RWC23: Scotland v Italy: Scotland player ratings

Rory Darge carries the ball for Scotland in their first World Cup warm-up match against Italy. Image: Craig Watson © - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Rory Darge carries the ball for Scotland in their first World Cup warm-up match against Italy. Image: Craig Watson © - www.craigwatson.co.uk

15. Ollie Smith – 7

Struggled to control the ball on a couple of occasions during that rain drenched first half, and failed to get it recycled in a great attacking spot just before the break. Despite this, looks like he belongs here … but needs a big performance against France to make the No 15 jersey his own


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14. Darcy Graham – 8

Always a threat, chases everything like his life depends on it and took his tries well (particularly his second when he hit a great line, with sensational speed and an unstoppable body position), but skinned on the outside by Pierre Bruno in the first half.

13. Chris Harris – 6

Picked up a ‘stinger’ [shoulder injury] early on but battled through to the 56th minute. Defensively solid, as ever, but containment won’t be the key to Scotland beating South Africa or Ireland, and five into four is tough. He must be looking over his shoulder at McDowall and Redpath and at least slightly concerned.

12. Stafford McDowall  – 7

Solid debut. We know he has great hands but had the physique and desire to play battering ram at inside centre, including  in a set-move which was key to Graham’s second try. Defended well and is a leader of men. A big lesson from 2019 was value of backing men with age and momentum on their side, which could be key in a really tight midfield selection call.

11. Kyle Steyn – 6

Battled away with not much to go on. Apart from one gallop early in second half, a forgettable performance attacking-wise, but rock solid in defence and will be a competent understudy to Graham and Duhan van der Merwe.

10. Ben Healy – 8

Official player-of-the-match. Missed touch with a penalty into the corner on 30 minutes, but kicking was almost flawless – and sometimes sensational – apart from that. Doesn’t attack the line or pick out passes like that other guy, but a cool customer who reads the game. Played with a confidence/authority which belied his lack of experience in this environment.

9. Ali Price – 6

Wayward early clearance went out on the full and there was another one later on, wild pass led to 60 metre scramble backwards midway through first half, but showed his class in lead up to Graham’s second try. The 2021 Lions Test player is in a real fight with Jamie Dobie to make the cut as one of the three scrum-halves for the tournament.

 

 

1. Rory Sutherland – 6

Wouldn’t it be great to see him hit his 2021 form to really create a battle for that No 1 jersey? As it stands, he’s a comfortable third choice behind Pierre Schoeman and Jamie Bhatti

2. George Turner – 7

Some thunderclap hits. Aggression and impact makes him first choice.

3. Murphy Walker – 6

Not the impact he needed in shoot-out with Javan Sebastian for third tight-head spot in final 33.

4. Sam Skinner – 6

Missed out on 2019 World Cup due to a hamstring injury sustained in last warm-up game. Experience, versatility and leadership works in his favour this time.

5. Scott Cummings – 6

Brilliant footwork to just avoid trampling the renegade seagull who invaded the pitch early on. Battled hard. A big set-piece presence which put a lot of unrecognised pressure on the Azzurri.

6. Luke Crosbie – 6

Did a great job tidying up a loose ball from a rare Darge fumble midway through the first half but didn’t really impose himself like he needs to in order to usurp the current pecking order, before being replaced by Josh Bayliss with 11 minutes to go.

7. Rory Darge – 7

Between this guy, Hamish Watson, Jamie Ritchie, Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey … who doesn’t start that first Test against South Africa? Not everything went his way but looked comfortable as captain.

8. Matt Fagerson – 7

Two very important turnovers in front of his own posts during the third quarter when the result was still in the balance, the second swung momentum Scotland’s way which led to Graham’s second try.

Replacements –

16. Stuart McInally – 7

Rolled back the years with a joyful gallop out of his own 22 with 12 minutes to go. The set-piece improved during his time in the paddock.

17. Jamie Bhatti – 7

Did his chances no harm.

18. Javan Sebastian – 7

Perhaps slightly fortuitous to get the benefit of the doubt when winning a penalty in his first scrum after coming on as a 45th minute replacement, but was dominant thereafter. Not international calibre but played himself into one of Scotland’s three tight-head spots.

19. Cam Henderson – 6

Needs more than 17 minutes to establish himself in the Scots engine-room.

20, Josh Bayliss – 6

Wonderful goose-step when finishing off that last minute try. But back-row is a hell of a competitive position.

21. Jamie Dobie – 7

Massively competitive, massively talented, could he end the year as Scotland’s first choice No 9?

22. Blair Kinghorn – 6

Played the last nine minutes at full-back, with Ollie Smith switching to the wing, confirming that the ‘Blair Switch Project’ is well and truly shelved.

23. Cam Redpath – 6

Great draw and pass for late Bayliss try could be a key talking point if World Cup selection goes to the wire.


Predicted 33-man World Cup squad (as it stands):

Loose-head prop: Pierre Schoeman, Jamie Bhatti and Rory Sutherland (3)

Hooker: George Turner, Ewan Ashman and Stuart McInally (3)

Tight-head: Zander Fagerson, WP Nel and Javan Sebastian (3)

Second-rows: Richie Gray, Grant Gilcrist and Cam Henderson (3)

Hybrid back-five: Sam Skinner and Scott Cummings (2)

Back-row: Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Rory Darge, Jack Dempsey and Matt Fagerson (5)

19 forwards

Scrum-half: Ben White, George Horne and Jamie Dobie (3)

Stand-off: Finn Russell and Ben Healy (2)

Centre: Sione Tuipulotu, Huw Jones, Cam Redpath and Stafford McDowall (4)

Back-three: Ollie Smith, Blair Kinghorn, Darcy Graham, Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn (5)

14 backs


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About David Barnes 3821 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he 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.

32 Comments

  1. Doesn’t matter how these warm up games go , how well our players perform etc. we are coming home from the World Cup early. No one’s fault, just the ‘group of death’ we find ourselves in.
    However, since the last World Cup we have failed to bring on any quality forwards , Schoeman being the exception. Our first choice front row will compete with Ireland and South Africa, maybe even get parity but we have no back up come the inevitable change at 60. All 4 props a show Saturday would not get near the Saffers team. Out first choice locks are on a level too but when big Ritchie and Gilchrist have to come off the heft and quality will not be replaced.
    I’ve always liked Mcinally and he had a great cameo on Saturday, if he can keep,his darts straight he,d be my 2.
    Healy will now go as back up 10. It will be Prive and White at 9. I hope Ritchie and Watson have a stormer on Saturday because the back row last Saturday were 2nd fiddle to Italy.

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  2. I’d love to see Dobie in the squad and I agree that he potentially looks the best 9 as he has so much talent. It’s also incomprehensible that such a good player as Rory Hutchinson is not in the squad. I also think Cammy Henderson would be a good addition as none of the current locks can compete with the Ireland or South African locks.

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  3. I agree with virtually every rating here except Dobie. I think this performance had holed his WC chances under the waterline! several sloppy passes and a needless penalty gifting possession back to Italy and inviting pressure. Price was pretty poor but his experience will see him through. nothing here to justify a bolter.

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  4. I agree with virtually every rating here except Dobie. I think this performance had holed his WC chances under the waterline! several sloppy passes and a needless penalty gifting possession back to Italy and inviting pressure. Price was pretty poor but his experience will see him through. nothing here to justify a bolter.

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  5. How about Zero for the prematch ‘entertainment ‘. Whoever at the SRU thinks that supporters need someone pitchside screaming hysterically into a microphone to generate atmosphere deserves the sack.

    Raptors need to be brought in to scare away the seagulls whom have adopted the stadium roof as their new Edinburgh home.

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    • I’m with you on that absolutely demonic screaming from the Tannoy, not for the first time either. Truly the game is going toward the LCD rather than the HCF when it comes to intelligent presentation at Murrayfield.

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    • It is annoying. I appreciate there is a need to create a big match feel for the marketing people, but they’ve ended up with something similar to Gladiators in the 90s. Every player announced like the second coming of Christ.

    • Maybe the raptors could also be used to scare away those responsible for the pre-match “entertainment” too? A win-win situation!

  6. SLIGHT CHANGE. Was at Murrayfield yesterday and the first half was 40 minutes of my life I will never get back.ThoughtI would watch on TV and no Andrew Cotter was there this great commentator on everything sporting any sport he is the man. He has ruined my Rugby with his dreadful comments, lack of knowledge and sheer lack of empathy with Rugby fans. Please go and do your golf, athletics and tennis but leave Rugby alone. If just me sorry.

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    • Sorry, it might be just you
      Just wait for the ITV commentary for the world Cup. Redefining mediocrity

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    • Count yourself lucky. I live in Ireland and found that the match was not available on Amazon Prime in Ireland. I then had to fork out more to watch the match on Premier Sports, where they had no Scottish commentator at all, but one Irishman and one Englishman.

    • Andrew Cotter is one of the better commentators in my opinion. Always pleased when I hear him at the microphone.

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      • Grew up with Bill so the man is falling well well short of rugby knowledge. I suppose sby his own admission he has never played the game this is not surprising

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  7. SLIGHT CHANGE. Was at Murrayfield yesterday and the first half was 40 minutes of my life I will never get back.ThoughtI would watch on TV and no Andrew Cotter was there this great commentator on everything sporting any sport he is the man. He has ruined my Rugby with his dreadful comments, lack of knowledge and sheer empathy with Rugby fans. Please go and do your golf, athletics and tennis but leave Rugby alone. If just me sorry.

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  8. With Kinghorn now definitely going to RWC, imagine will only take 2 specialist FHs so a matter of who the extra is in the 2nd/back row. Not sure about the Mish – he needs a really amazing game to get back in contention so could be one of Christie or Bayliss. Unfortunately, Crosbie just seems to struggle to make an impact at this level but would love to be proved wrong.

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  9. With Kinghorn now definitely going to RWC, imagine will only take 2 specialist FHs and Healy ahead of Hastings right now so a matter of who the extra is in the 2nd/back row. Not sure about the Mish – he needs a really amazing game to get back in contention so could be one of Christie or Bayliss. Unfortunately, Crosbie just seems to struggle to make an impact at this level but would love to be proved wrong.
    Really hope McDowall goes as 4th centre ahead of Harris, thought he had a solid debut with some good cover tackling and good hands. Otherwise, think squad is looking pretty much as predicted above

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  10. Whoever is selected in the final Scottish squad, surely Argentina showed yesterday how to take on the Springboks……with a better place kicker, they would have won in Johanesburg. Scotland take note!

  11. I’m a football fan…but love to watch the rugby when I can…pretty obvious to me that unless ball handling improves and penalties are avoided then Scotland will always come up short…The commentary team blamed the wet ball for handling errors…13 of those as opposed to one for Italy..Penalties…same old same old..it is frustrating to watch..and it has affected Scotland teams for years..can those duel problems be eradicated?..sad to say I don’t think so.

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    • It didn’t get into a ‘Flap’ but was taken off before I had the chance to rate it.

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  12. Walker and Crosbie were pretty disappointing.Pleasantly surprised by Sebastian who I’d think is now ahead in the queue for the third TH spot.
    Too close to call in the centres.Macdowall did some good things but Redpath has a bit of X-factor.So would Gt leave Harris out for Macdowall? Doubt it.
    Can’t see Price being shelved for Dobie.
    Sounds like none of the fringe candidates will get another chance if GT is saying he intends putting out his best team for both French games-though injuries could shake that up.

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    • It’s the injuries that concern me, we might have a bit of strength in depth in some areas although there are still obvious ability differences between the 1st choices and their back up in certain areas.

    • Walker will make the cut because of his uncle being Sean lineen. He’s not good enough for Glasgow, hence why he can’t get a game so how else is he picked for Scotland. Sebastian was much better when he came on.

  13. Of the two sides Italy looked like they wanted it more but failed to deliver whereas Scotland only looked the part in patches but that was enough to get the win.
    Healy got MoM based on two siege gun kicks, I don’t think it was for getting the back line moving and as ever with Harris in the 3’s it’s all a bit negative, yes he can clatter a few but even that was missing in part yesterday.
    It will be interesting to see if Hastings gets a run out against France, I think if he does the ‘Home’ game will be preferable, Smith versus Kinghorn at Fullback, is Smith a bit steadier and Kinghorn a bit more dynamic, I think so and as I think our best chance is a strong attacking ¾ line catching SA cold in the first game is probably our best chance of getting through BK for me.
    The replacement Scots front row seemed to get the better of the Italians after a bit of a shaky start, and Fagerson M and Darge in particular earned their appearance money.
    What of the next fixtures, well on this showing if we put out anything like our 1st choice XV and bench we better pray there are no injuries of a serious nature, because unless there is a quantum leap in ability from what was on display yesterday we will struggle: but as ever, other views are available.
    All that said Italy are a much improved side and it is a mystery why they are binning their Coach Kieran Crowley after the World Cup.

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    • A fair summary.
      Healy looked a solid option at 10, nothing flashy yesterday, but not much go forward ball to play with until the later stages.
      Full back still not clear, but if either can demonstrate an ability to catch half the kicks or tackle half the runners that come their way then they’ll probably get the nod. Kinghorn’s extra attacking ability – a couple of quick wide passes in his end of game cameo – one putting Redpath into acres of space to set up Bayliss for the last try, may see him through in the same way that Hogg was probably not picked for his defence.
      It’s a worry none of our back three options looks reliable under the high ball, can’t believe opposition coaches won’t have spotted this – need work here on defence and the chase in attack. Ireland seem to have developed their kick chase to either jump past the ball to impede the catcher or target hands/arms to make the catcher’s chances very low. They certainly no longer compete as much to catch the ball. If it works for them,…
      It was good to see a dominant front row come on in the second half.

  14. A reasonably good result and the performance was good in patches. Healy is a massive addition to Scotland’s ranks, just wish he’d ditch that YMCA moustache. The Irish must be absolutely kicking themselves, well tough says I. As the song goes ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ’til its gone’. The cheekiness in me has him dropping a goal in injury time to beat Ireland in the World Cup! Back on Planet Earth, full back remains an enigma. I would pick Smith every day of the week over Kinghorn against the Saffers because with Duhan also at the back we need an insurance policy against the bomb squad. The Edinburgh lad goes too of course, but there is the seemingly eternal question of where to play him to make best use of his formidable attacking talents. Maybe at the back against less destructive teams, but not when solid defence is the order of the day I would take Hastings Junior too, because he can cover both 10 or 15 and you don’t just throw away experience like that. I would be sad to see Crosbie not getting the trip, for he offers variety – a big guy with a mean attitude which might come in handy. The problem is, who would you not take, because our choice in both the back row and at centre is bountiful. Interesting that OL’s squad does not include Harris, a British Lion and formerly one of the first names on Toony’s team sheet. I won’t come down on either side of the fence on that one. Delighted that Dobie is getting a mention and yes he could well be Scotland’s number one before much longer. Ally Price, another Lion, may find himself losing his place for both club and country, despite his formerly excellent credentials. Sebastian was derided by Welsh fans as ‘fourth choice’ at Scarlets, so great to see him confounding his critics – who have no right to moan when he makes an impact at Edinburgh next year. Another gem safely snaffled, for we sorely need convincing back-up at tight head now that Nel is approaching pensionable age. And finally, Henderson. Give the boy a proper workout and take him to France. A big lad with tons of talent, he will add real value to the squad.

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  15. Had hoped that Crosbie would have shown up better.. Hastings v Healy also an interesting debate, but fitness may be the key factor in that one as AH still recovering? Still not sure about Murphy, got some “prop” maturing to do so his time will come, if not now… Some big decisions coming up, unless injuries dictate choices. Will GT have strength to leave Harris and Price at home? GT has a tendency to stick with players too long and not spot the time to change – as DB puts it – “backing men with age and momentum on their side” and dare I say possibly more hunger to establish their names and career? The RWC group we have needs a bit of a roll of the dice, so now is the time in my view.

  16. With a squad of 41 to be cut to 33 for the final squad there still remain a few interesting selections. As has been largely recognised, Healy went well and from the South stand i observed a few monster kicks to the left touchline. Will we take 3 stand offs or is it between him and Hastings who we will need to see start in one of the French games. At scrum half one will drop out and with Horne and White still to appear its probably between Price and Dobie. Didn’t think Price was great yesterday with a few key errors although Dobie didn’t really shine either in the time he had although he has so much more running threat than Price has ever had. I’d take Dobie but suspect Townsend will go for the Price experience.

    In the front row it was interesting to see how much stronger the scrum was when the replacement front row came on – absolutely hammered the Italians in a couple of scrums. This is probably down to Sebastian being a much stronger scrummager than Walker so expect him to drop out. McInally seems to go well when he came on in and is probably our best hooker in the loose so interesting to see which hooker drops out.

    In the rest of the pack the back 5 mostly went well. Skinner always gets through a power of work and I do wonder if Scotland might still use him in the back row if they want some more beef in the pack. Him and Cummings will definitely go, Not sure if there is space for Henderson but depends on the back row and whether Crosbie goes.

    French game next week will probably have a totally different starting XV so we will have a better idea on the squad after the next 2 games against France.

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  17. Interesting…. I’d have Walker over Sebastian and Hastings over Healy….at some point we need the backline to produce tries. Faintly surprised Healy was never.developed as FB rather than 10 purely for fact that his show keeps him in the conversation and he has little else tbh. Think everyone slightly underestimates Walker at TH….he’s solid and doesn’t concede pens which already has him ahead of most of our options! Other than that I almost agree with DB but I still don’t think Dobie is a natural 9 despite my natural bias for him. I think Franco is right that he will be a decent winger. I’d go either Vellacot or Shiel.

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    • Neither Vellacot or Shiel are in the current squad. White, Horne, Price and Dobie are the 4 in the squad.

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      • Yeah aware of that but think that’s a mistake. GT is unbelievably stubborn with some of his picks….just ask Hutchison who must be aghast at seeing Harris lumbering about dropping the ball.

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