Not again. This was a match that raises so many questions. How far can this young Scottish side go? Was not renewing Vern Cotter’s contract the right move? And why does Bernard Foley hate Scotland so much? On Top Of The Moon may not have all the answers but can furnish the player ratings for Saturday’s match againt Australia.
Stuart Hogg – 7
He consistently got over the gain line with ball in hand and his defence was solid. Cramp issues seemed to flare up again – did it restrict his use as a kicking option late on?
Sean Maitland – 6
6 from 6 tackling as he put in a sound defensive performance. When he did get posession he looked lively, including front foot ball to start the phases for Huw Jones’ second try.
Huw Jones – 9
Took his tries exceptionally well but even without that icing on the cake he put in a strong all round showing. He will be the big breathrough player of the series for Scotland.
Alex Dunbar – 8
For all that the national team have lots of options in the centres, Eck is still vital to their fortunes: he’s the strongest carrier in traffic and hugely important to the defensive effort and structure.
Tim Visser – 4
What would Seymour or Hoyland or even Hughes made of Timbo’s first half break down the line? The follow up to Jones’ grubber or Hogg’s chip? Or the late breakout? Surely more than Visser did on each occasion.
Finn Russell – 7
His kicking was a little bit variable – but when he got it right it was superb. Defended his channel strongly and gave Bernard Foley plenty to think about.
Greig Laidlaw – 7
If someone had said before the game one of the kickers would have a 100% success rate and the other 60% you’d have assumed Greig would have come out on top. Unfortunately it was Foley who found his kicking boots. Missed kicks aside Laidlaw was very solid all round.
Allan Dell – 6
Had a couple of good busts in the loose when there was a bit more space but was generally tasked with supporting the bigger ball carriers. Grafted hard to minimise the scrum disadvantage.
Ross Ford – 6
He’s a consistent 6 out of 10 player now. He’ll rarely let you down but he’d not going to bring anything extra the way his contemporaries and rivals can.
Zander Fagerson – 6
A 7, maybe even 7.5 in the loose, with the sort of carrying and tackling stats to be expected from a back row. A 5 to 4.5 for a tough afternoon in the scrum though, so averaging out to a 6.
Jochie Gray – 18 (9 each)
Hard to separate the brothers whose combined tackle count was 47 made 0 missed. Their carrying was of a similarly high standard as, for the most part, they drove Australian defenders back, essential when trying to minimise the impact of Pocock and Hooper.
John Barclay – 7
Ran himself into the ground, taking hit after hit (not all of them legal) as he did his best to slow and pilfer ball. Had nothing left in the tank late on when he conceded 2 penalties and nudged the ball out of the last ruck with a stray boot.
Hamish Watson – 7
Got through a huge amount of work and didn’t in any way look like a player making his first start. Deserves to hold on to the 7 shirt next week.
Why is it always Scotland whose dicey bench selections are exposed. With 2 opensides already on the pitch having to bring a third on just 4 minutes into the match was not in the game plan. Meanwhile Australia were sitting with just 2 backs on the bench but of course their early injury arrived in the second row – when they had 3 locks on the bench!
Fraser Brown – somehow manage to squeeze in among the 3 opensides and win the only penalty for holding on awarded in the second half.
Gordon Reid – had good energy in the loose but he’ll regret the decision to Scotstoun Express when Scotland needed to just hang on to the ball and run down the clock.
Moray Low – was very pumped up and vocal as he tried to energise his knackered teammates.
Grant Gilchrist – tough to ask him to play himself back into form at this level. Toolis (or even Swinson) would surely be a better option while he gets back to his best for Edinburgh?
John Hardie 7. Made the Rob Moffat style back row work by thumping everything that moved in a style befitting a true blindside flanker.
Ali Price – unused. It wouldn’t have been any different if Henry Pyrgos had been on the bench (HP has sat for the full 80 the last 5 times he’s been in the number 21 jersey). Even if Scotland are so reliant on Laidlaw would it not have been worth bringing on the fresh legs for someone else to provide some energy for an exhausted side?
Peter Horne – another horrible moment in a Scotland shirt for Pete but while he might be the fall guy the real issue was the team’s loss of attacking shape and discipline for nearly 30 minutes in the second half.
Rory Hughes – unused. Again, like Price, would he have been worth a last throw of the dice in place of one of the players who could barely manage to run?
The ‘Official’ On Top Of The Moon Scot of the match was…Jonny Gray. While Huw Jones was maybe a more obvious standout on the high profile stuff, Jonny was working harder than an FBI agent with election night looming. His relentless efforts stood out even among a pack where everyone was putting their body on the line from minute 1.