France v Scotland: Scotland player ratings

Who boosted their chances of making it onto the plane to Japan? And who has left themselves with a mountain to climb?

Gordon Reid came off the bench during the second half. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

15. Stuart Hogg – 6

Tried to spark things from the back and sniffed out daylight a few times without quite getting clear. Caught napping and couldn’t get across in time to prevent Medard’s first try. Big relief when he was taken off after 55 minutes. This was a bad night for Scotland and the last thing they needed was one of their most important players picking up an injury chasing a disappearing shadow.

14. Darcy Graham – 6

It will be a crying shame if Scotland can’t build the platform to give this glittering talent the opportunity to shine. A little shaky under the high ball but stuck to his guns marking the formidable specimen that is Alivereti Raka. Was left covering a four-on-one in the lead-up to France’ second try.

13. Huw Jones – 6

Had a promising break early on, but continues to look tentative.  Showed enough to justify a few more run-outs during this warm-up schedule to build confidence and hopefully recapture some of that ebullience which made hims such a compelling proposition during the first two years of his international career.

12. Duncan Taylor – 7

Restricted mainly to defensive duties, and made some important interventions. A great cut-out pass early on illustrated that he can also be a key man for Scotland with ball in hand. Replaced by Rory Hutchinson on 47 minutes. An important step forward after a tough couple of injury-ravaged years.

11. Byron McGuigan – 6

Scotland’s top carrier with 63 metres gained. He asks the opposition questions with his hard and direct running, but his handling and positioning is an issue. Remains a long-odds outside bet to make the plane to Japan.

10. Adam Hastings – 5

Scored Scotland’s only points with a tricky penalty in 25th minute, but this won’t be a game he will look back on fondly. Was desperate to conjure something out of nothing, and had one or two nice touches, but there was too many errors. Yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on from an offside position as France looked to build a promising attack near the half hour mark. Will be interesting to see if Townsend gives Pete Horne or Rory Hutchinson an audition as back-up stand-off to Finn Russell during the next fortnight.

9. Ali Price – 6

A tough afternoon at the base of a comprehensively outplayed pack, with not much happening outside him. Was this another reminder of the enduring value to the Scottish cause of Greig Laidlaw’s steady hand?


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1. Jamie Bhatti – 5

Up against a formidable French pack, the crumbling turf at the Allianz Riviera stadium didn’t help and the new engagement laws will take some adjustment – but even taking all of that into account, the scrum remains a major cause of concern, especially the lack of depth on the loose-head.

2. Stuart McInally – 6

Tried manfully to provide a lead for his team-mates to follow but it was hard going. The line-out was scratchy but its early days and that’s fixable.

3. Simon Berghan – 6

Continually offered himself up around the park but struggled at scrum time against France’s behemoth pack. Switched to loose-head at the start of the second half but there was only one scrum (which went down on the other side) during that 11 minute period before Gordon Reid took his place, so we’re no further forward on whether this is a viable way for Townsend to free up an extra slot behind the front-row in the 31-man squad for Japan by only taking five props. Regardless of whether he is covering both sides or just the tight-head, he’ll do a decent job filling in the gaps against Russia and perhaps Samoa, but Scotland really need WP Nel and Zander Fagerson to be fit for the big games.

4. Ben Toolis – 5

Needed to flatten Francois Cros in build-up to Medard’s second try but went too high and ended up holding forlornly on to the Frenchman’s sleeve as he released the killer pass. It was his last involvement before being replaced by Scott Cummings on 55 minutes. No doubting his work-rate but he’s no Richie Gray.

5. Grant Gilchrist – 6

The game’s second top tackler with 18, at a 100 percent success rate. Stole one line-out midway through the first half, only for Ali Price to be swallowed up as he tried to gather the scrappy ball and end up conceding a penalty, which kind of summed up the game from a Scottish perspective.

6. John Barclay – 6

Battled away without much reward for 47 minutes before being replaced by Matt Fagerson. It’s pretty galling that the veteran flanker is the only player in the entire squad to have a single game away from home against England, France, Ireland, Wales, New Zealand or South Africa – and that was against Ireland at Croke Park back in 2010.

7. Jamie Ritchie – 7

One of the few players to have enhanced their chances of making the final 31-man squad. He is up against a number of senior figures with established reputations as rugged competitors, but it feels like momentum is on the Edinburgh man’s side. Made 25 completed tackles which was comfortably the most by any player in the match. Huge workrate and did not take a backward step. Was a relentless irritant to the home pack.

8. Josh Strauss – 5

We know he was playing during the first half because his name was on the team-sheet. Looked like an old man bending down to tie his shoe laces when he let Raka slip past on the way to the opening try. In fairness, he did well to win back the kick-off at the start of the second half, and had one or two carries, but it wasn’t enough to help turn the tide. Scotland need him to be an imposing presence but he goes missing in action far too often. Let’s hope Magnus Bradbury’s rib injury clears up on schedule. And we need to see what Blade Thomson can offer.

Replacements

16. George Turner – 5

Got the last 14 minutes after replacing skipper McInally, which didn’t leave much time to make his mark, but his line-out darts were on the money and the intent to take the game to France was clearly there.

17. Gordon Reid – 5

Scrum certainly seemed more stable with the big man at loose-head.

18. Zander Fagerson – 5

Penalised when the first scrum he was involved in hit the deck, but it generally stacked up more convincingly when he was on the park during the second half. Worked hard in the loose but seemed to run out of puff fairly quickly and was shown up badly on the inside when guarding a ruck with five minutes to go.

19. Scott Cummings – 5

Came on for his first cap in the 56th minute. Had a frustrating knock-on on a pick-and-go near to the French line with eight minutes to go, but really needs more time on the paddock to stake his claim.

20. Matt Fagerson – 6

Did his level best to follow Ritchie’s lead and provided some real energy during the last half hour, even though the game was gone by then.

21. George Horne – 6

Brought some zip in the final quarter, when the game was breaking up and the French were easing off.

22. Rory Hutchinson – 6

Debutant added spark after replacing Taylor on 47 minutes. His eye for an opportunity fits the mould of what Gregor Townsend is trying to achieve with this squad. A good bet to make the plane.

23. Blair Kinghorn –5

Didn’t really get into the game after replacing Hogg on 55 minutes.


France v Scotland: ominous start to World Cup build-up

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David Barnes
About David Barnes 1547 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

5 Comments

    • Not really. I think you’d be expecting all 8s and 9s if Scotland were to beat France in France, and 7s and 8s if Scotland were to run them close.

      Mainly 5s and 6s suggests Scotland were a long way off the pace.

      I would think a team of mainly 3s and 4s – what seems to be what you are suggesting – playing a top tier nation, who played very well on their home patch, would lose by more than 29 points.

      But it is, of course, purely subjective.

      Maybe international rugby is easier than I think it is?

    • I still can’t believe that Toolis has been chosen for the training squad ahead of a fully fit Richie Gray. It just beggars belief, he’s so clearly inferior.

  1. I watched the game last night,I was dismayed at the way scotland lost the first lineout that led to the first try,the coaches must take the blame for not getting the players ready for the match,the players are playing to instruction,so should have been ready for the french onslaught.

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