The Verdict: Scotland player ratings v South Africa

A chastening experience for the men in blue as the momentum built over the opening 2 games was halted by some fairly poor tactics and execution allied to intense Springbok physicality.


Stuart Hogg – 6
The only player in the back line who looked like he might create something in the stifling environment created by the Springboks defence. If he nails those passes, particularly the 2nd one, then everyone is raving about him but them’s the breaks. Stupidity to go down when Beast got near him but it’s been the first sign of immaturity in a long time so hopefully no more repeats.

Tommy Seymour – 6
Took a weird line inside Weir which allowed Pietersen to block off the possible pass so he was maybe a bit fortunate that it still came back for the try. Worked hard to get there and finished well though. Even with his dancing feet it was tough to find any space in the South African ranks.

Richie Vernon – 5
a bit exposed at times unsurprisingly but he threw himself.into everything he did. Its the speed of thought and reaction times that need to be just that fraction quicker at this level, illustrated by throwing the ball into Habana’s hands. Given he only had x touches it’s difficult to argue that Mark Bennett would have made much difference to the result.

Matt Scott – 6
With Weir at 10 this should have been a chance for Fergus’ brother to demand more of a role in controlling the Scottish midfield. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have the same level of gallusness and confidence in his ability as a Russell or a Hogg – and maybe he should given the skill levels he has but how do you coach that into a player?

Tim Visser – 6
His attitude has impressed and he seems back to the sharpness you’d expect as opposed to the rather disconsolate figure sighted on the wing for Edinburgh for most of the season. He still seems very conservative on his kick chases where given his size and good hands you would think he should be contesting harder and winning the ball directly but is that him or the coaches?

Duncan Weir – 7
He did almost everything that would have been asked of him and added a cherry on the top with the interception which was a great read and well taken. Maybe could have pushed it more with his kicking in order to win better field position, something he really only did with his last boot to the corner. He’ll stand down if Russell is fit again but he can be satisfied with his night’s work.

Greig Laidlaw – 5
He’s a fantastic high percentage kicker – but only from the right range. We turned down one kickable pen, not to be bold but because it was too far and he came up short on another. He should not have come back on after the sin bin – the coach should have a taken the chance to set an example that it doesn’t matter if you are the captain – you don’t give away incredibly stupid yellow cards.


Gordon Reid – 5
A strong performance in the loose where he got through a power of work defensively. Unfortunately his set piece work was not at the same level as Scotland struggled badly in the scrum. Still learning and improving and should still be ahead of Ryan Grant to cover Alasdair Dickinson against Samoa.

Fraser Brown – 6
A surprisingly middle proppish performance from the man we maybe expected to come in and hook the ball – but he is another converted back row and much of the impetus for scrummaging this way does seem to be coming from the coaches. Another who’s work in the loose exceeded his work in the tight. Could do with a decent run at home for the Warriors to really see if he can challenge for the Scotland no. 2 jersey long term.

WP Nel – 7
The most solid of Scotland’s front rowers and put in a more than decent number of tackles against the country of his birth. Given South Africa have an endless supply of big beasts to stick in at tighthead but they’re all a bit thick and none of them seem to do much outwith the scrum I wonder if the Springbok forward coaches cast an aye over Nel and thought about the one that got away?

Jonny Gray – 6
As the lineout caller he will need to take some of the blame for how poor we were in this area. Good as he has been for both Glasgow and Scotland over recent years the performances of Etzebeth and de Jager will hopefully have been an education for him. He maybe cannot match their size but bringing some of their aggression to his play would be welcome.

Richie Gray – 6
He made more tackles than his opposite numbers but it’s hard to remember a single dominating hit from Richie whereas when the South African locks made contact they were stopping Scotsmen in their tracks and even knocking them back. He seems to be playing tighter than recent seasons – and it really doesn’t suit him with his 6 carries only generating 5m. Let him get back to seagulling out wide where he can try and take advantage of mismatches in size.

Josh Strauss – 5
They were clearly prepared for him and were targeting his upright running style but he still managed to get over the gainline more consistently than any of the other Scottish forwards. Still a long way to go for the man from Bellville but he at least has shown that he can adapt his game to take up more of the defensive slack if that is what the back row blend requires.

Blair Cowan – 6
Not easy to jump straight into the most physical game in the group so far when the last time you played was a few minutes against Italy over a month ago. One thing you know you will get from him is a wholehearted, committed performance and he brought that to the table, hunting round trying to find turnovers and making his tackles.

David Denton – 5
A step back for the man who had been Scotland’s form back row coming into the tournament. Reverted to some pretty brainless stuff all across his game with stupid penalties in punishing positions and poor handling errors – the kick off reception after our try being just the latest example of a Scotland side shooting themselves in the foot just as they’d given themselves a chance.


Ross Ford – brief appearance before the doc grabbed him up for a HIA.

Alasdair Dickinson – very solid. Could do with teaching a few young ‘uns how he managed to transform himself into such a consistent presence at LH.

Jon Welsh – quiet outing for the big man.

Tim Swinson – USA game suited him a lot better – as well might the Samoa match.

Ryan Wilson – flung himself into the game. Would like to see him used more as a proper 3rd lineout option

Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – service was much sharper than Laidlaw’s (mind you so was half the pack when the skipper was in the bin so it’s maybe not saying much).

Peter Horne – 3 carries for 0 metres about sums up up difficulties the midfield had in making ground.

Sean Lamont – cap number 99. Still searching for his first RWC try. Too passive in the tackle when Habana scored.

So are these ratings too low, too high or just right? Add your thoughts below!

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