Scotland v France: Scotland player ratings

Gregor Townsend's team got their Wolrd Cup preperation back on track with a few fringe players making strong cases for inclusion in the squad

Chris Harris bursts over the line for Scotland's match winning try. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

15. Stuart Hogg – 7

Typical high-energy performance. Brought the crowd to their feet with eight minutes to go when he broke from deep, then gathered his own kick ahead, but a handling error from Simon Berghan after the full-back had popped the ball out the tackle meant a golden try-scoring opportunity floundered. Has now got the game time he was after – it is time to wrap one of Scotland’s most important players in cotton wool and make sure he is fit for Ireland on 22nd September.

Big in Japan: The Offside Line at RWC2019

14. Tommy Seymour – 5

Threw himself about with his customary zeal during the first 16 minutes, until a head knock – and failed HIA – brought a premature end to his involvement in this match. He won’t play against Georgia next week but will hope to be through the return to play protocol before the final World Cup squad is announced a week on Tuesday.

13. Chris Harris– 8

One foot firmly on the plane to Japan. Demonstrated why the Scotland coaching team rate him so highly. A colossus in defence and made good decisions in attack. If he lacks some of he stardust of Huw Jones, he’s got guts and desire in spades, and that’s going to be key if Scotland are to have any chance of emerging from a tricky pool. Smashed the line like a sledgehammer on his way to the match-winning try.

12. Peter Horne – 6

Disastrous start when his wild pass gifted Damian Penaud a second minute try. Kept his head and stuck to his guns. Came out the line brilliantly to bring down Alivereti Raka a few minutes later, and formed was a pretty effective defensive tag-team with Harris in the middle of the park. Showed good composure when pulling in the French defence in the final phase before Russell sent Maitland in for Scotland’s first try. But costly errors are a concern.

11. Sean Maitland – 7

Prodded and probed on the left wing, and solid in defence. Took his try well, although it was laid on a plate by Finn Russell’s looping pass.

Big in Japan: The Offside Line at RWC2019

10. Finn Russell– 6

It didn’t quite click on this occasion, but there was enough control there to see the win out. It wasn’t so long ago that a bad day for Scotland’s playmaking maestro would pollute the whole team, but he’s now a better risk-manager. Gave away 10 yards early on for niggling referee Wayne Barnes about a missed knock-on, which was perhaps harsh but is a timely reminder of the need to keep discipline and focus. Dollied a high ball which gifted France the possession from which they scored their second try. Was more composed during the second half to help ensure that Scotland were never under serious pressure as they defended a three point lead during the final quarter.

9. Greig Laidlaw – 7

A classic demonstration of his importance to the team. A torrid start and a few shaky moments from Russell, but Scotland kept their eye on the prize – largely due to the level-headed influence to their talismanic captain. Kicked three from three off the tee for good measure. Replaced on 73 minutes by George Horne.


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1. Gordon Reid – 7

A huge improvement in Scotland’s scrummaging from last week. It might not be fashionable but set-piece still sets the tone. Also showed up well in the loose, including a brilliant hit which dislodged the ball from Felix Lambey in the 11th minute. Threw an interception shocker at the start of the second half – get the heid doon and have a rumble, big man! – but a pretty sound all-round performance apart from that, before being replaced by Allan Dell on 47 minutes. Looks a good bet to make the plane to Japan.

2. George Turner – 6

Plays on the edge and can push it too far at times. Was lucky that he didn’t see yellow for a late tackle on Camille Lopez in the 22nd minute. Line-out throwing was shaky but his ferocity around the park could be invaluable in some of the dogfights Scotland will need to battle through over the next two months – so long as he stays on the right side of the law. Ended up playing in the back-row.

3. WP Nel – 7

Was part of the chain reaction of bad calls in the second minute – when Scotland tried to force the ball wide against a French defence wise to what was happening – culminating in that intercepted pass from Horne that gifted the visitors their first try. But vastly improved scrum from last week and plenty of rucks hit mean he will definitely be on the plane and almost certainly travel as first choice.

4. Scott Cummings – 7

First start in a Scotland jersey after he got 20-odd minutes off the bench at the end of last week’s debacle, and he looked more than comfortable operating at this level. Constantly sniffing out work and made a couple of big tackles, before being replaced by Grant Gilchrist on 58 minutes.

5. Sam Skinner – 7

A relentless nuisance to France. Athleticism and work-rate was key to Scotland’s vastly improved performance up-front. It will be heartbreaking for the player if the hamstring injury suffered midway through the second half rules him out of the World Cup, and a significant set-back to Scotland’s cause.

6. Ryan Wilson – 6

Skinned on the outside by Sofiane Guitoune in the lead-up to France’s second try, although that was a genuine mismatch between an outside centre and a back-row created by a Scotland fumble a few second earlier. Ended up in the second-row after Skinner’s injury. Like Laidlaw, who he is and what he stands for is as valuable to the team as his contribution to the action – but he’s up against a lot of competition in the back-row.

7. Hamish Watson – 8

His availability is going to be absolutely crucial to Scotland’s prospects in Japan. The pack is a very different proposition when he is tearing into everything that moves from the open-side flanker slot. The type of player who will thrive when Scotland enter the lion’s den to take on Georgia in Tbilisi next week, but can Gregor Townsend risk him?

8. Blade Thomson – 7

A solid international bow. Huge tackle on Felix Lambey on 18 minutes set the tone of his performance. Didn’t get a chance to show us his vaunted pace and handling skills in open field, but knuckled down and did what needed to be done in both attack and defence. Came off after just two minutes of the second half with a head injury, which is a concern given his recent history. With Sam Skinner looking a serious doubt for the World Cup, losing another potential back-row/second-row hybrid player would be a big blow.

 

Big in Japan: The Offside Line at RWC2019

Replacements

16. Grant Stewart – 6

A big moment for the 24-year-old from Strathaven when he came off the bench on 64 minutes for his first cap. His first line-out sailed between Ryan Wilson’s fingers but that wasn’t necessarily down to the throw. The next three line-outs were on the money. Certainly didn’t seem overawed by the occasion.

17. Allan Dell – 5

Will benefit from this trot out during the final half hour. Will head to Japan as first choice loose-head.

18. Simon Berghan – 5

Will be kicking himself that he fluffed his lines after Hogg’s scintillating break near the end. Showed up well in the loose and the scrum stacked up during his 21 minutes on the paddock.

19. Grant Gilchrist – 6

Great work in the final minute to disrupt a French line-out drive and force a knock-on, which killed off the game.

20. John Barclay – 6

Put himself about to good effect after replacing Thomson in 43rd minute, and even had a stint I the second-row.

21. George Horne – 5

Not much time to make an impact after replacing Greig Laidlaw on 73 minutes.

22. Rory Hutchinson – 6

One or two nice touches after replacing Pete Horne for the final 11 minutes, but will be frustrated that he hasn’t had a longer run-out during these first two warm-up matches to stake his claim for inclusion in the World Cup squad.

23. Blair Kinghorn – 7

Ended up getting 64 much needed minutes after replacing the concussed Tommy Seymour early on. Took an excellent high ball just before half-time, but didn’t get many chances to stretch this along legs – it would have been good to see him have a go when Russell released him on the right with an excellent chip kick in the 52nd minute, but his pass back inside to Hogg didn’t go to hand and the chance was lost. Not the most powerful of tackler, although it was his pressure play which harried France into turning the ball over in the lead-up to both of Scotland’s tries.


About David Barnes 3817 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.

2 Comments

  1. Pete Horne’s costly errors are always a concern. His passing is ponderous at best and he lacks the pace to be effective in attack at international level. He shouldn’t even be third choice for that position and if he goes to Japan, as I expect him to, it will reflect badly on Townsend’s decision making. He is not needed as cover for any position.

  2. It has been generally accepted that Hogg and Russell are the most important members of the squad and there is some merit in that.
    But if there is one player that Scotland simply cannot do without it is Hamish Watson.
    He never seems to make a mistake.He always knocks over the first two tacklers.He always gains yards when in possession.
    He is superb and should be wrapped in cotton wool before being let loose in Japan

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