Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Guinness Six Nations: Scotland 52 – 10 Italy

Scotland v Italy
© Scottish Rugby Blog

Disaster was easily averted by Scotland as they drew Italy’s Guinness Six Nations to a close by dishing out their heaviest defeat in a series of heavy defeats.

Early Scottish indiscipline saw Italy take the lead through Luca Bigi when he peeled off a maul and dove under Darcy Graham – no mean feat in itself – to finish superbly, and Paolo Garbisi’s left-footed conversion was equally as impressive.

Scotland got on the scoreboard soon afterwards through similar means, the line-out woes of last week put to bed when Dave Cherry regained possession of his throw to score his first try on his first start.

Hogg missed the conversion to leave Scotland still trailing, but they took the lead within seconds, a scintillating charge down the middle of the field by Huw Jones ending with Duhan van der Merwe crossing the line.

Garbisi reduced the deficit with a penalty, however on Scotland’s next possession Federico Mori was sent to the sin-bin for a shoulder charge on Sam Johnson, so Hogg went to the line. Fellow Terie Darcy Graham finished off after Sean Maitland had broken the line.

Graham was smashed in the tackle by Monty Ioane as Scotland again threatened, but when Scotland got the ball back near their own 22 a devastating break down the left and some deft hands saw Huw Jones take Hogg’s inside pop-pass and gallop home unchallenged.

Bonus point secured within half an hour, it now seemed like a matter of running up the points difference for Scotland, however Italy managed to pinch a line-out and then force an error to thwart Scotland.

The Azzurri then even went up the pitch and nearly scored right on half-time, a tremendous penalty to touch by Garbisi giving Italy a line-out 10m from the Scotland line, but a maul sacked and
knock-on forced, brought an end to a largely successful first half for the hosts.

Half-time: Scotland 24 – 10 Italy

For the second week in a row, Garbisi booted his kick-off straight into touch, and having won the penalty at the resulting scrum, Scotland were soon deep in Italian territory and Dave Cherry was scoring from the back of a maul again.

Cherry was denied the chance to join the Hat-Tricking Hookers Club when the entire front-row was changed with around 50mins on the clock, but by minute 53, Italy were temporarily down to 14-men again and Scott Steele joined Cherry as a first time try-scorer when he snuck over from close range.

Just as Sebastian Negri was due to come back on, Monty Ioane was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tip tackle on Hogg, and Michele Lomaro can count himself lucky not to have joined him after shouldering Jamie Ritchie at a breakdown.

Duhan van der Merwe nearly scored off a between-the-legs pass from Hogg only to knock on as he went for the line, but Scotland’s scrum had started to show real dominance, and they won the penalty only 5m out.

The hapless Italians couldn’t prevent Scotland from becoming the fifth and final team to stick
40-points on them this championship, Sam Johnson showing impressive strength to throw Luca Bigi off and stretch over.

The half century of points was achieved in rather cruel circumstances, a decent Italian attack brought to an abrupt end with a spill in the Scotland 22 which was snaffled by Price.

The replacement scrum-half raced into the Italian half and played a beautiful, Mata-esque offload to van der Merwe for his second score of the match.

 Italy took a penalty to the corner in the hope of getting a consolation, but debutant Alex Craig got on the end of Haining’s tip and Ali Price booted the ball out to bring a sorry end to Italy’s 2021 Six Nations and send Scotland to Paris in confident mood.

SRBlog Player of the Match: Duhan and Dave may have been at the double, but it was a mighty fine return to the starting XV for Huw Jones who carved through the Italian defence with consummate ease.

Referee: Pascal Gauzerre (FFR)

46 Responses

  1. It’s not been enjoyable watching Italy this 6N. It’s basically a club team against an international team every time. Really hope they find a way to be more competitive in future 6Ns.

    Still, we did the business and added 42 points to our points difference.

    Watson was excellent. Good to see Huw Jones looking like the player he was from 16 to 18. Line-out back to something decent.

    How much are we all going to regret losing to Wales when we should have won and losing to Ireland when we could have won, or at least drawn?

    One more monkey off our back would be winning in the SdF for the first time since 1999. If we can do that, it wouldn’t be a bad 6N for us despite the two home defeats.

  2. Has anyone heard about English Premiership not releasing Scots on Friday? Comment made at end of Italy game by the pundits on BBC

  3. I think France have just avenged us for “Cardiff 2010”! Now back to the Scotland match that I unfortunately missed earlier.

  4. Excellent choice for Player of the match. Huw Jones is the coolest man on the pitch and if he is not scoring them, he is involved in assisting them. The irony of it all, we stand in the way of France and helping out Wales. Should be a great match.

  5. All of Wales now knows what its like to be a Scotland supporter. This has been a hell of a tournament for cards having an impact on games.

    I think today may have shaken up the Lions selection. Cant believe how rubbish England have been this 6 nations. Don’t feel nearly as bad about losing to Ireland in the previous game now.

    France now need a try bonus point and a decent win against us to win the tournament. Will be quite an open game which might suit us. Just need to keep all our players on the pitch and minimise the turnovers.

    1. I mean France looked very impressive in the final 20 when they were playing mad unstructured desperation rugby – as they have to beat us by more than 20-something points and score 4 tries or more this could either leave them really vulnerable or we get blown away as they pull out all the tricks.

      I really hope we give a good account of ourselves. If we win it’ll put a fair number of Scottish boys in the lions tour

  6. Scotland could get second in the table if we bonus point win in France. We also have all the squad back – although don’t know about redpath

    1. Finn is back too? I didn’t read anything about Racing releasing our players.
      France are very fortunate not to have forfeited next Friday’s game.

    2. It’s just a 6 point win rather than the BP second which feels more obtainable, especially with France needing 20-whatever

      1. 6 point win wouldn’t do it as France would get a losing bonus point (unless we won by 6 points and scored 4 tries and France didn’t).
        An 8 point win without France scoring 4 tries would do it.

  7. Incredibly frustrating that we’re a discipline meltdown/tap tackle against Wales and a coaching demolition against Ireland away from going into this chasing a slam. Even removing one of those means we’d (I think) be chasing a title. All while being well below our best as a team for much of the tournament

  8. Been the most intriguing 6N for a long while. Ireland majestic today, England deservedly hubrised off the park – they never learn the lesson of humility, do they? Wales catastrophically vanquished tonight by weird psycho slam indiscipline. Scotia brilliant if even against kids sent out by Alan Hansen (Italia’s secret mentor). A couple of skypark rugby months. Can’t wait for Friday.

  9. V England we were very disciplined but were assisted by a very poor home team performance
    V Wales we were hamstrung by the Fagerson red card but really should’ve beat them. the tap tackle the seminal point in our season
    V Ireland fair enough they know how to beat us & followed that blue print but we somehow managed to throw away a draw
    V Italy simple things like a functioning line out & a real threat at centre, (& a poor opponent) allowed us to get front foot ball

    Surely GT will see now the folly of not playing Huw Jones, there were a couple of occasions yesterday where previously the ball would’ve been spilled & the chance/try gone.
    Steele did enough to start on Friday.

  10. We need Weir if Russell isn’t released. It was brilliant to see Jones attacking superb stuff. Imagine Bennett coming on to do the same , score points, Harris earns nothing for all the hard work he does. If Harris starts against France the we are in for a steamrollering, but with a great attacking start and attack off the bench , with Weir who can keep us honest on the score board, as Hogg isn’t an international kicker I wouldn’t give stuart toffy for his kicks. We can beat France.

    1. Absolutely – I thought we were
      past the difficulty that GT seems to have with Weir.
      Mon the wee man.

      1. Weir injured his shoulder last month and is probably out for the rest of the season. Hastings should be available again, though.

  11. I hope Hogg and the team have taken note of Ireland’s win over England. 14 points up but kicked penalties to keep the score board ticking over and keep piling pressure on the opposition. Imagine if we’d done that against Wales when 20-3 up!!

    1. We were never 20-3 up which is the issue…one 3 pointer at that stage was enough to put the game to bed….so frustrating looking back and at the time…its the worst game management I’ve seen and I watched 2020 loss to Wales

  12. Just check-out Davies’s service to Biggar.Compare with Price/Steele and Russell.Can Townsend not see the step-change that would make to Russell and the rest of them if we had a 9 that could pass from the ground like he does? Davies literally passed the Lion’s shirt to Biggar.
    We have a player that can do that and more but the coach just doesn’t see it.Must be tough for Russell when his best pal isn’t helping him.

    1. Who would you pick at 9 if not Steele or Price? If Davies was Scottish I’m sure Townsend would pick him.

      Can see the arguments for SHC or Horne (when fit) but neither has an amazing pass.

      Dobie? A very good pass but would be a risk at his stage of development. Shiel? Might have the best pass of the lot but doesn’t look the finished article yet either.

      I thought our passing in general was poor yesterday, looked laboured and rusty. Though our handling was strong and prevented us conceding possession as a result.

      Unfortunately Italy were utterly abject and this must temper any conclusions drawn from the game. Not really the test we’d have wanted ahead of France.

  13. Was it just me or did Huw Jones seem to play less well and start to give away penalties after he was moved to 12 when Harris came on. I wonder why Harris wasn’t tried at 12 to punch holes for the more elusive runners to come through. Could have been Toonie looking at options for the future I suppose.

    The lower order forwards all played ok. I still feel Gilchrist could do a bit more with his heft, seems to be easier than some of the other 2nd rows to bring to ground.

    Overall a decent result and I look forward to us claiming second spot on Friday with thoughts of what could have been if we’d not imploded against Wales.

    1. For me Jones is definitely a running 13 or back 3 player rather than a passing 12. Thought Johnson played well yesterday and I look forward to him and Redpath competing for the 12 shirt going forward.

  14. Laidlaw was slow but had a rugby brain, Price is quicker but is a bit of a headless chicken on occasion, Steele is about as quick as price and seems to have more nous but has an annoying habit of adjusting the ball prior to passing it. Touch wood hornito and dobie can kick on and start pushing for places in the IV. One thing I dearly want to see tho is Redpath and Jones in the midfield. No disrespect to Harris and Johnson who are decent but Redpath is different gravy and Jones on form is the best 13 in Britain.

    1. Best 13 in Britain- Totally agree and I wonder if Gatland feels the
      same.It may be interesting to see how he is thinking , defensive or running 13. If this tour goes ahead, I can see injuries and replacements required. I feel sure Huw Jones will not be overlooked.

  15. Weir injured and way too slow at this level anyway.

    V France we have to have the discipline of the England game & try & make them play in the their own 22.

    Obviously Russell will return, Hogg to 15, Graham out of the 23 (tough on Graham).
    J Gray back in, Skinner to bench, Gilchrist showed the value of a real line out operator yesterday.
    I’d have Haining in Fagerson to bench too.
    Interesting what happens with Hastings

  16. My Team for France: Balls out.

    Sean Maitland – Darcy Graham – Huw Jones – Finn Russell – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Stuart Hogg – Scott Steele – Matt Fagerson – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Jonny Gray – Richie Gray – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Rory Sutherland

    Adam Hastings – Ali Price – Nick Haining – Sam Skinner – Alex Craig – Simon Berghan – Fraser Brown – Oli Kebble

    1. I’ll be the first to say it; Hogg isn’t playing 10 next week and won’t be playing 10 for Scotland again except in a crisis. I didn’t think Hogg controlled the back line or got it moving particularly well when he was at 10.

      1. The issue for me was he was static when receiving the ball then running or passing, his kicking was ok.

        He would get a lot better with regular game time in that role.

    2. Leave Fraser Brown out IMO. Why ? Cherry has been fine . Brown is out of condition and frankly his technical skills even when fully fit are much too inconsistent, let’s just see more of the same , Cherry and Turner. I agree Maitland is an excellent Full Back but there is no room for him as long as Hogg is around. Yes to Steele starting, for all Price made the most of his time on the pitch Steele for me is a much more mature than his years and the one to build on. Kebble on the bench , another big tick from me Neil.

      We now have an excellent side IMO, a side that can compete. They just need to learn how to close out when you are so far ahead. Wales should have been humped. I have to say, I look forward to seeing how Gatland plays his cards. I think lots of surprises ahead.

    3. Just no, Hogg is wasted at 10 VDW is a far better kicker and distributer of the ball.

      Hogg-Graham-Jones-Johnson-VdM-Russell-Steele-M. Fagerson-Watson-Ritchie-J Gray-Gilchrist-Z. Fagerson-Cherry-Sutherland

      Subs Maitland-Harris-Price-Haining-Craig-Berghan-Brown-Kebble

  17. What a day of rugby – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Sublime: Du Pont’s try vs Wales, and Price combining with VDM for a try vs Italy. Ridiculous: The Bundee Aki red card vs England, was yet another bizarre decision; and Wales loosing their cool in the last ten minutes of their game v France, in an outbreak of cynical penalties.

    Scotland’s win masked a performance that was at times as clumsy as a drunk on a tightrope. Hopefully Steele will start next week, as he looks like the first Scottish scrum half in years who doesn’t want to kick the ball away – a tactic that will only benefit France.

    Ireland didn’t need to get out of second gear to beat England. They are well drilled; play fast, clinical rugby and switch tactics seamlessly when necessary.

    Wales aggressive play knocked France off balance early in the game and so prevented them from establishing any dominance until the last quarter. But eventually they couldn’t cope with French determination.

    The 2021 6N will go down in the records as one where refereeing and TMO decisions determined the match outcomes much more than team performances.
    World Rugby must recognise that this is a problem for the game and can only be resolved by radical rule changes. However it seems that Will Carling’s ‘Old Farts’ are still in charge and are terrified that any changes to Rugby Union will look to much like Rugby League. Not necessarily so, but that is a difference argument.

    1. CSC I know nothing about League but I do know that the introduction of TMOs has been problematic. Ref’s are hesitant to back their own judgement and/or are increasingly harassed and harangued into “going upstairs “. TMO rulings have generated as many arguments as did previous ‘mistakes’ by referees.
      We need to return to “ the ref is right even when he’s wrong “. Arguments and histrionics are for the pub afterwards.

  18. Marvelous. When we believe we can do it.
    Will Redpath be back? Johnson has been a beast but would love to see Redpath in tandem with Jones.

    1. That centre partnership will be the double act we’ve never really had. Redpaths injury was extremely unfortunate for him and Scotland. Things could have possibly been sitting alot more differently had he not been injured. Russell and the back 3 will thrive with both Redpath and Jones. When we see Scotland player in the Autumn Jones’s time in France let’s hope would have strengthened his rejuvenated confidence.

  19. Without TMO the game would be impossible to control. So much is happening all the time, at such high speed, it’s just not possible for one pair of eyes to see everything. TMO gives refs the chance to correct errors, and culprits know they’re getting a fair shake.

  20. Look forward to one day having a back 7 of Horne, Russell, VdM, Redpath, Jones, Graham, Hogg.

  21. Some post 6N musings. England are mince, for me it’s a coaching issue, they still have the same great players but can’t seem to decide what/how they want to play. Wales and Ireland aren’t as good as they think they are and France are France. I feel sorry for Italy, a bit like England there doesn’t seem to be any direction, the players look dejected, I really hope for their sake they can turn it around. They’ve never been great but you could always guarantee they would give teams a game and bloody minded determination would occasionally see them through (usually against us). I really don’t want them to get relegated, they are very much part of the 6N and culture of it. Maybe it’s a romantic old fashioned notion but the 6N is more than a rugby tournament, it’s the winter weekends away, the laughs and the camaraderie in some of the greatest cities in Europe, losing any of the current members would be a huge blow.

    Back to my previous points, are England mince and Wales and Ireland mediocre, or is it just because there is so little between the teams now, anyone can win on their day? I maintain Wales and Ireland aren’t great and haven’t been for a few years but they have an annoying habit of winning games regardless of how they play, that is the mark of great teams. Playing really well and winning a game is all fine and dandy but to be able to make mistakes and not play that well but still win anyway is how cups are won.

  22. As for Scotland, it’s hard to know what to take from that Italy game, they were very poor, however we succeeded in putting them to the sword whereas we maybe we would have won 24-10 or something and never really been comfortable.

    Hogg at 10 was a bit of a weird one, not anything to do with Hoggy, I think he’s such a great rugby player you could stick him anywhere and he would do a decent job. It’s more a case of why, why play your best player out of position? Put faith in the guy who plays there and you always have Hogg available to step in if it all goes pear shaped. Centres are an interesting one, I think Redpath and Jones are out “attacking” options where as Johnson and Harris a bit more steady, that said Johnson and Jones pair up pretty well.

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