Three years without a Six Nations win Murrayfield. Ten years without a win against France. Some rather unwanted streaks consigned to the dustbin in 80 minutes of heart-pounding, adrenaline-pumping, nerve-shredding action! But who were the main men for Scotland on Sunday?
Stuart Hogg – 8
It feels like we should be thanking wee Archie because fatherhood seems to be suiting Hoggy! A more complete player now than at any stage in his career and while he retains his cockiness his temperament has just the right balance at the moment.
Tommy Seymour – 6
Limited opportunities offensively but again showed his defence has come on in leaps and bounds. Breakdown coach Richie Gray would have loved Tommy’s jackal that won the penalty for Duncan Taylor’s score.
Duncan Taylor – 8
He was everywhere in this game – throwing himself into his defensive duties; scrapping for the ball on the floor; driving back the French line; oh and the small matter of a 60m solo try too!
Alex Dunbar – 6
Unsurprisingly not up to full speed but he was there to ensure the Scottish midfield was not overpowered and there was no chance of the French achieving that.
Tim Visser – 6
On the scoresheet yet again! What impressed was that despite not seeing much of the ball his workrate remained high and he made really good decisions in defence.
Finn Russell – 5
No time to judge what he could have done. When he went off after 6 minutes with the French having just scored a superb try most would have thought Scotland were in for a very long afternoon.
Greig Laidlaw – 8
Got almost everything right, again assisted by forwards who are working far more effectively at the breakdown. Also made a couple of last ditch tackles on Vakatawa with open field beckoning.
Alasdair Dickinson – 8
His all round workrate was outstanding as was his level of fitness to go 80 minutes and still stay strong at the 20th scrum of the day.
Ross Ford – 6
Lineout was solid (bar one steal) and he didn’t need to hook given Greig was allowed to feed the ball at a 45 degree angle! Physical in defence but carrying could have been more aggressive.
WP Nel – 7
A few more trademark charges this time out. He might want to lay off the buttery pre-game snacks though – no turnovers but the ball did squirt away from him 3 times!
Jonny Gray – 7
Another week, another 100% tackle completion rate. Offered himself tirelessly in attack as well although the wall of light blue jerseys was tough to break down.
Richie Gray – 8
Still improving with each game so we can expect an absolute stormer against Ireland. Almost good enough that we may need to stop calling him Jonny’s Brother…
John Barclay – 7
The French were far more effective at the breakdown than the Italians in the last round so JB’s turnover opportunities were at a premium. Great lineout option.
John Hardie – 8
There seemed to be a bit of vigilante justice going on in response to a no arms hit by Machenaud early on – Hard Horse saved his biggest hits for the French scrum half.
Josh Strauss – 7
After Ryan Wilson last week it was Staruss’ (sic) turn to show what he’s really capable of. Carried for 30m in very heavy traffic as the primary ball carrier – the other 11 Scottish forwards managed 39m combined.
Stuart McInally – it feels like his time is coming and he deserves a shot packing down between Dickinson and Nel.
Rory Sutherland – unused.
Moray Low – last scrum was very messy but everyone was past caring by that point.
Tim Swinson – brief cameo.
Ryan Wilson – put in a good 20 minutes – the highlight being spoiling the final French attempt at a rolling maul that killed off any lingering hope of a comeback.
Sam Hidalgo-Clyne – unused.
Peter Horne – 8
Yet another player putting in a performance that truly showed what he is capable of. His passing was excellent and his eye for a gap really stressed a packed French defensive line.
Sean Lamont – unused.
The ‘Official’ On Top Of The Moon Scot of the match was…Stuart Hogg. This was a real team performance from 1-15 and with little drop off in intensity from the subs that were used (special mention to Peter Horne for taking over seamlessly from Finn Russell) – but Hoggy’s touches of class were the icing on the cake. Allied to an excellent kicking display and great defensive work (for 74 minutes at least!) and he’s turning into a real all-rounder at full back.
Picture courtesy of Adrian Henry. Visit Rugby People for more of Adrian’s fine work.