Scotland v Australia: Scotland player ratings

If you don't take you chances in Test match rugby then you are not going to win games

Scotland loose-head Pierre Schoeman is tackled by James Slipper of Australia. Image: © Craig Watson -
Scotland loose-head Pierre Schoeman is tackled by James Slipper of Australia. Image: © Craig Watson -

15. Ollie Smith – 8

Marked his Murrayfield debut as a Scotland player with a superbly taken try. Kicked cleverly and accurately, was the game’s top carrier with 71 metres made, brave under the high ball, and made his tackles. Stuart Hogg is back next weekend, but head coach Gregor Townsend may view Fiji as an opportunity to give the young pretender some more time in the saddle as he seeks to build a depth leading into next year’s World Cup. [Tom Banks 6] 

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14. Darcy Graham – 5

Collected a high ball in the opening minute, tidied up a loose pass from Kinghorn in the second minute, got back to collect McDermott’s hack ahead in the third minute, and made a good tackle on Tom Wright in the fourth minute – then was hardly seen again until after the hour mark when he collected an Australian clearance and made 10 yards before being swamped by gold jerseys. Chronically under-utilised.  [Andrew Kellaway 6]

13. Mark Bennett – 6

Pressurised Bernard Foley into the fumble which led to Kinghorn’s hack ahead and score at the start of the second half, but very quiet by his own standards with ball in hand, [Len Ikitau 6]

12. Sione Tuipulotu – 7

Played an important role in heavy traffic during the lead-up to Smith’s try and ran hard like an established inside-centre whenever required, but will have nightmares about that first half fumble with the try-line at his mercy. [Hunter Paisami 6] 

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 6

Was more successful than Graham in finding ways into this game, with one great take off a high ball and rampaging run past four Wallaby defenders bringing Murrayfield to its feet, but he couldn’t quite get clear on that occasion. Letting a loose Bernard Foley penalty bounce into touch with 12 minutes to go was a costly error because it gave Australia the attacking line-out from which they won the game. [Tom Wright 6] 


10. Blair Kinghorn – 7

The jury remains out. Some nice moments, such as his delayed pass to set up Smith’s try, the long miss-pass which should have sent Tuipulotu over and, of course, his brilliant breakaway try at the start of the second half, an inch-perfect into the corner a few minutes after that and a fine 50-20 on the hour mark – but you need a goal-kicker you can rely on when it really matters. Fundamentally, does he scare the opposition like ‘he who cannot be named’? [Bernard Foley 7] 

9. Ali Price – 6

Won a cute penalty at the back of a ruck which allowed Kinghorn to put Scotland 15-6 ahead on 53 minutes. His kicking from the base was a mixed bag, with some bang on the money but a few others simply handing possession back to the Wallabies. [Tate McDermott 7]                                                                                                                                                                     


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1. Pierre Schoeman – 7

An obstruction penalty allowed Australia to strike back after Smith’s early try, then coughed up another bizarre penalty for trying to dive over a tackle, but also won two huge turnovers on his own line in the first half. Worked hard around the park, carrying more often (13 times) than any other forward in the match, and making more ground (37 metres) than any other forward apart from Rob Valetini (50 metres). Also made an impressive nine tackles. But he did have a bad dropped ball at the start of the second half. [James Slipper 8]

2. Dave Cherry – 5

Caught out when Tate McDermott skipped past him at the start of that early snipe and his failure to roll away led to the penalty with allowed Foley to put the visitors into a half-time lead. The line-out wobbled but he kept working hard in the tight and loose before being replaced by George Turner just before the hour mark.  [David Porecki 6] 

3. Zander Fagerson – 6

As aggressive and as hard-working as ever in the loose. Honours shared in the set scrum. [Allan Alaalatoa 6] 

4. Sam Skinner – 4

Battled hard for 22 minutes before being forced off early with a foot injury. [Nick Frost 8] 

5. Grant Gilchrist – 6

Not as prominent in the loose as we know he can be, and line-out frustrations led to a pulling-down penalty. Didn’t manage to hold onto what could have been Ali Price’s try-making pass after van der Merwe’s second half break, although it ended up being academic because Glen Young was penalised for his clear-out in the lead up to that moment. [ Cadeyrn Neville 6] 

6. Jamie Ritchie – 7

A typically abrasive and hard-working performance from Scotland’s new captain, particularly in his ferocious breakdown work which won two turnovers. Should he have instructed Kinghorn to go for the posts instead of the corner in the first half, when Scotland earned a series of penalties but failed to trouble the scoreboard operator? Hindsight is a wonderful thing!  [Jed Holloway 6] 

7. Hamish Watson – 6

16 tackles made and one missed. But gave away the penalty which allowed Foley to kick his team to glory. Head coach Gregor Townsend argued afterwards that it was the wrong call from the match officials, because the ball had come out the back of the maul by the time the Scottish flanker advanced, but it was surely a time to err the side of caution. [Michael Hooper 7] 

8. Matt Fagerson – 7

Never takes his foot off the gas, but won’t feel like he managed to impose himself as we know he can. [Rob Valetini 7] 



16. George Turner – 4

Two dodgy line-out darts  and an off-the-feet penalty after replacing Dave Cherry on 59 minutes.

17. Jamie Bhatti – 5

Replaced starting loose-head SSchoeman for the final quarter and got stuck in.

18. WP Nel – 6

Demonstrated his determination to make the most of his Indian summer as an international rugby player with an energetic 21 minutes which belied his 36 years.

19. Glen Young – 7

An eventful afternoon after replacing Skinner midway through the first half. Held up over the line soon after joining the fray, and was sin-binned when his bicep (crucially not his shoulder) made contact with Tate McDermott’s head as he cleared out a ruck in the second half. His work-rate was superb.

20. Jack Dempsey – 5

Having come on against the country he represented 14 times between 2017 and 2019 when it was 15-6 to Scotland, he will be disappointed to have ended up on the losing side. Welcome to life as a Scotsman, Jack!

21. George Horne – 5

Not much opportunity to make his mark.

22. Ross Thompson – N/A

Stripped off with five minutes to go but didn’t make it onto the park. As a frontline kicker, it might have been handy to have him taking that late penalty.

23. Damien Hoyland – 4

Replaced Graham with five minutes left on the clock.

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About David Barnes 4030 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.


  1. Perhaps the better side, Rhys but, having lost to Australia by one point, Scotland have slipped from 6 to 9 in the IRB rankings with their opponents going in the opposite direction.

  2. Glen young -7?, were there 2 Glen Youngs on the park. The one I saw brought an end to one try scoring chance by trying to stretch over the ruck, that was never going to work at international level. Was lucky not to see red after running 20 yards and launching himself at the head of the smallest man on the park and tried to out do cherry in lying around paralysed after every tackle. I thought 2 was generous.

  3. I was fortunate to be in Oz, for a few months this Summer, and watched, on TV, 2 of the 4 Nations matches in which the Wallabies were very poor. I concluded that Scotland would have an easy win which I was still confident when I walked into Murrayfield on Saturday. Different thoughts when I left …..

  4. Kinghorn took his try really well using his dribbling skills and pace, which have nothing to do with playing at 10.
    He held up a ball and popped it a foot to Smith to finish a great team try.

    Other than that what were his contributions? Restart kicks that put Oz under no pressure, passing to his back three when they were 10 yards behind the gain line causing no threats and missing two crucial goal kicks.
    I feel a bit sorry for him as he clearly isn’t an international quality 10, and is probably our 4 best choice.
    Townsend looked like a haunted man in his post match, as he should.

    Sadly the fat controller couldn’t give two hoots about the national team, so expect no changes until he retires in 2025.

    • TBF Kinghorn was instrumental in the first try, his delayed pop pass put through Sione who gave the assist to Smith.

      His all round game wasn’t terrible but I think his distribution isn’t balanced enough, he has a tendency to stand deep, run across the pitch looking for gaps and more often then not looks for either the basketball offload or a long loopy mid pass. What we lacked was a FH who was consistently feeding runners on the gainline and bringing our strike runners into the game more. Both wingers were criminally underused but Sione and Ritchie were given long loopy passes out on the wing.

      I don’t think Kinghorn was awful but that was a game we should have won and leaving aside the last minute kick, we had chances we failed to capitalise on.

    • What about the pass over the top to Tuipulotu who then dropped it with the line at his mercy!

      Why do all these threads end up being largely about criticising BK when there are so many other aspects of the match to discuss and if some of these areas and other players had been better on the day we should have won. I know he is not a great kicker but all the press I have read think BK had a good game. Lets talk about the other 14 guys on the pitch.

  5. Too much doom and gloom here, Scotland were unlucky not to win, small margins going against us too at crucial times. There were some great performances yesterday not least Kinghorn who showed more invention and good game management yesterday, than the show pony Finn Russell showed in all of the 6N

  6. I have to admit I didn’t even notice some of the late exchanges, George Horne for instance just what is the point of substituting players offering up 10 minutes game time?
    Thomson ready to go on [but didn’t get the call] with 5 minutes to go, again just what is the point? Is it offering up ‘cheap’ caps or is there a tactical reason.
    I’ve yet to understand a tactical substitution with 5 minutes to go unless: hang on: was Townsend worried he might have to offer up the goal kicking to Horne or Thomson and was too embarrassed to do it?
    If that was the case he got that wrong as well.
    I don’t think anyone who has read my Jottings over the years could accuse me of vindictive [ok one or possibly two exceptions] or shouting for players to be dropped, but I really think that if the performances and selections continue as they have, I can see no reason why in anticipation the SRU Scout around for a replacement now, to replace Townsend after the Autumn Series and get someone in place before the 6 Nations, and give us a chance in the World Cup, what is there to loose, it’s a tough task with SA and Ireland in the group?

    • Main problem is that v few high calibre coaches will be available at this point of RWC-cycle. After the tournament there will be a coaching game of musical chairs and we’ll have to hope we’ve got someone good in place but currently options would be few and far between.

      • The insanity of extending Dodson’s contract till 2025 comes into play since his choice next year, after Townsend is the sacrificial lamb for RWC2023 failing to get outof the group, will be the coach taking Scotland through to RWC 2027. Absolutely no confidence in selecting a coach with the necessary skill set for international rugby. Suspect that a Scottish project, take a bow Mike Blair, will be the person elevated.

  7. I was at Philliphaugh yesterday to watch a hugely tight and exciting game between Selkirk and Hawick. Great commitment and skill from both sides with the result in doubt right up to the final whistle. A joy to attend with a partisan crowd and good atmosphere. Headed home and started watching Scotland donate the game to Australia. After the passion and fire I’d seen earlier at Selkirk Scotland were a turn off so I moved to Strictly on BBC1 and enjoyed the rest of my day. Not sure why I have bought 4 tickets for the New Zealand game as I’m old enough to know better but my sons enjoy going there so here’s hoping! By the way I thought Kinghorn had a decent game apart from his goalkicking and took his try well.

    • Perhaps the better side, Rhys but, having lost to Australia by one point, Scotland have slipped from 6 to 9 in the IRB rankings with their opponents going in the opposite direction.

  8. It is all very well to glorify in the International game but let us spend treble the time on 2nds rugby. Games off yesterday with boroughmuir, selkirk, gala, biggar ,jed, peebles in the top 2 East leagues. Seeming inactivity when urgency is required from HQ, i bet if one of our 2 pro teams had an injury crisis then heaven and earth would be moved to find a way to play….bring in The Bear as emergency Czar of reserve rugby! Now !

    • There were 26 games off yesterday. 8 in the national shield, 4 in the North Bowl and 2 in Midlands.

      That these “top clubs” in the reserve leagues can’t fulfil a fixture is a major concern.

      But not to worry Rory. Murrayfield aren’t concerned! Seriously that a quote!

      • Dom, you are so wrong re the SRU. But they are so frustrated by the clubs and their inability to change. The SRU does not create the league structure we have, it does not create the travel involved, it does not insist on 5 subs. The SRU gets things wrong but please do not blame them for the outdated league system we have, as system that the players vote with their feet by not supporting. It takes 40/50 players for most teams to complete a season, why?

    • Good grief, laddie – pull yer heid oot o’ whichever orifice you stuck it!

      Where have you been hiding? Have you never heard of “fewer but stronger”?

      It’s a plan, a strategy – a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  9. 2 seasons ago Townsend found the personnel, combinations and tactics to win away v France and England, building on the season before when we beat Wales away.

    Last season we didn’t build on it and while it wasn’t disastrous benchmarked v normal Scotland seasons things looked stale so in the Summer we went in a completely new direction, different players, different styles, different character to the team. Some of this is injury/ availability related, but not all of it.

    And who wants to bet that after this result, the direction, selection, combinations and team character will change again next week?

    I can’t think of any other aspiring top team that does this. The one team that used to was France, and their inconsistency was legendary.

    What do we do, who are we, how do we play, who are our key players and combinations that rarely change? I have no idea from one season to the next, and sometimes from one game to the next.

    • Indeed Johnny B – isn’t it great, really exciting….. Who in their right mind would opt for the alternative of a predictable, boring scenario?

      As I used to remind my Sports Management university students regularly, the essence of sport is uncertainty of outcome, at every turn.



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