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Scotland v France - Autumn Nations Cup 2020

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Post by NeilyBroon on Tue 17 Nov 2020, 10:33 am

First topic message reminder :

Scotland face France at Murrayfield in the second round of pool B's fixtures.

Previous results:
Sco 28-17 Fra - Murrayfield, 6Ns 2020
Sco 17-14 Fra - Murrayfield, WC warm up 2019
Fra 27-10 Sco - Stade Francais, 6Ns 2019
Sco 32-26 Fra - Murrayfield, 6Ns 2018
Fra 22-16 Sco - Stade Francais, 6Ns 2017

Pretty even Stevens excluding the WC warm-up, with both sides boasting a 100% home record in the last 5 fixtures. France will be looking to turn the tables after Scotland ended their 6Ns run and in turn end Scotland's record-equalling winning run. Scotland will be looking to improve on a mixed bag against Italy and maintain their home record against France.
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Post by Anglobraveheart on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 8:40 pm

Longer term we need Sutherland back. I dearly hope that he is not out for too long?
Plus we need 2 decent attacking centres as noted above.
We can really move up into a top four spot, if we sort out penalties, discipline (FB, BK FFS) and a mindset of not conceding on our own line. Which we almost did today.

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Post by tigertattie on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 9:11 pm

Next game has to have dunc T at 12 or 13

Harris actually had a half decent solid game vs Italy and SJ just wasn’t on the same page as him when he broke the gain line.

I’m sorry but SJ was hailed as the next phillipe sella but he’s just someone who benefitted from some rotten English cover tackling to score some eye catching tries.

Either super Dunc slots in at 12 or Matt Scott gets a call. I still think that Hutchinson (injured) would be the long term attacking option with Harris as the defender outside him or you have SJ as the boring does nothing inside centre with Jones the attacking threat outside him.

The midfield needs a balance and right now our 10,12, 13 is the rice
Pudding of deserts

Duhan could be one of the most potent attackers in world rugby but were not getting the ball to him. It’s tragic.
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Post by NeilyBroon on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 9:25 pm

tigertattie wrote:Next game has to have dunc T at 12 or 13

Harris actually had a half decent solid game vs Italy and SJ just wasn’t on the same page as him when he broke the gain line.

I’m sorry but SJ was hailed as the next phillipe sella but he’s just someone who benefitted from some rotten English cover tackling to score some eye catching tries.

Either super Dunc slots in at 12 or Matt Scott gets a call. I still think that Hutchinson (injured) would be the long term attacking option with Harris as the defender outside him or you have SJ as the boring does nothing inside centre with Jones the attacking threat outside him.

The midfield needs a balance and right now our 10,12, 13 is the rice
Pudding of deserts

Duhan could be one of the most potent attackers in world rugby but were not getting the ball to him. It’s tragic.

I'm a big fan of Matt Scott but he's not been in the Leicester squad at all this week. Unless of course he's been called up already although haven't seen him in the squad training pics or vids.

Taylor gets back in for me at IC seeing as we've nothing to lose, especially if we're playing Ireland who will just chop trees all day if we attack like we have been. Even if he has Harris outside him that will look a lot handier than it has been. Maitland comes in on the wing as an extra distributer, with Darcy as an impact sub. Jones has to be on the bench, has to be. If toony is worried about defence, Taylor will keep it steady.

We really really have to drop Kinghorn. He's a liability right now. Needs to majorly work on his game, namely defence and decision making. Oh and learn to pass. This season is proving an absolute stinker for him.

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Post by tigertattie on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 9:29 pm

Think Darcy is still injured.

Maitland starts for me with Jones on the bench as backs cover. Kinghorn made to sit on the naughty step for a while until he can stop the brain farts
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Post by NeilyBroon on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 9:32 pm

tigertattie wrote:Think Darcy is still injured.

Maitland starts for me with Jones on the bench as backs cover. Kinghorn made to sit on the naughty step for a while until he can stop the brain farts

I thought it was just a planned rest for this game?

Shame if he is!
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Post by RDW on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 9:46 pm

Baws.

We knew France were going to be a big ask and so it proved to be. Sounds like a strong defensive display but no threat in attack, plus poor decision making.

I'm off today so watching it now.

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Post by NeilyBroon on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 9:57 pm

RDW wrote:Baws.

We knew France were going to be a big ask and so it proved to be. Sounds like a strong defensive display but no threat in attack, plus poor decision making.

I'm off today so watching it now.

Yep that's it in a nutshell!
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Post by 123456789. on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 10:29 pm

I only caught the second-half. Duncan Weir is our third choice fly-half, and it showed. He, unfortunately, does not quite have the speed of thought required to break an international defence. Part of that is the fact that he does not carry the individual ability to break through a line on his own, the other part is he does not have the passing ability of Hastings and Russell. I think the problem is slightly more deep-set than the 10 shirt. For what it's worth I think Chris Harris and Huw Jones is our issue in a microcosm.

We can play Huw Jones, he will add more in attack but we might concede more tries or we can play Chris Harris, he will defend well but not offer a huge amount in attack. The old adage is that defence wins titles. I am not convinced that is cut and dry. Especially given we don't have a Vunipola, Aldritt or Faletau that can punch holes in the tight. We need our outside backs to offer a threat.

The main problem we seemed to have today was across the midfield. Ultimately, I think Russell, Hutchinson and Jones will be our most dangerous 10, 12, 13 combo. Certainly, Hutchinson at 12 might be the best way to unleash Van Der Merwe in the middle of the park. Whether or not they would be strong enough defensively is another issue.

It was a disappointing result and a poor performance. Still, it is one of those days that we can use as a marker of progress. If this ten years ago then we'd be struggling to find a Scottish fly-half to fill in. It may even have been Harry Leonard as third choice at one stage. Now Van Der Walt is getting his kilt fitted right now. France are one of the top three or four sides in the world at the moment, and we drove them to within a whisker while off the boil.

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Post by RDW on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 11:19 pm

Well it was an incredibly intense game but not overly high on quality from both sides. France deserving of the win but I don't think there was a huge amount between the sides - France had one moment of magic that ultimately was the deciding factor.

Scotland's defence was excellent and we stood up well against a French physical juggernaut. Our lineout let us down at key moments which really cost us.

Attacking wise I don't think we fired a shot - we never looked like scoring. This was the kind of game that was crying out for a bit of Finn Russell magic.

In terms of player ratings most of team were in the 6-7 mark, with Watson and M Fagerson the standouts for me. I've been critical of the latter for Scotland but I think that was his best performance yet. Hamish Watson was class as always and I'm surprised he was subbed off.

Backs were very blunt again and I agree Johnson offered very little. Saying that I think the comments about Taylor are getting a bit carried away - having read them I thought he had an all star cameo but he didn't touch the ball really until just before Hogg's missed kick! I also think we missed the chaos that Darcy Graham can cause. VDM is our most potent threat but we didn't engineer any opportunities for him - France's try is a prime example of the kind of attacking play we need to be bringing him in to. Hogg needs to learn to pass to him too!

All in all probably a 6.5-7.0 performance for Scotland, which given that we were in the game until the end against a very good french team is cause for optimism.

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Post by tigertattie on Sun 22 Nov 2020, 11:56 pm

Thing is flounder we’ve deployed SJ a few times now and he’s done hee haw in that time. He’s done some aimless kicks, failed to link up with other backs and at times looked like he’s running in the wrong direction on an airport travelator

Given he’s done nothing of note, it’s time to try some other options. It’s a shame we’re not playing g Fiji, for their well-being and exposure to top flight rugby, but for our chances of experimenting.

Realistically we’re playing our last game vs Ireland who will likely revert to type and play the percentages so it could be another slug fest. We’ll learn nothing by putting out the same back line and trying to out kick a team with a far better kicking game then we have.

We’ve shown our defence is sound. Swapping out a centre (and a 9 IMO) won’t hurt that defence all that much. These guys are pros and should be able to defend competently at this level. But we need someone with an ability to unlock or at least have defenders thinking. The french line didn’t go for weir once. They knew they didn’t have to. He doesn’t run with the ball. It’s not his game. So they kept wide and just negated the straight running of Harris and Johnson.  Time and time again we hoofed the ball deep with no chase. My god man, you have a devastating runner like Duhan on the field, put in a chip or grubber for him to run onto. He’d be lethal. At the very least it would keep the opposition honest and they’d need to keep back a yard or defend a bit wider which could make holes in the middle.

Our tactic was hoof it high and long, but for some reason not to chase the kick and the step back and wait for the return kick. There was no pressure on France so their kicks just came right back at as so we gained nothing. We played too much rugby in our own half. Tactically we got it horribly wrong and if you do hat against Ireland. It’s night night for us
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Post by RDW on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 12:07 am

I'm not disagreeing on Johnson - I just don't think Taylor would make a massive difference! Plus there's a very high chance he'll break down early on in the game.

The only change we could make to up rate the attack is Jones at 13.

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Post by king_carlos on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 12:13 am

It's a shame that Hutchinson is injured. I think he can add to this Scotland backline from 12.

Whilst Harris doesn't offer that much in attack his defensive leadership, particularly key in Scotland's drift defence, has been very good. I think Harris has made himself harder to drop than Johnson that's for sure.

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Post by RDW on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 12:30 am

Agreed on Hutchinson - we're yet to really see him at this level but if you have Weir at 10 and Harris at 13 he's exactly the type of player you want at 12.

In sure he'll have some plays for getting a big 11 involved in games given he's used to playing with Big T!

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Post by bsando on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 7:28 am

I think Johnson and Harris will work better with Russell at 10, but as others say above with Weir at 10 it makes the attack too predictable. To be fair to Weir he only made a few mistakes in his games so far but he isn't playing at the same level of risk that Russell and Hastings do either though. The French try came from a break down his channel but it was a two on one so someone needed to be off that scrum and defending, probably mish I think. Considering that was the only time Scotland got cut down by a deadly French attack that is pretty impressive.

I think my Player ratings would be...

Kebble 6
Brown 5
Berghan 5
Cummings 6
Gray 6
Mish 6
Ritichie 6
Fagerson 6
Price 7.5
Weir 5.5
VDM 6
Johnson 5.5
Harris 6
Kinghorn 4
Hogg 5

Turner 5, Bhatti 4, Fagerson 6, Skinner 5, Thomson 5.5, SHC (didn't play), Taylor 5.5, Maitland 6

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Post by Hazel Sapling on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 10:20 am

Missed the first 10 of each half. Disappointed by the performance more than anything. Felt like a return to stodgy defensiveness without the dominant set piece that needs to go with it as well as a couple of silly decisions.

One decision in particular annoyed me. Kinghorn taking out Dupont when Dupont kicked out on the full around the 12 minute mark. Instead of a Scotland line-out 10 metres outside the French 22, France got a line-out and eventually kicked three points. The galling part is that the kick was covered and Dupont would have struggled to put the covering player under any pressure.

The scrum reached parity when Z Fagerson came on and Taofifuena for France went off. Our scrum has taken a half step backward this Autumn compared to the Spring and we need to tidy that up. Our line-out continues to be a sore point though the introduction of Thomson seemed to help. That late line-out called towards the back to M Fagerson felt like a poor decision (why throw to a 6'1 jumper on a critical moment when you have three choices 6'5 and taller?) and I think was the one on the opposing five. Even if he comes down with it, he is the guy blocking hands over the top.

Overall the balance of the side felt off. Johnson and Harris are fine when there is a top playmaker at 10 (Russell/Hastings). Weir needs more support from the centres going forward rather than defensive solidity. An alternative is to play a 9 who can keep the defence honest like G Horne.

Well done to France, they deserved the win. Scotland were not terrible and it was an away game in difficult conditions.


Last edited by Hazel Sapling on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 3:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by tigertattie on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 11:22 am

bsando wrote:I think Johnson and Harris will work better with Russell at 10, but as others say above with Weir at 10 it makes the attack too predictable. To be fair to Weir he only made a few mistakes in his games so far but he isn't playing at the same level of risk that Russell and Hastings do either though. The French try came from a break down his channel but it was a two on one so someone needed to be off that scrum and defending, probably mish I think. Considering that was the only time Scotland got cut down by a deadly French attack that is pretty impressive.

I think my Player ratings would be...

Kebble 6
Brown 5
Berghan 5
Cummings 6
Gray 6
Mish 6
Ritichie 6
Fagerson 6
Price 7.5
Weir 5.5
VDM 6
Johnson 5.5
Harris 6
Kinghorn 4
Hogg 5

Turner 5, Bhatti 4, Fagerson 6, Skinner 5, Thomson 5.5, SHC (didn't play), Taylor 5.5, Maitland 6

Bit unfair to give Weir a 5.5 and Price a 7.5 when Price was the one who was totally suckered in for the French try. Weir didnt really do anything wrong. He wasnt on fire, but was solid. Price on the other hand made quite a few mistakes and his kicking was far less effective. He's also still taking far too long to get the ball away from the ruck. He's there and the ball is avilable but she stil lstops to have a look around, each and every time.
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Post by George Carlin on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 2:17 pm

Have I just missed games where Sam Johnson has been useless?

I'm keen to understand where this prevailing thought comes from.
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Post by 123456789. on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 3:02 pm

I don't think Johnson is useless, but I also don't think him and Harris have clicked particularly well. Somewhere at 10, 12 and 13 you need to have a someone who can break a line, someone who can gain metres and someone who can create for others. Johnson has shown he can run up metres. He hasn't been particularly creative. With Weir at 10 you need someone who can make things happen at 12. We don't have that.

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Post by NeilyBroon on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 3:03 pm

George Carlin wrote:Have I just missed games where Sam Johnson has been useless?

I'm keen to understand where this prevailing thought comes from.

I think useless is perhaps a bit strong. Ineffective is probably more accurate. It comes down to building the right midfield and getting the balance of defence and attack. Johnson doesn't really fit right now, assuming Toonie will forever stick by Harris. We can't have two centres just running straight at the opposition like they have been, so one has to change and it's not going to be the hardest working centre in the world.
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Post by NeilyBroon on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 3:03 pm

123456789. wrote:I don't think Johnson is useless, but I also don't think him and Harris have clicked particularly well. Somewhere at 10, 12 and 13 you need to have a someone who can break a line, someone who can gain metres and someone who can create for others. Johnson has shown he can run up metres. He hasn't been particularly creative. With Weir at 10 you need someone who can make things happen at 12. We don't have that.

^that
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Post by Tramptastic on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 3:23 pm

I've always resented Sam Johnson a bit (totally irrational, he's likely a top guy who's played really well for both Glasgow and Scotland) because his rise at Glasgow led to the departure of Dunbar who, when not injured, played far better for Scotland than Johnson has so far.

Dunbar lent himself to a more physical presence in midfield and was a far more adept defender than Harris has shown so far (Harris drops off a surprisingly high number of tackles for a defensive lynchpin) whilst having a superior direct running game that allowed Russell to fire him off in midfield like a torpedo or use him as a dummy runner, something Johnson (outside THAT england game) or Harris have yet to show on the international stage. #JusticeforDunbar #MoreDumfries&Gallowayplayersplease

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Post by jimbopip on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 5:15 pm

George Carlin wrote:Have I just missed games where Sam Johnson has been useless?

I'm keen to understand where why this prevailing thought comes from the Hellhole to the east of the finest city on Earth and home of the Once And Future Champions.

I think we're all forgetting that Sam Johnson has been out injured for quite a while and while fit probably isn't 100% match fit yet.

If you are a team's defence coach and you're looking at Dancer-SJ-Shug in the midfield then obviously you are wanting to get players up in Dancer's face ASAP. At the same time you don't want to leave Shug space for an outside break. A good, hard running 12 would be able to exploit the teeny weeny gaps this would create in most defences.
If on the other hand it's Meatball-SJ-James Brown.... well Meatball won't be making incisive runs with ball in hand, dinking little chips in the space between the defence and the full back/sweeper, there will be no moments of breathtaking creativity. (I like Meatball as a player, but his strengths are not Dancer's) Similarly, while he is the Scottish Stakhanovite Harris is probably only just slightly more likely than WP Nel to make a lacerating outside break. Playing 12 between those two against a well organised defence would, in all probability, be a claustrophobic experience. I don't think Harry Houdini would have escaped from the French rush defence on Sunday.
SJ is a very good centre. He will find his form and there will be many of our eastern brethren with indegestion from consuming their own verbiage.

If you want to blame anyone for Alex Dunbar's departure from Scotstoun stick pins in your Cowboy Dave wax doll. DR rated Dunbar fourth choice behind SJ, Furra Linee (the Scottish Ryan Crotty) and Lord Stafford.



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Post by king_carlos on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 5:24 pm

Didn't Dunbar's injuries do for him more than anything?

I remember watching him for Ayr against Heriots in a Scottish Premiership match whilst trying to prove fitness post injury and he really didn't stand out at semi pro level.

Before the knee surgery I thought Dunbar was a quality 12. He ran the defensive line, tackled and rucked like a flanker, made yards ball in hand. After the injuries he just lost what pace he had and the physicality that made his game effective.

The last thing I want to do is sound callous about a players career being effected by injury. It's always a huge shame. Seeing Dunbar post injury I did wonder if he had recovered well enough to return to pro rugby though. He wouldn't be the first or last to keep playing on after what realistically was a career ending injury.

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Post by bsando on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 6:47 pm

tigertattie wrote:
bsando wrote:I think Johnson and Harris will work better with Russell at 10, but as others say above with Weir at 10 it makes the attack too predictable. To be fair to Weir he only made a few mistakes in his games so far but he isn't playing at the same level of risk that Russell and Hastings do either though. The French try came from a break down his channel but it was a two on one so someone needed to be off that scrum and defending, probably mish I think. Considering that was the only time Scotland got cut down by a deadly French attack that is pretty impressive.

I think my Player ratings would be...

Kebble 6
Brown 5
Berghan 5
Cummings 6
Gray 6
Mish 6
Ritichie 6
Fagerson 6
Price 7.5
Weir 5.5
VDM 6
Johnson 5.5
Harris 6
Kinghorn 4
Hogg 5

Turner 5, Bhatti 4, Fagerson 6, Skinner 5, Thomson 5.5, SHC (didn't play), Taylor 5.5, Maitland 6

Bit unfair to give Weir a 5.5 and Price a 7.5 when Price was the one who was totally suckered in for the French try. Weir didnt really do anything wrong. He wasnt on fire, but was solid. Price on the other hand made quite a few mistakes and his kicking was far less effective. He's also still taking far too long to get the ball away from the ruck. He's there and the ball is avilable but she stil lstops to have a look around, each and every time.

Think we'll have different opinions on this one. I thought his kicking was excellent. I was very critical of his performances earlier in the year especially vs England (albeit the weather was god awful). I think his service is more down to the game plan rather than him being slow. Pyrgos is very slow for Edinburgh but when he played in the RWC he looked like he was back at Glasgow again running riot.

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Post by bsando on Mon 23 Nov 2020, 6:49 pm

123456789. wrote:I don't think Johnson is useless, but I also don't think him and Harris have clicked particularly well. Somewhere at 10, 12 and 13 you need to have a someone who can break a line, someone who can gain metres and someone who can create for others. Johnson has shown he can run up metres. He hasn't been particularly creative. With Weir at 10 you need someone who can make things happen at 12. We don't have that.

On the flipside he hasn't thrown an intercept yet as far as I know, unlike another 12 we all know Wink

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