Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Guinness Six Nations: Scotland 24 – 27 Ireland

A frenetic match at BT Murrayfield capped off the weekend’s Six Nations action, and if England v France had set a high benchmark, this did its best to match it.

In the end, however, it was the same end result that’s become the status quo, which now puts Ireland in the lead in the overall head-to-head record with 67 wins.

An early break down the left wing by James Lowe led to an Ireland penalty just in front of the sticks, but Scotland would perhaps be satisfied with only conceding the three-points considering how prolific Ireland usually are from close-range.

One of their other skills is in the aerial game, and it was the wily Jonny Sexton who created it, first with an bomb which Hogg was beaten to by Henshaw, and it was Henshaw who got on the end of a Sexton cross-field kick which Keith Earls did well to deflect back.

Finn Russell reduced the deficit with a penalty, before a series of knock-ons saw Ireland gain a penalty.

Sexton missed touch, but an astute kick by Hugo Keenan put the Scotland line-out under pressure. Ireland stole their second line-out of the day and when they were awarded a penalty at an awkward angle, they went for the corner.

Scotland’s maul defence held firm, then a last-ditch tackle on a sniping Jamison Gibson-Park gave Hamish Watson the chance to clamp onto the ball just short of the line.

George Turner’s misfiring line-out may have cost Scotland an attacking platform in the Ireland’s 22 shortly afterwards, but when Ireland lost one of their own on half-way, Scotland took the lead with a touch of good fortune.

Stuart Hogg charged down Ringrose’s kick, his nudge ahead bounced off his face, and back toward his right-boot. He kicked inside to Russell, who’s own kick was palmed into the air by James Lowe for Russell to regather on the try-line.

Having gained the upper-hand on the scoreboard, Scotland then too the upper-hand at the scrum. The kick to touch went into the 22, but the throw once again didn’t hit it’s intended target.

Either side of a missed Russell penalty, Ireland had regained the lead thanks in no small part to Tadgh Beirne’s jackaling skills, and then with the half-time whistle poised to blow, Ali Price jumped out of the line to give away another cheap 3-points to the boot of Sexton.

Half-time: Scotland 10 – 14 Ireland

The open nature of the first half continued with some massive collisions, but when it came to it Scotland’s line-out was letting them down, but Ireland used theirs to widen the advantage in somewhat controversial circumstances.

The maul didn’t go far, but when Beirne did break through the wall after repeated pick and gos, referee Romain Poite said he had seen the ball grounded, despite replays proving inconclusive.

Another lost line-out, another Sexton penalty. Finn Russell then tried to take too much at a kick to touch and put it over the sideline of the in-goal area. This wasn’t going well.

Ireland’s early shove at the scrum brought about a once familiar site however.

Sam Johnson made a burst through the middle from the quick free-kick, Scotland went to the right and Huw Jones, only just on the park as a replacement for Chris Harris, weaved past Lowe and Keenan before stepping inside Gibson-Park to the try-line.

Now back within scoreboard parity, Scotland were forced into a major reshuffle when Finn Russell and Scott Cummings went off injured. Jamie Ritchie and Jonny Gray had already been replaced by Grant Gilchrist and Nick Haining.

Townsend had advised earlier in the week Stuart Hogg would go in at fly-half, but I don’t imagine he’d had much discussion with Scott Steele about packing down.

The makeshift Scots showed plenty of steel throughout to draw level though. A sustained period of pressure was finished off by a superb finish by Hamish Watson, twisting through the tackles and somehow keeping hold of the ball to press it down.

Hogg had taken over the kicking duties shortly before Russell had exited the game and although he drew the scores level, Scotland did what they tend to and gifted an opportunity to seal the game.

Space was left round the side of a ruck for Ryan Baird to get through and block Price’s box-kick, Price recovered, but he was surrounded. Penalty to Ireland.

Sexton showed his own nerves of steel to boot Ireland to victory.

The gap may be narrowed, but the same plan keeps on working for Ireland. They got the edge at the breakdown, and once they ground their way into position Sexton’s boot does the rest.

For Scotland, the line-out was horrendous – 6 from 8 lost – and the handling error and penalty counts too high, but the scrum was pretty fairly matched and Jones try was very good.

SRBlog Player of the Match:
the collisions were so brutal in this match it made him lose his headband, which makes his grounding for the try more impressive, Hamish Watson’s relentlessness will have impressed a watching Warren Gatland. *LIONS CHAT KLAXON*

Referee: Romain Poite (FFR)

195 Responses

  1. It wasn’t the ludicrous lineouts that lost that game, although how come lessons couldn’t be learned after failure #3? Ali Price’s two penalty gifts were the crime. And is it at all feasible, do you think, for someone to introduce him to something other than uncompetitive box kicks that deliver the ball directly back to the opposition? Asking for a friend.

    1. Agreed. Price was poor today. I would go further and say his overall performance level is okay but I can’t think of many games where he has been much better than adequate. Somehow Price has not quite fulfilled all the excitement of a few years ago. Would love to see SHC in the mix for Italy – either SHC would go on to take the jersey or Price would up his game in response.

      1. Ali Price was hoisted up on the Peter Principle (people tend to get promoted one level above their competence) because of the need to replace the ageing Laidlaw. His smiley-face tattoo doesn’t exactly translate as internal brain power. But on the other point, someone needs either to grasp the thistle of the inherent tactical uselessness of box kicks or practise them to perfection so they’re competitive and therefore an attacking tool.

    2. The lineouts were a massive part of why we lost.
      Absolutely massive.

      Gave us no option to put pressure on them, made them comfortable kicking for touch and giving away penalties.

      Look at the try Huw Jones scored. We’d have done that every time we got in their half if we’d been able to win 1st phase.

      1. If you are almost guaranteed to lose possession once winning territory after a penalty then you cannot actually attack so lineout cost us hugely….it was criminal play today. I’ve never seen basics so bad in a Scotland match…I’ve not be so disillusioned with such inept play in those areas before….miracle we were in the game but you can’t expect to be with basics so bad.

        When back in it kick long or go for touch off ur 10….be safe and build again….you take away any chance of immediate points….dreadful strategy..awful!!!

      2. Agree with the key problem areas today, it’s amazing we were even in the game at all given the 25% lineout success rate.

        Nevertheless, the quality of refereeing it has to be said was again extremely poor, and a team like Scotland which is always going to struggle to win big games on average simply can’t afford that.
        Cases in point today, almost all marginal calls went Ireland’s way, Ireland gave away 3 pens in a row on the 5m with no yellow card, while Poite gave Ireland their second try having not even gone upstairs. He “saw the ball on the ground” at some stage. Had to go upstairs for Watson’s try though.

        Aside from that the general reffing quality has taken another dip this year, to the extent that I’m being turned off watching the game. What is the point of watching if most contests are simply not fair?

  2. Well, yet another false dawn. We kidded ourselves that by beating Wales in the autumn and England first up that we had turned a corner, we have the greatest number of world class players in a generation. And then the drugs wore off.
    3 weeks ago we managed to grab defeat from the jaws of victory and this week we never looked like winning, both games against rank average teams in our home stadium, same old same old…
    This game was always going to be decided up front and with Rambo/Brown missing, Fagerson senior banned and Fagerson junior having his poorest game of the championship we were short of ballast and jackalers.
    Hogg and Watson played well again today and will tour with the lions, Cummings has played consistently well all campaign, why Huw Jones isn’t first pick is anyone’s guess.
    Russell average again, his place kicking suspect again. Time to try someone else.
    The line out is where the game surprisingly went away from us, no idea what went wrong given our success in the first 2 games using the same players, Gilchrist stopped the decline in that department(who would have thought it).
    Most glaring though was our collective inability to successfully take a contested high ball. From forwards to backs, I have never seen so many spilled takes. The technique from our backs in taking ball in the air was just shocking. A complete lack of conviction , body positions like a half shut knife showing no faith in their own ability. This has been a problem for years. Send for Bigger

  3. Well ay notion of him making Lions shown to be deluded. I disagree. If you cannot win any of your own lineout ball you loose any advantage from good kicking out of hand and more. Huge handicap. The inability to rectify the problem shocking. We know they will come to bully us in the physical contact and breakdown and for over a decade we can do nothing about it I await the usual platitudes about how it close, small margins, will be a good team soon etc. I think maybe a rocket might be well, well overdue. But with a small pool who can you drop. 3 pro teams a minimum requirement. A win at an empty Twickenham can only mask so much. It IS time for a new coach

  4. Another game decided by the referee. Disgusting. Out lineout was absolute pants, though. And potentially losing Russell for the next two games…

    1. We did enough to win the game despite the obvious errors and there was no shortage of them. Nothing to do with the weirdest referee in world rugby IMO. If you want to find problems look within the Scotland camp.

  5. Ireland were ordinary but effective at what they did. We had the ideal opportunity to win but we made constraint errors throughout the game. It was the complete opposite to the game vs England where we were calm and composed. Today we tried hard but looked so disjointed. High balls in the attack and defence not contested. How easy was it for Earls to gather their high ball. Where’s the communication, ‘my ball’. On receiving kick offs it’s like everyone’s standing watch. The line outs woeful. Price’s error at the end, completely predictable but if it wasn’t him it was someone else.

    Yet with 3 mins to go we were level. Clearly we’re competitive and we can be dangerous. Hogg was a great threat, Watson played a blinder, Jones silky run, Johnson was warming up as the game progressed. Gray, should have come off earlier. Duham didn’t get enough back, I’d like to have seen him come off his wing more. There’s a lot for the coaches to review.

    It hurts as we really could be very good.

    1. That’s the positive – it hurts because we really could be really good. But GT is not the right coach that is clear.

    2. Another brain fart situation. JG injured his arm. Shortly after we win a line out. Who do we throw it too, JG. He drops it. So many school boy errors. Maybe they are coach directly so much that logic is lost, leadership skills aren’t developed and the ship sinks when the game isn’t going their way.

      1. Yeah remember that and thought he doesn’t do that…had to be the injury… crazy stuff…

        Looking back what got us back into it with Huw Jones try wasn’t a change in gameplan of taking a quick tap rather kicking to touch it was just a free kick…had we got a full pen we’d have kicked to touch and lost the ball again…the line-out was incredible and unbelievable….

  6. I agree, to lose 6 of 8 lineouts at this level is a disaster. It forced us to change tactics, surrender possession in key locations and lose a means of launching attacks.

    I felt our mentality at the start wasnt right. We knew what Ireland would bring and yet we were off it at the breakdown and didnt see the ball for the first 10 minutes. It makes you wonder what they’ve been doing for the last 4 weeks.

  7. Now three consecutive murrayfield losses that hasn’t happened much recently has it???

  8. I’m not sure what Gatland made of that but not many of our boys advanced their cases for a Lions tour. Mish is very close to the plane but not sure if any of the other forwards are.

    Some tough choices for the Italy game. Will Russell’s HIA keep him out? Who will Toony bring in?

    What about the second row. Will either Gray or Cummings be back? Would Ritchie Gray be fit to sort the lineout. I guess Skinner needs to come in now.

    Do we change hooker to help the lineout. Having said that our first choices are injured and Turner has been ok in the last 2 games.

    Its a pity George Horne is injured or he’d be starting at 9

    This was Harris least effective game for a while with Johnson making way more tackles and yards. Will Jones get a start at 13.

    Hogg had a mare under the high ball, but so did the rest of the team. Some credit has to go to him for getting involved all over the park. This just seemed to be one of those games where it was all going wrong and Hogg and Russell ended up trying too hard to cover problems elsewhere.

    Italy have been shockingly bad this tournament but they will fancy doing something after this show at an empty Murrayfield.

  9. If only we’d started with Hew Jones or Mark Bennett! Starting with a defensive team just encourages proponents to run at you.
    Tour can’t send the forwards out with an empty gun.
    Well played Mr Jones, I’m sure you will be the Lions 13

  10. Toonie said we’re likely without Russell, Gray and Cummings next week so it’s going to be squeaky bum time against Italy.

  11. Having had a chance to mellow and mull it over, I then rewatched and this happened:
    The Beirne try was actually disallowed.
    Sexton was sent off for having a face like a smacked a**e
    Poite knocked over a drop goal in red time to win the game for Scotland.
    Anyone else fancy a beer? Mathers still open?
    On a serious note…(must we?)…VDM way out of position for the Henshaw try…I’m a stuck record I know….but that’s his job.
    On the floor we were second best all day…. and less said about the lineout the better, other than – shock/horror-Ireland competed on our throw…and our response was…?

  12. Replacing Townsend is not the answer. I don’t know his training ground wisdom, but his history is inspirational and talismanic for current players.

    Matches are lost on the pitch in the brain dept. Every player knows the rules. Price’s offside 3pt penalty gift in the first half was an act of utter stupidity. Compare his processing prowess to Dupont’s.

    Turner’s continuous lineout catastrophe needed rethinking not repeating six times. Ok, great players have off-days. But for all we get nervous about Finn’s occasional fades and over-ambition, his ability is always underpinned by intelligence. Hogg’s punt over the defence in the last seconds was another dim idea bound to fail.

    Is it too much to ask that rugby players employ a modicum of grey matter as well as mucky brawn?

    1. Why is replacing Townsend not the answer. I admit he was one one of my favourite players. But every week he fails to pick the form or best players (to the extent that casual fans can call him out) and moreover he’s failed to gel the team in going on 4 separate campaigns, with zero sign of improvement. Id just like someone that can pick the best players and motivate them. If you really feel like that is happening and he is unlucky then say. But that is not the impression most followers get. Frankly we have Cockerill waiting in the wings, Cotter is still out there and there are wildcards who could be tested from – MacFarland, to Prendergast, to even Baxter.

      Tired of losing with no clue, maybe he should go manage Man City and come back in ten years.

      1. How can we do without Townsend’s inspirational talks before the players go out each half – they are so fired up and ready to go !

    2. I disagree Niels.
      Repeatedly overlooking Huw Jones is criminal.
      Piss poor World Cup.
      Stupid let’s be the fastest team in world rugby claim .
      Where was Skinner today?
      Repeatedly no idea as how to beat Ireland.
      Consistently weird selections.
      Steadfast loyalty to favourites.
      Hasn’t taken the team forward.
      These and more are all down to Townsend.
      Inspirational – really? Blew hot and cold as a player. Blows hot and cold as a coach.

      1. That’s right there’s an entire better Scotland team out there just waiting for the right coach to pick them.


        We’re not far off.

    3. Price’s offside was nowhere near as bad as Healy’s, yet Healy’s was unpunished. The ref decided the game.

      1. Agree that Price should not have been penalised. He came forward and then retreated immediately. No impact on Ireland.

      2. I don’t always. But when I do it’s justified. The refereeing in this year’s competition has been embarrassingly bad.

      3. Was an obviously bad decision – see it all the time and the refs almost always ignore it, no advantage, no effect on the play- he saw it himself and immediately stepped back. Three points for that??
        Am I right in saying that poor old Price was the last scrum half to be penalised for a non-straight put-in? Twickenham 2017?

  13. Tough one to take, however, could’ve been MUCH worse. Don’t agree with people calling for GT’s head, quite frankly you can only play with what you’ve got! Both Glasgow and Edinburgh not exactly hitting the highs at the moment are they? For me, Turner should’ve been subbed quickly – lineout call to JG right after injury was a totally muck-up.

    The big difference to me is that the likes of Wales, England and Ireland have players who have won these tough games and are involved in the coaching of the teams – and it is the small percentage changes these players make that are making the difference…..

  14. I don’t think the breakdown was as big an issue as Martin Johnson did. They made yards at times but we were usually able to turn them over or force the error when it counted. We beat them in the try count which is the best indicator of that.
    For me number 1 issue was lineout.
    It was like playing the game with a millstone. Meant Ireland could kick for touch or just kick to us and wait for us to kick to touch and never be challenged. Completely stopped any chance of building pressure.
    2nd to that we lost the aerial battle. I don’t know whether it’s Gaelic football or they practise but Ireland have a tremendous kick chase game with great timing on the jump.
    Finally I think both other Celtic teams get themselves up to play us. They want to keep us in our place and we get nervous. You can tell. It starts with the fans who don’t really believe.

    But truth is we’re not far off, and stuff like lineouts and aerial play can be coached. It’s not as if we’re trying to coach natural flair.

    Very frustrating to close a 14 pt deficit and not at least get a draw, but such is life. Still opportunities to claim a scalp in this championship so let’s keep going.

    1. ‘But truth is we’re not far off, and stuff like lineouts and aerial play can be coached. It’s not as if we’re trying to coach natural flair.’

      Yes you are right in saying that….BUT …when is this coaching going to happen?..because how long have we been hearing that its ‘just little errors that need tidying up’

      These errors/excuses are the same we’ve been seeing for a mighty long time.

      GT isnt making enough progress…we have a really talented group of players that are being somewhat wasted..IMO

      1. This is true, but no less irritating for that, as its been said over and over for a few years now.

        I believe there is, still, a missing mindset of self-belief affecting composure under pressure.

        This is not surprising giving the way we’ve paid in the past and mixed experiences at club level – It is hard to believe in the value of building pressure when there is always an error that relieves it, or when the pack is being totally dominated.

        The Scottish Rugby response is to try to magic a score before the opportunity is lost. This does not work well at top 10 international level.

        Now that we have a pack that is physically competitive, dare I say we need a coach from the keep ball and kick ball schools. Not my cup of tea but neither is losing.

        Even as a consultant, someone like Schmidt, Gatland or Erasmus to coach the skill of effective but low risk rugby. That is something we seem not to be able to do at all well.

        I hope that the second “wave” of talent coming through (those under 25 currently) grows up more used to winning and doing well for clubs and country.

      2. The point about mindset is important.
        I think we’re beaten off the pitch at every level, and you can even see that reflected in the fans.
        Versus England we just kept our composure.
        To be fair we have improved, Scotland teams of the past would have crumpled like a hot Mars bar after getting a red or going 14pts down.

        V England we had to come close and mess up before we were able to beat them at Twickenham.

        Maybe this is the same. I hope so.

      3. Reply to Johnny B
        Wales area crap team, but they never take the field not confident that they are going to win. Scotland – with a hang-dog misery like GT what hope do they have?

  15. On the Finn Russell HIA, did anyone see how it happened . there was a dangerous looking carry by James Lowe leading up to it as far as I can remember but We never got any replays of it by the TV editor and no news it was TMO checked.

    1. Yeah that was definitely the incident (52.03). To be fair, Russell put his head in the wrong place in making the tackle, but Lowe did lead with the elbow.

      It should be noted that this was immediately before he almost put the kick off straight out and then missed the penalty touch. He wasn’t right for either of those kicks.

      1. I thought the incident was replayed (might have been me rewinding and watching it) but I thought it looked like poor technique from Finn who got his head in the wrong place for the tackle.

  16. On a positive note, I thought our replacements (despite not looking the best on paper) all did well when they came on, and the collective effort that generated Watson’s try was very un-Scottish.

    Unfortunately, most of the rest of it was typical of Scotland-Ireland games. They are just about 5 or 10% more physical than us, and significantly more confident than us in these games.

    Our mistakes are born from that lack of assuredness. We’re always going to lose most of the jump balls against them because of that. This translates directly to lineouts and high balls where it literally is a jump ball.

    1. They simply weren’t more physical, though. We made 18 dominant tackles to their 5. That’s not what happens when you’re less physical.

      1. They were more physical than us in the breakdown. That’s not even a criticism of how we played, the Irish pack are just that little bit bigger and harder than our boys. Our tackling is good, but that’s not where Ireland always beat us.

      2. Yes I didn’t think they were more physical either. They made more yards than us at the breakdown which is expected as they have bigger ball carriers but we were able to turn them over or force errors when we had to.

  17. Scotland very poor and Ireland very good and yet it was a close game, how did that happen. Line out nightmare but Ireland failed to use all that ball, our defence must deserve some credit. When ref sticks his head in at beirne try ball hadn’t been grounded so must have been double movement?

    1. Scotland were not very poor.
      We did very well in some areas.

      We were beaten on the floor but not catastrophically.

      What really killed us was the lineout. You can’t do anything if you can’t win your own snd challenge theirs.

  18. Yeah, amazing that it came down to the kick missed by Russell just before halftime, and Sexton’s kick at the end.

    I have never liked Poite. Didn’t think this was the worst he’s been, but he did seem to give enormous effort in awarding Ireland’s try. I thought the offside against Price was extremely harsh as well.

  19. Russell over cooked kick for touch, these always costly, cost France yesterday too. Find touch first doesn’t need to be right in corner. I thought maitland had a great game.

      1. He is a very old man compared to Finn. Are we just setting to be the same as Ireland or better them.

      2. Sexton has now beaten Scottish teams 30 from 36 times in his career.He has kicked 17 of his 18 last attempts at goal.

      3. Yes all he”Lions” pundits picked up on Finn’s missed kick but ignored Sexton’s!

  20. I’ve never understood this false jumping and running too and throw in a lineout. I remember when Scott Murray and co started doing it at a time when the lineout was working well and suddenly they lost confidence on their own throw. It took ages then to gain back the grip of the lineout. Seriously that nonsense the referee jumping into the ruck when clearly the ball was held up how the he’ll did that not get flagged by the TMO. Could be a few changes next week. Money’s on Jones to start.

  21. Ok for opposition to miss. I think tmo did mention it but Poite said he’d seen it grounded. Bizarre. We need to set up more chances for back three, chaotic style doesn’t always achieve this. Against Wales we managed to bring Darcy G into game with good effect, I want to see Duhan running with a bit of space!

  22. We played well considering we never won a line out all day. We were in it till the last few minutes, and we had a scrum half playing flanker.

    This is not Townsend’s fault, he has had access to many players this season. We set him the target of three wins and he can still do it. We have some excellent players out there and some decent ones coming through. The question for me is do I trust him with their futures given his tenure to date. I can not work him out and if we cannot work him out , what about the players. It must be very unsettling having him as the gaffer.

    Huw Jones looked class , I would really like to have been a fly on the wall when he arrived at Glasgow. A man does not lose that confidence on his own. Huw Jones is the best player we have seen in the professional era bar none in my opinion. I would love to know what happened.

    Hogg played well in attack as always, dire in defence and knocked on everything in the air. Bit of a balls up with Harris for their try. So let’s just get that out before I need to read how amazing he was.

    Maitland was excellent, but Earls proved why he got the Head to Head.

    Ali Price , it is not that he does much wrong, it is just that he never inspires me, I wish I could be more upbeat.

    A wonderful game of rugby for a neutral.

    We are playing very well, but losing.

    1. I tend to agree Bass Rock, having watched the first half again It really was the lineout that killed us when we were able to get possession and go through phases we looked good.

      We must remember in future how laissez faire Romian Poite is about side entry, not requiring a tackler to clearly release before attacking the ball or sealing off. There were so many examples of this it was like watching a game from 2018 except Scotland were playing 2021 rules, you really expect they would have scouted the ref better, we get french refs all the time in the 6N there’s no excuse not to prepare for their idiosyncrasies.

    2. We won 1 line out after hooker was replaced. VDW was really bad and his defence worse than bad. Maitland is still class. Price …… aka Laidlaw by being in the side when everyone wants a replacement.

  23. We missed Zander F for his ball carrying. Nel still good in scrum but doesn’t offer enough in loose anymore. Ireland were excellent at kick and chase putting pressure on Hogg.

  24. It’s time for Townsend to walk. What other coach thinks its a good idea to have no back up 10 on the bench? Sure Hogg did fine at 10,( to be fair he’d do well at lock if you asked him to ) but it required 3 players all changing position to achieve it. Not ideal for continuity , especially with the usual expected changes at 60 mins. Weir and Hastings are able deputies.

    We think we are close and have lost games by small margins or refereeing decisions but it’s time to wake up. Ireland didn’t get out of 3rd gear today to beat us and were 14 points clear without trying. Wales , whom we supposedly bettered 3 weeks ago had the bonus point in the bag in Rome by 30 minutes on Saturday, We on the other hand will have an arm wrestle to win the game at home next week. I think that says it all.
    In the pro 14 the Irish provinces have out performed us every year bar one so it stands to reason our players ‘wilt’ when facing them on the international stage but The Welsh regions have been pants for the last 6 years and yet they continue to make fools of us come international time. I can’t work out why unless it is the Garland factor, in which case lets make him an offer. Better still make Pat Lam an offer

    1. The no replacement 10 argument doesn’t wash in this case – they are all injured/suspended. Lang would not have done what Jones did.

      The general point is clear… better decisions, cooler heads and smarter execution are needed.

      1. Sometimes even the Monday night quarterback plays a bad game. What was the score when Hogg went to 10? Weir and Hastings were both unavailable.

        I think there should be a blog rule that if you want to complain about selections it’s done before the game. I didn’t see that many a few days ago.

  25. Ireland did what Ireland do. They targeted the line out , competed doggedly at the breakdown and consistently gave the ball air time off the boot. This is probably the weakest Ireland team in 20 years but still had enough to beat , allegedly the best Scotland team in 20 years. Given their simple game plan , why did we look like we
    1/ Had never practised a line out before, had no plan b/ when it started going tits up, could not sort it at half-time or replace Turner at or just after half-time
    2/ Couldnt get enough bodies to the breakdown to protect the ball carrier
    3/ Looked like we had never seen a ball come out of the air both defensively and offensively.
    In addition our kick off retention was back to its infuriatingly worst. How many times did Cummings jump only for the ball to go over his head.
    As a bare minimum one has to wonder what the f… they do in training all week.
    Finally hopefully Huw Jones cameo performance will finally put the Harris experiment to bed. Perhaps Townsend will also consider giving our other more talented centres a crack as well although Johnson did okay to be fair and hopefully Redpath will be back soon.

  26. After three games against the old 5N teams we are positive points difference.

    We have scored 1 try against England and won. 3 tries against Wales and Ireland and lost. We have scored 7 and conceded 6.

    Take away the Italy result and leaders Wales have a points difference of 22 with 10 tries for, 6 against.

    The bottom line is that our defence is fine, we are scoring enough. If it was football we’d have 1-0, 3-4, and 3-2, and would all be fairly happy.

    It’s not football though.

    Our team and on field systems are good. Broadly, we are winning the rugby playing bit.

    However, control and discipline are letting us down. We don’t have a noted goal kicker, so we don’t get scoreboard pressure and fear factor from that. We overplay too often, and don’t have patience.

    Yesterday’s lineout was farcical but generally set piece has been good in the other games.

    In short, Toonies message is (should be) simple: cut out the headless chicken crap and we should win!

    1. ‘Our team and on field systems are good’


      The line-out is surely an on-field system, and it’s been an area of concern for some time. It was horrific yesterday.

      Price and Harris aren’t good enough at this level. Price lacks game intelligence and has a nasty habit of kicking away possession at key moments (e.g. late in the game when we’re either trying to hang on to a slender lead or trying to overturn one) and Harris offers very little in attack. Better options are available but Townsend sticks with ‘his’ men.

      Finn isn’t the world’s greatest place kicker but (according to my memory) still managed to make all of his pots at goal against Italy, and the one he missed yesterday came after he’d taken a dunt to the bonce.

      We’ve also got a nasty habit of setting up camp on the opposition’s 5 metre line but failing to convert that into points. Watson’s score yesterday was a welcome exception to that pattern.

      I agree with you about discipline. That said, the coach has a major role to play in instilling the right mindset into the players.

      What we have right now is a team built in the image of its coach as a player: delivers moments of brilliance but prone to making and repeating the same old gaffes.

      1. With Finn – its not about the kicks he takes, its the ones he doesn’t (can’t?)

        His accuracy is fine within 30-35m and he knows his range. but he’s not thumping them over routinely from 40+ m and in the difficult fringes behind the 22. Not like a Halfpenny or Sexton can anyway…

        He also doesn’t have over 500 points from the boot (137 at last count).

        Other teams are not too afraid of giving away the odd penalty around the park, because we don’t punish them with “easy” uncontested points when they do…

      2. Pretty sure on commentary they said until yesterday Scotland’s line out had won 92% of their throws or something.

        That’s as how Ireland won the game, but it wasn’t a weakness in first two games.

  27. Agree…to a point. The headless chicken cr*p has come about largely through frustration/desperation. Since we moved to the defensive solidity approach, the attacking competencies of fastest rugby in the world have become alien, unpracticed and usually fruitless.
    You can bet this week will be full of – lesson learned, we trust our processes, give the players a chance to redeem yadda yadda yadda.

    Against most opposition this might have some merit but against Italy – much like our lineout – it misses the mark.
    Italy are bound to to give this everything. They always do thinking we are their best chance of a result. They’ve been making breaks and all they need against us is one to come off, possibly early to give them all the impetus they need.
    If we are overly cautious & treat Italy with ‘respect’ we will only encourage them that they are in a game.

    Containment is not priority #1 against Italy but points are to take the game away from them. Johnson and Jones to start. Harris can defend – so we are told – but the difference Jones made to the attack just cannot be ignored any longer. VDM isn’t in the game & the lack of creativity or threat in midfield isn’t helping making it too easy for oppo defense to close down Hogg & Russell.

    Dobie on the bench? Good enough = old enough.
    Van Der Walt most likely with no Hastings, FR (probably) or Weir so Thomson or Chamberlain might have a chance? If its Lang, I despair & will look like GT job preservation/sticking with squad favourites

  28. Agree with the above post. Played England, Ireland and Wales and combined we have a positive points difference. And yet you have a joker like Tom English writing it’s back to the drawing board. Frustrating to lose 2/3 with a positive points difference but the fact is we have closed to gap on the these teams big time. There are details to fix but in general the strategy is fine.

    By the way, if they really insist on Hogg being captain (I don’t see it) can we wheel out someone else for the media stuff, it’s painful listening to Hogg as he’s thick as mince and makes us look silly. Get one of the guys that went to George Watsons to do the talking.

    1. I don’t think it’s back to the drawing board, but we can’t shy away from the fact that we have lost two homes games. Wales we did all the hard work to win then collapsed and Ireland, we lost because of two problems we failed to fix: discipline and our line out shambles.

      We aren’t a million miles away but there is a problem that we don’t seem to have the answer for, when the heat is on other teams find a way to win and we find a way to lose.

    2. “ it’s painful listening to Hogg as he’s thick as mince and makes us look silly. Get one of the guys that went to George Watsons to do the talking”

      I don’t often get badly triggered by comments on these boards but that’s one of the most asinine things I’ve read in a long while and does absolutely nothing to help alleviate the “rugby is for private school kids” crap that you read elsewhere.

      Your assumption that just because someone can afford to send their kid to an Edinburgh school then that kid will not be ‘thick’ and a public school accent will make us look better is disgraceful.

      Do you forget where many of our past and present great players come from?

  29. I’m sorry but something has got to change. That team showed great effort and determination, but there is massive gap between that and a winning mentality. Any high preforming sporting or work team would drop members who underperform. Does Ali Price really feel his place is so secure he can run around doing whatever he likes without consequence? I wont pretend I know who was at fault for our lineouts or administer blame, but someone needs to be changed. We can’t show any sign of that being allowed to be the Status Quo. And while I am at it, whoever manages Scotland should be looking to win three games each 6 Nations. If we lose to France, then Townsend has had a poor world cup and now an underperforming 6 Nations. Are we really going to allow that to be an acceptable standard? Everyone’s worst fear was that the England result was flash in the pan. Struggling to see how it can be anything else at the moment.

  30. Points difference doesn’t matter unless your winning games. Line out had a bad day, but you need everything to function well to dominate and win some of these games. Tom English is paid to come out with cliches like that and Hogg is doing a decent job as captain I would say. He seemed to have a decent chat with ref about how Ireland were getting away with stuff at the breakdown!

    1. When I first started to follow rugby I use to love reading Tom English articles but after a while you realise he’s so reactionary to the point of being ridiculous. It’s always one of two articles. A Scotland win and they’re surely about to win the championship a loss and they’re never going to improve.

  31. That was excruciating. In Sydney, watching in bed at 5am this morning on replay. I’ve still got nail marks in my chest from every time we lost a line out. You could just see how the match was going to play out from the first whistle. It was a regressive performance of Scotland of old, which I thought we had moved beyond. It’s a painful form of self-flagellation being a supporter of this team, and I’ve followed them passionately since the early eighties. Might be close to the end of me tether…

  32. Its good to see some agreement on the blog. We are all agreed no one has got a clue how to make this Scotland team win more. Golden generation of players who keep making huge mental errors? I’m blaming the coach I’m afraid. To all those saying we are close, we have been for 4 years. When do we arrive? And this week, lets remember this is the worst Italy team in living memory. Not an improving side. They are awful and we must be judged how we dispatch them.

  33. In terms of Lions representation, that game probably ended the hopes of quite a few players, certainly Gray, Cummings and any outside chance of Turner lingering since Twickenham, after our line out was dismembered and between them they couldn’t figure out how to solve the problem.

    I’d say Hogg is a dead cert, but outside that Ritchie, Sutherland, Watson, Russell no more than possibles. Redpath as the boltiest bolter perhaps. That’s about it.

    Lions squad will be small (36ish) and obviously easy to call in emergency replacements if required as it looks like a home tour is probable.

    So we have the grim prospect of two lions tests against Japan and SA happening at Murrayfield with minimal or no Scottish representation. There’ll be hopes a home tour could be a high profile festival of rugby after the empty lockdown stadiums but this is going to leave a bitter taste.

    The only bright side is that Times has reported Toonie is being lined up as assistant coach, so at least Scottish players might get more of a fair hearing. But let’s face it, we need to hammer Italy and pull off a shock in Paris to get more than 3/4 at best.

    1. They might wheel out the Scottish players for the Murrayfield game, USA and bring in the players from serious teams for the tests. Difficult to see how GT can possibly be the attack/assistant coach. That said if Rob Howley can do it!

  34. Lions chances for some did take a blow yesterday but in all the home nations very few players have moved forward. Many of Ireland’s stars were no more than competent yesterday. Sexton was great but at 35 he isn’t going to set the world or a back line on fire! Many of England’s best have also faded, farrel would be lucky to still to make a lions 15 at the moment and even Itoje became a weakness against Wales. It would be a scandal if Hamish Watson wasn’t a lion! The only certainty is LRZ and even he isn’t certain. Haha

  35. It’s been a while since we’ve been absolutely pumped by anyone, but time and again in close tight matches, we seem to come out on the wrong side – constantly chasing the game in the last quarter of the match. In those sort of games it’s small moments that make the difference, and unfortunately our small moments generally seem to be keystone cops slapstick type stuff. Even where we’re trying to close a game out out we’re still susceptible to brain farts that risk the game (e.g. the last minute drop goal vs England). Why do we seem so mentally fragile compared to the opposition? Is it as simple as the more often we screw things up, the more we expect to do it again and it becomes some sort of self fulfilling thing, or are we simply incapable of maintaining our concentration for a full 80? These guys are all talented rugby players, but for me there is a mental fragility that they have playing with Scotland that they don’t have at their clubs – and that buck stops with Townsend. He was a skittish, unpredictable (in a bad way) player, and he’s creating a team in his own image.

  36. “The line-out is surely an on-field system, and it’s been an area of concern for some time.”
    We won 15/15 at Twickenham and disrupted two of theirs.

  37. Half of the Lions squad will comprise of Welsh players and you honestly couldn’t blame Gatland this time given that they have been the best home nation and have players he knows and trusts. The likes of AWJ, Wyn Jones, Owens, Biggar, Faletau, Wainwright. Tipuric, Adams, LRZ, Liam Williams, Davies and one scrum half will all get picked. I doubt Gatland will touch any of our forwards with a barge pole apart from say Mish and possibly Sutherland. If Toonie is asked to be attack coach then I’m sure he’ll be pushing the case for Harris, Price and Lang at the selection meetings!

    1. Problem for Watson is he has no versatility, it’s a small squad and he’s up against at least two credible starters in Tipuric and Underhill. Third choice is likely to be someone who can play across back row. I’d certainly have him in the starting team, and reckon Gatland will have seen a lot to like in yesterday’s performance by him, but there’s no doubt it’ll be a close call between those three, with Tipuric probably the leading contender.

    2. Watson won’t go, we had excellent performers who were playing better than their opposite number consistently in 2013 and 2017 but were not selected due to being in losing teams. The individual does not matter but the team does for some odd reason.

      1. I agree he probably won’t go. His size will count against him especially against the Boks. This whole not picking the standout individual in a losing team is just plain ridiculous. I go back to my Sergio Parisse argument where he was the standout 8 in the 6N and single handedly carried Italy for so many years and yet never ended up on the winning side. Using Gatland’s logic Parisse would never have made a Lions squad if he was eligible.

    3. Wales have only been the better team in one of their games this year. They have a handful of good players but it’s their psychology that elevates them as a team. Well, that and some bizarre refereeing.

  38. Article in the Times today headed ‘Loss leaves Scotland fighting for credibility’ says it all. The article refers not only to the mistakes but to lack of tactical nous for long stretches of the game. The main blame must lie with Clownsend. He is totally out his depth and, based on most of Scotland’s performances, clueless. He also seems to fail to instil any form of discipline. Can we not get a proper coach before this squad of players get beyond their sell by date. We’ve got some potentially great players and some good ones. A real coach would be able to get the best out of them. Clownsend is NOT the right one and, as long as he is in charge, Scotland will be easy to beat.

    1. I think “easy to beat” is a real knee jerk reaction. We lost to Wales by a point and Ireland by three, the opposition were hardly coasting.

      I do think Townsend gets some things wrong (Scotland struggling to get anywhere with the pick and go, Sam Skinner scoring two pick and go tries last week and Townsend not picking him is definitely one example) but after the England game we were calling for him to be knighted.

      There is no doubt this team is on the brink of something special but there are some psychological issues to be ironed out within the squad first, particularly with the leadership group. For instance everyone is giving Turner a hard time. We know the guy can do it (hitting 15/15 in Twikkers) so where was the Gray/Russel/Hogg arm around his shoulders telling him he can do it?

      1. Scotland are easy to beat when other teams get their tactics right, given that they expect Scotland to run around like headless chickens. England was well won but England imploded. Getting one unexpected result every so often should not be good enough.

  39. Absolutely fuming at Townsend’s “big moments are costing us” routine at this point. Everything good about the last 2 games has been about taking advantage of good moments, whether to fashion a try from a bit of magic, opposition error or the game opening up unexpectedly; or in good dominant tackling or turnovers.

    Townsend needs to take a long look in the mirror and wonder whether it’s acceptable for a team playing Ireland to look so unprepared at the breakdown, lineout and in the air. Seen a lot of “yeah but Ireland just have better players” arguments as if form (theirs is rotten), system (they don’t look comfortable in their system) or coaching don’t have any part to play.

    I hoped that this season would be when it all started to come together, building on the solidity of last year and reintroducing an exciting style of play to turn us from competitive to contenders. Perhaps my misgivings were misplaced, and Townsend was actually building to one of these mid WC cycle 6 nations to take on teams well below their peak with a Scotland team close to theirs, and get the title win or even triple crown that would be a major result for this team and Scottish rugby as a whole moving forward.

    But no, we’re nowhere near our peak, and haven’t looked close to it since Autumn 2017 – the 2018 England win. If people don’t think there’s better to be had from this team I don’t know what to say. I think Townsend needs to win the next 2 for me to have any faith left whatsoever in him.

  40. Simple question.
    Would Townsend get a job coaching any other nation?
    Defining silence methinks.
    He isn’t even being mentioned in the Lions assistant role anymore – Farrell is in the frame – though you do not have to be a coaching genius to know how to beat Scotland. Gatland may be vindictive, but he ain’t stupid.

      1. Wales and Ireland win. We lose consistently, no matter how close, we lose. Some coaches grow into the part, Clownsend seems determined to stay locked in some fantasy world where, if you keep doing the same thing, it will occasionally come right. What is the definition of stupidity?

      2. Scotland finished on the same points as Ireland last year and could still feasibly finish above them this year…

      1. Disagree – during his tenure he has consistently not got the best from what has overall been a very good squad of players. He is also blinkered to better options.
        What relative “success” he has had ( if losing by the odd point can be called success or not being “far off” as you put it ) is good players carrying Townsend. It’s not the other way around.

  41. Bottom line, you can’t win the game without a functioning set piece. I also think you can’t just blame Turner for the line out failures, Ireland got into our heads and that was a big factor.

    The cheap shot that took Cummings out was a big factor, and it was a similar impact to Zander’s sending off against Wales.

    The lack of composure is a concern, as is Price slowing the ball down in an attempt to control the game.

    One thing that was encouraging though was the realisation that working off set piece plays rather than scrums and line outs was a a better option. A small crumb of comfort but something work on.

    Jones also looked good when he was on, but we are not using our strike runners and I’m assuming that is down to playing a rigid structure? Is it possible that Hogg tore up the structure when were playing well in the second half a la Calcutta Cup second half in 2019?

  42. The lineout was shockingly bad, and has been two games in a row now – it really only looked even remotely secure when Gilchrist came on. It did reach a stage it was damaging Scotland rather than any kind of tool of use.

    I find VDM is a bit of an issue in defence, a couple of games in a row now he has tucked in a bit too far making us easily got at out wide, could see him moving to the bench as it looks like a failing on his part to adhere to instruction rather than a tactical design.

    Ritchie for as a great a player he is really has a bad habit of almost petulance creeping into his game and just getting on the wrong side of a ref to the point he is just judged wrongly every ruck he enters.

    I can’t imagine Nel has many more games left for Scotland, if he isn’t winning his battle come scrum time he is a bit of a passenger.

    Scotland’s work in general in the red zone/offensive 22 has been very costly as well the last 2 games, a lot of points left on the table.

    A 6N to look back on with frustration, a lot of what if’s in this one.

    1. Nel appeared to have Healy’s number in the scrum. Couldn’t believe the call against Nel when Healy just hinged.

      1. Yep the ref let Healy get away with hinging repeatedly. The one time he stayed straight the Irish scrum was minced.

  43. Cannot believe some of the knee-jerk reactions from some on here. The “Toonie out” brigade are seriously and serially bonkers.
    As if every knock-on, stupid penalty, mistimed jump and weak tackle are the coaches fault.
    We lost the game because of the lineout. We either gave Ireland an easy out to relieve any pressure we could put on them, or put ourselves under pressure. Every lost lineout cost us 20 metres at least. That’s 120m (or a try and a penalty). Three of the six lineouts lost were because of Irish brilliance, but the other three were unforgivable.
    The referee didn’t make many mistakes; Townsend didn’t make many mistakes; The boys on the park made far too many.
    Stop blaming the non-combatants for losing.

    1. You make the coach sound irrelevant. I think one mistake Townsend did make was not to bring Cherry on sooner. When something is clearly not working it is coach’s job to try and change the flow.

      But then things fall apart like yesterday and apparently we do nothing in response – we look as unable to problem solve as England. Absolutely it is down to the players, but I’m not going to absolve the coach as if it is something entirely beyond his control.

      Still we have Townsend until 2023 and it may yet all come together – hopefully it does. But for me it feels like a very long frustrating learning curve.

      1. Townsend pretty much emptied the bench as soon as it went 21-10 to be fair, he shuffled it pretty quick given that was only about 50 minutes in, and the changes made did change the flow.

        Steele ending up packing down at backrow shows why a coach would rarely change much that much earlier than that.

      2. Cherry came on after 60 minutes. I’m a warriors fan and Turner is really good on the field but is not renowned for his darts (Twickenham was wonderful but we are now reverting to the mean). So waiting a full hour to replace the hooker when we have a badly misfiring line out looks like an error of judgement to me. I was yelling for Cherry at half-time so this didn’t need hindsight it just needed someone on the coaching side to be proactive. Sure, it might not have made a difference but now we’ll never know. I agree that the other subs made a difference and changed the flow of the game. But I think waiting so long to replace the hooker is on the coaches for not having the smarts to change it up sooner.

  44. P*ss poor from Scotland in the lineout yesterday. Unforgivable to lose the first two and then not make changes or figure it out. The pundits were lauding Paul O’Connells scouting of our lineout but really that should be the minimum any proficient coach does and we should expect it. It really cost us field position and totally altered our game mentality as you could see Hogg and Finn suddenly had no confidence in lineout territory gain as an option. Massively limited our ability to attack first phase which when it does happen is sublime. Cherry deserves a start next outing.

    Price is the fall guy in most reports today but has generally been pretty good this tournament. He looked a rabbit in the headlights yesterday running into danger and brainfarting all over the place. Very jittery.

    Ref was average. Such an odd display. To not go to TMO on the Irish try but instead stick his head in the mud a good 5 seconds after the incident is bizarre. Ritchie getting pinged for doing something the Irish did all day long was galling (gauling?) as well.

    On the plus side I wont feel obliged to support the Brave Gatland Welsh Lions this time round.

    1. Ireland do several things on the fringes of the law that they seem to continually get away with.

      They often have players obstructing or interfering with play around rucks that they dont get pinged for yet block the opposition making the play. They continually go in at side when ref is blindsided.

      That Poite ref is bizarre….he is a terrible communicator and relationship builder…always seems on edge…and makes hasty decisions when calm is needed.

      Why did we look like we have not trained for 6 months… line out was an unstructured mess.

      I just dont get all the Ireland outpower us… if thats true it just shouldn’t be the case…our players look just as physically imposing as them and arguably look fitter. I think we just aren’t as willing to do the dirty streetwise stuff that Ireland pretty much base their game dominance around. We often play too soft…imo We just dont scratch and claw like Ireland and we shy away from showing a balanced level of arrogance when its needed.

      1. its either the Irish are dirty or the ref is to blame ..these are the 2 reasons we have not beaten them except 4 times since 2000. Think up more plausible reasons

      2. Refereeing performance is as plausible as players or coaching performance. The decisions referees make play their part in dictating results. What opposition can and cannot do is dictated by the officials.
        Maybe you should post more plausible replies…

    2. “Price is the fall guy in most reports today but has generally been pretty good this tournament. ” – I don’t think this is the case. He is a liability with kicks getting charged down regularly and poses NO threat to the other side.

      1. utter hyerbole.

        “no threat” – mind the Graham try v Wales, it was literally the last game we played – the Hogg second try in that same game comes from quick ball from the base of a scrum,

        2 incidents from recent memory that totally contradict the theory of “no threat”

      2. While I don’t think Price was great at the weekend I think we need to look at the pack to take some of the blame for that.

        The forwards were giving him almost no protection when he was box kicking. That’s a system / coaching error that should have been picked up after the England game and resolved.

  45. Regarding coaching, don’t think Toony being binned would solve our problems currently unless he’s got more influence in the forward play than I’m giving him credit for.

    The scrum works well. Pieter de Villiers doing a great job there.

    Lineout is shocking.
    Our forwards in attack go up individually where the other teams use a ‘latch’.
    For the Price charge down at the end his ‘guard’ (Bhatti?) was way out of position and didn’t impact the charge down in any way. Same thing happened during the England game.
    Our inability to target the weak Welsh lineout gave them a get-out during that game too.

    Whoever is coaching our forwards (John Dalzeil?) needs a rocket.

    1. ‘Whoever is coaching our forwards (John Dalzeil?) needs a rocket.’

      My thoughts too …Dalziel doing a honking job if thats his forwards coaching. Any more of that and he needs to go back a few levels.

      De Villiers and Tandy are doing great though and have made significant improvements.

  46. Trying to figure what went so wrong with the lineout. Firstly Irish lineout defense was excellent and their jumper consistently managed to get in front of our jumper. Often our jumper seemed to be moving backwards and theirs stood still or came forward. They had clearly done their homework with POC. From memory they contested every lineout so we never got a free hit, clearly Ireland were not concerned about our maul attack.

    Gray and Cummings got injured. Not sure when exactly Gray got injured but this was his worst game in a Scotland shirt so I would guess early on and he was carrying an injured shoulder for too long. If cummings was calling the lineout then he clearly didnt know Gray was injured.

    There were some overthrows where the jumper was just short which could be timing or it could be lifters. I wonder if we missed Fagersons strength to get the locks up there.

    Finally, why didnt we react more quickly to what was happening and mix it up. We had one deliberate long throw which was successful but then the ref called it back. We could have tried shortened lineouts, quick lineouts, pass to the prop at the front, stick vdm in there to make them think, used Ritchie at the back more. He was vice captain so it should have been him telling the forwardswhat to do.

    No doubt it will be the hot topic in training this week but it looks like we’ll need a couple more locks drafted in at short notice.

    1. Lineout – Yeah I thought same during game….throw it quick and short occasionally…Irelands 1st man turned his back to the thrower at every lineout expecting it long.
      A real lack of streetwise to our play sometimes. We’ll never beat Ireland unless we start playing smart & dirty right back at ’em.

  47. I might be the only 1 but I’m actually amazed…. AMAZED that we were level with 5 minutes to go, lost by only 3 pts and won the try count when we lost 75% of our lineouts and didn’t steal one of theirs.

    The players would’ve had less of a handicap if they’d got off the coach at the stadium, lined up and let it reverse over their toes.

    People underestimate what a huge issue this was. It’s almost that everything else was just noise, it was that bad and critical.

    1. It was in part because of how comedy Ireland were that the game was close to be fair, the defence for the Jones try was shocking for an international level game of Rugby.

      1. Its been a bizarre 6N… Wales, Ireland and England look, at best, average. France are just being France….floating between greatness and teenage sulk.
        Italy have gone backwards and can’t even compete with anyone in the 6N…although we may well make them look like an elite unit this we somehow seem to. I think they only reason they are retained is because its a nice vacation for the rest of the 6N.
        ..and then us…the usual singular great display followed by believing all the hype and thinking we have made it to the elite ..only to be made to look powderpuff by a bunch of mediocre teams…but hey..if we cut out the ‘basic’ errors well win the RWC…..Its like groundhog day every 6N.

    2. Reading the comments, I don’t think anyone is underestimating the issues with the line out. Like you, I was astonished that the score became so close and we briefly threatened to steal a draw.

  48. Thanks for he blog and the comments. Reading through all these comments has made me feel better. I’m still bloody angry but the rage has gone.

    This was the most Scottish of Scotlan-Ireland games. This is the game we’ve seen on countless occasions in the last few years, home and away. Coulda, shoulda, woulda have won, but we lose. Ireland just seem to have our number. The lineout was a disaster and somehow the players have to take on-field responsibility for fixing it. That was the route of our problems. Without that we couldn’t build any field position of any note. Then we have to start making odd decisions. Finn is never going to excel with zero ball. The one time we had go forward (from a quick tap by Price) we had front foot ball, Finn got us going and Jones scored. Pascal was bizarre as always, but we should know that. Their second try was clearly held up, but we should be better than that.

    Tonnie made some selection mistakes I think. I am not convinced by Harris-Johnson. It just doesn’t work for some reason. And Skinner should have been on the bench. Price needs some competition; his box-kick action is just too slow. A little 20:20 hindsight but that’s where we’re at.

    Toonie doing just fine, but needs to learn that the Irish are old and slow so you need to mix things up, not play helter-skelter rugby. I think, ultimately in the 6N you need momentum and after the Wales loss, the French game postponement just drained our momentum. Same old same old.

    1. In terms of the centres….surely we will recognise what has been missed in not picking Jones. He is on the park for a few minutes and suddenly we have a beautifully taken backs try. To me he is gifted player we have not made proper use of. No point moaning about what’s past but our centres have looked toothless in attack for several years. Seems now would be the right time for giving Jones a run in the team.

      1. Have to agree about the centres. It needs to be a balance between craft and graft. Not many centres have both but all the best centre partnerships have that balance (Carling-Guscott, D’Arcy-O’Driscoll, Nonu-Smith).
        Redpath-Harris worked well because of that balance, not least because Redpath knew he had an experienced, dependable man outside him. Johnson-Jones was working well before injuries and could (should) work again. It’s a shame for Harris as he hasn’t really done anything wrong but Johnson-Harris doesn’t have the cutting edge required at this level.
        If and when Redpath returns, I’d expect to see Harris back in the 13 shirt, but at the moment I see him as #23 covering wing and centre.

      2. Ian/Merlot

        Totally agree. Jones looks something like back to his best. I’ve never felt his defence was suspect so while not as good as Harris, he’s still very good there.

        Johnson-Harris would be my pick for Italy although if Hogg plays 10 (seems likely) you’d have to see how it went in training.

        Harsh on Harris as he’s bee really very good, but as you say you have to get that partnership right and it’s a balance not necessarily who are the best players in isolation.

  49. Glad to see Ally Miller included in next squad… he has really improved this year and jumped ahead of Crosbie and Bradbury…. he is just the type of abrasive strong back row leader we need. Hope he gets a shot…

    Thank heavens Fagerson is back!

    1. Having watched all 3 games this weekend involving Scotland teams Miller did look the best 8, agree 100% with RuggersB in the fact that he is ahead of Crosbie & Bradbury now. V Italy you need to be solid & strong for the 1st 30mins, so VDW starts for me, Hogg can move to 10 if need be later on.
      I’d start Toolis as well, he is our top line out exponent, ok maybe he isn’t quite as good around the park but quick clean line out ball is absolutely essential. Cherry starts
      I never understood GT picking Harris, trust Huw Jones start now. Rory Hutchinson should be on the bench.
      Dobie looked the best 9 over the weekend.
      3 wins would’ve been acceptable before the tournament we are still in with a chance….

  50. Townsend isn’t going anywhere until post RWC 2023. Dodson has his back and the win at Twickenham has given him enough credit for this season. Winning 2 6N matches this year is slightly under par but is not job threatening.
    Changing the Head Coach in the year before the RWC is too high risk, but John Dalziel, as Forwards Coach, needs to come under scrutiny.
    Failure to advance out of the Group in 2023 would provide an appropriate point for a parting of the ways.

    1. Maybe Gatland taking Toonie on tour with the Lions – but putting stabilisers on his tricycle will be a good thing. Might finally learn to ride a bike.

    2. Why do we try and peak for the RWC and hold it so sacred ? We ain’t ever going to threaten to win it and so focus should always be on the 6N and getting an elusive championship trophy. We actually have a set of players that are capable right now given a fair wind. This year has been derailed by a red card and a lack of momentum with the French fixture farce. We looked half baked yesterday. Wales are awful but somehow are going to end up with another GS.

      If a coach needs changed….change them. I don’t think Townsends time is up yet but it shouldn’t be about the RWC for the team or the coach.

  51. Team for Italy

    Stuart Hogg – Darcy Graham – Huw Jones – Sam Johnson – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Jamie Dobie – Cornell Du Preez – Hamish Watson – Matt Fagerson – Sam Skinner – Jonny Gray – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Rory Sutherland

    Sean Maitland – Chris Harris – Ali Price – Jamie Ritchie – Grant Gilchrist – Simon Berghan – David Cherry – Oli Kebble

    Jaco straight in for Russell and Gilchrist in for Gray with Craig on bench, if both are out.

    Ball carrying side to trample over the weak Italians. Should be aiming for 50 point win.

    1. So you’ve demoted Maitland and Harris despite neither doing much wrong on Sunday. You’ve kept Turner and Sutherland despite both of them being pretty dismal. You’ve promoted Dobie – leapfrogging both Ali Price and Scott Steele. You’d rather have DuPreez than Jamie Ritchie? And then you’ve picked Zander who I believe is still suspended for this match.
      Do you just have a random team generator, Neil?

      1. Don’t think Sutherland was dismal. Outperformed Furlong in the scrum, hit loads of rucks, made lots of tackles and made metres in the loose.

  52. A few people on here calling for Dalziel to step up. I’m not going to argue against that but on our previous 2 outings we had the highest percentage of line out succession the 6N. Why would have thought to change the formula? P.O.C had just done his homework (or someone in camp has blabbed the codes). It is the guys on the pitch who should have changed things coupled with Townsend changing hooker earlier.
    Jonnie Gray has been an improved player following his move to Exeter showing much aggression at Twickenham but following a month in Scotland camp he has reverted to type – workmanlike but undynamic.

    He didn’t lose us the game on Saturday but i think the Russell experiment has to end. He may fill a long highlight reel on YouTube with his ‘magic’ moments but my guess there is a blooper reel that is longer. His percentage for goal kicking is bang average , at club level he is not trusted with the penalty kicks. To my knowledge he has never managed a drop goal at international level(or club level?), we have witnessed a few embarrassing efforts though. His kicking for touch is a mixture of secure but only 10 yards or long but not in touch. His kicking from hand for the winger to take high more often than not ends up being overcooked. He does some things very well – tackle , long miss pass and the dribble through. He may make the lions draft but you can bet the house he won’t make gatlands 15. The 10 has to be relied on to do the basics right 99%of the time.

      1. Ting, I sent it because that’s my opinion. Like everyone else I love the good bits of Russell’s game and can admit he is capable of doing things other 10s can’t comprehend. But we can’t hide from the fact that he can’t kick for toffee. A kicker with a high percentage completion rate puts the wind up the other teams forwards. It’s why some teams are not bothered about giving away penalties in the ruck, with Laidlaw gone the 3 points are no longer a given. When did you see him lining up a drop goal? He can’t do it. Biggar, Sexton and Ford routinely send up contestable kicks for the winger when they have a ‘free play’ advantage and 9 times out of 10 it ends in a score. With Russell it’s always overcooked/ballsed up. How often has he missed touch with his line kicking.?
        I believe we play him in the hope he will ‘maverick’ a score to paper over the cracks that the rest of the side just can’t win the game conventionally.
        I believe we will finish the competition this year in a lower position than last year and he wasn’t in the team last year.
        We would do well to start blooding a reliable replacement, it is too much to hope we have another with Finn’s magic but one who can do the basics well and cuts out the mistakes would be a start. Ross Thomson could be the guy, he’s young but not any younger than Redpath.

    1. Speaking about and judging on drop goals is a bit redundant TBH,

      Sure he has 0

      In his entire career Sexton has 11
      Barrettt has 4
      Farrell 4
      Ford has 6

      That’s it, that’s yer lot for their entire career

      It’s a rarely used skill as teams typically back themselves to get 7 when they get in the red zone, the area more often than not needed to set for a drop goal rather than use the skill from miles out – i.e the Sexton effort v France. That’s not a norm occurrence in Rugby, it’s a clutch, a handful of times used.

      It’s that bespoke a skill I can almost recall about the last 10 I’ve seen with ease

      Hogg at the WC from miles out, Hogg v Connacht again from miles out, Weir at Ulster and away to Italy – Sexton v France and Biggar v Australia at the WC. I don’t thin it’s a coincidence a number of those were at the WC when weather was in favour and not during the 6N at the utter wind-bowl that is Murrayfield

      That’s about it and I watch a lot of Rugby.

      It’s so rarely used these days that when it is it tends to stand out. These are rare incidents v the volume of times teams will attempt to build phases to go for 5, which typically carries the far greater’s not the early 90s when games tended to end 6-3…

      1. I do agree that if he really wanted to be the complete 10 he’d be practising drop goals, but he hasn’t.

        That said, anyone watching him in the Top 14 would see that he is perfectly capable of doing what Sexton does in terms of his kick passes, the difference is that he plays behind a strong pack in Racing.

        Anyone watching Finn at Racing would see what we could achieve in a Lions shirt, but people are blinkered because we are the poor relations of the 6N.

    2. The “Russell experiment” lol.

      Have a word with yourself. He’s the most talented player Scotland have had in a generation. His tactical kicking from hand is superb. Just go watch how he controlled the territory against England pulling them all over the park. He was visibly suffering from a head knock on at least two of the duff kicks on Sunday and should have been off earlier. He was also obviously aware how awful the lineout was and so this hugely limited his options. Yes his kicking from the T is not up there with the best but still decent enough. All exceptional 10s have blooper reels as well as sublime moment reels because they try a lot more low percentage high skill plays. Not Finns fault that Biggar, Sexton et al are dull go through the motions players. Scotland are always going to have a team that’s unfortunately not as good collectively as the rest of the top 6N contenders so we actually need these magic individual players to be in with a chance.

      The lineout was the only thing that lost us that game.

      1. The “only thing”? What about constantly trying and failing to hold up in the tackle ? Coaching v on field decision making.

      2. With a firing lineout we would win that game even with the holding up in the tackles, the ref shambles, Price penalties.

        Maybe only thing is a bit one dimensional but you get my point… was the critical thing.

  53. I will eat my hat if we manage to get the bonus point against Italy next week.
    I think now our game against England was as many thought , an off day for the prawn sandwich brigade, yet again we believed we had turned the corner – but no.
    Wales, by contrast had a more difficult prospect than us in playing a wounded England (rather than the cold team we faced). They beat them convincingly. Wales knew they had to get points on Italy to be in with a chance of winning the tournament and succeeded in getting the bonus point within 30 minutes. I dislike Wales and think the individuals within their team are no better than average with many past their sell by date but they show us where we really are.
    I believe we will struggle to win on Saturday , Italy are poor, very poor even but this is a measure of where we really are. Once again we are battling it out to avoid bottom spot – not fighting to win the competition and this has an inevitable knock on in the mentality of those taking the field.
    Very soon those voices calling for a revamped competition including relegation will return. If we do not front up and start winning convincingly then who are we to argue with them because for 20 years now we have been just a bump in the road for the other 4 teams with real ambition.

    1. I don’t think a win in which the referee donates two tries to the cause can be considered convincing.

      1. TeamCam. Ok I was stretching it a bit there. I was actually rooting for England in that match if only to reaffirm our belief that a corner had indeed been turned. 40-24 is still a ‘convincing’ score line. We thought we had England on toast but only edged it 11-6 after all.
        How do you envisage Saturday turning out?

      2. I was rooting for England as Wales simply don’t deserve the previous two wins. It’s a convincing scoreline, but when you take out two tries that should never have been awarded, it’s a lot closer, and had they not been awarded – which the ref apparently now concedes is the case – then I doubt Wales would have won, let alone by that amount.

        I think we’ll beat Italy by a smaller margin than the other teams, England will beat Ireland by less than a score and France will beat Wales by less than a score. Yourself?

    2. I don’t understand your point here. Other teams are going to say we should be relegated if we can’t beat Italy by a cricket load because we only beat them when they play badly and lose to the others by a point or two?

      1. I’m saying, It was talked about by commentators at the weekend that relegation from the competition was a feature currently being discussed amongst the sponsors,organisers and participating unions for forthcoming championships. If this was to become enacted, we may find ourselves relegated as we often vie with Italy for the spoon. The Other nations seem to overcome the Italians with ease whereas for us it’s always an arm wrestle.

      2. We’ve beaten Italy 9 times in a row.

        Why do people seem to have this idea that we are perennially worse than Italy and in danger of relegation ? Because of some half remembered game 15 years ago where we shipped three tries in 6 minutes ? Since the last nadir of 2015 where we finished with zero points, we have only finished in the bottom 2 places once. We have had 3 tight games this championship that could have gone either way. It’s a good sign we are competitive and is normal for all good teams at this level.

        I’ve probably totally jinxed the game this weekend but really we have moved on a lot recently.

    3. Get munching your hat !

      We showed once again we are light years ahead of Italy and have made a step change since the days when they “targeted the Scotland game” with any real chance.

  54. I think Scotland and Ireland were both very poor at times….atrocious even but Ireland did their bad things that little bit less worse than Scotlands…

    Both had moments of very good play and Ireland had the lion share…we had the lions share of the braindead moments…

    Had England capitalised on our brain dead moments (two near the end) in England match we’d have had similar narrative to the last two outings…

    Had we finished it against Wales again another narrative…had we someone won yesterday we’d have a different forum…id hope I’d still have been critical of yesterday as it was woeful at points.

    We aren’t far away (yes we’ve said that for far too many of these performances and years) but we actually still have positive points difference having lost 2 from 3 and scored 7 tries and lost 6 tries and despite our discipline we’re probably close to the least pens in comp.

    We’ve had more highs in the last 5 years than we’d had in the previous 15 so by calling for the coaches head be careful what you wish for…

    We do somehow have to understand how to win games like these but only way to learn is to do it. We’ve done more than you may think…

    Who knows we may surprise a few in France yet handing Wales the title…im still hopeful for the future if not a little devastated at these capitulations the last two outings….

  55. It’s not the end of the world. The lineout was POOP yesterday, and that’s why we lost. I didn’t think much of Poite’s reffing (some blatantly wrong calls in the lead up to Beirne’s try), but at the end of the day, we could still have won the game.

    Everyone touching on the fact that Wales and Ireland just have a different mindset due to being successful is probably on to something -> we have years and years of losing close games, and it does affect your mindset.

    At the end of the day, we were literally inches (tap tackle) away from beating Wales , after playing terribly in the 2nd half, and getting a red card. We had a POOP 20 minutes in the middle against Ireland, but very easily could have beaten them. Those are the types of game where the mindset makes a massive difference. I honestly thing had we won the Welsh game at the death, it would’ve been the start of something, but alas, we managed to ‘Scotland’ it.

    For everyone chastising Finn, I think he was concussed about 10 mins before he was taken off, and I’d be surprised if many 10’s would play particularly well with what was served up. I thought other than his last 10 mins he was actually pretty good at picking his runners etc. We couldn’t kick for space (which we did ridiculously well first 2 games) because our lineout was a shower.

    We should hammer Italy though, if we don’t then it’s just another POOPETY year!

  56. Some good points referendum. You are correct in that over the last five years we had more highs than in the previous fifteen. Those fifteen years were a bleak time to be Scotland supporter. If we avoided the wooden spoon we were happy.

    Like many here I was gutted at Sunday’s result but in the cold light of day we must face the fact that with only two pro teams in Scotland we will never seriously challenge for the six nations title. Ireland are so good because they have four well supported and very successful pro sides whose players are used to winning major honours at club level.

    The SRU need to stop making excuses and invest more in the pro sides and create at least one more pro franchise. People say we can’t afford to. Well, we can’t afford not to, because if we continue with the status quo we will just have to be content with avoiding wooden spoons and snatching the odd Calcutta Cup win.

    1. I agree too. We’ve raised our base level to the point where luck and good day/ bad day comes into it.

      Perhaps sue to a smaller plsyer pool our base will consistently be a bit below the others, but surely we can sustain ourselves at the 6N level.

      All it takes is a little luck…

      1. By which I mean…if we have a good day we win; if they have a bad day we win. If both teams play average we lose. Odds are somewhere between a third and a half.

        Ignoring Italy and “streaks”

        Random chance of winning four in a row at 1/3 likelihood…1 in 81.

        Chance of winning 3 from 4…2 in 27. 2 from 4…1 in 3

        If we can get genuinely to 50/50, then we should get a slam every 16 years, and 3 from 4 every 4 years. 2 from 4 is evens.

        I feel we have left the 1/3rd behind but not yet found the 1/2…

      2. Hi Analyst, I agree with you somewhat but I do think we’re closer to 50/50 than you say. I think everyone except Italy is pretty close. When it’s tight like that you have to identify one chink in the armour to swing the balance. I’m all for focusing on yourself and concentrating on your own performance but I would like the Scotland management to be a little more savy on tayloring our game plan to the opposition. Last year Eddy Jones changed his game plan to suit the weather and got the tight victory. This year Wales went after the lineout maul and that got them just enough Ireland the defensive lineout. Before the game I said a 6/2 bench split was justified for the Ireland game because of how they play and I feel the course of the game vindicated that. Having another lock/back row rather than Darcy on the bench would have been much more valuable for this game.

      1. Before he took a covid haircut, Dodson was on £455,000 a year plus bonuses (3 years paid in a lump sum of £478,000 so about £160,000 a year). I don’t know what his bonus structure will be now.

        He’s clearly grossly overpaid but that will barely make a dent in the £10m a year running costs fit another pro team let alone additional start up costs.

        Fundamentally, a third pro team is a great way to burn through the CVC money and whatever uplift we get from tv rights soon to be negotiated. I’d much rather see the lion’s share of it go to improving youth and schools rugby, trying to get every school to offer rugby and supporting clubs to bring youngsters from new rugby schools into the game.

        Creating a third pro team, that will inevitably be a development team that gets humped all the time, might offer more playing opportunities to young guys who currently struggle for game time, but I don’t think we actually have the volume of home grown players to fill a third team with sufficient quality without packing the pro-teams with journeymen. We need more players coming through, a more competitive youth and schools set up and probably Pro-team A-sides to give them game time.

        It isn’t ideal but if you don’t invest in the bottom of your pyramid when you get a windfall like this when do you do it?

  57. When we got quick front foot ball, like the Jones try we looked very dangerous, get the ball into the hands of Hogg & Russell whilst moving forward & we are formidable, I know that so Ireland knew that & stopped it happening.
    I said last year we need a big nasty abrasive lump in the back row, it was Crosbie then, it is Miller now.
    Surely GT has to start Huw Jones??
    Probably Nel starting with Fagerson on later.

  58. Anyone who thinks we should stick with Clownsend should read what Owens says about Pivac

    1. Because Owens is completely impartial and isn’t at all sticking to talking points prepared by their media team? Really? And what alternative are you proposing?

      1. Wales improvement is there for all to see. Whereas Scotland remain as the whipping boys. Any real coach (even return of Cotter) would be better. Results speak.

    2. It’s nonsense.
      Wales Rugby is the major sporting interest, Ireland it’s the only full time professional sport on the island and they have incredible organised grass roots rugby especially in schools so even against those two countries we’re up against it.

      For years during the professional era we couldn’t fill Murrayfield. People stayed away as if that would help.

      We’re recovering. We’re good enough to beat a major team and be competitive but other teams would have to be off form for us to challenge for the championship.

      Not Townsend’s fault. Small margins but other teams just have a bit more quality and depth. That’s reality.

  59. A third pro team has shambles all over it in all honesty, there isn’t another location in the country that would support it IMO.

    When you look at the ratio of % of population to attendance at Edinburgh and Glasgow games, it is pretty clear a pretty large % of people in this country just don’t give much of an arse about watching a pro side. That is before Covid with little knowing of what sport attendance and participation will be like after it, isn’t entirely illogical to think both sides crowds could take a hit for a while.

    The false manufacture of third and fourth teams is the easiest way to do it – the number of players currently playing out with the country is a higher standard of squad a third team would ever likely have, and a far more cost effective one while also not overly diluting the two club sides.

      1. IS the issue with SRU funding London Scottish, not that their RFU’s (considerable) funding is dependent on the number of English qualified players in squad / selected?

  60. 3rd pro team wouldn’t help unless we could fill it with players and they come from the grassroots.

    Irish rugby is built on incredible grassroots, especially schools rugby which is organised on a provincial level, very competitive and feeds direct into the provinces.

    It’s probably the best schools competition outside NZ or SA.
    We don’t have as many rugby schools as Ireland do probably needs some kind of schools/ clubs hybrid.

    SRU slowly getting there on that front but that’s where focus shd be imo then you can have a 3rd pro team once you have enough good players to fill it.

  61. Well that was outrageous. I’ve been through this since the 70″s and we held our own during that era and were great to watch. Since the professional era Ireland and Wales have adopted the most pragmatic approach to victory. Scotland have not. Sure for a whole we maybe lacked the evident quality that’s there now. Trouble is we dont pick our best players and keep sticking with guys who have no clue how to manage a tight game.
    Ireland no great shakes on Saturday apart from the lineout where they were excellent.We looked clueless for 60 minutes and it would have been the 80 had Ireland not went to sleep. 24-24 said to my mates we’ll blow it. So predictable.

    1. The issue is that the big clubs thought they could keep the power and the money during the change to professionalism and didn’t like the move to the districts.

      There needs to be at least one other team even if it is a feeder club and London Scottish would fit that bill. The question is whether Scottish want to do that.

      1. I think the other issue is that if RFU continue to starve the championship of funding the quality of that league will plunge and it’ll no longer serve its purpose to the SRU of giving young players meaningful minutes.

  62. Given three games in less than two weeks, the likely injuries, the opposition, the need to shake some players up a bit and rest others, I would go for this team v Italy:
    Sutherland , Cherry, Fagerson, Skinner, Gilchrist, Ritchie, Watson, Haining; Steele, VDW, Graham, Johnson, Jones, Maitland, Hogg.
    Bhatti, Turner, Nel, Craig, Fagerson, Price, Lang, VDM.

    1. Good team.
      Maybe Taylor for Johnson?

      He won’t be around much longer. Use him while we’ve got him?

  63. Sutherland is better than Furlong.?

    S made 2 carries for 7 metres,F made 7 carries for 14 meters.
    S conceded 2 turnovers to F no turnovers conceded.
    I have selectively chosen these 2 stats to prove F is better than S.

    Confirmation bias is rampant in the posts. You can easily find a few stats to
    support a delusional belief.

    1. So Sutherland made 3.5 metres/carry to Furlong’s 2m/carry, and you think that demonstrates that Furlong is better? He didn’t look better when he was getting minced in the scrum. Again.

      1. Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms or supports one’s prior beliefs or values

  64. They must surely be a close to a decision re. the rearranged game v France. The suggested date was next Friday and so you’d think we’d hear something within the next day or two otherwise the players will be heading back to their clubs after the Italy game.

      1. Racing too. If I were Dodson I’d be pushing for France to foot the bill for the release of all our players.

    1. I’d imagine the “rush” to play this, has fallen away somewhat now that France has lost the grand slam chance. If Wales takes the championship on Saturday, could it be back to a 28-0 scenario?

      1. That did cross my mind although it seems unthinkable that they would wait until the France Wales game has finished as that really would be cutting it fine not to mention leaving us hanging. If Wales win in Paris then I could see French clubs less likely to release their players for a dead rubber against us which might see us face a weakened France team if they are set on avoiding the forfeit. FWIW I think France will beat Wales this weekend.

  65. Rest the possible injuries. Picking on form shown last game, you want to reward some of the wider squad now.

    Stuart Hogg (C) – Sean Maitland – Huw Jones – Sam Johnson – Darcy Graham – Jaco Van Der Valt – Scott Steele – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Sam Skinner – Grant Gilchrist – Zander Fagerson – Dave Cherry – Rory Sutherland

    Duhan Van Der Merwe – Duncan Taylor – Ali Price – Nick Haining – Alex Craig – Simon Berghan – George Turner – Oli Kebble

    Harris was ok but Jones has earned a shot and its a game we wont need his defence to win. Taylor is better bench cover. Experience on the bench with a few players who will want to redeem themselves (Duhan, Price, Turner)

    Two players starting for the first time and a uncapped on the bench was a consideration behind not having Dobie involved.

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