether to sacrifice a bit of defensive solidity for midfield flair.

  25. Hogg’s poor kick to touch at the end is reason enough to deprive him of the captaincy (anyway, I think the role cramps his style): give it to Richie. The so-called defensive improvements cannot make up for a team which is insufficiently well drilled in attack.

  26. Why on earth do we always kick it away with penalty advantage. its such a 50/50 play. Hold onto it and build pressure. That close to the line you will always keep the advantage.
    Credit to France, their defensive wall was impressive. I would like to see Jones given ago. Live in NZ so not to sure what other options we have other than Weir. Unfortunately he does not offer much when it comes to attack.
    That was Scotland’s chance to make a statement at home, a real lost opportunity there.
    Also as I have said one thousand times before, Fraser Brown is not up to it, why is he being picked?

    1. like you , I am no fan of Brown, his line out is poor , but his jackaling is loved by many fans. I think McInally brings more however I have observed he is half the man he was before the RWC. Missing a spark of something, perhaps disillusioned, just a personal opinion.

  27. Although the last 10 mins were rubbish, the big issue all game was France flooding the breakdown with big bodies moving fast and low…we had nothing to counter that at all.

    Different refs might have questioned how much arms were used and if players were really on their feet, but Barnes was happy to let it go…

  28. A positive note tho… IMO anyway…is that Duhan looks like 1st choice at wing….and the other side either Maitland or Graham.
    He didn’t do anything amazing today… but didn’t do anything wrong either… his 2 matches show he is well suited to international rugby…he plays almost like an auxiliary back row at times… very good in defense and attack when he gets the chance…goes looking for the ball…very hard to bring down when flowing.

  29. Overall, on this weekend’s evidence, International rugby is in a try-scoring slump…4 games played for just 5 tries.

    Two VERY boring games on Saturday…creative play is lacking across the board. Everyone is just playing for penalties and waiting for errors.

    For us, obviously missing Russell, Hogg was 1D, Price played well but box-kicking doesn’t get us tries, forwards overall, were lacking spark.

    I get the feeling that Graham would have made something happen…Kinghorn is just too passive and didn’t kick well either.

  30. Not disastrous today by any means, just more of the same but this time against a better team.

    Ho hum wonder whether we ever see the best players on the pitch at the same time (doubtful):
    Kebble, McInally, Fagerson
    Skinner, Gray
    Ritchie, Thomson, Watson
    Price, Russell, DVDM, Taylor, Jones, Maitland, Hogg
    – subs to include Nel, Cummings and DG. Could even live with Harris at 12 (though prefer Johnson) if would just find room for talent elsewhere.

  31. So very glad the Murrayfield was closed to the paying public yesterday. I would have hated to pay to watch the dross served up yesterday … by both sides.

    1. LP: Come off it, that was a decent game of rugby , poor conditions , bit too much kicking but hardly any scrums in first half . If you only want to pay when the result is in our favour, well that is different.

      1. Hello Growler, I like to watch decent rugby, not the tepid, appalling rubbish of yesterday (and the day before as it happens). I want to be entertained! The conditions weren’t that poor either. Just over conservative, fearful drivel in the guise of rugby.

      2. You may enjoy Rugby League as a spectacle. IMO that we a decent game , short of tries but both sides broke the gain line, both had strong defences a bit much kicking.

  32. I usually hate the position switching suggestions thrown around e. g. Hoggy at 10 but I thought of one I hadn’t seen before: George Turner at 8. He’s got all the attributes. He’d just have to adjust to a different role at the scrum

  33. Would also like to see J Ritchie get the captaincy. Think Toonie has messed up by giving it to Hogg in the first place (just because Hogg asked him for it?!). It would be too controversial to give it to someone else now. Captains need to lead, inspire and not have brainfarts. His kick at the end yesterday, dropping the ball v Ireland, error that led to England’s try. Not what you want from a captain.

    Huw Jones must be perplexed at Kinghorn’s repeated selection.

  34. pleased to see some sane posters along with the usual hysteria.
    How many of the whingers actually thought Scotland would win, as opposed to thinking they’d get humped by the form team in the world?
    France played as well as we allowed them to – and they were cleared inhibited by the Feb match and how it went (it wasn’t all about the red card, they didn’t get to play as they wanted to then either)

    Hogg bashers need to back off – he walks into any team anywhere. Tall poppy syndrome alive and well in Scotland. he does need to delegate more however, Weir kicks that pen to touch week in week out, Hogg doesn’t get the chance to and the adrenalin got to him

    Berghan can’t scrummage, and does not do nearly enough otherwise to risk him starting. Fortunately this was just rotation, but Nel is on the way out, we really need another top TH from somewhere.

    Someone said Kinghorn is a good defensive decision maker – he certainly isn’t, its a bigger problem that his tackling. He was rank yesterday in every facet.

    Harris still offers nothing in attack. Poor hands lacks pace and doesn’t run good support lines, plays like a flanker with 13 on his back.

    Excellent comment about Weir . He is what he is, he can’t play flat like the other 2 so game has to be adapted. And if anyone thinks thats a problem I hope they have been watching the next off the bus at Edinburgh – VDWalt plays so deep at league level its like he was playing the phase before last

    1. Agreed septic 9, I think a lot of people are criticising the selection when key parts (Weir,Bhatti on the bench) were enforced by injury. This tournament and the end of the 6N prior is also a LOT of international rugby on consecutive weekends, more than during the regular 6N when there are fallow weeks. Squad rotation is inevitable and also accounts for say Zander on the bench and game time for Berghan. But some calls (rotating Kinghorn for Graham but yet picking a light Number 8 in Fagerson, who still put in a good performance all things considered) do seem very odd. In short, some of it can be explained, but some of it? *scratches head*

  35. Just about held parity in the first half, clearly second best for 3rd quarter, played well for ten mins in fourth quarter then transformed into complete headless chickens for final ten mins. Hogg saying “we were the better team for 75 mins” is simply delusional and shows his lack of any awareness of anything other than his own personal show. His insistence on kicking the touch finders says it all really.

  36. con’t
    Still some not seeing it – but Ali Price is now an exceptional scrum half

    M Fagerson put in a huge shift, but the French strength in maul and to an extent set scrum was mainly down to the size advantage they had in the back row. Our back row are as a combination too lightweight. Need to bite that bullet, we cannot start that combination against big teams. I’m not sure where the answer is, it isn’t Thomson (I don’t know the question to which he is the answer). Crosbie needs to be in the squad though.

    Finally would have loved to been there yesterday with a full house. Cracking game

    1. Agree with Sceptic9. Ali Price has really stepped up these last 2 games and was my Scottish MoM. I also agree with the ‘lightweight back row,’ excellent as Richie @ Watson are individually and combined, they are much less effective against the larger more powerful units such as England & France and this will threaten their Lions aspirations. BTW, I thought Ritchie had a ‘relatively’ quiet game and wondered if he was fully fit. I think he (not Watson) should have been replaced by Skinner much earlier. No8 is indeed the problem position and I believe we need more bulk and power to balance out R&W. There is no doubt the French pack dominated us. Thought Matt F played well but much more suited to No7.

      1. @Tenc: I never said AP was ‘exceptional’ but he is proving to be highly competent. A lot of guff spoken about slow service. His pass is good he provided the scoring pass for 2 tries v Italy. He is controlling games. He kicked well yesterday (that was a Toony tactic) and was under huge pressure throughout. Credit where credit is due.

      2. In a game with a lot of aimless kicking, a lot of Price’s kicks were bang on the money. There was one early in the first half that landed a few metres off the 22 on the right side, which was perfect for playing territory without allowing the mark. Kick chase and pressure from box-kicks was one of Scotland’s better areas IMO.

      3. Price did what he did well – and a bit less of the arm waving he used to (although the refs making him use the ball quicker might be part of that!).

        His steady play partnered with Russell is perfect as it adds a bit more control, but when he is playing with a 10 who is also steady and plays more of a territory game, we are really lacking going forward.
        Price and Weir (and a lot of the time Hastings) are not a balanced combination – would like to see a more exciting 9 partnered with him.
        Despite Townsends mystifying lack of selection – I think Horne would be perfect for this – his quick ball, threat around the fringes and so on would really open things up for the rest of the backs and the main criticism people seem to have of him is his box kicking which really isn’t as important when playing with Weir.

  37. SAS on November 23rd, 2020 – 7:45am

    Re Weir better than Hastings ……most definitely not, he is a better place kicker but that’s it, Hastings is a far better rugby player. Russell (in turn) is much better than Hastings

  38. Credit to France, they defended very well and didn’t let us have a sniff. I do think things would’ve gone differently with Russel at 10 but injuries are part of the game and Weir did a solid job.

    I think a lot of the reason we lost is down to management and not having someone on the park who is able to say “this isn’t working we need to switch it up”. How many up and unders did Hogg hit? 12? How many were contested? 0. Whenever we run out of decisions we just give them possession.

    Skinner and Taylor should’ve been on far earlier. Putting them on with 8-10 minutes to go is pointless. I’m not sure if it’s a comedown from the double with Exeter but Jonny is being completely outplayed in the second row by Cummings and Sam Johnson is still getting into the swing of things post injury.

    We are being gifted a rest week next week so I’d really like us to come flying out the blocks against Ireland the following week with a bit more set play creativity and more of a game plan than “if we’ve not scored in 5 phases just hoof it”

    1. Good post, our problems are compounded by poor tactics by GT.

      Would love to see a Taylor/Jones midfield.

  39. Disappointed but could have been a lot worse. There’s an awful lot of Hogg-bashing but (barring the final kick) I thought he had a decent game. The opposition know he is dangerous and will defend accordingly. I just wish our support runners would realise this and get into positions for him to offload (and, to be fair, him to realise they are there!).
    Surprised at calls for Ritchie to be made captain – thought he had a quiet game and even got turned over once or twice. One of his poorer performances.
    The front row struggled – certainly Berghan was below par.
    Gray and Cummings are forming quite a formidable pairing. It’s great we have the likes of Skinner and Toolis struggling to get a start.
    Watson, like Ritchie, couldn’t manage to steal much ball, but ran and tackled himself to death. Fagerson made good hard yards, but I’d like to see if he can offload.
    Price’s kicking from hand was the best I’ve seen him. Probably the best of the weekend too. Deserved MoM (from Scotland).
    Weir was decent, although we needed a spark to open their defence and Wee Dunc just doesn’t have that. His goal kicking kept us in the match, though.
    World Rugby has to look at why attacking rugby is in such decline. Defences are sooo tight these days, you may as well have backrow forwards in the centres for all the space they get. It was the same in just about every game over the weekend.

    1. I thought he had a decent game. The opposition know he is dangerous and will defend accordingly. I just wish our support runners would realise this and get into positions for him to offload (and, to be fair, him to realise they are there!) : They were there on a few occassions but he chose to still take it on himself. Draw, pass and support …. BASIC stuff! He is a selfish player at times.

  40. In short why we lost.

    Against really physical teams such as France, England and South Africa and possibly Ireland we need bigger players in the pack (The scrums showed this).

    So. Pack not big enough. Backline not creative enough.

    Put in Skinner for Cummings (if one of those 3 teams) to Strengthen out Scrum. And Bradbury or Du Preez into the back-row for Ritchie for more Agressive ball carrying (in theory)

    Something really needs to change in the centres that does not damage out defensive solidity to much. This combo of Johnson-Harris has shown many a time it’s not going to work in the long run, even with Russell or Hastings playing.

    My team for what will likely be Ireland in two weeks time.

    Kebble – Turner – Fagerson
    Gray – Skinner
    Du Preez – Fagerson – Watson
    Price – Weir
    Taylor – Jones
    Van Der Merwe – Hogg – Maitland

    Sutherland (if fit) – Mcinally – Nel
    Cummings – Ritchie – Hidalgo Clyne – Harris – Graham

    I have not been overly impressed by Brown or Mcinally when starting this Autumn, So having a look at Turner as the game means very little in the wider context of the next 4 years.

    1. might not please some who like to pick big names or someone playing for a big team, but Cummings is head and shoulders our best lock, and has been for a year . Even topped Gray’s tackle stats this week

      1. Cummings and Zander are really on fire . Kebble looks every bit an international prop and he is Sutherland’s understudy, well, is he ? I prefer Kebble. I think we now have a forward unit that can protect a Scrum Half, though I think Price is not exceptional. I think Webb of Wales for example is consistently good , I don’t even think he is exceptional. I do not see anyone stepping up for price’s jersey just yet, but I do not think he is in a place where he could not lose it is he strings together a few howlers.

  41. for those with criticism of Price, its worth noting how every game in the current series (and the warm ups) has been played. How key the 9 is in all aspects of managing the game. And there has not been anyone better than Price. His last 20mins against Wales, when we has lost Russell and Hastings he stepped up and saw home with terrific maturity, decision making and accuracy – that was as good as I’ve seen from anyone at 9 for a very long time. Exceptional

    1. His box-kicking on Sunday was very good and it is something he appears to have worked hard on. I do wish he’d vary his play more but then I don’t think the Wales or France games gave much opportunity to do so.

    2. For me, Price was excellent in his management against Wales at the end. But he has also been ponderous at times.

      My greatest concerns is that we are not using friendly games to blood our others 9s – just look at how well Hastings did with Russell not playing, that wouldn’t have been seen if they hadn’t fallen out.

      Price isn’t unplayable and we should be having a look at SHC (or Horne) against decent opposition to see if they are another option.

      IMHO of course

  42. A few people here calling for Ritchie to be made captain. He’s been excellent this year but I thought he had a relatively quiet game against France. I thought he was our least effective back row in this game or maybe he got on the wrong side of Barnes.

    He gave away 3 penalties, no turnovers, completed 7 tackles and made 31 yards from 12 carries. That’s ok but Fagerson made 70 from 14 caries. (To be honest most tier 1 8’s in the world would be happy with that against France)

    1. He also got us marched back 10m for “hands in the face” – not the behaviour you want from your captain, that will just get him on the wrong side of the ref.
      Let him be the one that gets stuck in, like he did against Japan in the WC, but if he is doing that then captain is not the role for him.

  43. Hogg – Maitland – Jones – Johnson – Van Der Merwe – Van Der Valt – Price – Fagerson – Watson – Skinner – Cummings – Gray – Fagerson – Brown – Sutherland

    Taylor – Weir – Hidalgo Clyne – Du Preez – Ritchie – Nel – Mcinally – Kebble

    Ireland struggle against big bullying packs (see France & England)

    1. Smidge….I largely agee, i given this some thought but my 23 is
      Hogg Graham Jones Johnson Van Der Merwe Van Der Valt SHC DuPreez Watson Ritchie Skinner Cummings Fagerson Brown Kebble

      Taylor Maitland Horne Thompson Nel Mcinally Sutherland

  44. I’m seeing Sutherland in a few teams. Is he back to full fitness already? Looked like he did his ankle.

  45. My Scotland team for Ireland

    Hogg – Maitland – Jones – Taylor – Van Der Merwe – Healy – Price – Fagerson – Watson – Skinner – Gray – Cummings – Fagerson – Brown – Sutherland

    Graham – Harris – Hidalgo Clyne – Thomson – Ritchie – Nel – Mcinally – Kebble

    (Van Der Valt at 10)

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