Italy v Scotland Saturday 22nd February 2020

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Post by BigGee on Sat 15 Feb 2020, 5:53 pm

First topic message reminder :

Italy v Scotland
Stadio Olympico
Rome

Saturday 22nd February
KO 15.15


Well a very important game for both sides bearing in mind they are both two from two the wrong way around. The traditional wooden spoon game looks like it might be living up to its billing again.

Both sides have proved they can play a bit, Italy against France and Scotland against Ireland, but both have shown their lack of killer instinct as well. Scotland in particular have given a masterclass in wasted possession in their first two games.

Both teams will feel this is a game that that can and should win and the winner may come from whoever deals with the pressure of that the better. Scotland have started both games so far pretty well, which is one big positive you can take from the new Toonie era. It used to be traditional for us to give everyone a head start and then play catch up. If we get our noises in front a bit in this game, then I feel we will probably win quite comfortably. If it is close though, then it becomes anyone's game. In truth Italy should have won the last time we played in Rome and they easily could do so again.

So what about selection for this game?

We have lost twice now and so, despite playing well, some changes are appropriate. We may get some hints when we get a squad update probably tomorrow.

A few players showed some pretty good form last night in Glasgow. In Llanelli this afternoon, the weather made it more of a lottery again and it was difficult to see any standouts.

Johnny Gray is the only known injury from the first two rounds and he will now sit out the rest of the championship. Some of our other walking wounded will be back though, Skinner came through a game for Exeter on Friday night and Matt Fagerson was in barn storming form for Glasgow as well. Darcy Graham has been spotted training with Scotland again and shown doing so in social media postings.

I am hoping we may see a side out something like this:

1. Sutherland - an impressive couple of games in his international recall
2. McInally - has probably edged the battle of the hookers, but also has had wobbly darts
3. Fagerson Z - I think it is his shirt now
4. Skinner - good enough to come straight back in I think and can also cover the back row
5. Cummings - he us a talent and needs persevering with
6. Ritchie - not quite on WC form but been steady enough
7. Watson - Not been on best form yet, but has a lot of credit in the bank
8. Fagerson M - Bradbury did not play well and has been out of from, he deserves his chance
9. Horne G - in scintillating form on Friday night, a close call but he deserves his chance
10. Hastings - easiest call of all
11. Graham - would have played all three games if fit
12. Johnson - Good case for matt scott, but SJ may have been our best back in first two games
13. Jones H - Another very tight call, but may be worthy of one more crack
14. Kinghorn - a greater attacking threat than Maitland these days
15. Hogg - looked back in good form on Friday night

Subs

Dell - still lacking in options at LH
Turner - deserves a chance, had a great game on Friday night
Nel - Berghan was poor against England, so the old boy is not done yet
Craig - this seems like the game to try him out, he looks a talent as well
Gordon - this is a tight call as Haining also played well today and the choice may come down to tactics, another dynamic player or a carrier? would be happy with either
Price - touch and go with Horne
Hutchinson - deserves a decent run out this time around and can over FH and both centres
Maitland - covers the back three


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Post by RDW on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 11:13 am

Hamish Watson's stats are freakish - he was our joint top carrier with Hastings on 14 (and they were 14 very different carries from Hastings!) Plus our top tackler on 15. Plus all his turnovers and ruck disruption!

Bradbury did a lot more carrying than I remember - 13 for 34m. He only had 3 tackles though.

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Post by tigertattie on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 12:54 pm

And a knock on right in front of the line.

So much promise. Such a damp squib
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Post by bsando on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 2:01 pm

For all the talk of Hastings playing poorly he bagged me 100 points in fantasy Rugby this weekend (doubled as he was my captain). I think the game plan yesterday seemed to be pin Italy back and feed off their mistakes. It was a really impressive defensive display I thought and to have only conceded 2 tries in 3 games is really good! Tandy has done well!

For France I really hope Horne starts, he was fantastic when he came on. He is brilliant around the ruck and his box kicks were excellent yesterday. He’ll really give Dupont a hard time of it.

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Post by RDW on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 2:03 pm

Just saw a load of sporting events have been cancelled in Italy and today due to Corona virus. We're potentially lucky the game got played!

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Post by NeilyBroon on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 2:55 pm

RDW wrote:Just saw a load of sporting events have been cancelled in Italy and today due to Corona virus. We're potentially lucky the game got played!

Or unlucky if you were next to someone with a runny nose in the stadium!

All things considered I'll definitely take this win. If we can score twice or three times against France and Wales and just show some execution in our attack, then maybe things are starting to look up. Throw a new forwards coach into the mix next season, it could look a lot better. Toonie needs to put the book down and look back at some videos of the late cotter era. Simple, effective go forward rugby. Less is definitely more for Scotland, the players are capable of playing what's in front of them, they prove it week in, week out at club let them do that. If it doesn't work fine, you have a bench that you can use.
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Post by 123456789. on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 4:29 pm

I don't think the late Cotter era is an option for a blueprint until Finn Russell is back in the picture, if he ever is. Everything about how we played was a reflection of Finn Russell. Our attack was all about the triple threat of Russell, Jones and Hogg. Jones isn't quite where he was rugby wise, and Russell is literally in a different place. So there's no point trying to go back to that way until we have that personnel back. To play that way we need those players playing well for Scotland. But for those players to come back we need to be playing that way.

I don't think you can quite disassociate the situation with Jones and Russell to the big tactical switch that we saw last Six Nations. I don't think I've ever seen a situation in rugby, or indeed any sport, where a coach has made such a destructive tactical switch. In the two seasons from the Summer Tour 2016 through to the beginning of the Six Nations 2019, we managed to beat every Six Nations team, Argentina home and away, Australia home and away, and finished within a score of New Zealand and South Africa. Now a lot of that came under Townsend's coaching but it's fair to say that there was blueprint that remained in place across both coaches. I cannot think of a single good reason to have changed the approach, and I cannot think of any result in the intervening time that has vindicated it. The only good result we've had in the last twelve and bit months was the game at Twickenham when his tactics were abandoned at half-time.

There have been changes in players, but I don't the forced changes have been downgrades. Barclay for Ritchie means with lost a bit of nous but not a huge amount. Laidlaw for Price and Horne means with lost a bit of leadership but we've gained a lot in attack. Seymour is obviously away but I think Graham and Kinghorn have the potential to be better players. Dunbar may be the biggest loss of all. But Johnson took his place fair and square.

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Post by tigertattie on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 4:46 pm

RDW wrote:Hamish Watson's stats are freakish - he was our joint top carrier with Hastings on 14 (and they were 14 very different carries from Hastings!) Plus our top tackler on 15. Plus all his turnovers and ruck disruption!

Bradbury did a lot more carrying than I remember - 13 for 34m. He only had 3 tackles though.

Where you getting the stats from flounder?
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Post by RDW on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 4:50 pm

ESPN always have stats the day after

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Post by tigertattie on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 5:03 pm

Suppose you can prove anything with starts.

Wee Horne ran 32m. Aldi price made 4

That’s quite a difference.
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Post by 123456789. on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 7:40 pm

The one memorable thing from Scott Johnson is his quote on the worth of statistics.
One pretty telling statistic is that from January 2019-Today we’ve played 10 games against top 10 opposition and won 1.
From January 2017-December 2018 we played 15 and won 8.

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Post by NeilyBroon on Sun 23 Feb 2020, 9:01 pm

Well as Toonie has proved you certainly cant coach using statistics!
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Post by jimbopip on Mon 24 Feb 2020, 10:56 am

Morning gentleeps,

I have let the dust settle before weighing in with my tuppence worth.

We won away Yahoo
We won by 17 whereas our recent wins in Rome were usually by less than 7 points Yahoo Yahoo
We nilled Italy in Rome, not too many sides do that Yahoo Yahoo Yahoo
We currently have the best defence in the tournament Erm
NoMaits, IMHO, was mightily impressive in defence.
Hamish Watson was Herculean
There were, in balance, a lot more positives than negatives.

If I can look at one aspect of the match from the wrong side of the telescope, as it were...
Cowboy Dave has said of Glasgow, and by extension Scotland, that with Finn at 10 if they hadn't scored by the fifth phase he got bored and tried to conjure up a miracle play. This more often than not would lead to turnovers and missed chances. For all his faults Haircut is more controlled and controlling. I agree with DR that Haircut will probably never be as skilful a player as the Sulking One but he may well become a better stand off. So on Saturday, we had lots of possession and rarely gave the ball away cheaply. Harris' try was a fine example; there was a sense of control and inevitability about it once we got into their 22. Would Dancer have gone through that many phases without trying to pull the proverbial rabbit out of his backside?

Earlier on this thread Numbers mentions the fall from grace after 2016-19, but we were still also rans then. Glorious failures and great to watch but still also rans. It is a truism in coaching that if you stand still everyone else moves ahead of you so perhaps Toonie decided things had to change to take the next step? It reminds me of, I think, Howard Wiklinson, after losing a managerial post lamenting "I tried to get them playing attractive football when really I should have concentrated on producing a horrible I am a twonk of the highest order difficult to beat team." I think we are now difficult to beat: is the next stage adding an attacking edge to that? One way of looking at Rome is that two of our tries, Hogg and Hastings, came primarily from good defence. The blue line held firm, turned the ball over and very quickly saw the Italians hadn't re-aligned quickly enough and attacked the space. In one sense this is exactly what Wales did against Italy.
So, is Toonie moving us closer to Warrenball? I think he is. Can Finn play Warrenball? Gatland thinks not. Could Finn keep his mouth shut and accept that the needs of the team override his need to express himself? chin
If we play the same side against France and they keep the score down and we're still in the game in the last 20 then opportunities will arise. Italy scored three tries in Paris FFS!
Toonie tried playing 100% BatshitFinnsanity rugby and it didn't work. Has he now discovered his inner Don Revie?






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Post by LondonTiger on Mon 24 Feb 2020, 11:01 am

Listening on R5L in the section between the two matches on Saturday the Irish pundit (did not catch his name as had only just climbed into the car) stated that the objectives for Scotland in each 6Ns should be:

- Beat Italy
- Be competetive against the other teams, pinching a few wins here or there (especially at home)

He then stated that so far that is what they had done - beating Italy with some ease and securing losing bonus points against Ireland and England.

Is this view over pessimistic - or is it actually realistic and sometimes Scottish pundits and fans set their expectations too high?

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Post by RDW on Mon 24 Feb 2020, 11:08 am

LondonTiger wrote:Listening on R5L in the section between the two matches on Saturday the Irish pundit (did not catch his name as had only just climbed into the car) stated that the objectives for Scotland in each 6Ns should be:

- Beat Italy
- Be competetive against the other teams, pinching a few wins here or there (especially at home)

He then stated that so far that is what they had done - beating Italy with some ease and securing losing bonus points against Ireland and England.

Is this view over pessimistic - or is it actually realistic and sometimes Scottish pundits and fans set their expectations too high?
As depressing as it is this is the view I usually take - I'd be happy with 2 wins as a minimum every year, but I know others on here disagree.

In terms of resources and ranking in world rugby we are generally expected to finish 2nd bottom every year. Therefore it is against the odds for us to do better than that, and the bookies are usually right. The thing is, we genuinely have our most talented group in a generation who have picked up some big wins over the last few years, we just can't do it consistently. As such there is a feeling/hope that we could somehow manage to pull together a run of good performance and actually be in the hunt come the end of a championship. That is unlikely to happen when we only have 2 home games (like this year), but when we have 3 home games it's not beyond the realms of possibility to beat Ireland, Wales and Italy at home and sneak a win in France (I'm pretty much writing off winning at Twickers!). There is a very remote chance, but we need consistency and an improved all round game (not just good in attack, rubbish in defence and vice-versa) for that to happen.

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Post by TJ on Mon 24 Feb 2020, 11:08 am

We were difficult to beat under Robinson! Its true we have gone backwards under Toonie. You only have to look at the win / loss ratio. Yes a better defence was needed but he has thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

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Post by jimbopip on Mon 24 Feb 2020, 11:19 am

TJ wrote:We were difficult to beat under Robinson!  Its true we have gone backwards under Toonie.  You only have to look at the win / loss ratio.  Yes a better defence was needed but he has thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

Temporarily or permanently?

Is he building towards something or has he lost the plot? Personally, I think he is deliberately changing the playing style. The question is how long will the SRU give him.

John Wooden always said that for his first four years at, whichever college he coached at, he failed to make the play offs. Then they made them and got nocked out in the first round. Then they won it....four times in a row. Then Eight times in ten years. (If I remember correctly) His point was if you get the process right and keep at it eventually you succeed. If you keep changing coaches looking for short term solutions nothing improves long term.

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Post by 123456789. on Mon 24 Feb 2020, 11:52 am

Jimbo, he is undoubtedly building toward something but he's building towards it because he's lost the plot. I do know before the big switch it seemed we were going in the right direction. We were also-rans however in 2017 and 2018 we had title deciders in both tournaments, which, to be fair, we flunked in a huge way. You knew when you watched Scotland that you would be entertained and that, at Murrayfied, you'd probably win. Now we know that we're going to be bored out of our skulls. I didn't see anything on saturday that suggested things would get better. It was more patient but probably less structured than a few years back. It was just that after 10 phases we kicked the ball rather than after 5. The example you use above about building gradually doesn't seem to take into account that we are spinning backwards.

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Post by tigertattie on Mon 24 Feb 2020, 12:30 pm

Wooden was the coach of UCLA (the fresh prince went there!)

Anyhoo, the difference with Wooden is that he had a philosophy and a game plan, implemented it, stuck to it, and was winning.

Toonie isn’t winning. Toonie also seems to have changed the game plan from "fastest rugby in the world" to "Kick it away every time"

Did he decide the fastest brand wasn’t working? if so, why has he elected to employ another brand that appears at least to be just as unsuccessful if not more so?

It's almost like the cracks were starting to show a year ago and rather than admit his direction was wrong and that a new direction was going to be implemented which meant we had to start again from scratch, he's tried to slowly alter the way the team plays and how they are set up.

Normally evolution is better than revolution but this is only the case where you are making slight changes and tweaks to perfect something. Fast attacking passing rugby and kick the ball away and pressure for mistakes rugby are completely different approaches. It looks like out players are stuck in between the two styles and don’t know what they should be doing.

Should I be running on Horne’s shoulder in case he makes a break so I can gather an offload, or should I hang out wide and get ready to chase a box kick.

I know everyone wants to play "heads up rugby" but players are not psychic. They need to be following the same style and tactics as each other first and foremost.


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Post by bsando on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 6:14 am

RDW wrote:
LondonTiger wrote:Listening on R5L in the section between the two matches on Saturday the Irish pundit (did not catch his name as had only just climbed into the car) stated that the objectives for Scotland in each 6Ns should be:

- Beat Italy
- Be competetive against the other teams, pinching a few wins here or there (especially at home)

He then stated that so far that is what they had done - beating Italy with some ease and securing losing bonus points against Ireland and England.

Is this view over pessimistic - or is it actually realistic and sometimes Scottish pundits and fans set their expectations too high?
As depressing as it is this is the view I usually take - I'd be happy with 2 wins as a minimum every year, but I know others on here disagree.

In terms of resources and ranking in world rugby we are generally expected to finish 2nd bottom every year. Therefore it is against the odds for us to do better than that, and the bookies are usually right. The thing is, we genuinely have our most talented group in a generation who have picked up some big wins over the last few years, we just can't do it consistently. As such there is a feeling/hope that we could somehow manage to pull together a run of good performance and actually be in the hunt come the end of a championship. That is unlikely to happen when we only have 2 home games (like this year), but when we have 3 home games it's not beyond the realms of possibility to beat Ireland, Wales and Italy at home and sneak a win in France (I'm pretty much writing off winning at Twickers!). There is a very remote chance, but we need consistency and an improved all round game (not just good in attack, rubbish in defence and vice-versa) for that to happen.


Consistency is the biggest issue in the Scottish game really. We can all think of other teams who have managed to get on a winning streak over the past few years and Scotland’s best streak was across 2017 and 2018. I was pretty happy with that standard, it naturally raised the bar slightly. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, 2019 was a poor year and now it feels like Toonie wants to find a way to harness the creativity alongside a solid base (the kicking game and improved defence).

Hopefully we’ll see that against France in two weeks. I just wish Scotland had a more formidable driving maul and attacking lineout to launch clever set piece moves from. The error and discipline count is very high as well, Scotland lead the way with 32 penalties conceded (2 more than France).

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Post by RDW on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 8:09 am

Our driving maul has been terrible - it's probably the worst in the 6N.

That's what all Danny Wilson's innovative thinking gives you!

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Post by Tattie Scones RRN on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 8:24 am

Still dying, but after this weekend, there is absolutely no way Italy should be kicked out of the 6N.

Great stadium, great weather, great fans, brilliant city. This was my first trip over to Rome since they moved from the Stadio Flamino and the difference in how the city embraces the tournament these days is huge.

Italy will come good. It took France 60 years to win the championship.

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Post by BigGee on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 8:59 am

I know I am bias about Rome, with the Italian and Roman influences on my life, but Tattie is absolutely right on this one. It is an absolutely fabulous weekend and the rugby is only a part of it.

I first went to Rome over 35 years ago and it blew me away even then and has continued to do so on each subsequent visit.

Seeing Scotland win is the icing on the cske, but we would have enjoyed our time there regardless. The Itslians always embrace their mini Scottish invasion every 2 years now snd i think it is most likely the most popular away trip for Scotland fans now and it is hard not to see why.

I also think that given time, the Italians will come good as well.

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Post by lostinwales on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 10:03 am

2001 England beat Italy 80-23 in the 6N. That hasn't happened for a long time

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Post by RDW on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 10:10 am

I think having Italy adds a huge amount to the competition, it's just a shame that they're not making more strides in the rugby sense.

As has been said the competition is so much better with 6 teams, and Rome is a fantastic venue. They are now regularly getting crowds of 50k plus which obviously comes with commercial benefits. Add to that the fact that Georgia is an absolute trek to get to (with no direct flights usually). We live in a commercial world like it or not and it makes commercial sense for Italy being in the championship, so I can't see it changing any time soon.

Italy lose all the time but it's not a regular occurrence for them to get absolutely horsed so they are at least competitive - it would be different if they were losing by 60 points every single game (appreciating that they do still lose quite heavily in some games). They were badly beaten by Wales then put in a decent display against France for example.

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Post by tigertattie on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 10:33 am

Tattie Scones RRN wrote:Still dying, but after this weekend, there is absolutely no way Italy should be kicked out of the 6N.

Great stadium, great weather, great fans, brilliant city. This was my first trip over to Rome since they moved from the Stadio Flamino and the difference in how the city embraces the tournament these days is huge.

Italy will come good. It took France 60 years to win the championship.

Careful now or you'll have the men in hazmat suits at your door!
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Post by bsando on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 12:36 pm

Italy need a foreign recruitment team similar to the one Scotland had/have. Italian Granny Aussies, Kiwis, SA's, Argentines, Europeans, Japanese you name it. If they can add some extra class to the developing Italian players they'll get better.

I think the have a really goos squad this year, but it is always the stupid little things tripping them up. I almost feel they'd have better luck employing a similar game plan to Scotland this year rather than the open expansive high risk offloading game.

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Post by lostinwales on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 12:40 pm

bsando wrote:Italy need a foreign recruitment team similar to the one Scotland had/have. Italian Granny Aussies, Kiwis, SA's, Argentines, Europeans, Japanese you name it. If they can add some extra class to the developing Italian players they'll get better.

I think the have a really goos squad this year, but it is always the stupid little things tripping them up. I almost feel they'd have better luck employing a similar game plan to Scotland this year rather than the open expansive high risk offloading game.

Seen their current half back pairing? Polledri too is an expat player (as is David Sisi who I don't think has played yet this 6N) Sergio Parisse was born in Argentina.

They are doing this.

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Post by 123456789. on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 12:41 pm

RDW wrote:
chThat is unlikely to happen when we only have 2 home games (like this year), but when we have 3 home games it's not beyond the realms of possibility to beat Ireland, Wales and Italy at home and sneak a win in France (I'm pretty much writing off winning at Twickers!). There is a very remote chance, but we need consistency and an improved all round game (not just good in attack, rubbish in defence and vice-versa) for that to happen.

Incidentally the years when we’ve most recently won Grand Slams have been in even years, of course these were back in the five nations era. I think Scotland need to start taking Italy as a given, then target the two home games every years. Traditionally the reason our best seasons have come in the even years have been that England and France have by far the most depth. They will, therefore, be less impacted by fluctuations in form and in injuries. The issue is that in the last 20 years the Irish and Welsh have found a way around their limitations to consistently produce teams as good as their better resourced rivals. Equally elements of professionalism have hamstrung the English and French teams. They’ve all reached a relative equilibrium, that when they put their top 40 players together they’ll have four squads of similar standing. Our aim should be to reach a level whereby we’re expected to win every home game and to beat Italy every year. Obviously there’s going to be years when we get struck by off field drama or by injury that call for a rethink occasionally of that.

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Italy v Scotland Saturday 22nd February 2020 - Page 7 Empty Re: Italy v Scotland Saturday 22nd February 2020

Post by RDW on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 12:42 pm

bsando wrote:Italy need a foreign recruitment team similar to the one Scotland had/have. Italian Granny Aussies, Kiwis, SA's, Argentines, Europeans, Japanese you name it. If they can add some extra class to the developing Italian players they'll get better.

I think the have a really goos squad this year, but it is always the stupid little things tripping them up. I almost feel they'd have better luck employing a similar game plan to Scotland this year rather than the open expansive high risk offloading game.
To be fair they already have quite a few!

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Italy v Scotland Saturday 22nd February 2020 - Page 7 Empty Re: Italy v Scotland Saturday 22nd February 2020

Post by tigertattie on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 12:54 pm

RDW wrote:
bsando wrote:Italy need a foreign recruitment team similar to the one Scotland had/have. Italian Granny Aussies, Kiwis, SA's, Argentines, Europeans, Japanese you name it. If they can add some extra class to the developing Italian players they'll get better.

I think the have a really goos squad this year, but it is always the stupid little things tripping them up. I almost feel they'd have better luck employing a similar game plan to Scotland this year rather than the open expansive high risk offloading game.
To be fair they already have quite a few!

A few? Most of thier team are

I'll give them Allan as he was born in Italy

But Hayward, Braley, Polledri, Negri, Steyn, etc, all born outside italy.
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Italy v Scotland Saturday 22nd February 2020 - Page 7 Empty Re: Italy v Scotland Saturday 22nd February 2020

Post by 123456789. on Tue 25 Feb 2020, 1:00 pm

Scotland are quite fortunate as most of our migration is to countries like England, South Africa, New Zealand. Being better teams Glasgow and Edinburgh can attract better project players too, its one thing heading to play in the Champions Cup for 3-5 years, another to head to lose every game in the Pro14, travelling considerable distance most weeks to play and occasionally being sent to Romania in the challenge cup. I dare say we are still just about more of an aim than Italy international wise. At least with us there’s the chance of big six nations wins, the Lions, high profile tours and World Cup knockout stages.

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