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Scotland 2022 summer tour

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Post by Hazel Sapling Sun 21 Nov 2021, 11:41 am

First topic message reminder :

Scotland 2022 Six Nations Lookahead

A place to discuss the rollercoaster of dark horse conversation and sheer despair. Somewhere in-between, someone will go off on a mild tangent.

Schedule
5th Feb - England (H)
12th Feb - Wales (A)
26th Feb - France (H)
12th March - Italy (A)
19th March - Ireland (A)

Scotland's recent performances
2021: 4th (3 wins, same as 2nd)
2020: 4th (3 wins, same points as 3rd)
2019: 5th (1 win, 1 draw)
2018: 3rd (3 wins, same as 2nd)
2017: 4th (3 wins, same points as 2nd)


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Post by sensisball Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:10 pm

Mcsweens
You need to wheesht for Kinghorn. Remember Toonie keeps telling us he is/was the best player of his generation.
Okay, maybe not at rugby but definitely at under 12 level badminton, in East Lothian.

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Post by BigGee Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:17 pm

That's a sign of what we can do with these backs

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:18 pm

Finally! Nice example of Hutch acting as a playmaker, lovely finish by angel

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Post by BigGee Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:22 pm

First the Messiah, then Hutchy

Our new boys are doing good

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:23 pm

Lovely stuff boys, this is much more like it

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:24 pm

That was a fabulous line from Hutch cutting back in, great play

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Post by sensisball Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:26 pm

OMG Kinghorn does something well, now will never get dropped.

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Post by Mcsweens Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:29 pm

Not convinced by that last Arg try at all

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:29 pm

It just wouldn’t be Scotland without a total restart failure killing us

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Post by tigertattie Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:38 pm

Looked forward to me but the camera angles are terrible.
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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:38 pm

I love how the Argentinian tv folks refuse to show a replay of the alleged forward pass!

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:45 pm

So many penalties now, really not giving ourselves a chance here

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Post by tigertattie Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:54 pm

Well

Summing up in a word

Penalties

Or pish

Take yer pick
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Post by BigGee Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:55 pm

Not a very impressive start and then disappointing we managed to fall off again once we got ourselves back in the game.

Does not look a lot between the sides, so maybe a better game next week.

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Post by TheMildlyFranticLlama Sat 02 Jul 2022, 9:58 pm

Well there we go then, congrats to the Pumas no doubting they were the better side today, and they delivered for a passionate crowd.

First 40 was fairly uninspiring from Scotland, there were moments of much better rugby in the second. Enough to take some confidence going into the next test. But accuracy and discipline have to improve significantly or we’ll get beaten by more next time out.

Loved the interplay with Hutchinson and Bennett, time to get them both in the centres and pick an actual fullback. I’m not as down on Blarehorn as some of you, but he needs some serious lessons in how to pass to an actual teammate and not to a patch of empty grass. He did do some good stuff, and this was a big step up in level for him so I’m not writing him off

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Post by doctor_grey Sat 02 Jul 2022, 10:24 pm

I didn't think there was much between the sides either. And frankly was all to play for outside of the last few minutes. I think your 10 is a little robotic and a little slow, not a good match with Price. Overall, I can't see any reason to make major changes. The first half was slow by both teams, but the second half was well played. Hitch 'em up and go back at 'em.

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Post by RDW Sun 03 Jul 2022, 12:31 am

Just watched extended highlights - first half really was poor. Kinghorn passing to no-one is becoming a thing.

Improved 2nd half and it's probably no coincidence that all our good stuff happened with Hutchinson is invoked. What's to lose next week to put him at 12?

The momentum shift just as we got to 18-18 was an absolute killer. For as long as I have been watching Scotland we've been awful at restarts. Why is that??

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Post by Highland Shaun Sun 03 Jul 2022, 7:55 am

How long until we start questioning if the clown in the dugout is the right man to lead us because these Poopie performances are becoming unacceptable as is his pathetic team line ups!?

I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt but now I'm beginning to lose patience ffs mad !

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 03 Jul 2022, 8:56 am

RDW wrote:Just watched extended highlights - first half really was poor. Kinghorn passing to no-one is becoming a thing.

Improved 2nd half and it's probably no coincidence that all our good stuff happened with Hutchinson is invoked. What's to lose next week to put him at 12?

The momentum shift just as we got to 18-18 was an absolute killer. For as long as I have been watching Scotland we've been awful at restarts. Why is that??
You can't go wrong selecting Northampton Saints!  Budge, Sean Lamont, and Tommy Smith didn't stink up the joint for Scotland, eh?  

Hutch is a great attacking centre.  But remember, as a defender, he is a great attacking centre.  Still, I would give him a go at 12 in a heartbeat.  Or at least play him at second receiver. He really is creative and is tougher than he looks.

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Post by jimbopip Sun 03 Jul 2022, 9:15 am

tigertattie wrote:Well

Summing up in a word

Penalties

Or pish

Take yer pick

Is this the most Scottish Haiku of all time? It's like Sick Boy and Begbie turning Japanese. I really think so!

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Post by doctor_grey Sun 03 Jul 2022, 9:25 am

jimbopip wrote:
tigertattie wrote:Well

Summing up in a word

Penalties

Or pish

Take yer pick

Is this the most Scottish Haiku of all time? It's like Sick Boy and Begbie turning Japanese. I really think so!
You %^&*$$. This killed me and made me spill my morning coffee, well, you know where! I really think so. aaaarrrgh.

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Post by jimbopip Sun 03 Jul 2022, 9:27 am

Doc, as a medical man you'll agree you have just suffered a fit of The Vapours. drumroll Ayethangyew!

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Post by NeilyBroon Sun 03 Jul 2022, 9:32 am

Blarehorn is the future... I think Toonie is feeling nostalgic for the Phil Godman days or when Chris Paterson played FH.

At the current trajectory we'll be the first team in RWC history to be knocked out before the group stages on account of being so pish that we get laughed off the pitch.

I wonder what'll happen if we get whitewashed this tour... Surely something will stick to Toonie eventually!

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Post by jimbopip Sun 03 Jul 2022, 10:48 am

I haven't seen the game yet... but how did we manage to go the whole first 40 without getting into the opposition's 22?

Seriously lacking a kicking game there. Or someone with enough smarts to manage where the game is played.

Any answers; either sensible or amusing...mind the Festering One will probably be ruled out by those unduly strict criteria.

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Post by NeilyBroon Sun 03 Jul 2022, 11:39 am

To be honest I still wonder why Chamberlain fell by the wayside. We've let too many development opportunities drop because there's another mediocre player who is established, in his case it was VdW. He looked like he has as much potential as the wonder kid and we can't afford to waste that. You do wonder how we'd have done with Haircut in at 10 but obviously he got injured at the wrong time.

All I can think is get fin Smith in and capped, hopefully he'll then get more time for Worcester as a result. It's clear we need creative centres too given the performances from the messiah and hutch. I can't imagine Harris influencing that result as much.


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Post by George Carlin Sun 03 Jul 2022, 11:40 am

Yes, we cannot play in only one half and still expect to beat a side at home that's only one place behind us in them thar world krankees thing.

The rest of the home nations got their arses handed to them as well but the Wales performance against the Boks yesterday would easily have taken us behind the bike sheds for a spanking.

I really would like to see the whole game as my blood pressure feels very low at the moment and I haven't kicked my dog in ages.
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Post by BigGee Sun 03 Jul 2022, 4:54 pm

Pretty withering from Tom English, but unfortunately pretty much true as well!



After 40 minutes of the kind of inertia that has become painfully familiar in 2022, Scotland stirred in Jujuy.

Trailing the Pumas 18-6 at the break, they rallied, scored two rapid tries and drew themselves level. They finally had ball and something resembling attacking cohesion.

Entering the last quarter, we would see what Gregor Townsend's team were made of. Sink or swim time on tour.

They sank - 26-18. Failure to deal with the restart after Rory Hutchinson's try was the beginning of the end for the tourists. What came next was like a revisiting of the worst moments from Dublin and Cardiff in the Six Nations - a soft try conceded, a forward pass here, a ball out on the full there, a ball dropped, a ridiculous penalty given away, poor decision upon poor decision.

The Scots got what they deserved in the end. That's four losses in six Tests this year.

Scotland played for about 15 or 20 minutes of the 80 in Argentina. A bit of a recurring theme, that. Rugby can be maddeningly complex, but there's a basic that's as simple and as straightforward now as it was a century ago. If your defence isn't up to it, then you can forget about it. If you ship easy scores, then you're leaving yourself a mountain to climb. Sometimes you'll climb it; more often than not, you won't.

Of course they were without Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg, Chris Harris, Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie. Their absence might explain some of what went on, but there's a bigger picture of decline here. Four of that five started in Cardiff, the worst performance the team has put in since the World Cup in Japan almost three years ago. Ritchie was the one who didn't play. Then and now, his loss is felt acutely, not just in his belligerence but in his intelligence and leadership.

Scotland lack badness in their pack and Ritchie typifies that. On Saturday, everybody was too nice. Nice ain't cutting it against Argentina in Argentina.

Every big Scotland victory since 2020 has had Ritchie at the heart of it - home and away against England, home and away against France, away to Wales in Llanelli, home to Australia at Murrayfield. He didn't play in the loss to Wales in Edinburgh in 2021, didn't play in the awful loss to Wales in Cardiff this year, didn't play in the spiritless defeat in Dublin, or in the despond of Jujuy.

When Ritchie's not around, Scotland struggle on the nasty front. It's not the only reason their form has fallen off a cliff this year, but it's a part of it.

Scotland lose first of three Tests in Argentina
More doesn't mean better
Remember when Scotland's defence was the best in Europe? Remember when it was difficult to break them down? That was 2020 and 2021. Steve Tandy, the defence coach, got on the Lions coaching ticket on the back of it. Five tries conceded in five Tests in the 2020 Six Nations. Unreal. Ten tries conceded in the 2021 Six Nations. Still impressive.

Almost from the moment Ritchie succumbed to a hamstring injury during the opening game of the Six Nations this season, the win over England, things changed. They conceded one try in that match. They conceded 13 more in three Ritchie-less games against France, Italy and Ireland and another three against the Pumas on Saturday.

Sixteen tries given up in four games. That's more than they conceded in nine Tests in 2020 and more than they conceded in nine Tests in 2021. So much for the old mantra of staying in the fight. There's a soft underbelly in this team and it's sending Scotland spinning into reverse.

There's been much talk about Scotland's increased player depth. More players doesn't necessarily mean better players. They're getting pretty much nothing from their under-20s, a barren space where Scottish Rugby is failing dismally. The Under-20s are now on a run of 12 straight defeats.

Of the major nations, Scotland must be the worst at delivering young Test players. Only two professional teams is a major barrier. That's not changing any time soon.

Townsend is now in an unenviable position. His set-piece was in trouble at times in the first Test, of three, and he barely had a single carrier worthy of the name up front. Test match aggression is lacking. Where's the brutality? Does it always have to be down to Ritchie?

They had it for two seasons in 2020 and 2021, but it's gone now. They were playing at altitude, for sure, but let's not engage in excuse making here. To be fair, none of those who spoke afterwards went down that road.

Townsend has chosen to rest some frontliners, which would be fine if he was on a run of wins and had freedom to experiment with new combinations. He needs victories. He needs to get back to a place where teams have to work a whole lot harder to break down his side than Argentina had to work.

Scotland conceded an average of 15 points per game in 2020, an average of 19 points per game in 2021. In 2022, that number has rocketed to 24.5. The direction of travel is deeply worrying. With the World Cup starting next September, Scotland have picked a bad time to start going backwards.

Townsend needs more from Kinghorn
Blair Kinghorn
Blair Kinghorn's performances for Scotland have been criticised by some fans
This is a collective drop-off. Players and coaches. Inevitably, there are certain individuals who draw the heat more than others and Blair Kinghorn is one of those. Never mind that his pack of forwards are nowhere near their level of before, Kinghorn is the subject of some angry commentary among Scotland fans.

Townsend is looking for evidence that his hope of turning Kinghorn into an international class 10 is progressing. It's wholly understandable why the coach wants to persist with this - Finn Russell has had a poor season, he's clearly not sure about Adam Hastings - who, in any event, is injured - and Ross Thompson is still too raw.

He needs Kinghorn to come through and provide genuine competition for Russell. Townsend has forgotten more about fly-half play than most of the rest of us will ever know, so he must be seeing something that tells him Kinghorn can make it.

There's been evidence of his ability at 10 in the United Rugby Championship, but it's been against the lesser lights for the most part. Occasionally, he's sparkled against some bigger teams, but there's a world of difference between URC matches and proper Test rugby. It's the same sport, but only just.

Kinghorn did some clever things on Saturday, but he had no control and his error count was infuriatingly high. Townsend is all-in on this though. He desperately needs some payback in the fortnight ahead.

Not just from Kinghorn - this problem is far, far greater than the man at 10 - but from all of them. Their regression has been stark. Townsend, Tandy and the rest have two weeks to turn this around. They'd better get busy.


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Post by sensisball Sun 03 Jul 2022, 6:10 pm

As usual on the money from Mr English.
However, not sure that most of the defensive failings can be blamed by the absence of Mabawsa.
The defense in general has become much more passive than the previous seasons
Why? Don't know: Lions hangover, tired of being shouted at by Tandy, too much gaming.
Whatever the issue, it needs to change.

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Post by RDW Sun 03 Jul 2022, 10:58 pm

Sometimes I think Tom prefers these types of performances so he can get all bombastic and OTT about the whole thing. Nonetheless, he raises good points.

I think he's getting a bit carried away over Ritchie's influence - he is a key player and one of the first names on the timesheet, but if he hadn't been injured I suspect the results would have been broadly similar - the malaise is much deeper than that.

Toonie usually inspires a reaction after a flat performance, so hopefully he does the same this time round!

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Post by jimbopip Mon 04 Jul 2022, 8:32 am

Agree, Mr English makes some good points BUT...
all too often when people talk about defence they focus on what a team does without the ball, however if you are in possession for 99% of the game then it's highly unlikely that the opposition will score. Similarly, if 99% of the match is played in the opposition's 22 then they probably won't be troubling the scorekeeper.
Scotland could have 99% possesion and territory and still contrive to lose picard

Perhaps a little more attention to controlling possession and territory would lead to fewer points being conceded?

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Post by BigGee Mon 04 Jul 2022, 9:09 am

My team for next weekend:

1. Schoeman - not his best game on saturday, but still our best LH
2. Ashman - time he got a start and did not see a huge amount from Turner
3. Fagerson Z - still not really being pushed for his place yet
4. Gilchrist - captain and will start
5. Cummings - A second row who can actually carry
6. Christie - looks like he has a bit of snarl playing for Sarries, give him a shot
7. Watson - if fit, Darge if not
8. Fagerson M - probably our pick of the back row last weekend
9. Price - though I would like to see White get a start at some stage
10. Kinghorn - We are kind of stuck with this one atm, I don't think Thompson is ready either
11. VDM - good in defence last week, lets see him with the ball in hand
12. Hutchinson - was our best back when he got ball in hand and BK needs the support beside him
13. Bennett - showed what he can do when he gets some ball in space
14. Graham - tricky one this as I would like to see McLean and Rowe get a run at some stage, but more likely from the bench
15. Smith - our only out and out FB in the squad and deserves a run


Subs

1. Sutherland
2. Cherry - don't think Turner played well last weekend
3. Sebastian - looked solid when he came on
4. Skinner - JG looked out of sorts last weekend
5. Bradbury/Crosbie - hard to pick, don't think either played well last weekend
6. White - who is pushing for a start, may get it in third test
7. Tuipolotu - not much point picking Thompson is not going to play him, Hutch to cover 10
8. McLean/Rowe - hard to choose

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Post by tigertattie Mon 04 Jul 2022, 10:04 am

Anyone know what is going on with ickle Jonny?

He looks spaced out. I'm not wanting to get down on the man but he's just not been playing well for Scotland for a couple of years now. He's either still injured and shouldn't be playing or he's simply not getting the toonie game plan.

For years the weegies would shout at Edinburgh fans about how much better Jonny was compared to much criticised, but now our captain, Gilchrist. Right now, even the hardest-nosed weegie fan couldn't pick Jonny over Grant! Even if you are blaming Toonie for the overall team performance, someone like Jonny should be able to put in good performances in the setup but he's simply being outplayed by the other 2nd rowers in most games!
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Post by bsando Mon 04 Jul 2022, 10:14 am

Probably needs a rest after a long season but you’d expect to see the second rowers putting in a big shift for these summer tests knowing it’s their last games of the season. Gilchrist seems desperate to win at least.

Tom English was certainly a bit dour in his assessment of Scotland but I think he just hates seeing Scotland lose that brief physical edge they showed in seasons of late. It is frustrating. Especially when likes of Wales front up in SA and nearly win their first test vs the hugely physical Boks.

Hopefully the coaches will recognise what they need to do to win these games having had a taste of what arg are all about at the moment.

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Post by RDW Mon 04 Jul 2022, 10:26 am

Gray has been injured a lot this season so hasn't had a high workload. I agree he's looked jaded the last few years.

His career is going on the same trajectory as his brother just now!

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Post by BigGee Mon 04 Jul 2022, 11:40 am

RDW wrote:Gray has been injured a lot this season so hasn't had a high workload. I agree he's looked jaded the last few years.

His career is going on the same trajectory as his brother just now!

Maybe when you take the level of battering that he did as a younger man, it does eventually catch up with you. In hindsight, he was also probably one who might have benefited from having the summer off.

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Post by BigGee Mon 04 Jul 2022, 11:47 am

From this Mark Palmer article, it does not seem to be in doubt that Kinghorn will be starting at 10 for the next test.




Gregor Townsend and Grant Gilchrist, the Scotland head coach and captain, believe Blair Kinghorn will bounce back from his poor showing in Saturday’s 26-18 first Test loss to Argentina.

In only his second international start at fly half, the Edinburgh man had a difficult night, misjudging a number of kicks from hand and making a series of wrong decisions on the rare occasions when the Scots had scope to build pressure.

There were brief, tantalising signs of what Kinghorn and the team can do when he played a key role in the Mark Bennett and Rory Hutchinson tries which temporarily dragged Scotland back into contention in the third quarter, but overall the 25-year-old scored poorly in terms of both control and penetration.


Townsend — who is without Finn Russell and Adam Hastings for this tour — believes it will have been a valuable learning experience for Kinghorn, who only started regularly playing the pivot position for his club side this season.

“There are things that he will look to build on next week, now he has seen the [Argentina] defence and what he can do as a running threat and a passing threat and also things he can do better,” Townsend said.


“All our players will be similar, but Blair, who leads our attack, will know much more about what is facing him and what he needs to execute to put the team in the best position possible. He grew into the game and in the second half his passing threat and running threat, and his kicks to the corner, really helped put the team into better positions.

“In a game like that where he is goalkicking, the second match he has goal kicked in away from home, that will be a really good experience for him.”

Gilchrist, meanwhile, sought to emphasise that the whole team had underperformed, rather than Kinghorn in isolation, and said the playmaker’s personality is such that he will not linger on the disappointment.

“He’s a well-grounded kid,” the lock explained. “He’s had enough experience at this level now. He’ll be better for it. There will be things he will be disappointed with, but there are also things I’m disappointed with. When you lose a game, it tends not to be your perfect performance. His character, who he is as a person, will mean that he will be better next week.”



Gilchrist, standing in for the rested regular skipper Stuart Hogg, did not shy away from the paucity and listlessness of Scotland’s performance but insisted that everything that went wrong is in the team’s power to put right.

“We were off it in the first half, we absorbed too much, and that’s on us,” he conceded. We can’t afford to come into these Test matches and just absorb pressure. We’ve got to get our game out there.

“We did that at the start of the second half, got to 18-all, then conceded off the kick-off which was disappointing because at that point the momentum was with us and I felt it was our game to lose.

“In the first 40, we didn’t get our game out there, we didn’t get enough possession of the ball. When we had possession and held it, we were good, but we didn’t do it enough throughout the game.

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Post by funnyExiledScot Mon 04 Jul 2022, 8:39 pm

Caveat: I've only seen the highlight on my phone (am on holiday and the Greeks don't seem to care about rugby....as an aside, it's sodding hot here).

I digress.

Hutchinson must be given a crack at centre. He's exactly the sort of creative cool customer we've been craving, and a not a dissimilar player to Cameron Redpath who we're all still waiting for. These are the types of players who might even make Chris Harris look good, so we must persevere. Ollie Smith should get a crack at 15. He's the best apprentice we have to Hogg (now that McArundell has betrayed us to the dark side) and should get the remainder of the tour at 15.

The tricky one is Kinghorn. Actually not so tricky. Ross Thompson has been average to poor this season and done hee haw to merit the Scotland jersey. Whilst Kinghorn has a long way to go, the potential is clearly there and he's had some stellar games/ moments in games for Edinburgh this season. It would be madness to just ditch him after one game, hoping that Ross Thompson somehow would conjure something he hasn't managed all season. Personally I think it's tragic that Hastings, the best Scottish fly half I can recall beyond Russell and Toonie himself, just can't get a run here. Our best back up by a mile, actually running Russell close in my book, and in typical fashion our coach just won't back him/ grim injury timing.

Still, at least we aren't coached by Eddie Jones.

Back to the Ouzo....

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Post by RDW Mon 04 Jul 2022, 10:24 pm

I'm with FES (not in Greece, in terms of his views here) - we need to stick with Kinghorn as there's no real alternative. Also agree that this tour was tailer made for Hastings to remind everyone what he could do.

Goes without saying that 10 is so important at the top level - look how SA did with their Jantjies horror show! Kinghorn was directly responsible for some major errors that had huge impacts on the game.

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Post by sensisball Tue 05 Jul 2022, 9:00 am

Think BK will start. However unless he is playing a blinder I think Thompson should get at least 20 minutes. I just don't see Kinghorn as an international 10 and it makes sense to cover the bases. However, with Toonie in charge the sensible rarely happens.

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Post by jimbopip Tue 05 Jul 2022, 11:20 am

sensisball wrote:Think BK will start. However unless he is playing a blinder I think Thompson should get at least 20 minutes. I just don't see Kinghorn as an international 10 and it makes sense to cover the bases. However, with Toonie in charge the sensible rarely happens.

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Post by jimbopip Tue 05 Jul 2022, 11:21 am

RDW wrote:I'm with FES (not in Greece, in terms of his views here) - we need to stick with Kinghorn as there's no real alternative. Also agree that this tour was tailer made for Hastings to remind everyone what he could do.

Goes without saying that 10 is so important at the top level - look how SA did with their Jantjies horror show! Kinghorn was directly responsible for some major errors that had huge impacts on the game.

I refer the honourable gentleman to my previous answer. As they say at PMQ's.

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Post by BigGee Tue 05 Jul 2022, 12:01 pm

Mark Palmer, being the only Scottish Journo to have bothered making the trip down south, has put out some pretty decent articles so far. This one one is a good summing up of where we are atm.

For what it is worth, I don't think we have any alternative to persisting with BK at the moment. I would not even plan on having Thompson in the matchday squad if there is no plan to play him, let Hutchy cover FH.



Come the weekend, when Scotland play Argentina in Salta, it will be exactly 14 months until their opening World Cup fixture against South Africa in Marseille. A dispiriting Six Nations campaign and Saturday’s grim defeat by the Pumas in the first Test of the summer tour have thrown up all manner of questions about the path Gregor Townsend and his team are on this close to the global gathering.

SELECTION
Scotland travelled to South America without three British & Irish Lions; captain Stuart Hogg, talismanic fly half Finn Russell, and defensive colossus Chris Harris. A fourth, Hamish Watson, missed the 26-18 loss in Jujuy through injury, while Jamie Ritchie — a key figure on so many of this side’s biggest days — is still recovering from the torn hamstring he suffered in the Calcutta Cup win.

The fact Russell and Adam Hastings (another injury victim) are not here means Townsend has little option but to go all-in on the Blair Kinghorn at No 10 experiment. Fielding one-cap Ross Thompson there in a must-win Test like Saturday’s would be even more of a gamble. Elsewhere, Townsend does have options, such as playing Rory Hutchinson in his proper position (or even just one of them). Kinghorn would surely relish having him as a second playmaker at 12 as much as Dan Biggar has done at Northampton. Up front, meanwhile, the Scots must find a way to at least approximate the drive and dynamism of the Pumas pack. Watson’s availability is a huge bonus, and though neither he nor Rory Darge is massive, Townsend must be tempted to pair them as he did in the Six Nations for their brilliant ability over ball.

TACTICS
Scotland lack a clear gameplan or tactical identity. Having cycled from one end of the spectrum to the other — from the all-court, attack from anywhere mantra of Townsend’s early days to a far more conservative approach based on defence and kicking in the wake of the calamitous World Cup — they are now neither fish nor fowl. Far too many of their kicks are not contestable, certainly in light of the aerial prowess of the Argentina back three, while in that miserable first Test they only managed to engage the outside backs periodically.

Where was the variety or cunning? The Duhan van der Merwe infield runs off nine and ten? It was all too predictable, and nowhere near enough against a side pulled together at short notice.

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THE COACH
Townsend did very well to turn things around, both for the team and his own reputation, after the pool-stage exit in Japan three years ago. A big part of it came down to him being more open to input from those around him (not least assistant coaches like Steve Tandy and Pieter de Villiers); more flexible in his approach. However, the mood music suggests that he has tightened up again, and the whole environment can appear rather joyless.

While there is little chance of — or logic to — making a change this close to a World Cup, especially when the SRU are already in the market for a Glasgow coach, Townsend badly needs two big results in Salta and Santiago Del Estero to puncture the impression that this is a team on the slide, on a journey to nowhere.

CAPTAINCY AND LEADERSHIP
With Hogg at home, Grant Gilchrist is a more than credible candidate to stand in as his replacement. But with Scott Cummings back fit, would the vastly experienced Edinburgh lock get in Townsend’s first-choice XV? Does the coach even know what his first-choice XV actually is?

Either way, Gilchrist needs others to step up and lead alongside him, through both deed and word. Watson will again help on both fronts, especially in the absence of the tone-setting Ritchie, but Scotland need more (in all senses) from their big players in the key positions: hooker, scrum half, fly half and full back. Credit to Matt Fagerson for how he has made the troublesome No 8 shirt his own while becoming an ever more vocal and demanding cog in the machine.

FLY HALF
Kinghorn has taken a predictable amount of stick from all quarters in the wake of the distinctly mixed bag he delivered in Jujuy. We should not forget, however, that it was only his third start at fly half, and the previous two had been the cakewalk against Tonga and a predictably back-foot heavy afternoon in Dublin: neither of which are ideal learning or confidence-building experiences.

The Edinburgh man will need to undertake the same journey as Russell has over the years, learning the value of making good, pragmatic decisions rather than always looking to force things. That Argentina back row won’t be going anywhere, though, so this education will continue to take place under heavy fire.

For those watching from the outside, it may get worse before it gets better.

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Post by bsando Tue 05 Jul 2022, 12:33 pm

Best article I’ve read on Scotland for a while, thanks for sharing. Clearly has a good insight into the current situation and I totally agree with him. The game plan can’t be a mix of both Tandy defence and Toonie attack. Ultimately the Tandy defence works best by keeping things tight and with clever kicking which Russell, Price, Hastings and Hogg can provide (and Kinghorn too, he is a good tactical kicker when playing well). But this mixture of both styles doesn’t appear to be working very well. As Toonie is head coach he needs to either focus more on the defensive side of things or sack his defence coach (please don’t) and find one who is similar to Matt Taylor was.

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Post by George Carlin Tue 05 Jul 2022, 2:12 pm

As I am becoming old and decaying faster than the condom in Jim's wallet, let me ask this.

Are losses in this summer series worth anything other than IRB world ranking points? In other words, what do we really have to lose by continuing with the Blarehorn is Barry John experiment? Other than games of rugby, that is.

Ireland are going to get blackwashed over there and so presumably should do nothing less than try every experiment that they want to try.
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Post by BigGee Tue 05 Jul 2022, 2:28 pm

I think if Hastings was not injured, we would be hsving a very different conversation about the BK experiment.

But he is and if our only other option is Thompson, who is inexperienced and did not have a good season with Glasgow it does seem to currently be a no brainer.

I have got big doubts about BK as well and would definitely rate him behind AH but we are woefully short of options at FH and desperately need to build some depth.

Do we really have any other options?

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Post by doctor_grey Tue 05 Jul 2022, 5:51 pm

Can you play Darge and Watson at the same time?

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Post by BigGee Tue 05 Jul 2022, 5:57 pm

You can

Should you is probably the more valid question?

Australia the only side that consistently used to pick 2 OSs in the Pockcock-Hooper era and it rarely seemed to work.

You would question the value of it against a big beefy pack like the Argentinians!

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Post by jimbopip Tue 05 Jul 2022, 6:04 pm

Doc, it's a bit of a Hooper-Pocock question.
Hamish can carry and Darge runs terrific support lines. Since Scotland don't have any juggernaut ball carrying 6's , although Malcolm Bradbury is being given another last chance to show he can be a barnstorming, we don't really lose much by playing them together. However Mbawza- Fagerson Hamish is probably what we would look to see in the World Cup.

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Post by sensisball Tue 05 Jul 2022, 6:21 pm

If we lose this series 3 - O then our record for 2022 will be played 8, won 2, lost 6!
With the AI's of Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina we could end up with our worst win ratio in a calender year since Matt Williams was at the helm, or was Captain Haddock's record even worse?

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Post by bsando Tue 05 Jul 2022, 6:27 pm

One set-piece adjustment Scotland could make from this move https://youtu.be/G5dGQAG7lrM?t=4413
By the time Darcy gets the ball it's not too hard for the Arg defence to get him down easily despite his speed. Johnson needs to time his pass a bit later. Was a good one though.

Hutchinson at 12 as many have said on here seems like a great idea. He Sets up the first try beautifully with a slick pass to Kinghorn https://youtu.be/G5dGQAG7lrM?t=4527
Hopefully some minor improvements could square up the series this weekend.

I'd go the following

1. Sutherland
2. Turner
3. Sebastian
4. Young
5. Gilchrist
6. Darge
7. Watson
8. M Fagerson
9. Price
10. Kinghorn
11. DVDM
12. Hutchinson
13. Bennett
14. Graham
15. Smith

16. Schoemann, 17. Cherry, 18. Fagerson, 19. Cummings, 20. Skinner, 21. White, 22. Johnson, 23. Rowe

I think Glen Young is worth a shot over Gray to partner his Edinburgh team mate with Cummings benching. Sebastian did well off the bench and having Schoe and Fagerson coming on in the second half could make an impact. Darge to blinside with (fingers crossed) watson at 7 and Fagerson back at 8 would improve poaching abilities. Hutchinson/Bennett combo has a lot of attacking potential and I'd really like to see Smith start at fullback. Johnson adding experience and Rowe to get his first cap.

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