Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

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Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Mon Nov 19, 2018 10:54 am

First topic message reminder :

Scotland v Argentina
Saturday 24th November

BT Murrayfield Stadium
Edinburgh

KO 14.30

Well Scotland head to another almost full house at Murrayfield with a slightly mixed bag of results from the AIs so far.

A sluggish performance against Wales

A very good win against a strong Fiji

A what might have been loss against a strong SA side.

We have probably improved game on game if we are honest but so have the opposition. We will very much be looking to end our campaign on a high note.


Argentina are not SA, thery have lost their first two games of their tour, but they are no pushovers either and will no doubt still be smarting a little at the shellacking they took from Scotland down south over the summer, when they were given a bit of a lesson. However since then they have had a new coach come in, the legendary Super Mario Ledsema, who over the course of the rugby championship, had them playing back in their old style. It has been a long season for them though and it remains to be seen if they can raise themselves one last time before going on their summer holidays.

The Scotland selection will be interesting. Toonie stated that it was unlikely that anyone would play more than three games, though it was not clear if that counted bench appearences. It is also his last chance to do any tinkering and have a look at anyone. Surely in the 6N, he will be playing what he considers his strongest team.

For the squad, WC places are up for grabs and some players may not get another chance and so Scotland need to put on a good performance.

I think he will role the dice a little bit for this one, in many ways he has to. My stab at the team:

1. Allen
2. Brown
3. Berghan
4. Gilchrist
5. Gray
6. Skinner
7. Watson
8. Strauss
9. Horne G
10. Hastings
11. Graham
12. Dunbar
13. Jones
14. Maitland
15. Kinghorn

Reid
Turner
McCallam
Cummings
Graham G
Laidlaw
Russell
Harris

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:02 pm

Sanchez is having a mare

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Anglobraveheart on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:04 pm

We need wee George on.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:05 pm

are we living dangerously or what!

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:06 pm

Great work by Skinner to get back and make the tackle

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:07 pm

Nel has been poor since coming on

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:10 pm

Argentina handling errors have kept us in this game

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Eejit on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:11 pm

However this turns out there aren't many passmarks in this game.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:13 pm

TheMildlyFranticLlama wrote:Argentina handling errors have kept us in this game

and dreadful place kicking!

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Anglobraveheart on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:14 pm

I can't believe how frustratingly slow Laidlaw has been.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Heuer27 on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:14 pm

Poor in the forwards, poor at half back,poor in midfield, average back three. Thank god Argentina have been crap today.


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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by tigertattie on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:15 pm

Make absolutely no mistake. We didn’t win that game. Argentina lost it.

Hastings Russell didn’t work.

Forwards still aren’t working as a unit.

We’re not playing heads up rugby.

Had Sanchez not had boots like 50p pieces, we’d have lost that

I actually nearly nodded off at one point in the first half.
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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:15 pm

Well we will take it, but not our finest hour

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Heuer27 on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:15 pm

Creevy my man of the match.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Anglobraveheart on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:17 pm

That's got to be the biggest get out of jail card for a long time. Did I just hear Laidlaw MoM? He killed the game for us FFS.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:17 pm

Well that brings a pretty disappointing autumn to a close. It was important we got that win, but I'm with tiger, that was Argentina's to lose and they duly obliged.

A worrying lack of progress if we're being honest with ourselves.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:17 pm

Well a wins a win but that was utter horse crap. Argentina should have won that.

Ritchie and Brown the only starters with pass marks, everyone else crap. Dunbar and Wilson made decent impact.

Really disappointing.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by tigertattie on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:18 pm

Who the hell picked motm???

Ritchie was the only player who played a decent game
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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:19 pm

Again we struggled a bit in a game we were the favourites in, but to our credit we did close it out, something we have not always been good at.

In fairness they never looked like scoring a try and our defence was very good and we were eventually clinical with our try, so not all doom and gloom. Sometimes you just got to take the win and move on.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Eejit on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:20 pm

Greg Laidlaw man of the match, you must be joking. Ritchie was good again. Fraser Brown looks miles ahead of Rambo at the moment.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:23 pm

Another game where we've looked under powered too.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:28 pm

BigGee wrote:Again we struggled a bit in a game we were the favourites in, but to our credit we did close it out, something we have not always been good at.
Sometimes you just got to take the win and move on.

I do feel like we need to start having a bit more ambition as a fanbase Gee, yes 3 or 4 years ago we wouldn't have come away with a win but we really need to be aiming higher now or this team isn't going to progress. We've come a long way, but our progress has stuttered this autumn and we really need to pick up again or we'll be stuck where we are and other sides will overtake us.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Eejit on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:31 pm

TheMildlyFranticLlama wrote:
BigGee wrote:Again we struggled a bit in a game we were the favourites in, but to our credit we did close it out, something we have not always been good at.
Sometimes you just got to take the win and move on.

I do feel like we need to start having a bit more ambition as a fanbase Gee, yes 3 or 4 years ago we wouldn't have come away with a win but we really need to be aiming higher now or this team isn't going to progress. We've come a long way, but our progress has stuttered this autumn and we really need to pick up again or we'll be stuck where we are and other sides will overtake us.

Agree. With the exception of Italy, the rest of the teams in the Six Nations are starting to hit a run of form. If we don't step up we'll finish fifth again which would be a real disappointment in a world cup year.


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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:31 pm

TheMildlyFranticLlama wrote:
BigGee wrote:Again we struggled a bit in a game we were the favourites in, but to our credit we did close it out, something we have not always been good at.
Sometimes you just got to take the win and move on.

I do feel like we need to start having a bit more ambition as a fanbase Gee, yes 3 or 4 years ago we wouldn't have come away with a win but we really need to be aiming higher now or this team isn't going to progress. We've come a long way, but our progress has stuttered this autumn and we really need to pick up again or we'll be stuck where we are and other sides will overtake us.


And to be fair I'd class that more as Argentina didn't take their chances as opposed to us closing the game out!

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by 123456789. on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:37 pm

Really hoping Adam Ashe can get a run of games together as I think he could be the closest thing we have to an answer at 8. It probably wasn't the ideal game for Hastings and Russell to play together with the conditions the way they were. The worry for me however was it wasn't clear really who was the fly-half, and whereas with England when Ford and Farrell play together or the Lions when Sexton and Farrell did both players took control of the game and ran the show here both players seemed to abandon that responsibility and instead used it as an opportunity to have a run around. Jones and Hogg seemed to suffer as a consequence and I do think Dunbar's greatest asset may be that his size draws in defenders leaving Hogg and Jones with space outside. Russell does not have that presence. However, this is not a team designed to play in those conditions and Argentina are no mugs and we've beaten them, it's 7 years now since we lost to the Argies and beaten them five times in a row in that time.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:47 pm

Bradbury returning will give us a big physical option at 8 and is better than Ashe IMO. Blade Thomson getting injured was a big blow too as he would have added lots of physicality and athleticism into the mix.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:48 pm

RDW_Scotland wrote:
TheMildlyFranticLlama wrote:
BigGee wrote:Again we struggled a bit in a game we were the favourites in, but to our credit we did close it out, something we have not always been good at.
Sometimes you just got to take the win and move on.

I do feel like we need to start having a bit more ambition as a fanbase Gee, yes 3 or 4 years ago we wouldn't have come away with a win but we really need to be aiming higher now or this team isn't going to progress. We've come a long way, but our progress has stuttered this autumn and we really need to pick up again or we'll be stuck where we are and other sides will overtake us.


And to be fair I'd class that more as Argentina didn't take their chances as opposed to us closing the game out!

You guys are making it sound like Argentina are a bunch of no hopers. Yes we hammered them last time we met but since then, they have beaten South Africa and Australia. They are a good side who are improving and will no doubt, as they usually are, be a lot more competitive in the WC next year. They are never an easy team to beat. Scottish fans are very hard on their team when they have managed to scrap out a win without playing well, this is the sort of game we almost certainly would have lost a few years ago.

Some would say that winning without playing well is a skill in itself and the sign of a good team.

Toonie has been experimenting this autumn, no doubt about it, some things have worked others have not and a few things he tried today clearly did not work out. I would be surprised if we see Hastings and Russell starting together in the 6N for example.

I hope he know nails down a starting side and largely sticks with it. The money games are still to come

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 4:59 pm

BigGee wrote:
RDW_Scotland wrote:
TheMildlyFranticLlama wrote:
BigGee wrote:Again we struggled a bit in a game we were the favourites in, but to our credit we did close it out, something we have not always been good at.
Sometimes you just got to take the win and move on.

I do feel like we need to start having a bit more ambition as a fanbase Gee, yes 3 or 4 years ago we wouldn't have come away with a win but we really need to be aiming higher now or this team isn't going to progress. We've come a long way, but our progress has stuttered this autumn and we really need to pick up again or we'll be stuck where we are and other sides will overtake us.


And to be fair I'd class that more as Argentina didn't take their chances as opposed to us closing the game out!

You guys are making it sound like Argentina are a bunch of no hopers. Yes we hammered them last time we met but since then, they have beaten South Africa and Australia. They are a good side who are improving and will no doubt, as they usually are, be a lot more competitive in the WC next year. They are never an easy team to beat. Scottish fans are very hard on their team when they have managed to scrap out a win without playing well, this is the sort of game we almost certainly would have lost a few years ago.

Some would say that winning without playing well is a skill in itself and the sign of a good team.

Toonie has been experimenting this autumn, no doubt about it, some things have worked others have not and a few things he tried today clearly did not work out. I would be surprised if we see Hastings and Russell starting together in the 6N for example.

I hope he know nails down a starting side and largely sticks with it. The money games are still to come

I know what you're saying but they're the only 2 games they've won all year! Beating the current Australia team is nothing to shout home about and a home win against an SA who were in transition at the time isn't a huge surprise. If we're trying to makes claims for the top 3 in the 6N the current Argentina team shouldnt be one that we would have to scrape home against. I also think they were knackered after 2 tough tests in a row at the end of their season yet we kept the tempo painfully slow.

We won today because we took one chance and Argentina missed numerous kicks and goal and spilled the slippery ball twice while we were all at sea. It's not like our ferocious defence or a key turnover got us the win - it was Argentinian mistakes.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:05 pm

It was our 4th match in 4 weeks as well and we left an awful lot on the pitch last weekend against the Boks as well, there was almost inevitably going to be a bit of a come down after that and the weather probably just confirmed that.

2 wins from 4 in a very hard autumn series, often without having our best side out. Probably just about what we would have hoped for.

Take the learning and move on.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:23 pm

Aye 2 from 4 is probably pass marks, but what is disappointing is we've found more things to be worried about instead of more things to be happy about!

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Eejit on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:25 pm

Not sure how it sounded to others but it sounded like people were booing when Pablo Matera was trying to do his post-match interview. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but if so that really isn't on.

If anything we've learned quite a lot this autumn. Looking ahead, in my opinion:
-Zander should be the starting tighthead going forward as Nel has gone backwards a little with Fraser Brown and maybe Allan Dell completing the front three. I'm hypercritical of Rambo on here almost entirely to annoy RDW, but Brown is playing better at the moment.
-Jonny Gray hasn't had a particularly good autumn but he's still far and away our best second row. His Richieness, GG (the luvvie one) and Toolis are all still in the conversation for the other jersey but Skinner looks like he's going to be a big player for us this coming year.
-We missed the Captain terribly and the No8 problem isn't going away. Strauss looks a shadow of his former self and Wilson may have played his way out the squad. If not he has compromising pictures of Toonie. Watson has the 7 shirt sown up and Jamie Ritchie will be an absolute terror to come off the bench against tired legs.
-Frodo is painfully slow and he somehow was even worse today but he's in it for the long haul whether we like it or not. George Horne probably the next cab off the rank now and he is really special. Other than that I have no idea. Ali Price was awful last night again. How is Hooray Henry faring at Edinburgh? Possible last ditch move for Finlay Christie of the Canes maybe?
-Russell is our 10 despite being possibly the most infuriatingly inconsistent player I've ever seen. Hastings is still really green but finally we're not relying on Peter Horne is our backup fly half.
-I reckon in Toonie's mind his first choice 12 is the injured Duncan Taylor and anyone else is a backstop till he's fit. Furraliney, Dunbar, Scott may be fighting for seconds
-Jones is the 13.
-Our back three is Seymour, Hogg and Maitland and its as good a back three as any in world rugby. Barry and King Blairhorn are backup.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:34 pm

Brown has done fine without anything stand out but I think it's more Mcinally's form has dropped - he's been flogged by Cockers this season which hasn't helped.

He's done nothing wrong but isn't as stand out a player as he was in the 6N and last AIs!

Good to have both of them fit though - I don't mind who starts and in the 6N it should be who is best on form.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:38 pm

Wilson actually played very well when he came on today.

Say what you like, until others stand up and are counted, he will stay in the mix

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 5:39 pm

BigGee wrote:Wilson actually played very well when he came on today.

Say what you like, until others stand up and are counted, he will stay in the mix
Agreed - he added directness that Strauss didn't.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by tigertattie on Sat Nov 24, 2018 6:26 pm

I think Strauss just can’t step up to the extra pace of international rugby.

Wilson isn’t the answer either.

We need Bradbury to start making steps to live up to his potential or we need blade Thomson to be the saviour of ball carrying rugby in Scotland

I’m not a professional coach but I think other countries have worked us out at the breakdown. Because we don’t have a destructive carrier, a line of defence is all that’s needed to repel the next Scottish attack and teams don’t need a second line against us. This means they can defend wider or they can look at attacking the ruck rather than setting up for the next wave. This is why we’re getting screwed at the breakdown.
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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by bsando on Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:03 pm

TheMildlyFranticLlama wrote:Well that brings a pretty disappointing autumn to a close. It was important we got that win, but I'm with tiger, that was Argentina's to lose and they duly obliged.

A worrying lack of progress if we're being honest with ourselves.

Remember when Wales used to have terrible Autumns then win the 6N? Really really hope that’s happening next year.. Whistle

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by bsando on Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:08 pm

Wins a win in the end and Ireland struggled against Arg too. I think Townsend has learnt a lot from these games and will have a good idea of who can step up for the 6N and who maybe can’t. Quite a lot of experimentation too this autumn so that surely adds inconsistencies to performances. I think a lot has been learned and hopefully no more injuries will mean a strong squad for the 6N’s. From what I’ve seen, Thomson could start at 8 or be on the bench at least. It’s been a weak area for a while now and I think he can slot in there nicely. We’ll see I guess..

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:17 pm

Fiji just beat France if that puts our victory against them into any sort of perspective!

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by RDW_Scotland on Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:25 pm

Holy crap - glad we played them before they got their act together!

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by tigertattie on Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:28 pm

It’s been a bit of an odd AI series for everyone.

Ireland, England and Wales have gone forward
SA and Oz have been up and down
We’ve gone back a bit (hopefully this was just from tinkering and we settle again for the 6ns
Arg have remained a bit poo
France have probably gone backwards
NZ probably regressed a tad

For me the biggest frustration has been world rugby’s weird law interpretations. They’ve been trying to clamp down on high tackles but offsides and squint thrown ins have been almost totally ignored.

My biggest issue are the horrible “chop tackles” where defenders launch themselves at ball carriers ankles. So often the ball carrier goes erse over tit and ploughs face first into the ground. Surely this is dangerous???
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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:35 pm

Fiji deserved to win and great credit to them, but you have to say France were awful and tried to play a game of chuck it about against them, basically playing right into their hands.

This French team still pretty fragile, you could just see the belief ebbing away from them as the game went on and defeat loamed up on them.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by Eejit on Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:38 pm

It was a terrific game to watch for a neutral. Fiji tried their best to throw it away in a way only themselves and Glasgow can do but they held in it to win it.

Fiji had a penalty on the France tryline after the clock had gone red, Ben Volavola was screaming that the game was over and all he had to do was kick it out and everyone around him was wanting him to tap and go to score the try. Madness.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by TJ on Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:54 am

I am going to make a defence of laidlaw.  With quick ball he is quick both to the ruck and to get it away and he is by far the best passer we have at 9.  ON slow ball yes he does take his time.  No point in trying to turn slow ball into quick ball.  that way mistakes happen.  His one big advantage is he doesn't make mistakes.  We have enough folk on the pitch who do that Wink


We need his calm head on the pitch .  Its no coincidence that we look better when he is there.  Last year I thought his time in a Scotland shirt was over but when he came back into the side he showed his value to the team by getting them organised and by picking the right options.  He is also a fearless defender.

So don't focus on him being slow on slow ball.  focus onwhat he brings.  Calmness in decision making, a fantastic accurate pass.  Decent box kicks and experience and maturity.

Wee Horne is going to eclipse him one day - that day is not now.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sun Nov 25, 2018 10:37 am

I think Toonie probably feels the same, which is why he did not bring Horne off the bench.

It was a day for a calm head and lots of control, Laidlaw's forte, not to introduce some chaos at the end of the match.

If GH can learn the virtues of control from Greig and add it to his own attributes of speed and daring, he will become a very good player indeed.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by sensisball on Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:34 pm

I concur about Greg and quick ball. Playing behind a dominant Clermont pack he has been comfortable getting ball away with precision and pace to Cammie Lopez to set their backs free.
His goal kicking has also been great. Probably showing the best club form of his career at the mo.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by tigertattie on Sun Nov 25, 2018 12:42 pm

Hmmm I can see what you are saying, but Frodo gets to the ruck then has a look around to see what’s happening. To me he’s a bit slow with service at as our game is built around playing at high tempo, in my opinion, wee Greig slows things down too much.

What it does highlight is that when teams Muller us at the breakdown and stop our high speed game, as a team we either don’t adjust to make sure we get quicker ball or revert to plan B. We seem to stick at trying plan A but we’re not executing

Hopefully toonie will look at things over the winter and tinker with the team and tactics so we can hit the 6ns running
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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by TJ on Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:06 pm

but Frodo gets to the ruck then has a look around to see what’s happening. To me he’s a bit slow with service at as our game is built around playing at high tempo, in my opinion, wee Greig slows things down too much.

When the ball is quick and well presented he does not.  He is as quick as anyone.  His real flaw is he is not much of a running threat

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by reallybored on Sun Nov 25, 2018 1:18 pm

We lacked go forward with ball in hand and our defence is far too passive compared to other top teams.

Fingers crossed we have Fagerson, Gray & Bradbury available for the RWC, all three would add some much needed grunt and power to our pack.

In the backs the problem position is 12; Dunbar is too much of a passenger right now and everyone else is injured.  Horne usually does a good but we're too lightweight up-front to have him in the centre unless there's a bosh merchant at 13.

Disappointing series overall but very pleased Ritchie proved his test-credentials.

*Laidlaw isn't the problem, there's very little he can do to speed up play if our players are constantly having to retreat. Where when we got on the front-foot for Maitland's try he was on the money.

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by BigGee on Sun Nov 25, 2018 2:03 pm

The Tom English take on the series, pretty reasonable sum up I think:


In a rugby year at Murrayfield that brought so much guile and so many thrills, there was a perverse end to it all on Saturday when just about the ugliest home Test of this, and many other years, played out in a dreary afternoon of thud and blunder.

Scotland's win over Argentina was ugly. How ugly? It's hard to capture it, but think Peter Wright in his underpants ugly and you would be on the right lines. No doubt, once he had administered some Wrightian retribution, the great man would concur with that last assessment.

The uncompromising prop-turned-pundit might also say that he is not all that bothered about how Scotland won on Saturday, just as long as they won. And it would be difficult, and probably unwise, to argue with him.






◾️Scotland hold on to sink Argentina
◾️Scots 'must improve' for Six Nations - Townsend

This has been a curious autumn for Scotland. They ended with two wins from four. It could have been four from four and it could have been one from four, however you want to cut it. They lost games against Wales and South Africa that they might have won and won a game against Argentina that they might have lost.

Sam Skinner emerged and he has put himself in the box-seat for major involvement in the Six Nations and beyond.

On Saturday, if there was something vaguely humorous about a Chief (from Exeter) denying a man called Jeronimo (De La Fuente) a near-certain try with only seven minutes left on the clock, then it didn't seem all that funny at the time.

Those were hairy moments for Scotland, but they got through them. Just as a fine margin denied them a win against the Springboks, a fine margin saw them home against the Pumas.

This autumn was supposed to see the arrival of not just Skinner but also Blade Thomson, the Kiwi-Scot transplanted in Llanelli to play for the Scarlets. Thomson has pedigree and, it would seem, a whole lot of class. Scotland's search for back-up in the area of high-energy footballing hard men in the back-row continues because Thomson was invalided out.



Scotland autumn results

Until he steps up to Test level it is difficult to assess him on this stage, but he looks like a player who can stay involved in the action, who can bring his influence to bear, who can do the dirty work up front while also getting round the outside to run and create.

If there was one crying shame of the series, it was that we didn't get a look at Thomson. That will have to wait.

Scotland worship at the altar of quick ruck ball, but didn't get enough of it against Wales, South Africa or Argentina. Their travails in contact is the theme of the moment. They want to play the fastest rugby on the planet and are coming up against teams who are more attuned to their danger than ever before.

Opponents know one of the secrets to stopping Scotland is to check their momentum at the breakdown. That is an issue head coach Gregor Townsend spoke about at length on Saturday. It is one of the big challenges facing him as he heads into the Six Nations and for every minute of every day from now until then he will be praying that injured John Barclay is back in the loop.

Barclay, 32, brings belligerence and nous in the back-row. He brings the breakdown canniness that Scotland have had a lack of at key times against the bigger nations in the autumn. The contact area is king nowadays. For Scotland, it is everything. It is the launch pad for nearly all that is good about them.

The quick-fire attacks that catch teams by surprise - many of them start with quick ruck ball. When it comes to the Six Nations, Scotland need Barclay fit and well every bit as much as they need Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg.



John Barclay

Barclay could only be a spectator at Murrayfield on Saturday

We seem to say it nearly every year, but this Six Nations championship looks like being the most competitive of them all. There is a lot to admire in Scotland and, with three home games at Murrayfield, there are sound reasons to be cheerful about what might happen. The championship, though, is going to be so brutally hard that Townsend's team could win anything from just one game to, possibly, four.

It could be a title bid or a damp squib. The thrill is in not quite knowing which one it is going to be.

As world number two who have just turned over world number one, Ireland, the current champions and Grand Slam winners, are the favourite. They played 12 Tests in 2018 and won 11 of them. They won in Paris, they won at Twickenham, they won a Test series in Australia and then beat New Zealand in Dublin. They have the greatest team, the greatest depth and the greatest coach in their history, Joe Schmidt.

Wales should be considered (only slight) second favourites for they, too, are on an almighty roll. Their victory over South Africa on Saturday was their ninth straight Test win. Wales' depth is tremendous and Ireland have to play them at the Principality Stadium on the final weekend. What a howitzer that could be.

There are growing signs, also, England are beginning to get their act together following autumn victories over South Africa, Australia and a near-miss against New Zealand. France? Who knows? Just when you think that they're beginning to rev up the engine, the machine conks out again.




More than the rest, Ireland and Wales have hardened warriors in all key positions and have more hardened warriors on the bench ready to come on when the starters are carried off on their shields. Up front, their depth is scary. Their respective back-rows contain a legion of leaders and players of enormous toughness and influence.

Ireland can pick three from Peter O'Mahony, Dan Leavy, CJ Stander, Rhys Ruddock, Josh van der Flier, Jordi Murphy, Jack Conan and Sean O'Brien. All have featured in their record-busting 2018.

Wales, in the post-Sam Warburton era, have Justin Tipuric, Dan Lydiate, Ross Moriarty, Adam Shingler, Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins (magnificent against South Africa on Saturday but cruelly injured late on), James Davies and Taulupe Faletau. There are one or two others on the periphery as well.

These guys are immensely powerful and clever and instrumental in the success their team has had. Scotland have a shortfall in that area.

Townsend has good players, but how many great ones does he have? There is Barclay and Hamish Watson on the flanks with the highly promising Jamie Ritchie. There is Magnus Bradbury and Matt Fagerson, who in time might become serious players at the top end of the game. There is Ryan Wilson and Dave Denton. There is the unknown quantity of Gary Graham and the optimism surrounding Thomson. Josh Strauss started on Saturday but didn't do his case much good.



Scotland turnover stats

On average, Scotland conceded 12.6 turnovers per Test in 2018

Lots of bodies, but how many are in the same category as those they are going up against in the coming months? That is the question. Scotland are improving, but so are the behemoths of the Six Nations.

Scotland have the golden chance of a momentum builder with Italy at home on the first weekend, with Ireland coming to Murrayfield in round two and then a trip to France - who just lost to Fiji in Paris - in round three. As schedules go, that is not half bad. As tournaments go, it is enough to make you giddy.

Scotland can now take a breather (for about 15 seconds) before going again and again and again, all the way through the spring, the summer and back into the autumn and the World Cup.







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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by jimbopip on Sun Nov 25, 2018 2:19 pm

I know this will bring howls of derision but if you look at our first try against the Boks; we drew their blitz defence and passed round it, then the speed of passing and support running destroyed them, I will argue that it was, mostly, down to Furra Linee being at 12. He receives the ball from Dancer ridiculously deep, straightens the line and then passes to Jones once the Boks have bitten. he is also on hand to finish the move. Now for all his qualities Alex Dunbar never takes the ball deep, nor does he distribute as well as the ScottyCrotty. However, Dunbar does lots of things that make him, arguably, first choice.

As for the AI's as a whole

FRONT ROW Missed Zander, Nel has been a lot more dominant than he is currently. Brown/Rambo looking good. Everyone else; solid but no stand outs.
SECOND ROW Deep intake of breath Is Jonny, despite all his obvious positives, NASTY enough to become the player we all think he can be? Skinner looks like the real deal. GG (Blouse, Girls, Big) and Toolis played well but like most of our front rows never really dominated a match. [i]Skinner-Surfer Dude could that be the dream pairing?/i]
BACK ROW Barclay was missed. And then some. Watson is nailed on, but then? Ritchie looked very promising. Fagerson too in his limited time. Barclay-Bradbury-Watson? Fagerson to bench? Certainly Bluto should have kicked on yesterday but didn't.

Scrummy. picard Frodo's box kicks were second best to Papier last week and yesterday just gave the Pumas good attacking positions. Against that Aldi Price seems to be having a slow motion nervous breakdown of a year. Horne the Younger should start ALL of the 6N matches to find out if he should go into the World Cup as our first choice. (We know everything there is about Frodo's game).

10. Dancer is the best we have, but his "daring do" led to the Boks tries last week. hastings is the next cab off the rank BUT Toonie obviously wants a couple of "versatile" players in the squad so Hastings may lose out to Johnson or The ScottyCrotty. There seems to be no credible third no 10 pushing for inclusion.

12-13 Someone & Huw Jones. Jones is a Test Match Animal and should be our first choice 13. I don't think we're any closer to knowing who our first choice 12 is. But it's not Chris Harris.

Back Three Sleepy Sean-Hoggy- Seymour/King HornBlare


I just have a sneaky feeling that these four matches haven't produced too many positive answers. When we go ahead early and teams need to open up and attack, Fiji, we usually win. When we fall behind early, Wales /Boks, we usually lose. The Pumas fell behind early but refused to come out to play so the game was turgid because we couldn't break them down.
So do we develop a kicking/ territory based first quarter, keep it tight and hope for two or three penalties and then counter-punch our way to victory? Or do we pray for a linebreaking back row to appear? Headscratch

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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

Post by tigertattie on Sun Nov 25, 2018 7:01 pm

Ah jimbo, how I’ve missed your spouts of wordy gibberish of late.

A few things I’d respectfully disagree with you on

1. Horne the younger/faster/better cant start all the 6ns as we’ll need to use this a platform to build for for World Cup so it’s Frodo for the majority. Now take heart that I agree that wee George is the future for us at 9. But his future starts after the World Cup.

Ps, everyone saying Frodo was instrumental in the try on Saturday are getting a bit carried away. Frodo was all set to ponderously pass the ball down the line again at it was only Hogg’s Shout that made him change his mind. That try was all Hogg.

2. Horne Furra linee/slower/shoiter is not and never should be our go to 12. He’s just too crap/inconsistent. He’ll have shockers in 4 out of 5 games. The 6ns will hopefully have Matt Scott (12) or his Taylorness ready to rumble. Otherwise it’s sunny Dunny everyday to provide much needed go forward physicality at centre.

The good news is that as we live and die at the breakdown, getting Barclay back will make a massive difference and hopefully Thomson will be that ball carrier we’re missing to keep opposition defences honest (which we sorely lacked this AI)

The good news is that the AI will have folk thinking we’re not up to much. Meanwhile England and Wales will be strutting about thinking they are god’s gift to NH rugby while Ireland continue to be the overall consistent performers that they are.

I’m really hoping that this AI series was just an experiment too far and that toonie knows what he wants and how the team can do it.
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Re: Scotland v Argentina Saturday 24th November 2018

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