Georgia v Scotland: Scotland player ratings

How did Gregor Townsend's team fair in last chance to influence selectors in a Test match before World Cup squad is announced on Tuesday?

Finn Russell - Georgia v Scotland
Finn Russell launches yet another Scotland attack in Tbilisi. Image: Fotosport/David Gibson

15. Blair Kinghorn – 7

Wasn’t really tested defensively. Had a some really good contributions in attack – particularly when his looping run and well-timed pass nearly sent Graham over at the start of the second half – and when sending Hutchinson in for his second try a few minutes later – but will benefit from getting another run-out at full-back in the return match against Georgia next Friday. Took on responsibility for touch-kicking from penalties and made good yards for the team. Hasn’t yet managed to impose himself on the game in the same way as Stuart Hogg does, but – then again – who does?

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14. Darcy Graham – 8

A real handful for anyone unfortunate enough to have to defend against him. Uses his lack of size as a weapon, bounces out of tackles,  jumps up like a jack-in-the-box when eventually brought down, doesn’t ever stop pumping the legs. Showed his grit when standing his ground against Shalva Mamukashvili, the antagonistic Georgian hooker, just before half-time. Bundled into touch inches short of the try-line twice, either side of half-time. so wasn’t a million miles away from a hat-trick.

13. Rory Hutchinson – 8

Two excellently taken tries polished off an accomplished all-round performance. Seemed a probable World Cup squad member before, and having now given such an accomplished performance on his first international start he must surely be a dead-cert to travel – and, given his intuitive connection with Finn Russell, he’s a damned good bet to be in the 13 jersey against Ireland in the tournament opener. Presumably he knows that he will not be given the same freedom in that match as he got here.

12. Sam Johnson – 7

Demonstrated that his ankle injury is in the past with a typically strong-running performance. A clever bit of defending at start of second half when caught defending a two-man overlap so jumped out the line to force Zurab Dzneladze into a trickier over-the-top pass than he could handle. Replaced by Huw Jones in the 47th minute.

11. Sean Maitland – 7

Made some good yardage up the left wing. Solid in defence. An unsung hero of this team – which is crazy when you think about how many important tries he has scored for the side.

Big in Japan: The Offside Line at RWC2019

10. Finn Russell– 8

Unconvincing start, with a charged down kick quickly followed by a loose pass behind Hutchinson, but ever allows a bit of adversity to limit has naturally gregarious playing style, and the quickly turns into one of his trademark virtuoso performances. Varied kicking, passing and running meant the Georgians didn’t know whether they were coming or going. There will always be a concern that he is one over-step away from disaster, but that is the price we happily pay. Now clearly well into his groove, and all Scotland will hope that he carries that on into Japan.

9. Greig Laidlaw – 7

Scotland played some pretty high-tempo rugby here, they also played the percentages when required. This man is key to the team being able to strike the right balance between when to stick and when to twist. Of course, we already knew that – but now it is time to accept it. Scored 15 points through a flawless goal-kicking performance. Must start at 9 against Ireland.

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1. Allan Dell – 7

Reckons he has upped his set-piece game after returning from almost a year out during 2017-18 coping with back and groin injuries, and it was on the other side of the scrum that Scotland struggled. Always puts in a good shift around the park.

2. Stuart Mcinally – 7

Highly competitive – as he always is. One bizarre moment at a line-out about half an hour in when he passed the ball directly to Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half. But we can forgive him that isolated brain-fart in amongst all that brilliant work he does over the tackled man and his general commitment to making the opposition work hard for every inch they get.

3. WP Nel – 6

Did okay on his own ball at scrum time (and even won a penalty during the first half), but really struggled on Georgia’s ball, giving away penalties at the first two. In fairness, the scrums were a bit of a mess all afternoon. The question is, how important is a robust scrum in the modern game? Huge work-rate around the park.

4. Ben Toolis – 7

Finished off an excellent move to open the try-count. Won’t intimidate many players at international level but has excellent work-ethic and offers some athleticism at both set-piece and in the loose.

5. Grant Gilchrist – 7

Gave away a few loose penalties when Scotland would surely have been better off testing out their own defence, but was by no means the only culprit. A solid if unspectacular showing from the team’s first choice second-row.

6. John Barclay – 7

Still falling short of the immensely high standards he set before his Achilles injury, but he’s getting there and he remains a hugely competitive, shrewd and generally effective operator, even when not firing on all cylinders.

7. Hamish Watson – 7

A quiet game by his own booming standards, but part of an all-round forward effort which successfully laid the platform for the back division to play their natural game during the first 50 minutes, before everything became a bit disjointed. Was clearly disappointed with himself that he was a touch too high, and a touch too passive in the tackle when trying to halt Karlen Asieshvili as he charged in for the home team’s only score.

8. Matt Fagerson – 8

The issue seems to be that Scotland need a big ball-carrier at No 8 [Magnus Bradbury], but what is wrong with a not-so-big ball carrier if he does the same damage and also gets through a power of work elsewhere around the field. In fact, Fagerson has clearly bulked up this summer, and showed here that he ticks all the boxes of what Gregor Townsend is looking for from his back-row, in terms of: speed around the park, work-rate, handling ability – as demonstrated during the lead-up to the opening try – and a little bit of dog. The one blot on his copy bool was the dropped ball at the start of the second half which Georgia pounced on to launch a counter – and a slicker team would really have punished Scotland.

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16. Grant Stewart – 5

Got 16 minutes last weekend and the same again this week, which isn’t likely to be enough to get the 24-year-old on the plane to Japan.

17. Jamie Bhatti – 5

Worked hard to make an impact in the loose. His World Cup dream will depend on whether Gregor Townsend chooses to take three loose-head props, are gamble with two and rely on Simon Berghan covering both sides.

18. Zander Fagerson – 5

Came on the 57th minute, had his obligatory flair-up with the opposition at his first scrum less than one minute after arrival – which turned a re-set or free-kick at worst) into a penalty against Scotland. Lucky they were playing Georgia and not Ireland at the time!

19. Scott Cummings – 6

Made a quick impact after replacing Barclay on 67 minutes when he powered over for the last of Scotland’s five tries. Likely to be the beneficiary of Sam Skinner’s misfortune.

20. Josh Strauss – 6

Replaced Matt Fagerson on 69 minutes. Had two good carries in the lead-up to Graham’s try, which is more than he managed in the 80 minutes he played against France during the first World Cup warm-up match. Had left himself far too much to do if he really harboured ambitions of making the Word Cup squad.

21. Ali Price – 5

Lost ball in contact once, but an excellent kick over the top on 71 minutes showed that Laidlaw is not the only scrum-half in the squad capable of game management if the master needs a break.

22. Adam Hastings – 6

Am exquisite moment when he picked out Kinghorn on the left wing with a well-weighted cross-kick from behind his own line. It was a move that makes sense when you are 27 points up with 10 minutes to go. The problem is, you wouldn’t bet against him doing the same thing in the first minute.

23. Huw Jones – 5

Got 33 minutes after replacing Sam Johnson, but by the time he joined the fray Scotland were 27 points ahead and he will be frustrated that the game lost its flow meaning that he didn’t really get a chance to make his mark. Astonishingly, given where he stood just a year ago, he he now faces a nervous wait to find out if he will make the cut – with Sam Johnson, Duncan Taylor, Rory Hutchinson, Chris Harris (who had a big match last week) and Townsend favourite Pete Horne all pushing hard, he’s really up against it.

Georgia v Scotland: mission accomplished in Tbilisi

About David Barnes 4012 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.