Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 15 – 13 Australia

Autumn Nations Series - Scotland v Australia

Scotland welcomed a full crowd back to BT Murrayfield and sent the large majority home happy as they squeezed past Australia, ending the Wallabies five-match winning run and winning the Raeburn Shield off them in the process.

An error-laden but entertaining opening half started as it meant to go on with a Finn Russell kick being charged down after about 30 seconds. Fortunately for the Scotland stand-off, Len Ikitau’s no-look offload went straight into the hands of Matt Fagerson.

James O’Connor sent a 5th minute penalty attempt right of the posts, and once they had retaken possession from the drop-out, Nic White’s chip over the top forced Stuart Hogg to knock-on for the first scrum of the match.

Zander Fagerson was given the credit for winning the penalty up against James Slipper, and it was the first of many small victories over the Wallaby front-row.

The Scotland front-row were forced into an early change when George Turner had to be replaced by Ewan Ashman, for what was to prove a memorable debut.

The high tempo remained but somehow so did the scoreboard at 0-0. A break down the left started by Stuart Hogg took Scotland into the Australia 22 but seconds later a spill by Russell ended with Hogg being dragged over his own try-line by Tom Wright.

Hamish Watson’s prowess on the deck forced the Australian error to give Scotland the penalty, and Watson showed he’s the all-round package when he opened the scoring soon afterwards.

With frontline pair Jonny Gray and Scott Cummings missing; plus the intimidating figures of Izak Rodda and Rory Arnold contesting your throws, Scotland had mixed up their throws, and on this occasion scored from an inventive set-play, creating a mini-pod of forwards off from the main one in the line.

Watson v Hooper had been one of the most eagerly awaited head-to-heads in this fixture, and the Aussie captain thought he had matched Watson by scoring, only for his try to be disallowed through no fault of his own.

Hooper had picked up from the base of a ruck, bustling and stretching his way over the line, however, teammate Allan Alaalatoa had given Matt Fagerson a glancing clip when clearing out. Contact was light, but it was to the head and seemed a bit reckless, so Alaalatoa went for a
breather in the sin bin.

Scotland being Scotland; they instantly turned possession over to the 14-man Aussies, and then conceded a penalty from which James O’Connor reduced the deficit.

Half-time: Scotland 7 – 3 Australia

Scotland further Scotlanded the sin bin period by giving away a cheap penalty through Zander Fagerson despite Romain Poite – making his last Test match appearance – screaming at him to leave the ball alone.

Sam Johnson showed exactly how solid he is when his enormous collision with Taniela Tupou, aka “Tongan Thor”, knocked the tighthead on his backside, but as Tupou staggered back to his feet, Stuart Hogg knocked on.

Tupou was rightly removed from the field for his own safety, and as he was still trudging down the tunnel his teammates scored quickly off the scrum. Replacement Izaia Perese did the most damage carrying hard up the middle of the 22, and Rob Leota took O’Connor’s reverse pass easily to the line.

For all the adventure and occasional moment of quality, Scotland were struggling to build pressure, eager to get the ball wide without having earned the right, and whenever they had penalty advantage they went for the Hail Mary early.

The try which did eventually come did have a touch of the miraculous to it, as once again a Scotland hooker crossed the try-line, but none quite in this fashion as far as I recall, debutant Ashman bundling through Parese and diving acrobatically into the corner to regain the lead for Scotland.

The lead didn’t last long when Jamie Ritchie was harshly penalised for not rolling away and O’Connor knocked over his second penalty to make it 12-13 with 15 minutes to play.

Scotland took the opportunity to replace their props before the restart; Jamie Bhatti and Oli Kebble coming on for Pierre Schoeman and Zander Fagerson but the change in personnel did not change the flow of dominance, as once again Scotland won the penalty on the tight-head side.

Finn Russell stayed composed to knock the ball through to put Scotland 2 points up with just over ten minutes to play.

It may have been the familiarity of a majority of the Scotland squad with one or more members of the Australian coaching team, but both sides defended well, forcing errors, and posing a turnover threat at the breakdown.

Even the introduction of George Horne and Adam Hastings creating the coveted “Full Cats At A Rave” triumvirate was not enough to unlock the Ozzies one final time to make the scoreline more comfortable, but a professional win against a form team, achieved when not firing on all cylinders is nothing to be sniffed at.

Referee: Romain Poite

SRBlog POTM: for being unphased on a 70-min debut, throwing consistent arrows and the wonder finish of a winger, Ewan Ashman.

49 Responses

  1. That was a game that we would’ve lost in the past, and TBH we didn’t really have the finishers in key positions (i.e. SH) purely because they aren’t getting the games.

    Overall the team were good over the 80, with Ashman showing us that the future is solid at hooker. Hogg, again, tried too hard and didn’t release players around as much as I’d like – he’s class but maybe puts too much pressure on himself to deliver as captain?

    Price for me continued from the Lions and is looking really good, whilst the rest of the team are improving nicely. Next week will certainly be a test, but TBH I don’t see the need to change the 23 at all unless it’s to swap Turner and McInally.

    1. the “finisher” at SH has started 3 of Glasgow’s 5 league games, off the ebnch in the other 1, and started one of the 3 pre season games. Not getting the rugby?

      “Finishers” is a nonsense term from Eddie jones. About the only thing he has managed to do is use a nonsense term

      1. He’s not getting game time at international level, not even against lesser teams. That is my point, and it will put him in a compromised position. GT did the same with Price when Laidlaw was the starting 9 and it’s bonkers.

      2. Dobie got game time against Tonga, instead of Horne. Horne has had loads off the bench before this season. We needed to play our best scrum half some time!
        I recognise your comparison with Laidlaw/Price but don’t agree – Laidlaw was perservered with when IMHO Price was the better 9. No way is Horne close to Price, in fact Horne’s form for Glasgow has been poor this season, despite loads of game time

      3. Price lack of game time was really detrimental to his development TBF, I mean it stopped him from ever making the Scotland squad let alone starting for the Lio….

        Oh wait, a minute

  2. I didn’t think it was a great performance because of the number of mistakes and inability to hold onto the ball, build pressure and have a little patience in attack. However, it is incredible to get a big win whilst playing within our capabilities and our generally cussed defence and breakdown work was very impressive as was our set piece work.

    SA is another beats entirely as the can bully the very best packs in the world. I hope we play with a bit more control and start where we left off against Oz. I’m quietly optimistic we’ll do well.

  3. Anyone know why the Welsh seem so upset about our win? You’d think it was Toony that invaded their pitch the way some of them are wailing on social media.

    1. That really added to the enjoyment. Knowing not only have we turned over the Aussies again, and while they’re one of the in-form teams of World Rugby. But that all the small minded halfwits from those two countries were choking on the result.

    2. The Welsh greetin is always good, probably because they are on their way to being spanked by all 3 SH teams this autumn.

      I don’t even get why they are so sour about the pitch invader, it didn’t stop a try being scored, a crap pass and Liam Williams overrunning it stopped a try being scored, even then it was no gimmie. Duhan might have scored it but not Liam Williams…

    3. Wales have a really poor record against all SH teams. We have a few wins to our credit. welsh can’t get their heads around that. Just jealosy

      1. This is selective statistics …compare Wales 6 nations record versus Scotland instead. Getting
        carried away again with the Autumn internationals. A very good performance by our team but would still not be favourites to win the 6 nations this year or the next World Cup

      2. I made a factual comment on Wales record against SH teams. Wales have a way better record than us in the 6N. Put those 2 facts together and you see the outrage and jealosy

    4. I didn’t know some of them were upset until you posted it.
      I always make a point of looking at our oppo’s fan forums pre- and post-match but it’s never occurred to me to take a peek beyond.
      Strange, as I wanted to see Wales beat SA and it makes me wonder why they’d be so exercised by a Scotland win against Australia. On reflection, perhaps it’s actuated by their rotten record against Aus in recent years.
      Still weird, though.

  4. Possibly one change guys, perhaps moving Skinner to blindside to combat the size of the Boks pack.
    Other than that great ‘hit out’ against the Aussies

  5. Other than taking slightly longer than you would expect to deal with an O’Connor kick I thought Hogg put in a rock solid display at FB and would have played a key part in what should have been try for VDM in the corner, unsure what is expected from him these days TBH

    It is hell of a hard to simply score the wonder tries he scored v Italy and Ireland every game, if that is what some think he should be producing they need to revalue what a FB should be doing during a game IMO.

    1. Hogg is a very talented player doubt about that. However, imo he sometimes plays with too much emotion and loses his composure at vital moments…the moments that have set him back in career have been due to that imo. If you could reconstruct or eliminate those type of moments….eg the bad challenge on Biggar, the dropped ball when over the try line, the forward pass v NZ…and he showed composure ..he would go down as perhaps the top FB in rugby in his time.
      Even yesterday… he did some really good things but almost gave a try away at a critical juncture for no reason.
      He is our best FB but he has some flaws still to work on too.

      1. really don’t see that at all personally, feels like a thing people have said on the internet that much they just believe it too be true now,

        He has played 85 games for Scotland, is about to become the most capped FB in the history of the sport and you are using a handful of incidents to justify narrative, seems a bit farfetched to me really.

      2. I disagree.. I think its a fair opinion… thats how the elite players are judged. Im saying he is a top player ..but he has also made his share of mistakes. Its just the way it is …1 bad mistake can override 9 good things in player perception. Just like success and failure at the top tier…fine margins.
        It’s fine tho..nobody is perfect…and, like I said, he is our best FB. Yeah .. of course…thats what we all do…we justify our own narrative.

      3. Dont really give a monkeys if someone perceives my view as ‘weird’ TBH …its just a rugby blog and Id take that ahead of generic i think.

      4. best not to reply to people and assume they give a monkeys what you think either then TBH, p.s because I really don’t.

    2. I Love Stuart Hogg but I think you’ve got it a bit backwards James. It’s not that fans expect to see him score wonder try’s it’s that Hogg seems to expect to score them. A lot of criticism of Hogg is that people would just like to see him draw and pass a bit more. (then maybe run a support line and get it back) He’s got real quality around him now not like in his early days.

      1. I reckon Stuart Hogg has a better grasp of what playing FB is, the choices and decisions to be made than those who are critical of him and have probably rarely played it though TBH

        If I wanted to listen to someone explain playing FB to me, Hogg would probably be one of the first people I would pick TBH, the choices he makes on a Rugby park are coming from a pretty educated place

      2. Yes James, that’s self evident. You could say the same about literally any sports person in all of sport, ever.
        If chewing the fat with other fans is so offensive to you why contribute to a forum?

      3. James: It is a team game, working together for the best result. Each playing to his strengths, Hogg has many but so do others.

      4. Hogg has always had this problem. Not first time we have discussed draw and pass and Hogg. It is a fundamental that he is weak at and other sides know that. He does need to learn to draw and pass more and that would open up the channels for dummy and go

      5. An assessment from this forum but one I doubt many analysts of other sides make. A player nominated for European Player of the Year, multiple 6 Nations player of the year, Lions squads, European Cups,

        But does he draw and pass

        Echo chamber nonsense

  6. As others have said, good to get the win while not playing our best but we need to remember our first choice team haven’t played together since the 6 nations and Australia (albeit missing a couple of big names) are off the back of 7 matches together.

    Hopefully the two run outs we’ve had have gotten rid of the cobwebs and we don’t see the same number of silly errors next week as they will be punished.

    On a positive note I think with Price, Russell and Hogg we have a seriously good kicking game and Harris and VDM provide a good chase. Finn in particular seems great at the new 50:22 rule which means they need to defend it more giving more space for the rest of his bag of tricks.

    Beating SA would be a real statement. Don’t foresee any changes in the 23 bar McInally for Turner

  7. Hope to see/hear the blog give special mention to Wales and Ireland rugby twitter, who seemed more upset by that result than the Aussies!

    Reading thier pitiful complaining on social media, especially the clamour to see Fagerson cited, turned an otherwise good celebration into a great one.

    Lots still to work on. Lots of innacuracy too – but that’s to be expected given the lack of gametime these players have had. Australia have just played the in the Rugby Champ against SA and NZ.

    Building nicely, (and again, loving the fact so many Welsh and Irish fans spent the night crying on social media about the win!)

    1. I went to the match and didn’t get back until late yesterday evening so I haven’t dived into rugby Twitter in depth yet.

      I look forward to that to cheer up an otherwise dreary Monday evening! ;-)

    2. Just take their reaction as a compliment….our performances and results are making them a bit nervous ‘n’ sweaty about another challenger showing up.

  8. Its kinda ironic that the Aussies are the ones ‘whinging’ about their ‘try’ being disallowed. Really? Using video evidence it was clearly at best for them a penalty against and therefore no try….the only thing up for debate would be the yellow. The player was off his feet, uncontrolled and only missed out on a red because his punch was poorly timed and placed.
    Suck up the loss with some grace Aussies! You lost fair and square.

  9. Apologies, off topic but slightly related as I’ve seen a lot of talk about new levels of strength in depth in the squad and not seen it covered elsewhere. With the rule changes they’re voting on in 24/11 could we see Zach Mercer switching to Scotland? Think it’ll be >3 years since he played for England and he is obviously otherwise eligible. Know it’s not a popular thought with some folk and not guaranteed to work out but he’d be the most skillful Scottish 8 since Taylor imo

    1. IMO …its just taking things too far…if players make a decision to represent a country..that should be it. Its really opening a can of worms for players to receive the honor of being selected and representing a country and then knowing they can later
      reject them because it no longer suited. Its been tough enough to adjust to the fair old stretch, that is the residency ruling.

      1. At the same time, it might reduce the pressure to ‘capture’ young players just so they can’t play for the opposition…you’ve got to keep picking them.

      1. Really? I thought as he was previously eligible he would be able to change after the stand down period?

    2. Hi Leither, I have to say I’m not a fan however if it becomes part of the rules then I think Scotland should take advantage. On this note and after a little digging apparently Jack Dempsey’s grandfather is from Glasgow and he last played for Australia in October 2019 meaning if it passes he becomes Scots qualified in October 2022. You heard it hear first.

      1. Dempsey played well for Glasgow against Leinster..pity it made little difference to the final result.

      2. I can see why it doesn’t appeal to some but I have seemingly quite different (some would say daft!) than normal opinions on eligibility stuff. Would far rather keep the residency rule provided it’s 5 years and get rid of selecting players with a single grandparent for example.

        It’s a rule obviously intended to improve the PI nations and I understand the concerns that individual players could use it very cynically but I’d say Mercer (if he is eligible, as I said to sceptic 9 above I don’t see why he wouldn’t be) is a pretty perfect case study. Picked for England as he was eligible elsewhere then tossed aside.
        Tbh I mainly am keen because I was reminded of his previous involvement with Scotland earlier in the year and lose the occasional half hour imagining a back row of Ritchie Watson and Mercer (drools).

  10. Latest odds ..I guess we should take these before we beat South Africa next weekend.
    Best odds
    6 nations Win 11/1
    Grand Slam 100/1

    on the club front ..the Urc
    Glasgow Warriors 33/1
    Edinburgh 28/1

    1. 100/1 for the Slam seems pretty good if you ask me. Having said that we havent beaten Ireland home or away in the Toony era so that hurdle needs to be worked out.

  11. Wouldn’t want a naked Pierre Schoeman chasing me into a dark alleyway. Absolute beast of a man.

  12. Thought the Xmas lights were going on early on Sunday and Hoggy wanted to be the one to throw the switch.He played well,but im still in the dark.
    By stating your going to play the running game,then doing so is immature-Streetwise?huh.And by doing so,by-passing a fair chunk of Russell’s skill-set.Not clever-He was pist off and it showed.It doesn’t work with Hoggy in charge- too many chief’s.
    This saturday would like to see massively squint feeds by Price,quick ba’s always handy when your about to be pummelled and VDM on right wing,he just won’t swap the ball in his arms so as to fend-big negative.Oh,and a happy Russell.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion