Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Guinness Six Nations: Scotland 20-17 England

Scotland v England
pic © Scottish Rugby Blog

The 2022 Guinness Six Nations rolled into town with a spine-tingling, full throated anthem and a raucous atmosphere at kick-off showing us what was so missed last year.

Scotland were, for a change, the known quantity going into this oldest of rugby fixtures, and with the promised horrible weather easing off a little before kickoff there was hope it would not be a repeat of drudgery of 2020.

England were tactically pretty astute in the first half, at least in terms of how they kept pressure up on Scotland although they were perhaps playing a little too much rugby when it wasn’t on.

Zander Fageron was very prominent in defence but it was his brother who earned the first penalty of the game, giving Scotland a first incursion into English half. The lineout was squandered – due to Scotland’s generosity not to the conditions – and the story of the game dripped into a series of scrums.

These may have served to explain the new “brake foot” law variation in the scrums to watching supporters, or it may not. The principal outcome was Scotland coming off second best in three or so scrums before the penalty was awarded against them.

A number of England players were playing their first tests in front of crowds, or their first in the Six Nations, but they didn’t look like it. Scotland were well pinnned in their own half.

A brave long lineout worked well to clear up yet more English pressure, and a pinpoint clearance from Ali Price saved Scottish blushes, before the Lions scrum half disappeared up the tunnel for a HIA, after suffering a brushoff from Sam Simmonds at full tilt.

With London Irish player Ben White on for his debut, how would Finn cope without his partner in crime?

Marcus Smith opened the scoring with a penalty; probably just reward for their control of the game to that point. Nobody told Ben White the tale of this game though, with some deft passing in the midfield from skipper Stuart Hogg slipping Darcy Graham through a gap in the defensive line. The winger was wise enough to draw two defenders and give the substitute scrum-half an easy run in, to his obvious delight.

It was to prove a brief cameo as Price returned to the field and the normal pattern of the game resumed, with Smith marshalling the game well and the Scottish back three dealing with a variety of probing kicks and grubbers. England were the ones determined to keep the pace of the game high, and keep the ball in motion.

Despite that, their best chance came from that old favourite: a trundling maul as the rain started to come down, but referee Ben O Keefe adjudged it held up by the massive defensive trio of Russell, Price and Graham.

Ritchie was penalised for handling in the ruck to give Smith another simple pop at goal and narrow the margin to a point, which was probably the least they deserved. Despite the refereeing outcomes being pretty balanced in terms of both sides, Scotland had so little ball in useful territory it felt at times like they were clinging on, yet grimly rather than feebly so.

While the likes of Hogg and Russell were getting them out of jail (and fluffing the occasional touch finder) the attack for the White try was about the sum of Scotland’s play in the opening half, and yet there was a penalty kick for Russell to finish things off and send the hosts back into the bowels of Murrayfield in front.

Half-time: Scotland 10-6 England

The Scots came out looking like they wanted to play a little more like England had, with some nice kicks from Russell assessing the English cover defence, but a dumb penalty for Darcy Graham running into Grant Gilchrist put them right back under pressure again. Graham compounded the error conceding a penalty under the posts which Smith kicked to reduce the margin to a point once again.

With half an hour to play we saw the replacements in the front row enter the fray straight into a scrum; straight away a free kick into a penalty. How long could Scotland keep giving England chances to click in their own 22?

About 30 seconds as it turned out, with Marcus Smith gathering the ball from a rapidly collapsing maul and scampering past the Scottish defence for England’s first try and the lead. The wonder kid couldn’t convert it but Scotland were still searching for a way into the game despite having led for most of it.

Scotland put together the most phases that they had all game but spilled it and but all that left was Hogg having to do what was either an incredibly brave or incredibly foolish bit of defending, trying to keep the ball alive by kicking it inside almost gifting away a try as Max Malins also chased it down.

Scotland were, like their skipper, living dangerously.

Jamie Ritchie departed on the buggy around the hour mark and Sione Tuipulotu got his first taste of Six Nations rugby but it was straight into fighting a rearguard action, with Smith kicking another penalty as his last act of the game.

Russell put together two pinpoint kick passes, one to put Duhan into acres of space, before another to Graham that left Luke Cowan Dickie with no apparent option but to palm the ball forward into touch out of the winger’s grasp.

O’Keefe awarded a yellow card and a penalty try and suddenly the scores were level.

Pretty well disciplined to that point, suddenly England had to use Joe Marler for throwing in at the lineout, errors appeared where they hadn’t previously and Scotland sensed they were in with a sniff.

With a man advantage, the crowd woke up.

Scotland earned a scrum penalty just short of the line and Russell squeaked it over, back in the lead going into the final ten minutes.

It looked like Ben White, now on for good, had successfully milked a kickable penalty for an England player lying on the wrong side of the ruck, but the TMO intervened to highlight a neck roll by Hamish Watson on Tom Curry which handed the momentum right back to the visitors, who won another penalty and kicked for the corner, although they ended up some distance short of it.

The lineout was spilled with a minute or two to go, but the Scots opted to kick it back for territory over possession of a slippery ball which then changed hands a couple more times before England won a final scrum, in kickable territory, as the clock went red.

Things suddenly got very tense. This was Scotland, after all.

It was the most important series of scrums in WP Nel’s recent Scotland career, but for anyone other than the most grizzled prop-lover it was interminable as the minutes, and scrum resets, ticked on without an end in sight.

With the referee desperate not to have to make another big call, England spun it wide rather than keep it in the scrum and Darcy Graham was suddenly clamped over the ball like a limpet, stripping the ball back and allowing Hogg to clear it into the back of the stand.

Scotland retained the Calcutta Cup, and first back to back wins against England since 1984, but more importantly, they stay alive in the tournament in which they offered so much promise.

Referee: Ben O’Keefe (NZ)

SRBlog Player of the Match: Darcy Graham was probably the most influential on the park, being at the centre of most of the talking points, although not all his interventions were for the positive towards the end of the first half. Matt Fagerson had a hugely positive game though in a match where Scotland did so much more defending than they would have wanted.

127 Responses

  1. Bit tense but a wins a win.
    Thought Graham was MOTM and the back 3 were all rock solid under high balls.
    Russell pulling the strings pretty well – couple of missed touches but generally strong.
    Just about died when Hogg almost gifted England a try, but did very well to recover.
    White had a very good debut, obviously a different player to Price but showed a good mix.
    Defence (which we did for most of the game) was exceptional.

    Really need to pick things up for Ireland and France, but great start.

    1. Yes! I questions Darcy’s inclusion only due to a fear of a weather-driven kick fest. So very very happy he proved he was worth his place and me completely wrong -he seems back to his brilliant best and I also thought he was MOTM. Outstanding play to set up whites try.

      Hogg, DVDM, Graham, Russell, Fagersons, gilchrist all great. Also don’t quite know how we managed to win that but we are a different animal these days.

    1. Amen on Finn Russell.

      Thought Hogg was great too, from the very first try saving tackle to the aerial takes and positioning throughout. Made his points well to the ref when the tide of penalties was against us, that may well have had an impact…

      1. But don’t forget , Hogg can’t tackle or take an Ariel ball , same as Duhan.
        That’s been put to bed on a permanent basis.

      2. So much blah from English commentator about aerial game. The only blatant drop was dear old Freddie…but of course he was “unlucky” as he is, of course, “good under the high ball”.

  2. Looked like we had massive belief in our defence. No panic at all when we were under the cosh. The moment we got on the front foot Finn did Finn-like things stretching England from side to side with kick passes. To win with so little ball and territory is a fantastic effort although we’ll need to play better from here on in.

      1. England were pretty 1D in attack…truck it up up…not much variation or footwork. Good defenses can absorb that all day.

  3. Nothing like beating England in the last 15 minutes to make you smile. Lots to work on but some really good performances and another new cap scoring on his first appearance.

    That held up from the driving maul in the first half with Russell, Price and Graham under it kind of sums up the game with everyone putting their bodies on the line and staying in the fight until we could get some control.

    1. Ireland and France won their bonus points . Fine margins is the knack to winning the slam. Harris has never scored a try and is very unlikely to, he has never evan made a line break . There’s no balance in his play he just defends and defends, boring rugby player. No fire in the engine room . We need to move forward if we’re going to be slam winners and stop the OCD at 13, the man looks like a gazelle in a field of lions with the ball in his hands. Wales will beat us if we only have 2 attacking wingers.
      OCD at number 9 too the on form 9 comes on and score a try, and 2 minutes later goes off ? We need a better coach . Anyone could manage Scotland better than Townsend, he has the best pool of players ever and still only manages a narrow last minute win against the most inexperienced English team in Murrayfield that he’ll ever get the opportunity to again. Itay would have beaten England in that form. Townsend’s OCD will be a loss to us. From the fastest rugby on the planet to the slowest , no balance in that psychology, Townsend is a stubborn little boy who won’t let go. Harris is useless at winning bonus points.
      The best players in sport only play their best in the biggest of events. They have to if they want to avoid injuries.

      1. Wow, where to start with this post!

        “Harris has never scored a try and is very unlikely to”

        He has 3 Scotland tries and 15 in 41 appearances for Glos.

        “He has never evan made a line break .”

        That’s not true. Not even nearly.

        “There’s no balance in his play he just defends and defends, boring rugby player.”

        He is the player that organises the midfield and most attacking plays come through him or include him as a decoy runner where defenses fear his straitening of the line.

        “Wales will beat us if we only have 2 attacking wingers.”

        How many wingers do you want to play? I’m happy with 2.

        “the on form 9 comes on and score a try, and 2 minutes later goes off ? ”

        It was an HIA…Ali Price is a Lions 9 and one of the best in the world. He has been in great form this year.

        “We need a better coach. Anyone could manage Scotland better than Townsend”

        Toonie has the best win record of any Scotland coach ever. Not even just in the pro era.

        “only manages a narrow last minute win against the most inexperienced English team in Murrayfield that he’ll ever get the opportunity to again.”

        Scotland squad vs England caps: 710
        England squad caps: 745

        “From the fastest rugby on the planet to the slowest , no balance in that psychology, Townsend is a stubborn little boy who won’t let go.”

        Changes tactics that don’t work to tactics that do = stubborn.

      2. Not quite sure how this relates to my original comment, bit early for the sauce, no?

        I guess the real question now is….. can we Wales Wales

  4. Takeaways from today (while I wait for mine to be delivered):

    Our wingers were both terrific;

    Marcus Smith isn’t all he’s cracked up to be;

    But Finn might be;

    Our line-outs were a lot better than they have been, thanks to more accurate darts from Turner and Rambo;

    Steve Tandy has made a huge difference to our defence;

    Ben White had a fine debut;

    Mish is still a bit off his best form;

    We still need to find a bit more offensive grunt in the pack;

    England have heaps of grunt but continue to play meat ‘n’ two veg rugby; and

    It’s a damn fine day to be Scottish.

    1. Steve Tandy and tbf Chris Harris deserves a mention.
      He took some flack on this forum for usurping flashier attacking players but I always thought he looked like a tough, never say die kind of player that we’d often lacked and would come good.

      1. How many line breaks has Chris Harris made for Scotland = 0
        How many try’s has Chris Harris scored for Scotland = 0
        How many bonus points has Chris Harris won for Scotland = 0
        That’s Townsend’s OCD coming into play.
        It’s about fine margins no bonus points = no title.

      2. How many line breaks has Chris Harris made for Scotland = 0
        How many try’s has Chris Harris scored for Scotland = 0
        How many bonus points has Chris Harris won for Scotland = 0
        That’s Townsend’s OGDEN coming into play.
        It’s about fine margins no bonus points = no title.

      3. I remember 2017 at Twickenham where we had 2 very good centres in Dunbar and Jones and England repeatedly ripped through them. Now Jones scored 2 tries in that game but that is largely forgotten because we were on the end of a 61-21 hiding. It is often said that defence wins games but in reality poor defence loses games.

    2. As for Marcus Smith, he’d get 100 caps if he was Scottish. Or French. Or pretty much anything apart from English.

      I watch him for Harlequins and he’s an exceptional attacking talent and all round footballer, but England traditionally overlook midfield flair in favour of reliability, work rate etc.

      We’ll see if they manage to make something of him, I suspect he might actually be too good for even them to ignore in favour of Farrell.

      1. There is a lot of hype about Smith. He may well be as good as you as say but of the two 10s on the pitch yesterday one was outstanding playing with little possession, the other had so much front foot ball and his backline did nothing with it. He certainly has great potential but yesterday Finn outplayed Smith by a country mile.

      2. Yes, it looks like Smith was hobbled by the way the coaches have told him to play for England and the shape of the backline outside him (no movement at all other than a standard staggered line).
        Seems a bit similar to Russells situation with Scotland a few years ago where he felt he wasn’t being allowed to play his game or what was in front of him – will see how this one develops, don’t think England will get the best out of Smith unless they change their game to suit him more.

      3. Smith was held back by Youngs yesterday who would make Laidlaw look lightning fast. England are badly in need of a good SH. Ben White was right under their noses and they let him slip through the net. I’d be raging if I were an England fan after the same happened with Redpath. I don’t think England work hard enough to identify and secure talented players.

      4. Re: engand securing ‘their’ talent, Redpath trained with the England squad as an 18 year old and was selected for a SA tour which he was injured for. He was identified as one of the brightest talents in their system.

        Not sure the real story but it appears he was never fully committed to them and may have been playing the game a little, to keep his EQ player status.

        The mystery of England’s SHs is another matter. They have several young talents but seem reluctant to give them experience – the exception being Quirk who at least was given a chunk of the SA game but is now recovering from injury. Youngs is. I where near as bad as their fans make out but the lack of succession planning is striking. Otherwise I think England are pretty good at integrating young players into the wider squad to see them up close and give them a taste of the international environment. Obviously with the size of their player pool there is too much talent to keep happy.

    3. Agree re Hamish. He was missing for large parts of the game today. Also not impressed by Gilchrist, he just isn’t mobile enough or fast of thought for International rugby

      1. Anyone who has seen Hamish play for Edinburgh this season would probably agree he is not firing on all cylinders and certainly below the dizzy heights of last year but still a great player.
        Think you are being a bit harsh on Gilchrist – played the whole game and secured the majority of our lineout ball. I actually think the locks cancelled each other out and Itoje didn’t have a great influence on thegame either.

      2. Just don’t understand that analysis of Gilchrist. His defensive contribution is immense. Also uses the ball well

      3. I think we are all being harsh on HW. He made all his tackles and just broke the record for most consecutive tackles in 6N. We didn’t see any barnstorming runs but Scotland barely touched the ball. I think Hogg only ran once in open play? I thought the Mish had a good game, did exactly what he needed to do.

  5. Thought our defending was first class. Marcus Smith was great first half but with no game breakers outside. Finn was great second half and we were clinical. Superb win

  6. A rope-a-dope Muhammad Ali would’ve been proud of.

    Not much to say except it’s a legit way to win and Wales have been doing it for years!

    I was worried that England would chuck the kitchen sink at us and give Marcus Smith a platform to show his talents. They did exactly that, so keeping them put was tremendous.

    Our backs looked very dangerous when we did get them good ball, so I hope to see our forwards impose themselves more in the remaining games so they can have a crack.

  7. Will have to watch again, not sure how we won that one but not complaining! Still felt our pack struggled a bit up front, midfield was virtually anonymous – did Harris actually touch the ball? – and yet bragging rights are ours. First impression was that it was the Finn and back 3 show; DvDM proved he’s improved loads dealing with the high ball and really offered himself as the go forward guy, Darcey put himself around and was a general menace in defense and attack while Hoggy was generally did well in defense despite riding his luck a bit. Finn definitely pulled the strings when it counted, just shows how vital he is to the team. A bit concerned we will have to raise our performance significantly as the tournament progresses but starting with a win was the essential today and bring on the rest 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

    1. Our Pack do need to be better come scrum time. I am still of the opinion Schoeman is a starter.

  8. A bizarre win, I actually thought it was a pretty poor Scotland performance but then to play poorly and beat England is a great place to be. We can, for sure, play much better. result was all that mattered.

  9. Just watched the game again and yes we did win – couldn’t quite believe it first time around! If I was an England supporter I would feel pretty hard done to but Scotland just kept themselves in the game by defending magnificently. Strange call by Eddie Jones taking off Marcus Smith and Lewis Ludlum who I thought were their best performers.
    Thought our back 3 were really good and Finn just turned it on at the right time. As has already been said Mish looks below his usual high standard and must be under a bit of pressure but will probably retain his place particularly if Ritchie’s injury is as bad as it looked.
    Final word goes to WP who looked like he was loving the last 5 minutes and showed how much he still has to offer at 36!

  10. I’ll look forward to rewatching that in the morning!! Not a great performance by any measure but it’s been said before, winning when you don’t really deserve to is the sign of a great team.
    My humble pies in the oven, I was calling for Maitland over Graham but wee Darcy was superb, so was Duhan. Difficult to really assess the attack as we had so little ball but we generally made decent ground when we did manage to stick a few phases together.
    See a couple of comments slagging off Gilchrist, another one who I probably wouldn’t have started, but I thought he had a pretty decent game actually. Matt Fagerson deservedly MOTM. Mish was very quiet but on his recent form I didn’t really expect anything else. Hopefully Ritchies injury isn’t too bad but never great to see anyone on crutches.
    I had already stripped Hogg of the captaincy, dropped him and publicly executed him before realising he had gotten away with it, inspired and quick thinking to stop the 50:22 but Jesus Christ Stuart, I can’t take that kind of crazy!
    I don’t think England played that well either, sure they had the possession and played most of the rugby but they never really threatened that much. Smith is good but he’s not the second messiah, or even Finn Russell. The other messiah Freddie Steward was also a bit meh. Curry was his mediocre and overrated self, and Itoje didn’t have a great game.

  11. Excellent win. We definitely rode our luck in the first half with some poor kicks. But when we put some phases together in attack we looked good.

    One question I have on the game, can someone explain how Itoje and Marler weren’t offside at the end leading to all the reset scrums? Was the ball not ripped in a tackle (English player went to ground) meaning the offside line should have moved to that point, putting them both offside?

    1. I can’t find a clip of it to review properly, but there is no offside unless there is a completed tackle with at least one player standing over the ball which I don’t think was the case here.

      1. Found it – both players on their feet, Scottish player rips the ball – no maul/ruck/completed tackle so no offside line.

  12. I really thought we were on the way out at 10-17 but that passage of play leading to Finn’s two clever kicks and the penalty seemed to lift the team and fans and nonplus England, who started to lose their composure.
    Very surprised to get a penalty try and like many in the crowd was expecting just a straight penalty and a yellow. Watching it back later, Cowan-Dickie’s dying swan act after his calamitous offence was total lmao stuff.
    As others have said, a win’s a win, especially in a situation where not so long ago we’d have found a way to lose.
    Agree fielding of bombs by the back three was fantastic.

    1. Yeah that was pathetic and embarrassing from LCD especially as he was then able to run off the field after being carded.

  13. I just watched the play leading to the penalty try again and it looks like LCD was trying to make out he was taken out in the air by Graham and then rolled around on the ground like he was seriously hurt. Pathetic

    1. I don’t know if you have ever landed on your coccyx like that, but it is very jarring and painful. Doesn’t mean the pain lasts for long though. I didn’t see any issue with his reaction – seemed appropriate for how he landed.

      1. As someone who has had back issues I struggled to watch LCD volleyball attempt in slow motion, looks extremely sore!

  14. We could have won by much more if we’d had 12 and 13 that can play with ball in hand and run. Wales will slaughter this defense based approach.

    1. While I agree that the centres probably need re-thought, not sure I saw any indications from Wales yesterday that they would be slaughtering anything..

      Sam Johnson didn’t get a lot to do yesterday, apart from defend (which he did well), but it does seem to stifle our attack starting him and Harris. Been said before but our back 3 is really dangerous and need to have a second distributor to bring them into the game more. Hope Redpath comes in for the next game.

  15. The non-use of Kinghorn is interesting; is he there purely as injury cover or also for a tactical change to more running rugby at 10, which didn’t happen yesterday. Finn’s kicking yesterday arguably won us the game and just can’t see Kinghorn coming anywhere near that standard or precision and Finn’s running game is not bad either when called upon as per European matches. I also don’t think BK is a great FB, he’s a decent jack of all trades, so would be concerned if Hoggy had to go off (along with TH prop, lack of good cover at FB is something we need to resolve) so even more baffled than before the game as to why Hastings isn’t there. Maybe a kick up the arse and hopefully we’ll see Hastings restored to the squad soon.
    If Ritchie is out for a while, wonder who GT will call up? While Darge deserves a cap, it’s a bit limiting having a specialist 7 on the bench as who then swaps to 6/8? Haining has been going well but haven’t seen much of Christie and he might offer a bit more versatility across the back. Just hope we get fully focused and fired up next weekend as Wales really didn’t look good and got one opportunists try at the end from a tired mistake by Ireland; Dublin looks like a tough trip but the current Scottish side have obviously got a load more grit now.

    1. It’s a good question. Skinner can cover locks and 6 -you’re right that it probably leaves us with a little less flexibility, but I’m dying to see Darge at this level.

    2. Kinghorn is only going to come on if there is an injury, or if we are winning by a big margin towards the end of a game. I really don’t see the point.

  16. Yeah it’ll be interesting to see the team next week. Personally I’d like to see Tuipulotu and Skinner promoted to the starting line up in place of Gilco and Johnson. I expect Bradbury will be the immediate replacement at 6. I’d be love to see Darge get the bench spot. I think between Skinner, Gilco, Bradbury and Fagerson you have adequate cover at 4,6&8 but if Watson gets injured no cover at 7. And there’s also something to be said for getting your best players in the team.

    1. I think Toony will go again with the same backs so long as they are all fit. Russell and Johnson have a good relationship and Johnson spent all that game in defence rather than attack. The only time he got to run with the ball was in the lead up to our first try. Harris is immovable now at 13.

      For me the backrow arrangement and Ritchie replacement is much more debateable. Id be tempted to bring in Cummings for Gilco who goes to the bench and brings fresher legs. Then Skinner at 6. Fagerson stays at 8. I thought he was better than Simmonds which says a lot. Mish at 7 but bring Darge on the bench. The back row battle with Wales is always a challenge and I dont expect this to be any different.

      1. The longshot at 6 is Andy Christie.
        He’s going to be capped sooner rather than later imo.
        Probably will be Skinner or Bradbury to 8 and Fagerson to 6 tho.

      2. It’s a a tough call to change a winning side. That said, most would agree to believe we can play much better.
        Watson has been a great player for Scotland, but it seems like he is being selected for that reason rather than form. Darge pretty unlucky not be selected if that’s the case. It’s either try and play Watson back to form or rest him.
        Bradbury surely in 6 or 8 I’d think with Fagerson moved. Christie possibly the bench guy who can play across the 3 spots.
        Center looks tough defensively but weak in attack.. I’d rather see Sione or Redpath.. but Johnson is tough reasoning to drop.
        Thought we deserved to win.. thought England drove hard but looked very ‘training drill’ like in their play. Not sure their tactics are real smart when they play Scotland who are a great counter attack side. As GT said prematch.. ‘we want England to come at us’ .. and they did .. and duly got sucked into a loss. Jones out smarted by GT again.

  17. Darge cant be far away from getting a 6N start .. is Bayliss available or undergoing HIA protocols?

    Re England it was a funny team selection from EJ, this was reflected in the performance

    I reckon the Welsh will be keeping the roof open all week.

    1. ‘ I reckon the Welsh will be keeping the roof open all week.’ … and possibly filling the match day balls with water. They’ll no doubt be hoping for a slow slugfest of a match.

      1. Not sure if that is true really. Wales we’re dreadful but would probably be happy for the game to degenerate into something less structured as they’ll back their attacking ability, LRZ/Adams/Williams/Tompkins is plenty of firepower to score tries.

        I’m not sure after the passivity if their last display, in wet conditions, they’ll really want to get into an arm wrestle?

      2. Read elsewhere that the roof must be open due to covid measures to increase ventilation.

        No idea if that is true but for once it won’t be by choice of the home team.

  18. How much better was Rugby Special without Inverdale? Monye very fair in his comments, especially highlighting that they had contacted World Rugby re our try from the line out and the scrums at the end and WR confirmed all fine.

    1. Very few comments on the referee, I guess because we won and the talking points towards the end went for us. I was annoyed by the England try coming off a squint lineout. Also, seemed a bit quick on the whistle when other games were allowed to flow. Interested in what others think.

      1. I thought O’Keefe was pretty poor.

        England were in at the side long before Jonny Gray hauled Youngs into the ruck for England’s first points.

        Of the run of 5 penalties which gave England their field position for all their 2nd half points 4 were are least highly debatable if not downright wrong.

        We got no favours from O’Keefe all day and he, rather than Smith, was the main reason why England were remotely in contention to win that match. Without his help, England could have played all week without threatening to score.

        But the important thing is that Scotland overcame this rather than succumb to it and moan about it afterwards.

      2. completely agree, first he does scotland for no brake foot in a scrum then ignores the same thing from england. next jamie ritchie is first man at that ruck and entitles to go for the ball only has to go over the top because england seal off and scotland get penalised. then genge has a cheap late shot on russell when scotland are playing with a advantage just before half time, should have been yellow but totally ignored. england score of a squint throw. dary graham gets done for hands on the floor in a jackal which he was just having to reach under the body of the player lying on the ball. these were just the obvious poor decisions which went against us. particularly the genge incident seems to have been missed by the media too but easily as bad as josh adams

      3. Disagree with many comments about the ref. He was very patient at key points of the match – made sure he got the big calls such as the PT and yellow correct. From 80th minute, I would of expected any other ref to have blown a penalty for one of those scrums. Good on him for taking the front 6 out and telling them they were going to conclude the games and not the ref. (And good on our front three to being up to it).

      4. Think the ref was poor throughout the 80 mins from a Scotland perspective (all marginal calls went against us with some simply wrong, e.g. Darcy’s alleged ruck offence) and then spot on for the additional 5 mins.

      5. I think a lot of refs would have penalised those last scrums. He was also a bit trigger happy with the whistle sometimes, I recall Duhan getting pinged for sealing off, he had only been on the ground for a millisecond.
        I may be alone here but I’m not sure I totally agree with the penalty try, I’m not that au fait with the intricacies of the laws but I didn’t think it was a done deal that Darcy scores that even if he caught it.
        Overall we won some we lost some, he was mediocre but but not particularly one sided.

      6. I’ve gone back and watched the last scrums a few times.

        Marler slipped his bind on one occasion and at least one (when it really spun clockwise) was simply walking it around the corner. If you have it recorded play it again and watch what Marlers feet do as soon as the ball comes in. Could easily have been a pen to us.

        Also if you take a look at the arial photos, both Scottish props were driving straight where the english guys were both angled in towards Rambo (hoping to ‘pop’ the hooker would be my guess).

        Could have gone either way but on balance I don’t think the English can have much to complain about.

  19. Agree that we had the English attack under control. Felt comfortable from open play, only real concern defensively was the driving maul off lineout.

    Feel that our team is maturing well, and the self belief is a real asset. Feels different to the premature confidence of a 2018/19. Big players doing well in big moments and young players growing, like M Fagerson.

    1. However, I do think that when England identify a properly balanced backline, with a few games of playing together under their belt, they will be an entirely different proposition.

      That’s not to say we couldn’t contain them as well though. :-)

    2. There was an interesting piece by John Barclay on the 6N highlights programme yesterday. A fascinating description of the tactics and the levels of precise execution needed to unbalance the England defence in the lead up to our two tries.
      For me, an excellent insight into the depth of thought and planning devoted to tactics in the modern pro game.

      1. Yes and on rugby union weekly Warburton talks about specific incidents that the Welsh learnt from in past when playing. He actually describes stuff.

        Huge pet hate is the player saying we’ll take the learning from the game then no one ever talks about specifics at all so no one outside learns anything.

        New breed of pundits are going much deeper

  20. we did however concede too many penalties, some of which were unnecessary . That seems an obvious thing to work on

  21. Still not sure why we didn’t get any ball – was it bc we don’t have enough firepower (though the England pack is supposedly not all that heavy), or enough grunt in the second row (probably true though Gray and Gilch do good jobs in technical areas and are industrious)? Or was it all down to England sealing off and committing a load of bodies to rucks?

  22. Can anyone explain why we continued to hoof the ball back at England, not looking for touch, with almost every bit of possession we had for the first 55 mins?

    Imo, that’s we England looked dominant at times, a rather then kick it back, they choose to run it

    1. The hoofing was often as a result of having to drop kick from behind the posts. Tactic to drop it on the 22 yd line failed not least because of the v poor kick chase. Need to rethink how best to deal with that type of defensive pressure.

      In parts of the game, the English kicking to the (massive) dead goal area in Murrayfield was briliant.

  23. If Ritchie is out for Wales, who do we want to see come in? In my mind, there’s no clear like-for-like and will probably have to make some other changes to accomodate this.

    Options are:

    Bradbury – Played well when he came on but a different sort of player. We rely on counter attack at times from turnover and Mag isn’t gonna provide this.
    Darge – The form player. Leaves us with a very short back row though and vulnerable in the lineout.
    Skinner – Won’t let anyone down, strong all-round game but will be sacrificing mobility.
    Bayliss – Probably the stand-out option in terms of what skills are required. Strong carrier, defender, jackaller and line-out option. Think he’s still injured though.
    Christie – Don’t know much about him but looks like he could fit in well.
    Haining – Idk but Toonie will probably pick him.

    My first choice would be Bayliss but if he’s out Bradbury and then maybe start Skinner at 2nd row instead of Gilchrist and Darge coming onto the bench. Luke Crosbie would have been a good option to have here as well.

    1. Looks like Wales will be tooling up their back row with Moriarty so they aren’t so passive as against Ireland. I think it has to be Baylis or Bradbury although I am desperate to see Darge play. At least with one of this two it is maybe easier to accommodate Darge as an impact sub, especially if Skinner stays on the bench, without losing too much flexibility to respond to injuries.

      Baylis was doing his RTP so maybe a decent chance of being back?

      Andy Christie is very highly rated but no idea if he is a line out option. Played for Saracens at the weekend, Baylis did not play for Bath.

      Also, could Redpath be back or will he be parked until later in the championship?

      1. Baylis and Ritchie not in the squad this week so odds on Bradbury promoted to the starting XV and a coin flip for whether Christie or Darge take the bench spot. If he opts for Haining I think that would be a backward step.

        As others have mentioned, the fact we’d have two #8s on the pitch and Skinner on the bench who can cover 6, it’s a golden opportunity to have an out and out 7 in Darge come on in the last 20 and bring some real energy and breakdown presence.

      2. Haining has always stepped up in the Scotland shirt.
        Some players seem to raise their game at that level, he is one.

  24. If its Bradbury, will the real Bradbury turn up, the tremendously physically powerful destroyer that has threatened to make the 8 Jersey his own or will it be the somewhat detached / passive muscle boy.
    I like Haining

  25. All in all, I thought we were garbage on Saturday. A few standout performers: Russell, Graham, Hogg, Fagerson (M) etc. but the collective team effort was below games we’ve lost in the past. Still, I’ll take performing poorly and winning over performing well and losing.

    A few selection dilemmas ahead of the trip to Cardiff. Replacing Ritchie will be tough. Watson/Darge – Watson wasn’t at his best, but his above average is still top drawer international class. Didn’t see a great deal from the much-vaunted captain Currie on the other side either. Competition in the second row and possible argument for a swap at 12, although that would be harsh on Sam. My hottest ‘hot take’ – I thought we looked livelier when White was on for Price. Maybe just coincidence, but thought Ali was solid rather than sparkling.

    Thought O’Keefe was incredibly fussy and undermined both teams. Conditions were bad enough, and he seemed determined to kill any possible momentum for either side. We’ll need to manage the ref. better in Cardiff and really work on discipline.

    Final thought. Marcus Smith is an excellent player, but the hype train around him is going to become pretty tedious pretty quickly. It’s already been decided that his substitution cost England the game – it may have done, but its a 15 man game and nobody can say Ford wasn’t in form and deserving of a chance. He maybe hamstrung by Eddie’s tactics, but I felt he had opportunities to spark Slade et al into action and didn’t take them.

    1. I thought it was a 7/10 performance from Scotland. Defence was excellent (highlighted by the highest tackle completion of the round).

      The limited opportunities we did have the backs nailed them and the forwards (Fagerson in particular) gave us ok forward ball.

      The negatives was the fact that we were dominated in possession and territory, i think it was a tactic to keep the ball in play and let England run it back at us and make mistakes.

      For me, the biggest thing we can improve on is retaining possession of ball, including being more competitive at the breakdown.

      For Wales: Stuart Hogg – Darcy Graham – Chris Harris – Cameron Redpath – Duhan Van Der Merwe – Finn Russell – Ali Price – Matt Fagerson – Rory Darge – Sam Skinner – Jonny Gray – Grant Gilchrist – Zander Fagerson – George Turner – Rory Sutherland

      Sione Tuipolotu – Ben White – Magnus Bradbury – Hamish Watson – Scott Cummings – Willem Nel – Stuart McInally – Pierre Schoeman

      1. Pretty much the team I’d be selecting too.. though I’m not sold on skinner as a 6 as he just doesn’t seem mobile enough. Bradbury is a natural 6. There is rarely a perfect time to trial a player in the 6N unless you have no chance of winning… Darge is the best Scottish inform 7 at club level though.. and deserves a chance.
        Cummings is a better 2nd row than either Gray or Gilchrist imo yet because he has dropped his form he wasn’t selected in the last 23… ditto Redpath…don’t see why it should be different for Watson.

  26. Don’t think we’ll see much changing for Cardiff. And nor should we. Nobody played badly (we were a long way from being “garbage”, King of Fife).
    Obviously Ritchie needs replacing but Bradbury played well in the 15 minutes he was on. The big question is who replaces him on the bench? For me it’s a toss up between Haining, who was superb last year against France, and Darge, who deserves a chance but is Wales away the match to try someone out?
    For me, if we have Skinner on the bench and Bradbury and Fagerson starting then Darge gets the nod. Even if we end up with two 7s on the pitch that’s no bad thing.

    1. It most certainly is an interesting call for the back row and the replacements. You are right that there won’t be much change around of the weekends starting 15. Though Redpath would be an exciting addition. For me sadly Magnus Bradbury doesn’t realise his own potential. Unless someone takes him aside and tunes him in to the dominant forward he could be we may lose out on a very powerful weapon.

  27. Interesting that Cherry called up, though Ashman was subbed early this weekend – is he injured and therefore Cherry a like for like replacement? Reading the BBC, would almost imply DC was called up to cover for Ritchie and Bayliss, presumably just ambiguous headline writing especially as there is still plenty of back row cover in the squad.

  28. I was perhaps a shade excessive! How about 9/10 defensively and short of control and imagination in attack?

    What little ball we snaffled, we did well with until a costly error or spot of inaccuracy.

    I know there’s a far better performance in there with this set of players – I have full confidence in them. There’s maybe even a “winning in Dublin” level of performance in there- we just need to maintain the miserly defence and up our attacking play.

  29. England took off Smith brought on Ford as he can kick a drop goal ( according to the commentator’s. They get a penalty chance to draw and decline it. Bad captaincy I would say ? Get it wrong twice.

  30. Just watched 1st 8 mins for first time. Its incredible…the ref kept highlighting the brake foot before setting….so Cowan Dickie moves his early everytime and Turner keeps it until after the hit…who is punished? Scotland everytime….

    How can this be? Somebody help me understand pls?

    1. Yeah saw that too, I don’t really understand what the law means but I saw Cowan Dickie had both his legs back in the driving position while Turner had one vertical.

  31. Having been at the game, and just about got my heart rate under control now, one thing I’ll like to add which maybe hasn’t been mentioned. Amidst all the mayhem of the minutes after the final whistle and the Scottish celebrations, Jamie George showed some real character in leading 3 of his team mates (sadly only 3) round the ground to applaud the crowd. The bulk of the English boys, including Captain Curry, stood in a huddle of bemusement. Given there was a sizeable English support to acknowledge, as well as the atmosphere being unparalleled in the 2nd half in particular, I thought he showed some real class. The TV cameras didn’t catch it, or chose not to. I noticed in the Lions tour that he was one of the few English boys to try and mix with the other nations. A true rugby man, take a bow JG.

    1. Thanks for sharing that. I am all for rugby being a sporting spectacle. George is IMO the better of the two English hookers , Eddie Jones really got it wrong before and during the match. Actually in the post match interview his confidence had drained away .

      1. Many years ago ( it was the 2000 game in snow and ice and cold) after Andy Nicol scored and we denied the grand slam to the then emergent would be World Cup winning team , Jason Leonard stayed on the pitch in atrocious conditions to congratulate the Scot’s , again a measure of true class ( that and a Lions bond forged with Tom Smith )

    2. Thanks for highlighting this. And huge credit to George and the others that stayed to applaud fans. Win or lose, that’s what the game is all about.

      1. To be fair to Curry, he started off to do just that and looked pretty disappointed when the TV team called him back because he had to do an interview.

  32. I’d be very wary of chucking new starting caps into the Principality on Saturday. An experienced and battle-hardened 15/23 was key last Saturday to winning a Test match against a decent England side desperate to beat us because a) it was the first up 6N match, which is pretty much almost always tournament-defining, b) they wanted to build on Autumn success, especially against the Saffers and c) they absolutely hate losing to us, which they’ve done rather a lot of in recent years.
    Next Saturday is huge for us. Win it, which we can, and we’re two steps towards at the very least a Triple Crown.
    So, no time at all for experimental selections and combinations. Leave that for Italy – unless we go to Rome with a chance of the title in which case we field our strongest possible team.
    I see Redpath and Haining as in the mix. Neither being experimental, because they’ve both performed well in important Tests.

    1. This weekends game is all about how we control the game and how Wales choose to respond. Wales may however look at suffocating any chance of our time in possession. Though I am unsure how strong their 8 is to accomplish that. I think we will see our boys look to build phase after phase and then choose to hit the wide channels. Redpath would be a smart starter. Also will Bradbury start?

      1. I thought we never quite nailed it when we tried to get wide on Saturday. But I do think this side has confidence and is capable of adapting to whatever is thrown at us in Cardiff. However I do think we need to play our rugby in the right areas of the pitch this week.

    2. I’m a big big fan of Sam Johnson, but if Redpath is fit and firing…

      Other than that – Fagerson for Ritchie, Bradbury at 8 and Darge to the bench.

      Skinner made strong claim to start over Gilchrist but happy either way.

      The wingers are undroppable now but some point this tournament want to see McLean again.

      1. ^this. I think Toonie has made it pretty clear recently that he now knows roughly what the strongest team is and the tombola is back in the cupboard (it only comes out for squad selections). Minimal changes will be made. I think a tweak in the centres is maybe called for, we struggled in the autumn with trying to go wide too quickly and we had so little decent ball at the weekend the backs never got going. Redpath in would be the tweak required.
        That’s what I would do for the back row too, with having Fagerson and Bradbury on we have the luxury of being able to have a 7 on the bench. Skinner stays on the bench as back row cover too, Gilchrist played well, if I was to swap him it would be a straight swap with Cummings.

  33. Having rewatched the game. The main theme for me was that for the first hour this was a complete meltdown of our lineout/maul easily comparable to Ireland game last year.
    We attempted to kick 5 penalties to touch. 4 succeeded but of those we weren’t able to maintain possession for more than a phase on one single occasion. 4 times we kicked to touch from open play but conceded a penalty within a phase of the lineout 3 times. There was only two occasions when we were able to get into phase play and one of these resulted in our try the other our penalty. Only after the front row changed and Skinner came on after about an hour did it stabilise and by that time we were so fatigued and the ball so slippy our passing was poor. If we can fix our lineout we will really hurt teams.

    1. Eh?
      We won all our own line outs – what more do you want ?
      Conceding penalties after winning the line out isn’t a line out meltdown
      Can we not be a wee bit humble in victory here , accept we played a get out of jail card ( TBH, we never really in jail , somehow the stats did not match the threat level being posed )
      Time for a nice wee trip to Cardiff , see what happens there

    2. The lineouts were light years ahead of the Ireland shambles and the SA autumn test. Including some bloody long throws to the back that worked well. Skinner stealing that one at the end !!

  34. Interestingly few negative comments after defeating the 3rd best team in the world, looking fairly comfortable in defence, without displaying our known flair. Beating a team that leads us 76 – 45 historically in games won. Scottish is a very interesting nationality

  35. Don’t want to speak too soon… but with Dempsey 27 coming in October (cannot wait, could be real watershed moment), Bradbury 26 (hopefully benefits from competition with Dempsey) and Fagerson 23 (still filling out) suddenly things are looking pretty rosey at 8. And that’s the last problem position right….

    1. Think we also need to sort cover for Zander at TH beyond relying on Nel playing till he’s 45 and also cover at FB as Hoggy will be a huge loss when he does retire. But yes, would be great to have some real options at 8.

  36. A factlet for your edification: the only time that England have beaten Scotland in their last five meetings just happened to be the only occasion when Finn Russell played no part in the match.

  37. Squidge’s latest went into detail on Wales’s woes at the breakdown. Made me wonder whether, just for this game, Darge and Watson could work. The Welsh don’t have the size to overpower us, and they’d hate playing against those two.

    1. Anything the Welsh hate is great in my book but I’m not sure about two 7s. It was tried by a lot of teams, ourselves included a few years ago and it didn’t really work. I think our breakdown work has been quite smart recently, not committing to lost cause rucks but throwing the kitchen sink at ones with a whiff of turnover.

  38. Well that was superb. Moaning about the game is frankly ridiculous. What more do you want from a game ? It’s never going to be perfect against, lets be honest, a very good England team.

    Close game against fiercest rivals, controversial calls, full stadium, a triple player Watson tackle, sublime Russell field position kicking and a Scotland win !

    Enjoy it everyone – we’ve never had it so good :)

    Please gods let us follow it up with a victory next week. I want nothing more than to beat the Welsh !

    1. Is there a single one of us would reject 4 more ugly 3 point wins ? Blood pressure up , hair greyer , but …

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