Scotland v New Zealand: Scotland player ratings

Hosts register their best performance of the Autumn but it's not enough to secure a first ever win over All Blacks

Duhan van der Merwe was a powerful presence on the wing for Scotland. Image: © Craig Watson -
Duhan van der Merwe was a powerful presence on the wing for Scotland. Image: © Craig Watson -

15. Stuart Hogg – 8

Back to somewhere close to his best, taking on the All Blacks at their own game. Bounced off a couple of tackles early on, but sparked Scotland’s revival with that midfield break which led to the penalty try (it should rightfully have counted as his). Hit great lines and ran hard. Made an important man-on-ball tackle when New Zealand had an overlap towards end of first half. Missed one high ball as the tide started to turn against Scotland in the final quarter but generally strong and brave in the air. Siege gun kicks – maybe not always perfectly directed, but effective none the less. [Jordie Barrett 8] 

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14. Darcy Graham – 8

Dynamite. World class finish for his try and very unlucky not get an even better second. Fights way above his weight both in attack and defence. His team’s top carrier with 96 metres made. [Mark Telea 8]

13. Chris Harris – 7

Leader in word and deed. Defence was critical and he kept the back door firmly shut. Plays an important role in helping those around him shine,  [Anton Lienart-Brown 6]

12. Sione Tuipulotu – 7

Stood his ground determinedly, and went forward aggressively whenever an opportunity presented itself, which provided a valuable pressure release option for Russell and gave the All Blacks something to think about which meant more space for his team-mates outside.  [David Havili 7] 

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 8

Recovered well from a shaky start when he was caught in no-man’s-land for Mark Talea’s try and lost the ball in contact twice. Ran hard and his determination to work his way back in field stressed New Zealand’s defensive alignment, several dominant tackles, chased kick with ferocity and sound under the high ball. [Caleb Clarke 7] 


10. Finn Russell – 8

A triumphant return for the prodigal son. Played the game on his own terms, making a bold confident statements which transformed his side after recent tentative outings. Found width and space that was missing against Australia and Fiji. Great hands, with a brilliant and brave recovery from his one false move when the ball squirted loose following a mix-up with Hogg. Kicked cleverly from hand, slotted his goals comfortably, and defended well. [Beauden Barrett 7] 

9. Ali Price – 7

Rejuvenated playing alongside his old pal and flatmate. Used the box well and had one outstanding clearance kick. Hit the right balance between providing control and building momentum, with his crisp service proving the critics wrong. [Finlay Christie 6]            

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1. Pierre Schoeman – 7

Had to work hard in the scrum, but he did what needed to be done. Enthusiastic as always around the park.[Ethan De Groot 6]

2. Fraser Brown – 7

Great darts, tackled the New Zealand juggernaut head-on. Was penalised right at the end of the first half when Ardie Savea did brilliantly to get at the ball on his own line. Experience counts and Brown’s character at the pit-face with Russell pulling the strings gave Scotland a dimension which has been missing in recent weeks. [Samisoni Taukei’aho 8] 

3. Zander Fagerson – 7

Rock solid with little help by Frank Murphy or the TMO. Importance to the team most evident in how the home scrum went from on top to struggling after he left the fray on 59 minute. [Nepo Laulala 6] 

4. Richie Gray – 7

What an Indian summer this guy is having. A towering presence in the line-out with seven takes on his own ball and one early steal, plus some meaningful carries. [Sam Whitelock 8] 

5. Grant Gilchrist – 7

A real unsung hero. Always puts in a huge shift, tackling, carrying into contact, hitting rucks and throwing his body on grenades whenever required. He was a big miss after being replaced on 64 minute. [Scott Barrett 8] 

6. Jamie Ritchie – 7

Two penalties conceded in lead-up to All Blacks’ early try was a bad example to set, but the Scotland skipper grew into the game, putting his body on the line at almost every breakdown it seemed. A man of character. Did, however, give away one of three penalties Scotland conceded on New Zealand’s line when he chanced his arm with an extra roll on the deck midway through the first half.  [Akira Ioane 7] 

7. Hamish Watson – 5

After an indifferent series to date, appeared to be back firing on all cylinders, although he did give away one penalty, before being concussed in the 17th minute. The back-row perhaps had better balance after the introduction of Jack Dempsey.  [Dalton Papali’i 8] 

8. Matt Fagerson – 7

A couple of needless penalties, but a fine all-round, aggressive game. Provided the inside pass which sent Hogg clear in lead up to the penalty try. [Ardie Savea 8] 


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16. Ewan Ashman – 4

Got the last nine minutes.

17. Rory Sutherland – 5

Penalised for dropping a scrum on the hour mark which allowed Jordie Barrett to kick the points which triggered the All Blacks’ late surge for glory. Lasted only eight minutes before suffering a knee injury making a try-saving tackle on Papali’i, which is likely to keep him out of next week’s match virus Argentina.

18. WP Nel – 5

Will never let Scotland down but he’ll be 37 by the time of the World Cup and age is showing, so Murphy Walker needs more game time at club and international level.

19. Jonny Gray – 5

A solid starter but not an impact player off the bench, like Glen Young can be.

20. Jack Dempsey – 6

Sin-binning for deliberate knock-on, which was perhaps harsh, was a key moment – but Scots were already on the ropes.

21. Ben White – 5

Not on for long but one fine clearing kick.

22. Blair Kinghorn – 4

Three minutes at the end.

23. Mark Bennett – 5

Came on when the game was floating away from Scotland  and was handed off by Talea for All Blacks’ fourth and final try, but had one good run and a nice tidy-up on the deck.

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About David Barnes 3908 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.


  1. Delighted to see Fraser Brown back to his best. Probably Scotland’s most effective scrummaging hooker and the ABs had minced a strong Wales pack at scrum time. A strong showing from our entire pack and the front row in particular.
    Brown has had a rough time the past season or so, so it’s really nice seeing him back. Good for Scotland and Glasgow.

  2. Typically negative comments from Tom English on the BBC website .. must be depressing being him .. 🙂

    • I haven’t read many positive assessments of Scottish rugby by Tom, but then he is Irish so what can you expect.

  3. Think Taylor M’s remark about Hogg uncalled for and wide of the mark. He’s been one of our most potent attackers for years and his kicking from hand turns defence into attack in every game he plays. Proud man, proud Scot and top player. We’re lucky to have him and would miss him if the unwarranted flak thrown his way sends him off to Japan.

    • Yeah some very short memories. He has had a challenging couple of years but we shouldnt forget how many fantastic moments Stuart has provided for Scotlsnd supporters over the years. He isnt perfect but is a superb attacking player and is passionate as they come, will always have my backing

    • Nothing you say re his attacking ability is wrong and there is no doubt he can do things others can’t. But his decision making and execution ball in hand is too often lacking and at top level his defensive capability both in tackling and in consistenty dealing with kicks isn’t reliable enough. I am not saying he isn’t our best option but, being honest, he causes us issues which a really top level FB wouldn’t.

  4. Think rather harsh on Brown. Thought he had an excellent game and his much vaunted penalties were kept in check. Oh that his colleagues followed his lead.

  5. Hard to disagree with many of the ratings here.
    It is a real hard luck story and a sore one to take, it is a game that was eminently there for the taking. The yellow for Dempsey was harsh but in reality the momentum swing had just about started to happen prior to that. I wonder if we simply just lacked that belief that so often plagues us Scots collectively, the All Blacks knew we hadn’t put the game to bed (as we should have with the amount of chances we had!) and they knew they would have a spell, all they need was a couple of tries and to keep us at bay in the final 15mins and they did just that. This is the difference between the very very top teams and the rest.

    In terms of the performance of the players it is hard to criticize any of them. Russell made a huge difference and showed just how much of an absolute nonsense the whole fly-half debacle has been. The AB’s were scared of him every time he got the ball and had space, they were almost falling back on themselves so unsure as to where the next pass might be unleashed. Delighted for Hogg who seems to have become a whipping boy and anti-hero to many of our fans these days (many of them with short memories clearly), he had a couple of lapses but was brilliant in attack and showed his class and quality. Graham and Duhan absolutely on the money, Harris defensively so solid, Price had a sound game, the forwards were all impressive especially Brown who was summoned in from almost nowhere and played brilliantly. The entire pack put in a shift, set piece was solid, breakdown work the same and we were defensively excellent for almost 60mins of the game.

    A tough one to stomach but at least we come out with it with alot of credit. We must beat Argentina now and go into 2023 with some renewed confidence. Also ”Project Kinghorn” must be put to bed now, Finn is the man and Blair and Adam are his deputies it is as simple as that.

    • Mostly agreed … certainly be happy if we beat Argentina fairly well …

      Our ratings generally above the ABs underlines how much it was there for the taking.

      Re your point about lost belief, I wonder if the fact of the yellow just made the guys think … rats (or other more believable expletive) and heads just drop a fraction.

      I suspect Kinghorn will remain 10 at Edin as he then provides that ideal cover across the backs … and also he played not bad v Fiji, who are no mugs and Ireland only managed a similar score ….

      Particiularly agree re Hog, he’s the perfect troll target and great to see him play well

      • Kinghorn is also the best 10 Edinburgh have, so unless Scottish rugby unearths a better alternative we desperately need him and Hastings as Russell’s understudies. Even then, when Russell retires from test rugby we will be in a sticky situation unless Finn Smith or Ben Healy have opted for Scotland. It’s a very difficult challenge on the horizon – no decent test side doesn’t have a very good FH.

  6. Darcy Graham is a great advertisement for any up and coming talent who think they’re not big enough to reach the top of the game.

    I think Jonah Lomu maybe put off a lot of 5 foot somethings the generation before.

  7. Jonny Gray has been below his best for a while and I can’t help but wonder if he’s too heavy. He looks about as mobile as me sometimes.
    Special praise for Fraser Brown for not being a penalty machine for the opposition.
    I’m under the impression our penalty count wasn’t high, by our standards anyway, which is pretty good given the defensive effort involved.

  8. Some very generous scoring there starting with Stuart Hogg. His defence is woeful, surely has to be marked down for allowing them to score- for me he’s past it. The team in general scores very high for ultimately a team that blew a two score lead and didn’t turn up in the second half. Won’t get a better opportunity to beat a below par New Zealand

  9. I’d like to add that it was terrific to have Finn back playing. He is so gifted, it was a pleasure to watch his exquisite skills and I’m sure his spark rubs off on others around him.

    He is at another level and I hope that Russell can now continue making a positive contribution to how we play.

  10. Scotland played very well for 50 minutes but their dominance over this period wasn’t sufficiently converted into points. It’s an on going theme that we are good at scoring unexpected tries through moments of genius but when it’s a collective effort and the white line approaches we simply screw it up. This must be a coaching issue and if we can find a way to more consistently cross the line within the opponents 22 then we will be a team that can challenge at the highest level.

    • spot on

      Too predictable on their goal line, and just know will eventually be penalised for holding on or sealing off. Need a wee bit of variety by moving the ball one out or smart offload or whatever. Change it up a few times

      • Agreed. The sense is that amongst the T1 countries we are the poorest by a long way at converting from 5-10 metres out. Maybe stats tell otherwise but it feels like Ireland score virtually every time and we score less than 10% of the time. It has cost us numerous games yet the approach never seems to change.

  11. Several good performances yes – as reflected by the ratings – but ultimately we blew a two-score lead and that has to be the main takeaway. It needs to be worked if we want to get on the right side of ‘fine margins’ and achieve the high water mark that this team is oh so capable of. Some consistency in team selection might be a good start. Welcome back Finn.


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