Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Ireland v Scotland, Autumn Nations Cup 2020: Match Preview pt II – head to heads

Nine months on from their encounter in the Six Nations there are plenty of changes in the starting lineups for both teams. Stuart Hogg and Ali Price are the only backs remaining from the XV earlier this year, among 8 Scots to start both matches. There are 10 returnees on the Irish side.

Tale of the tape

Tries   39
   Average weight   95kg
Total caps   182
Average age   27.6

   Pack weight   909kg
Tries   14
Total caps   210
Average age   26.5

Tries   40
96   Total caps   196
Average age   30.1

6 changes to Scotland starting XV from last Test (v France)

  • 14 – Graham for Kinghorn [+]
  • 12 – Taylor for Johnson [=]
  • 10 – van der Walt for Weir [=]
  • 1 – Sutherland for Kebble [+]
  • 3 – Fagerson for Berghan [+]
  • 6/7 – Thomson for Watson with Ritchie moving from 6 to 7 [-]


15 Jacob Stockdale
14 Hugo Keenan
13 Robbie Henshaw
12 Bundee Aki
11 Keith Earls
10 Johnny Sexton (c)
9 Conor Murray

1 Cian Healy
2 Rob Herring
3 Andrew Porter
4 Iain Henderson
5 James Ryan
6 CJ Stander
7 Peter O’Mahony
8 Caelan Doris

16 Ronan Kelleher
17 Eric O’Sullivan
18 John Ryan
19 Quinn Roux
20 Josh van der Flier
21 Jamison Gibson-Park
22 Ross Byrne
23 Chris Farrell

ADV Scotland
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ADV Ireland
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15 Stuart Hogg (c)
14 Darcy Graham
13 Chris Harris
12 Duncan Taylor
11 Duhan van der Merwe
10 Jaco van der Walt
9 Ali Price

1 Rory Sutherland
2 Fraser Brown
3 Zander Fagerson
4 Scott Cummings
5 Jonny Gray
6 Blade Thomson
7 Jamie Ritchie
8 Matt Fagerson

16 Stuart McInally
17 Oli Kebble
18 Willem Nel
19 Sam Skinner
20 Blair Cowan
21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22 Huw Jones
23 Sean Maitland


– 1,757 days will have elapsed since Blair Cowan’s last appearance in a Scotland shirt.

– Duncan Weir’s penalty in the 27th minute against France brought up 1,000 points scored since Gregor Townsend took charge. He is the only Scottish head coach to see his side’s reach this mark during a single spell in charge (Ian McGeechan – 1,639 points in 2 spells; Jim Telfer – 1,361 points in 3 spells).

– Jaco van der Walt is the 98th player to be included in a squad in the Townsend era. He will be the 80th player to get game time, with Blair Cowan in line to become the 81st if he makes it off the bench.

– Johnny Sexton has played 34 times against Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow and has lost on just 6 occasions. It’s been more than a decade since the stand off tasted defeat against a Scottish side in a competitive game and he’s on a 20-game winning streak against those teams.

– With one eye on the 2023 World Cup, Ireland have 10 players aged 29 or older in their lineup (8 starters and 2 subs) who might be considered less likely to make it to France in 3 years’ time. Scotland have 8 in the 29+ bracket (4 starters and 4 subs).

– Split of selection by club representation:

  • Ireland – Connacht 2; Leinster 11; Munster 6; Ulster 4.
  • Scotland: Edinburgh 7; Exiles 9; Glasgow 7.

82 Responses

  1. Mostly agree – could argue VDM is better than Earls on current form and also 4/5 fairly even (You could also argue a few positions the other way though).

    Starting 15s fairly even on balance.

    Centres looking like our weakest link – hopefully we can get the ball out to the back 3 a bit more this week. Let’s see if VDW can get the backline on the front foot more than Weir did.

    Irish team has a lot of old warhorses and a few young colts – not so much in between.

    We definitely have a better bench so if we can stay in touch for the first 60 minutes we should finish stronger.

    Seeing the 2 teams makes me more optimistic we have a decent chance – if the game was at Murrayfield (BT…) I would say we would be favourites and maybe even if it was at a neutral venue. Playing in Dublin definitely swings things a bit though, even without a crowd.

    Looks like it will be fairly cold and rainy on Saturday – not sure that favours one team more than the other though.

  2. With Jones on the bench it looks like we’re starting defensively, I think that’s the wrong approach.

  3. This looks a very solid Scotland team to me. I still believe that when fit and in form Taylor is the most complete centre we have. I don’t see any glaring weakness but also not much X-Factor. If we can maintain pressure and discipline and make the high percentage decisions then we’ll be very hard to break down and may even force enough mistake to get an opportunistic score or two. But ultimately I think this game will come down to who is most efficient at close range pick and drives at the line. Edinburgh, and by extension Scotland are really poor at this, they just slow the whole thing up and take all the momentum out of it, when they try to add tempo their skills let them down or the organisation of the clear out isn’t good enough and they get turned over. Ireland by comparison are masters of it so I think that will be the deciding factor.

    1. Sam, that’s fair comment about Ireland’s pick and drive game in the red zone.
      Thing is, they have to get there often enough in the first place to make it count.
      In the past year, England, France and New Zealand have countered the Ireland pack well enough to deny them opportunities to do that.
      If we can do the same, it’s definitely game on tomorrow in Dublin.

  4. Very much so Sam. However,in what’s been spoken and ran through in training over the last two weeks at how important the squad have focused on the breakdown this is the area if got right will allow the boys to complete the job that should have been done back in February. Ultimately the most physical game we’ve played in for sometime. Potentially this could be the game that changes Scottish rugby that we’ve hoped for,for far too long!

  5. Huge game tomorrow. Will need to get through our mental and physical demons…this is possible and hugely important in going forward. Ireland have weaknesses ar present. Mainly if we get them chasing the game with oh oh we’re going to lose to Scotland. Its possible but we’ll just need to see.

    We can go to Twickenham will real hope if we win…real issues if we don’t. We go into that with another away win we become a re contender….if not we’ll be way behind for 6 nations psychologically….

  6. Agree with all the comments here. Not sure about the absence of Watson though can’t see what the long term thinking is here. Thomson is decidedly average. At least have him in as a sub for last 20 surge, he brings so much energy.
    Looks like we’re going for a similar plan as against France – defence first.
    But Jones and Graham can offer some zip so a more complete team imo. Not sure I get Jones on bench – he would be better starting. We seem to be building our team around our opponents rather than around our own game plan, which is fine but a tad negative. Looking forward to it!

  7. Agree with the threat of Ireland’s pick & go and it may give them another advantage if the weather is as wet as forecast. Their jackaling ability and our ability to support and clear will be the key battle. I saw a stat where we have gone 16 games without a YC and need to be ultra disciplined today. I worry about the over-enthusiasm of Matt F and Brown in the clear outs. Hopefully we can move their pack around and exhaust them before introducing Jones to slice thru them. We can do it and my optimistic side says thinks we are overdue a bit of luck/good fortune.
    Really looking forward to this one.

    1. Great stat about the yellow cards. We seem to struggle really badly with these. I almost think if we’re on last chance saloon on our line we’re better giving away a try than the yellow then the try although many will give a yellow after offence and try now.

      In saying that it does seem to take more offences on ur line to get a yellow recently. I always get annoyed with this that cheating is effectively rewarded and only one attacking offence relieves all pressure. Yet a defender can stop a try illegally and particularly with Ireland and All Blacks do it blatantly yet don’t face the correct consequences for stopping a team.

    2. According to the stats our forward pack is heavier so I’m not sure running about is the answer. There shouldnt be any excuses about physicality either. What is important is getting the basics right, staying on the right side of the referee, and staying in the fight until our bench comes on to finish them off.

      1. I don’t have any faith in the published pack weights and a few Kg here or there is outweighed by technique & timing. I still think our front 3 are more mobile and we could use that to our advantage.

    3. Yellow-shmellow. Average “profit” from a yellow card 3-5. Dominant teams profit by 7+, non-dominant teams don’t profit at all. See Rugby world article for details.

      Point is…be dominant by fair means or foul, then a yellow card won’t make any difference.

      We shouldn’t be afraid to work the margins…don’t believe me? Ask POM…

  8. Cant help but feel we should be a good bit ahead but the team wont back themselves to attack, 3 points rarely wins games.

    So many stupid errors which ruins an otherwise good performance.

  9. Christ get Maitland on for Hogg, we can’t afford to keep dealing with his stupid blunders.

    Infact – Both Ritchie and Brown have made numerous breakdown errors as well. our leadership is letting us down.

    1. Hogg was well out of place in Earles second try. Very costly. It is telling big Duhan has to go looking for work. Such a talented guy. Hogg needs to bring him into the game. Why not ?

  10. Scotland back to their turgid worst. How many fatal errors per game does prima Donna Hogg have to make?

    1. Add to that he still doesn’t pass to the winger. Draw and pass!!!! He needs to loose Capt and be taken aside and shown his poor play bits

      1. It is all about Hogg. DVDM is a potential lion IMO. What is more he speaks Afrikaans. But he wont be the new golden boy of Scottish rugby , unless he gets brought into the game.

  11. Comfortably beaten by an awful irish side who have done nothing and built up a big lead. Same old problemS keep coming up time and again. Absolutely not good enough!!!!!!!!!

  12. Is it Clownsend’s tactics to give penalties away without any thought to the impact. They deserve to lose. They are an embarrassment. The captain leads by useless example.

    1. No I don’t think so I think it is wound up players losing their cool.
      Ireland are a team who’ve wound us up a lot in recent seasons. They play keep ball on the limit of the rules and they’re niggly.

  13. Start of the year

    Ireland 19-Scotland 12
    Italy 0-Scotland 17
    Scotland 28-France 17

    This Autumn nations cup (excluding a damn poor rusty georgia).

    Italy 17 – Scotland 28
    Scotland 15 – France 22
    Ireland 31 – Scotland 17

    This team is getting worse. Our attacking play is useless. This must be the lowest amount of tries we have scored since i suspect around 2012/2013.

    Wasting an exciting generation.

    Cant wait for the podcast boys to justify the performance and say there are signs of promise as usual.

    A very narrow win against the worst Welsh side in 15 years is not a successful autumn.

    1. Good to hear from the coaching staff and commentary team that there were positives to take from that game and that the boys will have learned from it for the future.

      I’ve been listening to that line for the last 15 years non stop. We must be the most knowledgeable rugby nation in the world at this point.

  14. Really disappointing just because it was so familiar.

    We looked really good for first thirty and Taylor and JVDW really added some incision to our attacks. But we let ourselves down with mistakes and discipline and let Ireland into the game to bully us like they do.

    Feel our backrow was seriously outclassed, 8 still a glaring weakness, Graham was a bit of a weak link in defence and we really lacked leadership. Don’t get why Hogg is taking pelters he played pretty well. Brown in the other hand…I rate him as a player but he’s a senior member of the squad and his penchant for needless penalties is ridiculous.

    Was pleasantly surprised by JVDW. A couple of bad handing errors but generally looked comfortable and definitely ahead of weir in pecking order for me.

    1. I felt he lacked game management. But acknowledge he added to the attack and looks capable of stepping up with some more experience under him. Debut away to Ireland against Sexton is no easy task, especially when your pack is not being dominant.

    2. In terms of Hogg, I agree he played pretty well but he that he had a silly and costly ten minutes on either side of half time.

      Before halt-time ran box kick back and kicked away possession giving Ireland 50 metres and first try. Smart play when you are down to 14 is to hold the ball. After half-time he made rapid double error – kicking out on full and then out of position for Ireland kick when he knocked on. These errors created both Ireland tries.

      He is a great player, but errors like this are so frustrating and go some way to undermining his contribution.

      1. You forgot to mention the stupid knock-on when he had plenty of time which led to Irelands first try.

      2. Yep…I just dont think Hogg is a test captain. He makes some really poor decisions at critical moments. GT needs to bite bullet and make Ritchie or Cummings captain to build team around.

  15. Disappointing. Bit of a lack of discipline and, I thought, cohesion.
    Toonie’s had some injuries to deal with but new 10/12 axis and reshuffled backrow will affect the team.

    It wasn’t a bad performance they just looked a bit disjointed and Ireland played keep ball in the 2nd half.

    1. We don’t learn from the past. Ireland (and Irish teams in general) know they can beat us by fronting up at the breakdown and minimising handling errors as they go through the phases. We’ll infringe and they’ll put pressure on us by kicking behind us from 10.

      How many times can we lose to the same team the same way?

      1. Quite a few!
        I think cohesion does come into it.
        Players learn and gain confidence through continuity and they get an idea of how they might beat opponents but if you keep shuffling them about you can introduce some overeagerness and lack of composure.

        Townsend has had a few injuries to deal with in his defence.

        I don’t think the Autumn was that bad generally but I think Toonie needs to settle on some combinations.

        We’re still chopping and changing the centres, and that’s with 1&2 choice fly halves out!

        I don’t know what role injury played in that.

  16. Fraser Brown persistently infringing by blocking when defending a high ball is doing my head in. Good players need to learn and coaching staff need to crack down on persistent offenders.

    1. Absolutely Rosco. Giving away too many penalties and giving away too many turnovers has been the hindrance of the team over the last few games. Penalty count is often halted once someone tells you to buckle your ideas up. There was a generation of players through the 80s and early 90’s that wouldn’t have let this happen. The biggest issue for me is that we let opposition teams bully us and this has happened for possibly 20 years. It’s about expletive time these players fronted up.they have it in them.they showed it against France at times in February and against Wales. Come on boys have you forgotten who your representing here. Enough is enough.

      1. Liked to have seen Brown substituted straight after the block. Inexcusable. He’s a professional player and he’s getting on, yet same petulant infringements over and over.

  17. I was desperate for us to get into them. They seem genuinely contemptuous of us, they’re hypocritical in hating Ryan Wilson while having players like O’Mahony and Sexton in the team, and the stick they’ve given to the likes of Watson is unacceptable, really.

    All the same…

    We didn’t have Russell. We didn’t have Hastings. We gave a fly-half his debut and a centre their first game in a year. We got an unfair yellow card when we looked to be hitting our stride – a first-half try could have made all the difference. That yellow effectively ended our game. And the referee stunk.


    We are stagnating.

    The setup is a joke and our players deserve better. We need to pick a solid XV and stick with it; this was NOT a game for rotation. Jaco should have been a replacement, with Weir starting. Where was Mish? Why was Taylor in the team? Yet we won’t rotate out Price even though we have better options. We won’t rotate out Harris, even though Sean Lamont retired several years ago, and rugby’s moved on since then. There was no penetration outside of our wingers. No attack from 9, 10, 12 13 or 15. We tried to attack with our pack against the dirtiest pack in world rugby.

    We’ve beaten all the sides below us, and lost to all the sides above us. We’ve beaten France, once. That’s not progress.

    This loss is Townsend’s fault. He’s utterly out of his depth. Go now, please.

    1. The thing is Sam this could have been a completely a different outcome. The first 30 minutes it was almost the moment where you’re thinking shish it’s finally clicked we’re on our way here this is is what we’ve been waiting for. I think it echoes my previous comment simply we lack strength in character at times when some players need to stand in and take charge or become the inspiration. We’ve seen at times that there are individuals who can take charge. But it’s no use glimpses of this.

    2. A bit of a rant Sam, however , I will not be critical, there is some ugly truth in there and someone needs to get it out there. I do not think we have seen a great deal of progression with Townsend and I don’t feel he is maturing fast enough. I prefer this style to the fastest team in the world fad. Hogg is a stop gap captain , some great players just lack credibility as captains. Did I expect to lose, yes I did, Was it a bigger loss than I expected, yes it was, do I feel we looked like the team we can be , no I did not . A bad day at the office.

  18. Scotland unable to knock Ireland back in defence coupled with ineffective breakdown work makes it very easy for the Ireland attack. Chuck in loads of soft penalties and that’s the game.
    Jonathan Sexton has has a mental edge over Scotland. I don’t think he’s ever lost to us (unless he was involved in 2010). Two shithouse attacking kicks from him today from nothing. One leads directly to a try and the other gets Ireland 60m up the field and they score again. After that Scotland lost their heads.

  19. Very frustrating second half and just feel really flat after the last 2 games. Collectively going to need to visit the sports psychologist before the trip to Twickenham.

    I thought the bench might have had a bigger impact. Dont think it was Price or Graham’s best game and they should have been changed out earlier. Too many stupid penalties. Dont think the experiment with Ritchie at 7 and Thomson at 6 worked.

  20. Remember when Vern took the historical thread of Scottish rugby and built on its ‘spirit’. Reminded people of our character and re-thread this within the teams ethos. You mention sports psychology. It’s been mentioned many times before. But it’s something Telfer would do now. Invite the players to a dimmed room at Murrayfield and face them a reminder of who we are and who your playing for. It’s time for an education in history. Sadly something the pro boys have become unattached from – this is something earlier generations thrived on and took pride in I’m Sorry to say.

    1. What history?? We have hardly ever won the annual tournament we take part in. We’ve Never beaten any tier one side of note in a RWC.

      False dawn after false dawn. I now accept Gatland is right. Why should he pick guys who cant win. We are rotten, just varying shades of it.

      We got pumped yesterday by a bang average Ireland side. Absolutely pumped.

      This team is aging and isn’t getting better. High water mark of what exactly? Failed World Cup and a rousing 4th in the six nations. Anyone who thinks we are anywhere near the teams above us is deluded.

      On top of that the SRU and covid have scuttled Glasgow Warriors. An energy and fan base was building. Now they are terrible because of no investment. People new to sport, rightly or wrongly, support winners.

      I’ve given up. Well done SRU and Townsend. He’s made a complete @rse of this team and the SRU/Premier Sports have ruined my Warriors Fridays. Who wants to watch a team getting pumped in an empty stadium on a Sunday or a Monday?

  21. Ireland totally dominated the kicking game and the aerial contest. Largely because our kicks were either to long or the chase not good enough.
    Either way the result was kicking away possession when we weren’t getting any change out of the ref or breakdown. I was frustrated with the TMO. I’ll have to rewatched the game but I thought there was a clear high shot on JVDW in the run up to the penalty conceded by Brown for the No arm tackle not checked and several others. Also though the pass was clearly fwd on Earls second try. Ref obviously not bothered by latchers sealing off so we should have started to use that tactic. I thought BT was decent good hands and line-out.

    1. Murray looked like he knocked on at the ruck prior to the first try as well but the TMO didn’t go far enough back to check that which is annoying.

  22. Disappointing.
    But on the whole the boys put in a big shift and we lost through a few stupid things. Lack of discipline/interpretation of breakdown cost us dearly but that is fixable through coaching and on field leadership. Look how much someone like Alun WJ talks to his pack and controls the game. We need better leadership to catch these things – Hogg is not right for Captain – we need a forward to take this role on. Ritchie (though hot headed at times) or Cummings who had a great game and looks serious about winning could be good alternatives. Jvdw played well, all things considered, and should keep the shirt for now, he could be something special. Overall I’m confident we’re still on track – we have more depth – good defence – attack needs imagination, and heads up rugby as JVDM showed with his try, it can be quite straightforward if you’re confident.
    Price is disappointing- too slow and dull in attack .
    We missed Watson’s pace and attack.
    Big question is what was said at half time? We abandoned something that had been working , for a game plan that just put us under pressure – like kicking the ball to Earls. Again, this is where we miss someone like Russell who can see what’s working or not and adjust.

    1. Cummings is a good shout. He’s one of the first names on the sheet now, is in amongst everything and isnt doing much wrong or getting on the wrong side of referees. He’s still young and could be our AWJ. With the right guidance he could go on to great things.

  23. Just looking back at the stats. Caelan Doris made 65m off 13 carries and made 6 tackles and won man of the match. Matt Fagerson made 72m off 12 carries and made 18 tackles with no misses. I think its now time to put our faith in Matt Fagerson as our number 8 going forward. I would say that Doris made a lot of his metres with someone else latched on and Fagerson didnt.

    As for our 2 vice captains and the 6 penalties they gave away someone in the management team need to be shouting at them.

    1. Looked back at how the other 8s did against Ireland in this tournament.

      Gorgadze made 17m off 8 carries. (average 2.1m)
      Vunipola made 29m off 7 carries. (average 4.1m)
      Faletau made 33m off 8 carries. (average 4.1m)
      Fagerson made 72m off 12 carries (average 6.0m)

    2. Actually…thats a good point…why dont we have players backing up the drives of our 8. Our 8s are not huge guys…thats why Ireland did that with Doris. Simply better tactics. Asking a ‘smallish’ 8 to drive through a stout defense continually is a big ask.

      1. We could try the tactic of having the “support” players swing round to the side to take out the defence like in Ireland’s 2nd try.

  24. Tam, you echo my thoughts re the 1st 30mins……………… the poor pass & VDW knock on killed 7 points & perhaps the game.
    Scum looked solid we looked threatening, YC & slept walked through next 30mins.
    Ireland picked their biggest ugliest team & the game went pretty much as they planned.
    As Vern Cotter said once “its hard to get a handle on this team”
    Officially fed up with Blade Thompson, cool name, looks like he could be a player, but perhaps never shows really it for Scotland. Can’t see why Luke Crosbie doesnt take his place in the squad.
    Russell a huge miss
    Getting a bit awkward trying to explain Hogg’s mistakes to my english/welsh rugby mates (thought Hogg had excellent 1st half)

    1. Yeah pretty much agree with that…
      I think every Scotland fan winced at that knock on in 1st half… we had them on the racks…wasteful.
      Still for a debut I thought VDW did well …I like his style and as a back up is better than Weir..imo
      We missed Russell yet again. He would have opened up that Ireland line structure I think.
      M Fagerson had his best game for Scotland..hope he keeps improving.
      B Thompson…has just highlighted why he didn’t make the All Blacks…and doesn’t look as good a player as I dont see why we are persisting.
      Im not sure D grahams best spot is wing….he is really exposed in defense. I think he is another FB played in a spot due to having Hogg. Maitland showed much better defense and all round game when he came on.
      Ireland are effective at what they do ..nothing more or less…they won’t win any neutral fans…thats for sure.

  25. Was an interesting match.
    Scotland were the best team 1st half Ireland in the 2nd.
    Ireland went into a half time lead with a fortuitous and scarcely deserved try. Taylors soft sin bin cost us going in with a lead.
    Ireland showed much more aggression from the restart of 2nd. Scotland showed a lack of leadership and failed to use the possession they had.The game was lost midway through 2nd when we were really sloppy and lacked focus.
    Ireland are probably the most turgid to watch ‘top’ team in rugby. They have a group of players who are grindingly obnoxious, who constantly moan at the ref at every single decision against them. They constantly infringe and bend the rules to suit their game…they are like the Don Trump of rugby.
    They won though…probably more square than fair… and adjusted to our tactics better than we did theirs.

    I feel like we have made progress in some ways and have regressed in others…resulting in status quo with our standing in the game. We defend pretty well… but did little in attack.
    DVDM is beginning to look like the best player I have ever seen play for Scotland. Power, Pace, Tackling, Line selection, aggression. His try was sublime piece of rugby and easily the most exciting player on the park. I have no idea why SA didn’t snag him…
    Brown is a careless penalty machine…to be honest Id rather see Turner getting time in that spot now.
    We have let defense become too much of the focus…we have potentially a great backline. We are wasting them.

  26. Your right and as many have said before Crosbie potentially is your man. There’s a little bit of the old school in him. Something I hoped Bradbury would show more often. In absolute respect to Blade Thompson I’m sorry to say there’s something missing in his focus and approach to what the shirt requires. There are a number of players like him that would benefit from some off field guidance and mentoring.

    1. Players like Thompson…we need to get away from thinking that a player once touted for the all blacks but never actually selected a great opportunity for us. He simply isnt the player quality we need to go up a level.
      DVDM, Maitland, Kebble and now JVDW all look international level and worthy…but Thompson just looks like a solid unspectacular club player.

      1. Why does everyone on this website insist on putting a fictional P in Thomson? Driving me mad reading the otherwise interesting comments on here (not singling anyone out, but unless this forum is two people arguing under multiple pseudonym it’s amazing how many get this wrong). PS yes the lad in question isn’t up to it.

  27. For all Jamie ritchies admirers, and I’m certainly one of them, he was anonymous today and I’ll disciplined. Has a lot of work to do in 6N if he wants selected for the lions. We have been poor at the breakdown all tournament. Resting Watson makes no sense to me, ireland playing their best team and we are resting players? Resting them for what? Xmas dinner? They have had months off during Covid, Beggars believe. This coaching team has made many positive strides of late but it seems to me they seem hell bent on undoing their good work with the odd bizarre decisions.

    Some other points. Thomson hasn’t had 1 good game in a blue jersey, thanks for now. Graham caught out twice defensively, for all his hard work an enthusiasm, he needs to improve in this area going forward. Fagerson our best 8 at the moment. What’s happened to kebble? Was a great scrummager when he first came over, seems like he regressed every season since.

    1. Imo ..Ritchie’s performance was somewhat due to Thompson being largely anonymous. Why we didn’t give Bradbury or Crosbie the experience leading unto the 6N is beyond me.

  28. Tam, agree 100%, perhaps rather than off field guidance and mentoring – perhaps they are simply not good enough.
    Bradbury has everything but…………..
    8 is a huge issue for us all our 8s are either not good/big/physical enough.
    Crosbie starts for me.
    Apart from that get Russell back & perhaps VDW @ 12 & well…..maybe………
    Maitland is a Rolls Royce & needs to start

    1. I dont agree. Matt Fagerson has been one of our best forwards in the last 2 matches in terms of both go forward and defense and now deserves an injury free run in the number 8 position.

  29. Big Al,
    Aye Matt F has done relatively well in last 2 games, however is he 1 of the 3 starting back rows going forward?
    We are too easily bullied, beaten physically, so why not try our hardest most physical back row?

    1. Thought Fagerson played pretty well today…at least I noticed him today…which is progress for a Scotland 8.
      Im a disappointed that Bradbury hasn’t grabbed the 8 spot. Has the the physical and ability attributes… but whether its coaching or isnt applying himself ..I dunno. We really need to be developing Crosbie at 6 or 7 also…B Thompson just isnt good enough to be a 1st choice at test level…the all blacks were right.

      1. Bradbury in the draw down south in 18′ performed mentally and physically brilliantly. The question is why do coaches allow a player who performs to their potential then let them fall and drift off that standard. To me that was the moment Bradbury should have elevated and hit the floor running.

      2. Yes Tam…That England game looked like the moment Bradbury had grabbed the 8 spot. Was great that day.
        Instead has regressed and now cant even make the squad….truly bizarre!

    2. Yes. Dont know why Watson was not selected for this game as I think we missed him. Richie, Fagerson and Watson are a pretty good combination and I would say they are pretty hard and physical. Both Ritchie and Fagerson are pretty young and have plenty developing still to do. I dont think there is much missing on the aggression side and some of that needs more control and technique and that will come with some more experience. For example Ireland were doing a lot of latching and a lot of our tacklers werent acting in combinations to stop them so it looks like we were being dominated but the technique was just a bit off. That should be fixed by coaching and familiarity and constantly tweaking the back row isnt helping.

      Another thought is we are still losing loads of turnovers with our backs getting isolated on attack. We are missing a Dunbar who could win you 2/3 turnovers a game and fend off incoming flankers if the breakdown occurs away from the forwards. PoM was often found in the outside center channel to give our backs a hard time.

  30. Here’s my thoughts:
    We were the better team until the yellow card and I don’t think that Ireland were playing badly; we were just better for the first 30 mins.
    The yellow card was marginal and unlucky.
    This was Ireland’s best performance of the Autumn nations cup and they would have beaten most teams today.
    JVDW was poor I thought. Too many errors and bad kicks. And I think that this was behind our lack lustre attack. But as it was his first cap, he deserves a break.
    M Fagerson was excellent I thought. Blade T was anonymous and Ritchie had an error-strewn game. Regarding backs, Taylor played really well until he went off.
    Hogg had a mixed game; some moments of magic balanced by some trade-mark shockers. Darcy was out of sorts.
    We need to sort out the kick-chase!

    1. disagree that Ireland would have beaten most teams today…in the sense that they wouldn’t have been
      good enough to beat SA, NZ England or France. Perhaps Aus or Argentina but maybe not.
      Taylor is our best centre…by a fair margin.
      Hogg?…Im mixed on him. He does some great things and some headless chicken things the next moment. Not a 1st choice captain. He is terrible with media… imo. Every time he goes for a high ball I feel he is going to drop it..he makes line breaks when there is no support…and doesn’t make one when there is. Latest eg He could have given DVDM the ball in the 1st half and instead went inside. Wasted opportunity.. DVDM had the beating of Ireland every time he got the chance. He certainly has his adorations on here…but I find him a very frustrating player…too many critical mistakes.
      I think Cummings is looking like our best leader …more intelligent a player, better spoken and shows the drive needed…or Ritchie more aggressive. Players to build for the future around.

  31. That was very disappointing after such a good start. Are we in a better position than after awful WC. Deffo YES buT we are nowhere near as good as we thought we were and “best pack since 1990” is hyper-bollox. We are SOFT, far too F-ing SOFT. Our pack was bigger than them but we played so small. Our back row was totally out-played ( still thought Matt F was our MoM). I dislike everything about PoM but he was best player on pitch by a mile and while I greatly admire Ritchie, PoM is the benchmark. He is hard as nails, in the thick of everything and never concedes possession or gives away stupid pens. Ritchie has to aspire to his level and consistency. We need to understand why a lighter Ireland pack get over the gain line more effectively and execute more often in red zone. It must be a combination that if technique ( ball carriers always have latched support etc), skill (catch & secure ball) and sheer determination. We look second rate in this department and needs to be addressed thru coaching. We don’t need bigger players as we have them we need better bigger players.
    I also think we have to address the captaincy issue. Hogg is genuinely one of our few World class players but not an onfield captain.
    Keep the faith.

  32. Why do people keep saying Jamie Ritchie should be captain when he gives away so many soft penalties. Thought Scotland showed so much promise in the first 20 mins, was actually thinking we might win. Hogg does more when he keeps the ball rather than kicking it, but he usually kicks it. After the game GT said he thought there was progress and Stuart Hogg said we were on the right track, was this the game that had just been played they were talking about or HS2

    1. ‘Why do people keep saying Jamie Ritchie should be captain ..’
      Probably because often he is the only back row that looks like he actually wants to win a match.
      Almost everyone at the RWC went missing but him.

  33. Interesting that Jones got a full 49 mins but no mentions of him on here. Can’t really remember him getting ball in hand which says much for our 2nd half no-show.
    Also Maitland & DVDM Mmust be starting wingers.

  34. Jones was on the pitch when Ireland dominated the game/where the game was played. Unquestionably class

  35. Perhaps need to rewatch the game, but I’m not sure I buy all the outmuscled, not physical enough stuff. I thought maybe we just had the wrong tactics. Trying to focus on turnovers that weren’t on, and slowing down the ball, which was totally getting on the ref’s wick.
    Throughout the game, though moreso in the first half, we were putting in some great hits in defence and hitting the line at speed. We had the physicality; even the upper hand. What kiled our momentum and that of the whole game was getting pinged constantly. Ireland seemed to spend most of the last 60 with penalty advantage and we had no hope of imposing ourselves on the game. I wonder if we’d focussed more on putting bodies in the line, hitting the carrier hard, and less on trying to win turnovers on the deck/slow the ball, whether we would have had many fewer penalties, and much greater parity in the physical battle and the momentum of the game.

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