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Scotland v South Africa: Player Ratings

Autumn Nations Series - Scotland v South Africa

Scotland were found wanting by a dominant South African side that knew when to turn the screw at the right time. Cammy Black watched the game back (so you don’t have to) and found some reasons to be hopeful.


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Set Piece

1. Pierre Schoeman: Stripped Etzebeth but immediately penalised for holding on. Showed some lovely soft hands in the line to keep the ball moving but will have easier days at the coal face. - (A6/D6/B4/S4) Overall: 5/10

2. Stuart McInally: Watching it back the lineout wasn't terrible. It wasn't great though and overthrow in South African 22 relieved pressure on the opposition that never materialised again. Good in defence but part of a front row that creaked and buckled under pressure they knew was coming. - (A5/D5/B3/S4) Overall: 4.5/10

3. Zander Fagerson: Rumour is that Zander likes to drop the first scrum to get a read of the referee. Took this to a whole new unnecessary level over successive scrums. Got involved in some early Zandbags with Vermulen and his hands once again made contact with an opposition face. Nothing wrong in getting in the oppositions faces early doors but not at the risk of an early bath. - (A5/D5/B3/S4) Overall: 4.5/10

4. Sam Skinner: Did well to disrupt a promising South African line out near the Scottish line. Seemed to be everywhere in attack and defence whilst Scotland were in the match. Scotland are missing Gray and Cummings but Skinner did enough to stake his claim in their absence. - (A6/D6/B5/S6) Overall: 6/10

5. Grant Gilchrist: Unlucky to give away an early penalty for failing to roll away whilst in the process of rolling away. Showed up well against Australia and did well in the first half but faded quickly in the second half. A good international but there are better options in the physio room waiting to come back and reclaim the jersey, - (A5/D5/B5/S4) Overall: 5/10

6. Nick Haining: Seems to give his best performances from the bench. Gave away needless penalty in second half for not rolling away which marked the start of Scotland's descent. Subbed off shorty after. Largely OK but Scotland and Jamie Ritchie sorely missed Watson. - (A4/D4/B5/S4) Overall: 4.5/10

7. Jamie Ritchie: Constantly on the hunt at the breakdown but not always in line with Angus Gardner's interpretation of the laws. Sorely missed his hunting partner in Watson in the first 50 minutes. On field captaincy suits him more than Hogg. - (A5/D6/B4/S5) Overall: 5/10

8. Matt Fagerson: Tackled everything and made some big carries. Not phased by the opposition and other, more lauded, Scottish 8s have wilted under similar physical opposition. - (A6/D6/B5/S6) Overall: 6/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Influence

9. Ali Price: A mature performance. Pin point with his box kicks and kept Scotland ticking over despite the pressure. Quick thinking to release the backs for Hogg's second try which got Scotland back in the match before it all fell apart. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

10. Finn Russell: Not his best day from the tee. Left 8 points on the field which might have kept Scotland in touch going into the last 10 minutes. Switched play well and varied options in attack. People expect him to break out the Hollywood razzle dazzle with every pass but there's much more to his game these days. Not his best and no evidence the Lions would have fared any better had he been fit for the first two tests. - (A6/D6/B5/I6) Overall: 6/10

11. Duhan van der Merwe: Was delivered a hospital pass by Russell on Scotland's try line in the first half and somehow managed to sprint to half way stepping the entire 'Boks backline in the process, winning a penalty and the first points of the match. Sublime offload to Harris in the run up to Hogg's first try and lovely pass for Hogg's second. His Lions experience has taken him to another level. - (A7/D7/B7/I8) Overall: 7.5/10

12. Matt Scott: Slotted in very well despite four years in the International wilderness. Solid in defence and showed great awareness to catch Le Roux napping at the base of a ruck winning a key turnover. Beautiful quick hands in the lead up to Hogg's second. Doubt we've seen the last of him in a Scotland shirt. - (A6/D6/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

13. Chris Harris: Another very shrewd and solid defensive performance and seemed comfortable in partnership with Scott. Gave away a needless penalty for blocking when van der Merwe had a high ball well covered. - (A6/D5/B6/I6) Overall: 6/10

14. Rufus McLean: Showed great strength to throw of Kwagga Smith in his own 22 and relieve pressure when Scotland were struggling. WIll find more space against other opposition but did well to disrupt in the build up to Mapimpi's second try, only to find his Captain out of position. - (A5/D6/B5/I5) Overall: 5.5/10

15. Stuart Hogg: Overran every ball and every defender he chased. Was massively out of position for Mapimpi's first try and came up too early leaving too much space for his second. Took both his (record-breaking) tries well though but he has to start trusting those outside him to do their jobs in defence and stick to his part of the defensive structure. - (A5/D4/B4/I5) Overall: 4.5/10


Rated on Attack, Defence, Breakdown and Impact

16. Ewan Ashman: A much harder test in his second cap. Overthrew his first line out shortly after McInally had let South Africa off inside their 22. Those two added up to a complete momentum shift away from Scotland. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

17. Jamie Bhatti: Largely anonymous. A fine option from the bench against lesser opposition but not capable of exerting himself on the game. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

18. Oli Kebble: See Bhatti, J. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

19. Jamie Hodgson: The game was lost when he came on. Arguably should have replaced Gilchrist and been given an opportunity to partner Skinner who was having the better game. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

20. Hamish Watson: On after 50 minutes with Scotland still in the hunt and tackled everything in sight. Made same number of tackles in 30 minutes as Haining made in 50. - (A5/D6/B5/I5) Overall: 5.5/10

21. George Horne: Caught once at the base of the scrum but struggled to increase the tempo of the game under immense pressure. Lacks Price's control and maturity and perhaps would benefit from a few starts to gain some experience and increase Scotland's depth. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

22. Adam Hastings: Tried to inject some pace into the game with some neat chips and passing but South Africa were already in control and Rassie et all had already decided the game was not going to be played at pace. - (A5/D5/B5/I5) Overall: 5/10

23. Blair Kinghorn: Replaced McLean after 50 minutes. Good chase after restart from Hogg's second to win turnover in South Africa's 22 which could have turned the game. Threw a silly pass to nothing inside his own 22 which ultimately led to the scrums that killed the game. - (A5/D6/B5/I5) Overall: 5.5/10

Team Attack: 123/230
Team Defence: 125/230
Team Breakdown: 113/230

55 Responses

  1. I like these player ratings and explanations, well said and thank you. I cannot disagree with a word, other than to point out Russell took a lot of ball in the air, not something he gets enough credit for IMO. Very few are willing to admit that we do not actually have a last line of defence. You cannot miss a tackle if you are not there.

  2. Generally at last some sensible player ratings. Bit harsh on Ritchie and as much as I would have like Scott to shine thought he was very disappointing.

  3. In hindsight, maybe this was a game to partner Richie Gray and Skinner. Very few players in the world are 6 ft 10. Some will say Richie will play no part in the next World Cup but neither will Gilchrist. Unless he has withdrawn himself, perhaps there are questions to be asked !How did we miss the obvious. I can just see Richie Gray winding up Etzebeth. I am not faulting Gilchrist , but we maybe needed Gray’s experience and size more. Gilchrist could have been rested for next week. We leaked penalty’s at lineouts and scrums, I feel Richie Gray would have halted that haemorrhage and allowed us to build some momentum.

  4. Imo…its like you were watching a different match to me ..looking at some of those ratings.

    Russell a 6? Thought he had a poor game..In fact I would have taken him off much quicker than he was. Id give him a 4.
    Scott a 6? …a 3 from me…thought he looked out of his depth…and was a poor link to 10.
    Haining doesn’t even look fit enough to play at test level…he was anonymous. 2/10
    Z Fagerson was garbage 2/10…if only we had actual competition for TH.
    Ritchie is our best back row imo..6/10.and our best man for captain. As for Watson …he is a really good 7…but he does sometimes get nullified by SA type packs…and I think his groin injury is a big concern.. reading reports. If we want to beat SA and Ire at the next RWC we’ll need Ritchie and 2 better players in the back row.
    Id really like to see what Richardson can do for us at 7…could be a cracking player. Bayliss too. Surely give them a shot at Japan. M Fagerson is a decent player. .and probably 5/10..but if he is a 1st choice back row for just highlights our lack of options imo.

    Hogg and DVDM played really well … no one else stood out.

    1. You must have been watching a different match Ruggers. These ratings are honest IMO. Open your eyes, look beyond the obvious, this is a team game, the strength of a balanced team will always be better than the sum of it’s parts. The one thing that sets DVM apart IMO is he goes looking for work, it is what he does when no one is looking. Look again. This was not a bad result, we were never going to win unless they had a bad day. But it is one we can really learn from.

      1. Im sure they are honest….mine are too.. I dont need reminders of it being a team game..and actually with rugby scheduling and physicality increasing…its a squad game.
        I think that train of thought is part of the problem for us ‘This was not a bad result, we were never going to win unless they had a bad day.’
        Why?…many of their players play in the same leagues and comps as our players. Yes it was a bad result… hence the feeling of disappointment shown by fans, players and coaches at the end of the match …because we have a squad of players who are better than the performance that was put out there. There were selection mistakes, tactical mistakes and execution mistakes all rolled in. Just because its the down to the sum of parts doesn’t mean a player isnt significantly better than another. Thats why we try to rate individual performances anyway.
        I agree tho DVDM is a great in the making…SA have some great wingers.. but they let him slip.

      2. Reference to you comment that Many of our players are in the same leagues , yes that is true but when they pull on the shirt there seems to be a difference ? Are you suggesting it is not the players Ruggers ? I will not go there with you ! They springboks have lots of other players that are not in the SA national team in these leagues as well. We are just not strong enough yet.

  5. Thanks Cammy. The justification for the scores is really insightful. Like TENC I notice a couple of time when Finn collected high balls in heavy traffic to avert danger – this is a less showy side of his skillset. I also think Matt Fagerson has a really good all round game. Secure at the restart, carries well by using his feet not his bulk. And Duhan is growing into a more skillful and complete player which is good to see.

    1. Hi Andrew thanks for reading, we try to justify each score by the breakdown of individual elements so for example Player A might throw 3 baller passes (attack+3) but if he misses 3 easy kicks at goal or to touch (influence-3) those will effectively cancel out his overall average while recording that he still did good things throughout the game, in attack…

  6. Good defence to generally limit SA but poor lineout/scrum options limited Scotland in attack. Sorry for being critical of a young player but felt McLean was out of his depth (for now) but he will improve as he matures. I felt this was a weak link that SA expolited. Hogg also found wanting (again) under high balls and Price weak (again) with kicks from base of scrum. Missed penalties had an impact but SA also missed one. SA just sucked the life out of the game but playing to their strengths. Not a great spectacle and a disappointing performance from Scotland. We were capable of so much more but forwards need to improve having the benefit of +25 kg on the opposition on Saturday. It felt we were a wee bit overawed playing the world champs.

  7. Yep, these scores seem fair. Nobody had an irredeemable shocker, but nobody had the kind of game you need everybody to have when you’re playing the world champions.

    There were definitely a few key moments that did for us, and it feels like that has a lot to do with culture. You can’t rush the winning mentality, this team are slowly building up the culture that their counterparts in the other home nations are already enjoying.

    Compare, for example, Iain Henderson and Jonny Gray. Both good players, but when Henderson first walks into an Irish camp, he’s there with O’Connell, O’Callaghan, Healy, Best, Heaslip, O’Brien, all teaching him what’s expected, a unit that he can slot into. All he has to do is concentrate on his own game, and rock up to his team-mates’ sexual assault trials.

    Gray, meanwhile, sets foot in the Scotland camp and is immediately the best player there. So he’s calling the lineout and has key roles in attack and defense and is generally asked to build the kind of unit that Henderson gets to slot into, at age 21. These guys are having to build out what it means to be a professional Scotland team, because let’s be real here, they’re the first ones (Zander’s generation being the first to go through a full academy pathway, after the SRU messed about for 2 decades)

    1. Very fair comments Angerine. Hopefully the likes of Fagerson, Gray, Watson, Ritchie can form the leadership team which can compare to O’Connell, Healy, Best etc.

      There were too many mistakes out there on Saturday, and not just that but compounded mistakes. When your mate flings a pass to nobody you don’t go and make it worse by grabbing the ball and flinging it yourself. When your mate accidentally knocks on don’t flop on the wrong side to get it back and give away a penalty. When your mate misses a lineout make sure you make the tackle that stops an error turning into a rout.
      Frustrating hardly covers it.

      That being said, we were a couple of penalties and a breakaway from beating the current world champions, and we can definitely play better than that. If everyone had performed to DVDM’s level we would have smashed them.

    2. It took the class of BOD, ROG et al 9 years to win Ireland’s first 6N Grand Slam. I desperately hope Hogg, Russell and Gray etc. can deliver the holy grail for Scotland but your comments are bang on about the nature of the task they face.

      I’m not too despondent following the Springbok defeat. Autumn is often a poor guide to spring and whilst there is a lot to improve on, whilst playing poorly we hung in there until the last quarter. After our try, a 50:22 kick got us to within about 10metres of the try line but our line out messed up. If we improve our execution in those pivotal moments we can close the gap to the very top shortly. We aren’t a million miles away, even in the shadow of a very disappointing performance.

      1. I think this is a balanced comment, we are making progress and I do believe we have now left those dark days where we only had one player for each position and it was just one of those days when an error gets magnified. For what it is worth , I though we stifled them well and they will be a bit frustrated they did not capitalise on some of our gaffs. It is rare we miss so many kicks, that really did put the momentum swing back with them.

  8. Was it me or did Finn in his missed shots take them from quite short range but wide angles, when he might have been better off going back 5-10 metres to narrow the angle.

  9. Pretty stunned by Hoggs rating – can’t think he did anything wrong and scored two. Certainly some of his kicks relieved pressure.

    On the other hand think Watson had one of his poorer games even off the bench. By his high standards.

    Maybe there should be an overall rating respectively for forwards and backs. Somehow the collective often diverges from the individuals. Scotland forwards were toast here (3/10) but difficult to pinpoint individuals.

    1. Why should Cammy change the rating because it does not give you the answer you want! Quite a few commenters agree with the scores.

      I think the explanation is fair, as Cammy explained , we scored tries , but we lost tries as well. It cannot be one way and the net result is recorded. The players themselves may not argue with that, as professionals they will be working out how to build on personal performance.

  10. There are at least 3 things a full back should do
    1.tackle good under the high ball
    3. be an attacking threat.

    Hogg is brilliant at number 3 but there is plenty of evidence to suggest he is not great at 1 or 2

    1. This is obviously a massive oversimplification.

      A fullback must also:
      – have a strong kicking game (Hogg’s is probably the best of any fb in the world)
      – have strong defensive positioning (Hogg also does even if his one on one tackline let’s him down sometimes)
      – be a playmaker / 2nd distributor (at least when operating with two non-creative players in the centre)

      Hogg is not perfect but he is one of most well-rounded fullbacks in the game imo.

      1. Could not agree more. His tackle and ability to track back is way better than he is crucified for. Fullbacks are often left exposed, nature of the position.

      2. He has not had an easy time lately, Missing the premiership final and the last test. But he captained the Lions, set a record, and 2 tries in an international is not to be sneezed at. Hookers can get 2 tries in a game these days. But their tries are always ‘a team effort’. Stop making it into a big thing.

    2. Hogg overrated. He cannot tackle. His technique is poor. He’s willing. He just cannot perform the correct tackle. Attacking a threat He is last line of defence time and again a try is scored. Dropped by Exeter and Lions they saw through him. Forget Kinghorn he’s a big feartie. His panic DOODIED himself pass in 22 sums him up. His tackling non existent. Fagerson forget this project. He will never hold his corner in the scrum. Move off him 1/2 an inch and he’s on his nose. Very overrated. Witness his penalty count at breakdown. Drives with intent does not have skill and strength to present and retain possession Price you can read him like a book. ball at rear of elongated maul/ ruck he has toe in air signalling kick. He juggles prior to pass losing seconds no wonder Russell can’t move the back line. Look at these guys they are average. As for Fagerson I do not believe he is the best tight head in all of Scottish rugby. The Bear could still ratchet his spine

  11. Good comments for me from angerine and ruggersb.
    It is an easy ‘get out’ to say we have to play out of our skins or they have to have an off day to beat the world champs. The truth is the World Cup of 2019 happened 2 years ago. They played no rugby in 2020 due to COVID. This year after showing little class or flair against the lions they lost against the all blacks and Australia beat them twice , they are world champs in name only. The real mantle must lie with Ireland or NZ.
    We chose to have a collective mare when they were there for the taking. Our defensive line looked solid and sorted for those first 15 minutes when we were constantly under the cosh but after that when we actually got some ball of our own we started making errors. Despite it being a dry day it was easier for South Africa to play without the ball , put our players under pressure and allow us to make mistake after mistake. Leinster and Ireland do this time and again against our pro teams and Scotland.
    I don’t know how we train to combat the pressure which we know will come but I think it starts with the forwards. Our backs are as good as any other team at the moment and we have depth there.

    1. Bit of a weird summary of SA year. Apart from their losses to Australia (in Australia – a team they’ve historically made a habit of losing to in the RC), they won a series against the Lions and drew the tests against NZ 1-1. How this can be spun as them being there for the taking I don’t know.

      1. They won the series against the lions playing next to no rugby whatsoever. They just out warrenballed Gatland. If the Lions had tried to play a more expansive game such as Australia managed the series may have been different. Any team which has lost 1/3 of their games since the last World Cup and is away from home against a form team would have to be seen as vulnerable.

    2. The real mantle of World Champions this year lies with Ireland, a team who finished 3rd in the 6 Nations on equal points with Scotland, hahahahahahahhahaha what

      1. You disagree that Ireland are the premier team in the northern hemisphere?
        Their provincial teams routinely pummel ours and compete in the business end of the European finals They have a conveyor belt of talent in every position.
        Last year they were in transition between coaches and suffered the same red card debacle as us against Wales
        They will finish 2022 6N as champions.

      2. It’s not that I disagree, they just patently aren’t

        You don’t even know how long their coach has been in charge for lol, they have won 1 out of the last six 6 Nations, 3 out of the last 10, Leinster aside their provincial teams don’t really compete at the business end of Europe, the continual stumbling of Munster is now a pretty widely referenced joke how they can’t make a Semi, Welsh and Scottish sides have made Finals of the Challenge Cup more recently than Irish teams…

        Ireland 2021 Rugby World Champions, jesus christ hahahahaha

      3. Also Gaffer, Ireland have a miserable RWC record for a side that aspires to be the premier team in the NH.

        They are definitely a major power but Wales and England are both ahead of them in terms of actual trophies.

        I think you suffer from recency bias, in that Ireland were amazing in their last game so must be the best team in the NH. I guess the 6N will be another opportunity for us all to sort it out!

      4. Won 3 out of the last 10 6N you say? I’d take that over our record.
        They have beaten the all blacks (My unofficial world champs) in 50% of their last 6 matches. We have never beaten them in 100 years+ 0f trying. Wales and France haven’t beaten them once in the last 10 games , England 2 out of 10. They have underperformed at world cups for sure but then apart from England once , so have all northern hemisphere teams.
        We are still seeing a Scotland team in transition 6 years after Toony took over, forgive me if i thought Farrel was still on his apprenticeship.

      5. You’ve went from World Champions to premier team in the NH to better than Scotland, that’s a bit more realistic

    1. Not as bad as Chris Harris to start with.

      Takes time for combinations to gel, against the world champions with a brand new partnership while also being on the backfoot all the time is not an ideal game to play for effectively the first time.

      I think there is a strong argument to say De Allende and Am are the best individual centres in the world at the moment.

  12. Not sure why Hogg is getting so many pelters, he’s still our best full back. Full back is the last line of defence but that usually means the other lines of defence haven’t worked. Scotland also have the best defensive record in the Northern Hemisphere for the last 2 years, with Hogg as captain in most of those games. Having said that we hadn’t previously encountered the Boks in full flow.

    Based on the stats I saw he missed 3 tackles. In the backs Duhan missed 2, Scott missed 2, Russell missed 2, Price missed 2, Harris and McLean missed one each. I wish none of them had been missed but Haining made 10 attempts and missed 5 of them! At least Ritchie attempted 15 and made them all.

    1. ‘Pelters’ that is a tad too strong. Thanks for the stats but Cammy pointed out it was not about the missed tackles of which you say there were three , but it was about being ‘Out of position’ for Mapimpi’s first and second try. The defence in the first quarter was exemplary IMO.

      SH is our only full back, I almost agree, however to be absolutely fair, Maitland played very well in our the Twickenham draw and the last time we beat SA at home , Hogg was not playing.

      On a wider point about missed tackles the current rules invite smother tackles however I am disillusioned watching numerous mature internationals trying to take a man high and flailing off. I think an opposition player well tackled really lifts your team.

      1. I think Hogg’s positioning is generally pretty good but like everyone else is trying to work out how to defend the 50/22 along side the chip over the top . I believe this game was the first time he’d played with McLean and I dont think the understanding or trust was there. I also think both underestimated how fast Mapimpi was and how good his try scoring record is.

        Maitland has done well for Scotland in defence on the wing and at full back. The one thing he’s missing for me is the giant boot that Hogg has. I think some of the youngsters coming through could replace Hogg in time, just need a bit more experience in the position.

      2. Big Al , I disagree : Hogg knows what Mapimipi is all about, he was on the lions tour and will be bored hearing about his virtues.

        It is implicit he was out of position therefore I would counter positioning is not anything to do with 50/22. Though I agree , no one has worked it out. In fact well done Hogg for trying to nail us a 50/22 in the game. It could play into the big boot argument.

        Maitland v Hogg : Both have good attacking ability, Maitland is rock solid in the tackle and only has a wee boot. I suppose it just depends on your opinion, more distance versus less gaps.

        I suspect one reason may be that Hogg is missing Maitland. They knew how optimise their strengths and mitigate the shortfalls.

      3. Richie tackles 15 out of 15.I am not a fan however that is leading by example.That is what you want from a captain. I would prefer to see a captain with a charismatic personality however neither one of these guys have that.However one is setting standards and challenging the others to meet them.

  13. Reality check for some folks possibly?
    We are a small country where Rugby isn’t the no1 sport so let’s give the lads a break , we don’t have Dr frankensteins lab running so we do need to work with what we have got. The World Cup is 2 years out , we are in the “group of death” ( though maybe SA and Ireland don’t see it that way a wee bit of a skoosh as far as they are concerned?).
    We need to stop whining and asking for a pony for Christmas , we have to work with what we have and be in position to deliver in France – no use whining and moaning about this that or the other , at the end of the day nobody cares, suck it up and get on with it.
    Depth is also important , who is to say Mish won’t be injured or Finn and Gregor have another falling out.
    The match needs to be USED as a learning opportunity , ( I can’t remember who said it above) but we need to be at the point when we are no longer learning from our mistakes , but starting to hand out lessons , it will be no surprise how Ireland and South Africa want to play when we get there ( with at least 2 more encounters with Ireland before we get there).
    Scrum solid and square , be greedy and look to push against the head occasionally
    Win our own line out ball ( if that means utilising a certain 6 foot 10 lock then it should be on the table , do what the Irish did to us , put him at the front of the line on their throw , whatever )

    At the end of the day ( and this short story) we can only rely on ourselves here , so let’s go!

    1. Good post! I’ve been moaning about our draw/seeding but ,of course,we can’t do anything about that and as you say we have two years (ok 22 months)to work on a solution to how we should tackle the SA and Ireland matches. If either or both of them don’t take us too seriously then so much the better.

      1. We are just getting the hard teams out the way first in the pool stages, will tee us up nicely for the All Blacks in the world cup final, nothing to fear from the others teams.

  14. I missed the game, I was in Dublin I do intend to watch. Quite concerned about World Cup now. I know I was on the Guinness but the Irish performance was immensely impressive The pack especially seemed to play a different game to us. Ho hum. Plus 2023 is a couple of years away and we have talent to work with. I am concerned about the forwards though

    1. I too am concerned about the forwards, although most can be fixed:
      We were missing 3 first line forwards, in Gray, Cummings and Sutherland. I have no doubt their bulk and experience would have shored up the scrum.
      Fagerson needs to cut out the silly penalties and handbags. His heart’s in the right place but often his head isn’t.
      Ashman is a find and will push the other contenders for #2 shirt to up their game.
      Our lineouts need work – or maybe just consistency in selection so the thrower/jumper chemistry can flourish.
      We were missing our top two locks in Gray and Cummings – when they are fit then we have impact from the bench in Skinner (6/8), Gilchrist (experience) or Hodgson (youth).
      Our backrow is fine – I have no qualms about having a relatively lightweight but fast and aggressive back 3. Whether we have strength in depth is another matter, although we can adapt our game plan to suit Haining strarting or coming off the bench.

      1. I agree. My main concern is the locks to be honest. That and the depth. I also realise IRFU Plough a lot of money into the game and the school system is a definite path. But we don’t seem to produce players like Doris etc.

  15. Thoughts on potential team selection for tomorrow?

    Japan haven’t looked good so far but are a definite banana skin so I would go mostly 1st string but add in a couple of second choicers / new caps for experience.

    Something along the lines of:

    Hogg, Graham, Jones, Johnson (if fit, Scott if not), VDM, Russell, Horne, Fagerson, Watson, Bayliss, Gilchrist, Skinner, Fagerson, Ashman, Schoeman

    Shame Bennett as definitely more deserving than Jones. Still, think that backline are more than capable of breaking Japan. Harris and Price are firmly 1st choice but both have played almost every game in the last 2 years so need back-ups to be ready.

    Give Finn a chance to play himself into better form.

    Ashman had a more difficult 2nd cap but looks the real deal so let’s give him a run-out from the start alongside the regular starters. Bayliss as well, I feel, will take to test rugby straight away.
    The rest of the pack is BAU

    1. Stuart Hogg – Kyle Steyn – Chris Harris – Sione Tuipolotu – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Adam Hastings – Ali Price – Josh Bayliss – Hamish Watson – Jamie Ritchie – Grant Gilchrist – Sam Skinner – Oli Kebble – George Turner – Pierre Schoeman

      Sam Johnson – Finn Russell – George Horne – Dylan Richardson – Scott Cummings – Zander Fagerson – Ewan Ashman – Robin Hislop

      Suspect Horne will start however as he has been in the news.

  16. Team announced and mostly same faces in starting group. No Huw Jones ? Persisting with the penalty magnet in the front row … why-oh-why ???? At least Bayliss gets a start at 8

    1. Many, if not most, scrum penalties are not really ‘penalties’, simply getting beat, having nowhere to go but up or down. Japan are not South Africa.

  17. It’s undoubtedly a strong team selection, however I thought it would have been a good time to experiment, Japan aren’t that great and it might have been a chance to give some new and inexperience players a little more playing time. I’m still to be convinced as to how Kinghorn gets in the 23, he showed huge promise when he first came on the scene but he’s simply not kicked on.

    Interested to see Baylis at 8

    1. Agreed, yet again I cannot understand why we are not giving Horne and Hastings a chance to start. We know what Price and Russell can do…

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