Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland v New Zealand: Discussion Post

Scotland vs New Zealand - graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog
Scotland vs New Zealand - graphic © Scottish Rugby Blog

This post is our hub for post-match discussion of the game while we formulate our thoughts.

Please put your post-game discussion points on this post.

Please keep it on topic for the discussion of the actual All Blacks game itself and not immediately posting your team for next week.

How did Scotland play? Did the selections work? Where it all go wrong/right? Did Finn save the day or is he to blame? Let us know your thoughts.

135 Responses

  1. 60 minutes in – what a game. Scotland need to keep pushing and not sit back and just defend otherwise we will find ourselves behind fairly soon.

    1. Very disappointing in the end. I thought the YC was harsh; not sure how you could judge that deliberate, it looked like he just made a regulation tackle on the passer.

      Nevertheless we lost because we controlled large sections of the game and couldn’t land a killer blow. We had 3/4 very good try scoring chances and needed to take at least one. We only scored tries when ABs had a man in the bin. That was a golden chance to beat them, what a shame.

      We struggled with the ABs physicality at times, but really they lifted their performance when Perenara (spelling?) and others came on. We had little lift from our bench, not helped by Watson’s early injury and Schoeman having to return to the fray.

      All in all, not bad as I feared but in some ways more gutting that we let it slip.

      1. Yes, the NZ subs changed the game and ours didn’t.
        Still a positive performance which is much more than most of us expected – I was thinking we would lose by 30 and look impotent in attack.

    2. You can’t push forward and , surprise an attack with Chris Harris , he doesn’t have a front foot . Townsend loves him because he thinks that he makes the defeat look close. That’s the mentality of a lover.

    1. A lot of good performances, we probably needed to use our bench a little earlier and the lack of clinical edge in the 22, NZ make scoring from 5 yard looks so simple. Still a defeat can never be considered ok.

      The knock-on when the ball has clearly gone backwards was a turning point.

      1. Agree, the wind went out our sails a bit after that. Was at the game so not sure how/why that was given and not allowed to play on and then reviewed. What did the commentators say?

      2. commentators agreed it went back (as shown on replay). shame tmo didn’t step in for that one as it did play a part in turning the game.

    2. Not enough composure when we went 9 up, think we still pushed loads and should have scored more (or had tries instead of the penalties that got us 9 up) but the decision-making and execution in front of their line just failed at the crucial moments – not for the first time. Real shame. Hopefully that is the leadership and decision-making culture which Ritchie can bring, but really not sure how much of that is down to the culture (or lack of) of composure and ruthlessness distilled from the coaching set up. Hard to know.

  2. We lost – it’s very much a what could have been, and I’m sure there will be a lot of negative comments here.
    But let’s look at it in context. This was overall a fantastic performance from Scotland, one of our best games for some time.
    There are so many positives to take – Russell showed why he is our best 10 by a country mile (and one of the best in the world), Hogg showed glimpses of his old form which has been absent for a couple of years, Graham and VDM looked good.
    Ritchie had a strong game – a worry after the last 2 weeks where he has been a bit quiet. Set piece was strong.

    Main negatives were support and clearing out at ruck time wasn’t great at times, failure to score on several good opportunities in the 22.

    There’s a lot to be happy about here, we just have to follow it up with another performance next week – we must win against Argentina to have had a reasonable autumn.

    Will be very hard for Townsend to drop Russell now.

      1. Yeah, but look what happened when the NZ subs who were arguably first choice came on. Not sure we’d have coped as well with the team that thrashed Wales last week.

      2. fair point (although it looks like I am arguing with myself…..)
        regardless – we can only play the team they put out so hard to judge.

      3. I dont think its apples to apples…but anyway.. we struggled because we had 14 when we needed 15 to close out. NZ only turned the screw when a man up…and the yellow left us short of time to comeback….I honestly think if didn’t get that yellow we may well have won. Scotland have a far better attack than Wales despite not finishing some opportunities imo…and our defense was very good for a large chunk. I dont think Wales would have done any better today.

    1. Looking for positives, Richie Gray transformed our line out and showed he can still compete at this level.

    2. Don’t think there’s much chance of Russell starting next week – his baby is due imminently…happily for him – unfortunate timing for us…

  3. deccent effort and much better performance. Difference for me is that NZ know how to score from one yard out, we tend to get over-excited and give a penalty away

  4. Inches.
    A few times on their line we got suckered when we went for the pick and drive when we were stretching the All Blacks out wide.
    They were a little bit stronger than us in the carry too. Not much, but like I say, Inches.
    If we’d managed to take one of the opportunities that we created moving into the final quarter I feel we might have been able to hold on.
    Very disappointing but I can’t fault the effort after what the ABs did to Wales last week and going 14-0 down in the opening quarter.

    1. Yes – very small margins and a drop off at the end, but we can be disappointed while at the same time being quite positive about how we played.

  5. Fzjsksrkdjdkdkkekejfjjck

    Townsend send him on his stupid up his own aesemaskemdkdmkdkm way

    That’s all

    I have real hate.

  6. Some good and bad to that from us.

    Can’t be faulted for effort. We were not calm enough in some critical moments. To beat NZ you HAVE to execute those drives at the 5….going down to 14 at a critical time in the match ..put us right up against it.

    A bit unlucky with injuries…lost some momentum partly due to that and then we couldn’t empty the bench as timely as NZ could. Thought Ashman should have come on 10 mins before he did because Brown was out of gas.

    Graham soo unlucky with his terrific second ‘try’ …would have put the all blacks up against it.

    Against NZ we have to put twice the tackles in and it zapped our gas in the end. They have a production line of quality level that we just dont.

    Russell was excellent I thought ….stood out as a class player and a leader…I have no idea how GT can drop him.

  7. Entertaining game. Scotland did not embarrass themselves, perhaps just a lack of composure at times. My complaint is with the laws, where much needs to be changed; but I’d settle right now for abolishing the scrum penalty and the jackal. WR of course will do nothing, as their interest is in preserving a percieved advantage for their national sides, rather than improving the game.

  8. No doubt Russell is a leader, he was barking instructions all over the place. Made all his kicks and touch finders. Got the back 3 going. Was seeing things much faster than anyone else in our backline. Looked really serious today. We’ve missed him for the last few games.

    1. Yes, his leadership is rarely mentioned but I saw him talking to players all the time.
      He really runs the backline in attack.

      Not here to knock Kinghorn too much today, but it’s just not something he can do, partly since he isn’t a natural 10, partly since he has so much less experience playing there.

      1. Great point Big Al…he was mature…

        …strange today.. ..

        No nerves at the place kicks… Russell will do the business

        No nerves at Line-out we even retained possession on the ones that went wrong.

        Restarts again mostly great…not the same nerves as the opposition kicked too us.

    2. Russell has really stepped up this year, kicking on from that third Lions test really. Getting better with age he may have his best 5 rugby years ahead of him. I hope he stays at Racing with Lancaster coming in.

  9. Agree with RuggersB, Ashman should’ve been on 15mins before he came on.
    Excellent game, NZ played into Scotlands hands somewhat but the lack of a clinical edge when we were on you was the difference.
    Hogg is the barometer of Murrayfield, he had a great game after the warly missed tackle.
    WHAT a difference Russell makes.

  10. Frustrating last 15 minutes. Very frustrating first 5 minutes.

    Good to see Nell getting 50 caps but I think his day might have passed. We need to think hard about the bench options.

    Really need to keep composure close to the line. They gave us lesson today in clearing out rucks and direct play, especially in the last quarter. More work for our psychologist about keeping the head at key moments.

    I thought Brown did pretty well. Worked well in the lineout, scrum and loose and wasnt a penalty machine. Similarly Richie Gray continued to play very well.

  11. Tremendous performance apart from the missed tries on their line. Heartful. All set pieces fault-free, penalty count low at last. Keeping the second best team in the world pointless for 50 mins was stellar.

    If Darcy’s feet were smaller on the touch we’d have been tough to beat. Welcome back Russell, no petty personals now from Toonie. Hogg strong after missed tackle for their try. Dempsey vigorous and very unfairly punished for no intention.

    Shuddered when TV showed Kingspan stripping off and thank the bejesus the lank was not required.

    And let’s not forget this just missed win was achieved wearing puke puce!

  12. Can’t make up my mind about Hogg.missed tackle then gives away a pen trying to make up for it leading to the first try, should have passed to Darcy before he was tackled, two game changing knock ons .I know one was controversial but he dropped the ball allowing the decision to be made.
    On the other hand great move for pen try,and looking back to his attacking best.

    1. I think if he hadn’t given away the penalty it would have been a try so may have been a tactical decision and 50/50 whether it was the right thing to do.
      Also, if he had passed to Darcy earlier I think he was well covered – delaying the pass almost set him free to score.
      Knock on was 100% not forward.
      It’s definitely the best we have seen him in attack for a long time – although he does tend to turn up for the big games more.
      Defence I agree was average.

      1. The issue with the two on one with Darcy for me wasn’t so much the timing of the pass (although I think he could have passed slightly sooner), it was the angle he ran – he used up all the space which meant the defender was able to cover him and Darcy.

    2. So what is the Verdict, Hogg was his usual, blinkered do it himself approach? Frankly a fullback that can not tackle is a massive compromise. He has been over rated for years. We are desperate and prepared to compromise. We could actually play attacking 12 and 13’s if we had confidence the back door had a latch on it. We get what we deserve. Our competitors find it laughable.

  13. A better performance and finally some ambition after a year to play some rugby.

    Sadly however this is just not good enough from Townsend, that was a poor All Blacks side we should have beaten, given the context of our 5 years with Toony in charge, i think if we don’t put out an excellent performance AND result next week Townsend must resign.

    The lineout – Richie Gray has made a real difference and is performing around the park.

    Fraser Brown – Showed he can still put in a shift in some context for Scotland.

    The backrow of Fagerson – Dempsey – Ritchie had a good amount of gametime there and looks an option to continue exploring, Kept Savea reasonably quiet.

    Tuipolotu/Harris – Not as bad as i feared and defensively worked very well, however i cant help but wonder if we would of scored any of the numerous tries we just missed out on if we had someone who offered a bit more of a running threat? Keep the defenders from drifting out wide so much.

    Finn Russell – the biggest positive, Kicking and game management is very good and still doing all the magical attacking play, never drop him again.

    Summary: Townsend out.

    1. Bit of an odd conclusion. Is it really a resigning offence to lose to the Rugby Championship winners on a 6-game winning streak? Even if they have rotated some players.

      Agree Townshend is done but after this game it’s an odd point to make.

      1. This is likely to be the best result Townsend will get against the All Blacks. 9 points up, what went wrong? If Toony stays around longer, we will not get a better result IMO. Italy have just beat Australia what do we make of that then? We need to win next week and why not, there is a lot to talk about in this game and a lot to learn. A really good game of rugby, result went the wrong way.

      2. GT still sounds like he grudgingly conceded ‘Finn played very well’

        Crikey GT can you just reset!!! Kinghorn is not a 10.. he is a 15…and frankly I think Ollie Smith is a better 15.
        Finn is our most talented, experienced and effective 10 and by a country mile…a world class 10 in fact. Just stop this kinghorn nonsense or Foff.

        If Racing are daft enough to release him..a player that can turn them from poor to excellent within minutes of rugby…we should be protecting him within our club rugby much like Ireland do with Sexton.

    2. I doubt he’ll resign…We’ll have to endure his full tenure until our 4 match RWC is complete.

      I think Watson is not a 1st choice backrow for us any more. Just not the player he was or just that his style of play is less effective in the current game. Fagerson Ritchie Dempsey Crosbie Darge possibly Bayliss are better options moving forward imo.

      Pity R Gray wasn’t 4 years younger…he solidified a lineout that has been horrible this year. J Gray imo isn’t in the 23 unless injuries occur…just doesn’t offer much. Skinner and Cummings are better players. They were missed today in terms of forward gain…if not the lineout.

      Tui/Harris did a decent job in midfield without really threatening the NZ defense. Thats said Bennet didn’t do anything much when he came on. Redpath may have made a difference but then depends on whether his defense would be solid enough.

      Hogg had a mixed game. Displayed his repertoire of poor defense, some poor decisions, great attack, pace, good kicking. Opposition run through Hogg like he isn’t there.

      Russell looked like a talented player who has ‘grown up’. To be fair he looked out of shape and unfocussed at the 6N this year…now looks a player I wouldn’t trade for B Barrett.

      GT out?….I dunno…what are the options?do we have any?

      1. I doubt it; don’t think there are any world class coaches available the year before a World Cup. We should be aiming high, if only because there are a limited number of gigs coaching tier 1 sides and after the World Cup the coach merry go round will begin and there will be good coaches up for grabs.

        Bit quick to be writing Watson off but I agree he isn’t putting in the exceptional performances we know he’s capable of. Shame Darge was injured for AIs really. Wonder who we’ll see versus Argentina?

      2. Wayne Smith perhaps? Just won the world cup with NZ womens team. Huge transformation.

        In terms of Argentina, it really is a must win for Townsend so expect as strong as he can put out, assuming Watson is Injured.

        6. Fagerson
        7. Ritchie
        8. Dempsey

        20. Crosbie, Haining or Christie

      3. Im not writing off Watson… I just think that either because of form loss or the less effectiveness of his game style there are other players who should be playing ahead of him.

        Australia’s Hooper, very similar age, size and player style, is also struggling for test level effectiveness.

        I just think as far our 1st choice back row, there are better options.

      4. FF: ‘World Class coaches’ Heard it all now. What does that mean and does it imply that what we have is world class ?

      1. I thought our backline was pretty effective on both sides of the ball, to be fair. I really like both Redpath and Bennett, but grudgingly acknowledge that Harris is actually our most vital centre because of what he brings to our defence. I think Harris might actually have done a better job in stopping Talea on his final try had he still been on the park.

  14. Richie Gray superb, funny he’s no played much over last few years, I know he has refused selection but the line out really worked today.
    Very interesting game next Saturday

  15. good game, we left probably 3 tries out there. Dempseys yellow was harsh and killed us off really. The guys looked absolutely out on their feet in the last 10 minutes. Yeah New Zealand won but they aren’t as good as they’d like us all to believe, anymore. Good to hear the awesome reception for Doddie. If only we’d won it for him.

    1. Agree re: NZ….15 v 15 not much between us. IMO there were parts of our game that were better than theirs …and vice versa. Fine margins in the top tier….they got somewhat fortunate to win this one. That said , I dont think they’ll have to ‘up their game’ v England…England have similar flaws to us this year.

      I think a key difference between us and Ireland is that ireland would have retained composure and the ball at the 5 and converted ….we didn’t.

  16. Great first half. Some good tries for both teams. Shame the poor refereeing stopped the flow of the game. Refs need to talk to the players more to allow them to get back onside, release the ball/player etc. Injuries should be taken to the side and let the game continue. Feel for the players and the spectators as both teams were trying to play

    1. I’m a Kiwi and was at Murrayfield for the game and frankly it was Scotland’s game. The AB’s were lacklustre and played like they just woke up from a sofa snooze. Well done Scotland, it should have been yours. The defence/attack balance just needs some work.

    1. It was a knock on, but it wasn’t a deliberate one. His eyes were on the tackle and his body shape was entirely normal for someone trying to do just that. For knock ons, it seems that it’s assumed that professional rugby players (at least Scottish ones) are assumed to be capable of playing 3D chess in defence of their line and always “know what they’re doing”. If the Scottish winger is running through in the last minute though, and gets taken out with a trip, only an accident could explain that. I thought the TMO had it in for us as soon as I heard him trying to get the blatant penalty try turned down. These incidents didn’t do anything to change that feeling. The Darcy incident didn’t do anything to change the game, but the whole game rested on the deliberate knock on call.

  17. ‘A poor AB side’ gee Whizz listen to yourselves.
    They won the rugby championship and thrashed (or at least comfortably beat) everyone in it at least once, thrashed Wales last week and still have a ton of talent across the park.
    Maybe you could say that by AB standards they are inconsistent, but they have been in transition with a new coach in the last 2 covid disrupted seasons and some new players.
    They are definitely not ‘poor’.

    1. I agree….to say that is a poor NZ team is ridiculous.

      They won the Rugby Championship not long ago…a group of teams all playing high level rugby. South Africa are an immense side….and NZ beat them.

      NZ are a very difficult side to beat…period

      We could and should have been more clinical at the 5…and if had we’d be sitting here saying it was arguably the best Scottish performance seen at murrayfield….fine lines!

  18. I think a lot to talk about in the game, we are still giving possession away too easily, Jamie Richie rolling over like a carpet on their line was obvious IMO, If you stay in the AB red zone long enough you will get a penalty. Russell got the kicks over, Darcy and Duhan are great carriers, Richie Gray has brought a line out threat, Ali Price is a bit flat. I will reserve my judgement till next week.

  19. Still white line fever….it’s not worth the same going for broke over the line as it’s a drop out not a 5 metre scrum.

    We need to sort out when to go wide and no we are not Exeter so rarely get over from a metre.

    We had a 3 to 7 man overlap in first half and yet we still banged at the line…that is not smart nor the percentage play.

    All Blacks had 12 penalties in the first 55 mins…that is Fiji level of ill discipline…and not a warning given.

    Not sure they gave one away after that but 4 in 15 mins in 2nd half has to get noticed by Scotland atleast to remind ref

  20. Scotland’s biggest problem – and it has been the case for a number of years – is that we simply seem unable to score tries from muti-phase possession in the opposition 22. While other Tier 1 nations – especially Ireland, SA and France – seem to build momentum and a sense of an inevitable try with each phase, Scotland’s momentum seems to drop and a try looks less and less likely with each phase, particularly when we are trying to bulldoze over from less than 5 metres.

    The exceptions to this – such as the added time winning try in Paris last year – are all the more notable because of this. It seems to me that if we don’t score by the 5th phase, we are just not going to get over the line.

    It has not been so much of a problem recently because Russell and our back three in particular can conjure tries from next to nothing in a way their immediate predecessors could not. I’m afraid though that to fail to score from 3 goal-line sieges in one game has to be laid at the door of the coaches as it clearly shows this as a systemic issue rather than an individual player issue – just don’t ask me how to fix it ;-)

    Some decisions didn’t help today. The scrum for the knock-on from the misfielded punt was ridiculous but then, it was probably the easiest catch from a kick all day long and we muffed it, so deserved to be punished. The scrum penalty against Nel was also arguable.

    I thought the yellow for the deliberate knock-on was very soft but I was at the other end of the stadium and I’ll need to watch the game back for a better view. Same with the apparent trip on Darcy towards the end which on first sight looked cynical.

    I don’t really know how to feel. It will be easier to know after next week when we know if today’s performance is sustainable or one of those one-offs we have always been capable of.

    1. How can we have a heavier pack and not get that ball over from the 5, from multiple attempts? Did someone replace their weights in the gym with polystyrene?

      Yet again …nothing to concern Ireland or SA for the RWC…in that regard

      1. The answer must be that it is more about technique than size.

        If you look at Scott Barrett’s try, he doesn’t just try to pound over the line, he actually changes his body angle as he is driving over the line so the tackler misses him on the outside.

        A little bit of guile in the heat of the moment is maybe all it takes.

        Also, we don’t seem to use the latch as effectively as the Ireland’s and SA’s. I have to say that it often looks like they are latching on before contact is made but they seem to get away with it.

  21. Good performance, very disappointing result.

    Leaving aside our several missed chances in the first 50 mins, the biggest difference for me was the impact of the subs.

    For New Zealand, TJ Perenara came on changed the game. Very canny player and just directed the play. Rieko Ioane added a serious bit of attacking verve and the whole front row were excellent in particular Codie Taylor.

    For Scotland, nobody came on and upped the intensity. Dempsey was good but obviously on much earlier and White and Ashman looked up for it but didn’t add that much. Jonny Gray looks slow and unfit (is he too big?) and Nel is sadly not much use at this level any more. The whole team were clearly tiring and we needed some sort of spark which just didn’t seem to come.

    Need to focus on addressing this; we were leading late on vs Australia and Argentina as well and we can’t let this turn into a trend.

    1. Thought Dempsey made a difference. Was unlucky with the knock on carding. He is a more effective 8 than Fagerson imo…

      J Gray shouldn’t be in the 23 barring injuries….just not good enough as current international lock… offers no go forward. Looks unfit. The quality modern locks are physically well defined athletic players…J Gray looks like he is on a diet of MacDonald’s and hits the weights lighter than D Graham lifts.

      Our replacements impact was disrupted by injury timing and being down to 14.

      Walker should have been the replacement TH ,would have been great experience for him….Nel is well past it…he got his 50th against NZ..fair enough I guess… though really should be his last.

      1. I just watched the highlights from the NZ TV coverage.

        Even one of their commentators said it wasn’t a deliberate knock on, let alone a yellow card.

  22. Very disappointing. Scotland were the better team for large parts of the match. Excellent defence, AB’s struggled to make forward progress, Barrets random kicking a sign of their frustration. Lineout good (finally) thanks in part to RG. Russell excellent, Hogg and Graham also. Dempsey should start in future. Altogether a bit unlucky, and Scotland need to find that clinical edge to score with the pack at 5 yards. A lot to celebrate however disappointing, and no, not time to sack GT, that would be crazy. The group look like they’re starting to settle and trust each other. We may not be where we’d like in wins but we have a team that fires on all cylinders, and has some solid individual stars to make teams nervo
    us. We need to build on this.

    1. Feel thats abit harsh on Nel, he has been fronting up in big games for Edinburgh season against good SA teams, could just be an off day.

      I’m a believer that you should only get the chance to represent your country once your better than the incumbent, Walker has lots of potential but has he really shown anything yet to suggest he is better than WP Nel?

      I reckon he has got another 12 months in him if managed correctly, hopefully someone such as Walker steps up in that time though to add the much needed competition.

      1. Was listening to the BBC Scotland podcast and Peter Wright thought the Nel penalty should have gone the other way.

        Not a debate I’m qualified to get involved in but I always feel Nel makes our scrum more secure.

      2. The thing is, international test rugby has no forgiveness of lack of mobility. Nel, to me, looks like he is running in treacle with wellington boots…being a solid scrummager is just not enough in the current game in top tier international rugby. Front row HAS to be mobile units. …club rugby significantly not so much.
        I agree Walker hasn’t shown enough….but at 23 now I feel he is being developed too slowly . Surely he gets a shot from the bench at least v Argentina….we have such a dearth of TH options. He needs to be developed more aggressively.


    NZ defence looked very nervous at the prospect of Hogg running with the ball

    There can be no arguments about 10. Play Fin or go away.

    Our line out is so much improved. Having argued over who should throw the darts in I’m increasingly seeing the second row selection as more important. As such I would leave as is.

    Price played well. Showed a balance between control and moving fast.

    Being 14 points down early and getting back in the game. I know we’re at home, but not every team can do that against AB.

    Our wingers are Ace. Kiwis raving about them both.

    We don’t gift restart possession away

    We didn’t get bullied up top, but I think the physicality of our midfield options also very important.


    Hogg still doesn’t like to tackle

    Substitutes changed the game, and not in our favour.

    NZ struggled with ref, and tempo of match. But slowly but surely they worked it out and adjusted accordingly. We’re a little sluggish at that.

    White line fever – should have had this won by 65th minute. (But I’d argue this is one of the better problems to have, means you’re doing most other things right. Makes a nice change to our biggest issue being lineouts)

    Lack of finsanity. I thought he played so well, but I do miss his particular brand of chaos.

    1. White line fever – should have had this won by 65th minute. (But I’d argue this is one of the better problems to have

      This is a continuous problem. At one point Finn was calling for the ball when forwards were on NZ try line. Backs had a 3 to 2 overlap. But no
      , Price stands back, forwards try again getting no where again and then penalty again! This needs to be worked. Just look at Ireland in this situation

      1. Yup – very frustrating. Didn’t need to look at Ireland as ABs showed us how to apply composure in these situations yesterday. Felt like we left 2 or 3 tries out there at the start of the second half alone. But when I look back to the Argentina tour, I thought our biggest thing we needed to work on was lineout and restarts, as we handed over possession cheaply. Credit where it’s due, that has shown best improvement this Autumn and helped set the foundations to have us putting the ABs line under severe pressure for long periods. If the next step is figuring out how to convert those opportunities under pressure, then I’d suggest that is some sort of progress / moving in the right direction.

      2. Yeah that was quite annoying. We never seem to get the balance and decision making just right in these scenarios. A few years ago we just chucked the ball wide in hope, I hate the phrase but “before we earned the right to” where trucking it up for a few phases first was the right thing to do. Now we seem to do the opposite, we keep hammering away when a back move would likely yield more success. Especially with the rules now around being held up over the line you would think it is preferable to spin it wide and have a go, I’m pretty sure that was the thinking behind the rule. I think we need to be cleverer with penalty advantages too, when we get one we seem to go for an all out hail Mary that is very unlikely to come off, why not dial it back a notch and just use it to trigger a regular back move? I presume the reluctance to go for a backs move is due to the increased likelihood of getting isolated due to lack of support or throwing an intercept on the line, but with an advantage it doesn’t matter.

      3. I agree wholeheartedly that we had 4 or 5 chances in the “red zone” which we didn’t convert. However, NZ had a few chances themselves which they failed to convert. I may be wrong but I think Scott Barrett’s try was the only try from short range.
        It’s disappointing but I cannot blame them for trying to push over from short range, just need to get better at it.

      4. Merlot – first NZ try was from short range, can’t remember the name but a rather large prop blasted through at least three of our tacklers from about 5m out to score. It was a perfect illustration of what we lack in terms of power (although i think our heads were in the changing rooms at that point still).

        If we are going to try to blast over don’t know why Duhan doesn’t come in from distance and take a pass right on the line, a couple of meters from the ruck on an angle, he’s probably our best at going beast mode.

  24. The control and confidence exuded from 10 by Finn Russell was largely the reason for a much better performance. Also NZ don’t bother with any tactics designed to stop Hogg, Russell they just play their own game.
    As alluded in this blog the failure to put points on the board when we were on top latterly in the 1st half was absolutely critical.
    NZ are a top top team, won the Rugby championship and leathered Wales last week so a good performance.
    Next week a big game, hoping Finns pending baby doesn’t stop him being in the 10 jersey

  25. Argh! That was probably more frustrating than 2017, we nearly did it then but were quite lucky to be within a sniff at the end, this time we led most of that match, on merit. We frustrated the all blacks and made them play like we usually do for most of the match, I.e. a bit clueless, lacking structure and giving away silly penalties. I didn’t think the referee was that great but there were questionable decisions both ways. I think Dempseys card was very harsh, if that was deliberate then he’s got great prospects as an actor when he hangs up his boots. Controversial but I thought out penalty try was quite generous, Hogg was taken out off the ball, no question about that but would he have scored, I’m not so sure? I thought the TMO had it in for us the whole game but I did agree with his surmising that Hogg had overrun it and it was bouncing away from him. What was nice to see about that though was Hogg still has a turn of pace when he wants to! I thought he was going to get beaten to the ball!

    Other key points for me, as others have said New Zealand’s bench made the difference, bettering them whereas ours didn’t. Shame Mish went off injured as I actually thought he was playing a lot better than he has been recently although Dempsey was good when he came off. I’m never sure if it’s correlation or causation but our line out has been fantastic and it has Richie Gray in it, and he was the one going up for the ball most of the time. Finn Russell did what Finn Russell does, by no means a vintage Finsanity game but an assured performance that our other 10s wouldn’t have been capable of. Kicking was excellent, passing flat and fast, and he got the back line going, what more do you want? Duhan and Darcy played well and I also didn’t think Tuipolotu was that bad either, maybe that’s a side affect of having Russell play? Finn does the thinking and distributing so the 12 doesn’t have to?

    Either way very disappointing result but I’m relatively happy with the way we played and in the end were beaten by a better team, perhaps not a vintage all blacks side but it was essentially a full strength one and one that has done serious damage to better teams than us, they maybe just lack the ruthless and relentless consistency of some of their predecessors but they are still the all blacks.

    1. Imo….its stepping back from the ‘Finsanity’ that made Finn look a much better player and all round threat.

      He needed balance to his game…and he looks like he getting very close to that yesterday. If he does I can’t think of a better 10 in rugby.

  26. You can’t really fault Scotland for that result, given to beat the ABs we would have to play the game of our lifetimes and they would have to play one of their worst. 23 unanswered points isn’t something teams are suppose to do over the AB’s and you could see the belief in the Scottish ranks unfortunately this was punctured when the harsh yellow was handed out. The central pairing although not offering a huge amount going forward produced a great defensive display stopping pretty much everything which was coming through the middle. Great to see the line out working so well. Ultimately the AB’s even when behind expect to win going into the last 10 and I think that got them over the line

  27. Not sure Scotland have so called White line fever.
    Pick and drive is normally a good idea from 1m out and if we had more ball carrying power or were up against a team other than the ABs probably would’ve born fruit.

    Our strengths are flair in the backs and a mobile pack.
    Our weakness is ball carrying power.

    Perhaps we need to understand how we might vary the play when close to the try line and what might be the triggers for doing something different.

    1. I get what you are saying regarding mixing up play when close to the line…however…trying to be constantly evolving the way to get there will just catch up with us …analytics expose trends more accurately the more they develop.

      I’d say we need to get the basics right….Rugby is a simple game sometimes…we just need to be better at it. I think its keeping composure that’s the issue with that situation.

      As someone else noted earlier, we dont look capable of sustaining multi phase possession….we get flustered. That’s what needs to change imo.

      1. For all the good feelings about the performance yesterday we really need to win on Saturday for it not to have been a bloody pretty awful 2022.
        4 wins out of 11 is simply poor. Furthermore given the bad feeling(s), stupid decisions made gives us Scotland fans very little to look back on with pride.

      2. In addition…. It’s like our football players have always been… we look really uncomfortable with retaining possession. Almost self conscious of it… we are far too easily flustered. Other nations Stay calm and invariably we just hand the ball back to them. It’s like a societal negative vibe. We need to remove getting too high and too low on ourselves … find a balance .. then we’ll see the results come our way.

        I was glad they got a sports shrink in… but to me that’s a key area to be worked on if we are to move forward to the next level.

    2. Ireland mix it up with various moves within forwards and backs. Better trained or better rugby brains?

      1. Yes… but they do the basics right 1st truck and protect the ball …then try something ..if it doesn’t work…keep the head to retain it.. reset and go again. We don’t do that.. if our initial phases dont get us over the line… we get flustered and cough the ball up.
        That… to me the difference. The opposition can’t beat you if they don’t have the ball.

  28. RuggersB – NZ is obsessed with rugby , when I was there its all everyone spoke about, watched and thought about. It’s in their psyche/blood.
    “Things” come easier on the rugby pitch when it’s like that

  29. Callum Hunter Hill has been called up to the squad, anyone know much about him? Sure i’ve heard the podcast mention him for some unfavourable thing?

    Kiran Mcdonald also playing well for Munster/Wasps, i see him as a better player than torso

      1. Just read that too….

        WRO best attempts to remove one of our top performing players before the 6N.

        Awesome!…..and pretty rich considering some of the NZ stuff that went unpunished.

    1. Don’t know much of any negative news on Hunter-Hill. His face never fitted at Glas or Edin which I thought strange considering he was an U20 Captain and highly rated prospect.

      Still….someone who is competing so hard and achieving fairly regular selection at such a top side in Saracens ..must have something. At least he is a physically fit strong and mobile 2nd row…..unlike J Gray.

      1. Well J Gray may be selected for the wing… could still be a place for Hunter Hill as an unused replacement. At least he can say he got to hold tackle bags once for Scotland.

  30. So that would be our three best locks-Skinner,Ritchie Gray and Cummings all out? Big pity just when we seem to have our lineout working properly.

  31. Wildcard side not selected for the Autumn Nations which could feature in the Six Nations

    Huw Jones – Kyle Rowe – Fraser Dingwall – Rory Hutchinson – Sean Maitland – Fin Smith – Ben Vellacott – Magnus Bradbury – Rory Darge – Dylan Richardson – Kiran McDonald – Scott Cummings – Murray McCallum – Stuart McInally – Oli Kebble

    Matt Scott – James Lang – Jamie Dobie – Thomas Gordon – Alex Craig – Simon Berghan – Robin Hislop – Patrick Harrison

    We should really start arranging ‘A side’ fixtures again… plenty of good potential depth floating about, i noticed Ireland played a Maori XV and munster played South Africa A side, why can’t we do the same to generate extra revenue and build more experience/Depth.

    And perhaps that is the place Townsend can get his desperate need to experiment and selection tinkering out of his system and we can keep an established consistent main team

    1. Neil :Because he would punish by dropping them to the A team. You are overthinking it go back to your primary school days to work it out.

  32. Lessons from the All Blacks: Many have Scottish roots, yet they do not have Scottish attitude :

    The NZ All Black, knows, he knows he can win, he knows he can win, even when points down, he knows that he just needs to get ahead by a point , that they give all in the last 10 minutes, because once they score and get ahead, the clock works for them in those closing minutes. He knows that the opposition are chasing the game and the clock. He knows most teams will make mistakes and undermine the already drifting confidence as the pressure intensifies. So he only needs to play for 70 minutes, stay in the game for 60, bust a gut to get ahead between 60 and 70 and then allow the opposition to implode between 70 and 80 minutes.

    The NZ All Black is cunning, is full of confidence, is used to winning, no situation is new to them. The New Zealand All Black accepts nothing but the best.

    Why should Scotland !

    1. I think that’s an over generalization applying those standards to every All Black that plays the game….they have their fair share of players who dont meet those standards.
      They lose matches also…..just not against us apparently.
      I get what you mean though…to retain a place in their team players have high standards and expectations they need to meet that are probably higher than ours.

  33. Scotland played very well for 50 minutes but their dominance over this period wasn’t sufficiently converted into points. It’s an on going theme that we are good at scoring unexpected tries through moments of genius but when it’s a collective effort and the white line approaches we simply screw it up. This must be a coaching issue and if we can find a way to more consistently cross the line within the opponents 22 then we will be a team that can challenge at the highest level.

    It was interesting watching the pre-match warmups and comparison between teams. Scotland charged around for at least 20 mins at a relatively intense level. NZ did sufficient to warm up but next to zero intensive training. What concerned me watching Scotland was how much energy they were putting out and I question if this was necessary and how much did it contribute to slowing Scotland’s play in the latter stages. Points are easier to come by at the later stages more so if you are fitter and stronger than the other. I suggest Scotland gave 100% for the training and match when it’s not physically possible. NZ paced themselves throughout and consequently had the power at the end to put points on the board.

    Welcome back Finn you were quality.

    1. Yes…was thinking same a while back.

      Looks far too intense before a match…to the point of looking bizarre.
      NZ didn’t look markedly fitter than our lads but they definitely seemed to posses much more energy towards the end of the match. Really just supposed to warm up and relax muscles ….not an audition for the marines.
      In NFL where many players are world class athletes they just have a mellow relaxed warm up before a game.
      We do such a grand job of self sabotaging ourselves sometimes as a nation.

      1. It seems mad in this era of sports science that they charge around when they need every ounce of endurance for the match.

  34. Interesting post Rosco.
    I’ve been pondering Chris Harris…… its always Harris is a rock and our defensive leader (and he was selected by the Lions), he does seem to be a solid citizen but am I missing something???- I wouldn’t even have him in the squad given his lack of attacking threat.

    1. Hi John, I think a team like Scotland need balance within a team especially vs NZ. Harris organises the defensive line around him, physically defends very well and has some attacking capabilities. I thought with Tuipulotu and Harris at centre the back 3 wouldn’t see the ball on Saturday. I was pleasantly surprised by our attacking threat from the backs in the end and it was the forwards poor attacking in the opponents 22 that let us down more. I’d love to see our best attacking backs vs less capable opponents. Definitely would like to see Redpath and Hutchinson given time at 12. Playing outside Finn that would be a creative pairing.

      I don’t think we’re blessed with many options beyond Bennet and Harris at 13 at present. Maybe Jones once fit and if he can regain form.

      Who would you like to have seen in the backs on Sunday?

      1. Rosco, we did attack well on Sunday but Hogg was popping up all over the place, Russell gave one of his most assured performances and we had space as NZ always try and outplay us rather than stop Russell and Hogg getting ball in space (like Ireland excel at). Not sure the centres on the day had much impact.
        I’d have certainly played Redpath as he is a ball player and we need good ball to our back 3. IMO a 13 has to have a threat.
        I agree with re forwards sir, I’ve said/thought for ages that Crosbie has to play, he’s got that aggressive physicality that we need, Dempsey too, he gets over the gain line and has the footwork that’s unusual and potentially very handy

      2. Edinburgh use Crosbie Mata Haining (amongst others) to challenge the gain line these 3 boys have a back row physicality that the normal Scottish backrow can match

    2. Centre that does not attack, FB that does not defend. Lions winger and another that is like Billy Whizz, if they get the ball. Not easy to get the right balance.

      The Game Plan is Price kicks, they kick back and our back three attack as we cannot get the ball out the line. Okay I get it.

  35. Great game to watch bar the first 5 and last 15mins. A definite improvement. FR is so obviously our top no.10.
    I wish to make a separate but game related point.
    I travel 250 miles to BT Murrayfield towatch the games and generally bring my 9yo daughter. Like dozens of other kids at the game she is desperate to get down to the front after the match to get an autograph or selfie with her Scottish heroes. It was therefore extremely disappointing yet again to see most of the Scotland players standing on the running track with their families and friends and refusing to engage with the next generation of supporters waiting patiently in the front row of the stands. Really poor IMO. The team should set a better example. They are after all the next paying generation/funders of the SRU. Fortunately the ABs are a lot more savvy about the AB brand and engaging with young spectators and she has photos with several ABs.
    I shall be writing to SRU’s community team to make the point but wondered if anyone else has experienced this.

    1. I bet if Scotland won they would have taken the plaudits and met more fans. Perhaps they were caught in their own emotions after letting the games slip out of their grasp. However, being humble in adversity is a great asset and still the players should greeted fans.

      1. Perhaps there is a lesson in there for the players that the relevance they have has rugby players is dictated largely by the volume of support they receive.

        It might benefit them as players to be able to put high and low emotions aside and remember that…maybe they will then perform as more balanced individuals and as a team.

    2. I remember similar criticism on here after the Australia game-players largely only seemed interacting with wives and girlfriends after the match.Its so easy to fix and reflects badly onmanagement-surely a quiet word in their ear before every game that ultimately these are the people who pay your (substantial )salaries.Really not difficult to fix irrespective of win or lose on the day.

      1. A sign of a squad who are aware of feelings of supporters towards the team and who have mentally circled the wagons. In the professional era this is not acceptable given that Scottish Rugby needs to do everything it can to support the game and interact with grassroots players and supporters. Would be interested to know what Warriors and Edinburgh players do post match.

  36. My Team for Argentina

    Hogg – Graham – Harris – Tuipolotu – Van Der Merwe – Russell – Horne – Dempsey – Ritchie – Fagerson – J.Gray – Gilchrist – Walker – Brown – Schoeman

    Steyn – Redpath – Price – Crosbie – Hodgson – Fagerson – Ashman – Bhatti

    Out: Gray (citing), Watson & Sutherland (Injury)

    Need to build depth at TH & SH, Walker & Horne get a start.

    Bench was a weakness last time, so Price and and Fagerson should help with that and bring experience and energy to close out the game.

    Centre Partnership – Meh but i’m just tired of seeing it change every game, hopefully attack can improve with time together.

  37. Hogg, Graham, Tuipulotu, Redpath, VDW, Russell, White
    Dempsey, Crosbie, Ritchie, R.Gray, GG, Nel, Ashman, Schoeman
    Kinghorn, Bennett, Horne
    M.Fagerson, J.Gray, Z.Fagerson, F.Brown, J.Bhatti

    1. Considering its 6 day turnaround and its last chance before 6N …I’d be tempted to run with something like…
      Smith, Graham, Tuipulotu, Redpath, VDW, Russell, White
      Dempsey, Crosbie, Ritchie, R.Gray, GG, Walker, Ashman, Schoeman
      Kinghorn, Bennett, Horne
      Bayliss, Hunter-Hill, Z.Fagerson, F.Brown, J.Bhatti

      It’s a difficult one…we still dont have the right combinations in place…but we need consistency…there are players we still need to see more of ….and also we can’t walk away from this match with anything other than a good performance and win.

      1. The Argentine are no mugs. We lost the Series , this is a time to win by 20 IMO. Play a decent side. You lot are worse than the pupetmaster with your trial combinations. But there is one certaintly, whatever team we select , it will not be right, because ony GT knows what is best and his decison is final.

        Now I am giving a fair warning , that the day he is heaved out , this blog will not be able to cope with the posts. I predict it will be the busiest day on the blog, it may even collapse.

      2. By the look and tone of GT post NZ Match…..the end might be closer than many expect.

        And I’m pretty sure everyone who posts a lineup knows full well its a lottery…..

  38. I think we will really miss R.Gray who has turned our line out from a shoot show to a reliable ball winner. He’s also been in fine form in the loose.

    Bass Rock. I don’t think their selections are that out there. There needs to be rotation as there’s always injuries but what gets on my goat is players out of position and not selecting quality like Hutchinson and Horne.

  39. When is the Richie Gray hearing – Nothing in the Internet other than Scotland Confident he will be ok.

    1. Has anyone ever been found not guilty at a hearing? They only do it when they have sufficient evidence.

  40. Line out a concern for Saturday then. Won’t go into the woeful disciplinary process, it’s pretty much beyond contempt.
    So GG and Gray Jnr in second row, not the most dynamic pairing but Glen Young didn’t have a good game and not sure if still in the squad or released so would prefer Hunter-Hill on the bench.
    I can really feel the toonbola whirring into action. Yet another centre pairing perhaps, Russell released so end up with BK at 10? Would like to see Crosbie as the Mish replacement but perhaps Ritchie to open and then any of Fagerson, Dempsey, Haining, Christie or Bayliss could be picked for 6 & 8. This is Toonie’s selection after all.

    1. Just read TOL article and one member of the disciplinary panel was Argentinian!!! You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried!

  41. Can anyone tell me what odds are available on Blair starting at fly half – maybe would not be worth the bet!

  42. The thing that pisses me off the most is that there’s undoubtedly a very good team in there, GT just cannot make it work. IMO the sensible choice would be to jettison him now but common sense and the SRU are not bedfellows….

    1. yeah this is what I keep coming back to in my head. When some external influence such as doddie galvanises the team and gets them to the right emotional pitch we see what they could be capable of but for most of this year they have been flat and disjointed and you suspect that despite the PR something is not right behind the scenes. I’m actually a bit worried about Jamie Ritchie. He strikes me at the definition of Telfords ‘honest player’ I’m not sure he’s a guy who can peddle a lie for long without it eating him up. Lets see how they go this week, I hope i’m wrong. If they can get near that intensity, focus and discipline again they will win convincingly.

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