Scotland v Wales: Scotland player ratings

An imperfect 10 for Finn Russell, who made mistakes but dominated this rugby match with technical brilliance and some good old-fashioned Scottish swagger

Duhan van der Merwe came onto a game after a tricky first half for Scotland versus Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -
Duhan van der Merwe came onto a game after a tricky first half for Scotland versus Wales. Image: © Craig Watson -

15. Stuart Hogg – 6

A couple of assured touches early on before retiring after 13 minutes with a head injury.

 [Liam Williams 6] 

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14. Kyle Steyn – 8

Rock solid in defence. Dangerous in attack. Unlucky to be bundled into touch by some great Welsh scramble defence in the first half, but took his two tries well after the break.

[Josh Adams 7]

13. Huw Jones – 8

Ran a great line onto Tuipuloto’s pop-pass early doors to set up the critical first penalty. Tidy and compact throughout – and certainly not inconvenienced by George North’s physicality.

[George North 6]

12. Sione Tuipulotu – 8

The catalyst that takes the pressure off Russell and gives him the space he needs to work his magic. Now an essential cog in the team structure.

[Joe Hawkins 5] 

11. Duhan van der Merwe – 8

Big and strong. Trouble for Wales every time he had the ball, though the Welsh did handle him better than the English did last week. Dan Biggar tested him in the air and he was not found wanting, but did tie himself in knots clearing up the Welsh stand-off’s clever grubber in the first half and was posted missing when Huw Jones broke through on Tuipuloto’s short pass.

[Rio Dyer 5] 

Scotland v Wales reaction: teamwork is key to Finn Russell’s virtuoso performance

Scotland v Wales: Finn Russell pulls the strings as hosts rampage to record win

U20s 6N: success at last as Scotland topple Wales

10. Finn Russell – 10

World class. The first half was not easy with Wales fighting their corner bravely but he kept pegging away, mixing it up and making his tackles, then 10 minutes into the second half he produced a phenomenal 50-20 kick which killed Wales stone dead. From there on in it was a Finn Russell masterclass – vision, sleight of hand, deft chips, searching pass-kicks, razor edged breaks – asking questions to which Wales simply had no answer. He did miss his last three conversions – but what the hell?

[Dan Biggar 7] 

9. Ben White – 7

Looked sharp enough but struggled with the referee’s liberal interpretation of off-side at the breakdown, and his box-kicking could have been more competitive.

[Tomos Williams 6]        


1. Pierre Schoeman – 8

Comfortable in the scrum, active in the loose — caught the eye with a great strip on Jac Morgan.

[Dillon Lewis 6]

2. George Turner – 9

Best forward on the park despite a yellow card which could have been a red – and which could very well have given Wales a route back into the game. Tremendous work-rate both sides of the ball.        Exploded onto into the action to score his try, and did very well to get it grounded. Good darts.

[Ken Owens 7] 

3. Zander Fagerson – 8

A welcome return, and none the worse for his sabbatical. Comfortable in the scrum and busy around the park. Carried aggressively to set up Russell’s second penalty.

[Wynn Jones 7] 

4. Richie Gray – 7

The reliable ‘go to’ man at the line-out. Sure and steady elsewhere, but are the fires still burning?

[Dafydd Jenkins 7] 

5. Grant Gilchrist – 9

Another big game from a big player. Not physically imposing, not particularly quick around the park, not dominant at the line-out – but the sum of the parts adds up to a great old-style second-row forward.

[Adam Beard 6] 

6. Jamie Ritchie – 7

His own game takes care of itself, but he had to work hard at times in the first half just to keep the show on the road – which he did – and he kept it there until Russell’s magical mystery tour built up its own head of steam.

[Christ Tshiunza 7] 

7. Luke Crosbie – 6

Disappointment after the euphoria at Twickenham last weekend. A tactical sacrifice for the ten minutes of George Turner’s yellow card and then he damaged his shoulder almost immediately after he  got back onto the pitch, meaning had to withdraw just as it was getting interesting. And he has Hamish Watson breathing down his collar!

[Tommy Reffell 7] 

8. Matt Fagerson – 9

The man is a workaholic, and not a bad rugby player either. A defensive bastion in the pressure pick-and-drive situations close to the line and always a big player in similar situations at the other       end of the park. Rewarded for his part in van der Merwe’s final try at Twickenham by scoring the final try today.

[Jac Morgan 6] 


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16. Fraser Brown – 7

Came on for George Turner’s spell in the sin-bin then replaced him on the hour mark, and the various structures and systems didn’t miss a beat.

17. Jamie Bhatti – 7

A 64th minute arrival on the park with the game was already won. No fuss, no problem – only a job to be done – which they did professionally.

18. WP Nel – 7

See above.

19. Jonny Gray – 7

See above

20. Jack Dempsey – 6

Came on for Luke Crosbie in 44th minute and immediately gave away an absolutely needless penalty hard on the Welsh line.

21. George Horne – 7

Sharp and assured after replacing White on the hour mark.

22. Blair Kinghorn – 8

Grabbed his chance to give Gregor Townsend a genuine selection dilemma. Solid in defence, ran hard and took his try well, though a laboured pass did cost Kyle Stein a try

23. Chris Harris – 5

A cameo appearance in place of Sioni Tuipulotu in the 72nd minute.

U20s 6N: success at last as Scotland topple Wales


  1. The trolling of Stuart Hogg has to stop. Pathetic and infantile. Impresses nobody of intelligence. Judge him solely on what does in camp with Scotland and on the park. For which over nearly 100 caps he’s massively in credit. Anything else is no one’s bloody business. One our greatest ever. So to the gutless trolls, lay off and grow up.

    • Hi, not sure anyone is trolling Hoggy on here, and everyone knows how much he’s contributed over the years. But it’s reasonable to consider he might not be at his best at the mo and the option of BK starting

  2. Zander Fagerson isn’t perfection…he is however our best TH and by a fair bit. His ill discipline does make him a liability at important moments…and he definitely needs to improve that aspect of his game. The smirking from any player after conceding a daft penalty has to just looks immature and affects the refs perception in a game. Russell does that less so and is better for it….Fagerson needs to be curbing it too.

    Ritchie Gray has made an enormous difference to our lineout…people forget how bad it was until he returned…the turnaround was immediate. Teams were targeting it against us….now they are threatened by him in there. Frankly Im concerned it will revert back to awful if he gets injured and/ or retires.

    I don’t have anything against Watson…he has played some blinders for Scotland in the past. They were in the past tho…and we weren’t as good a side as we are becoming now. We lack something overall in the back row when he plays. We don’t look balanced. The back row is beginning to look far more balanced since he has been out…and I don’t think that is a coincidence. All this ‘and we still have Mish to get back’ …urgh…I hope we don’t…I prefer they way our back row is shaping without him. Crosbie will get better and better with games…Dempsey has looked much better…and I still want to see more of Bayliss who looked the part when he did get a chance.

  3. ZF an enforcer dont make me laugh in my day he would have been carted off out cold with the antics he pulls and his stupid smirking. In my time props were working men, real hard men who respected each other. I doubt that he has ever been hit in his privileged life and if he was he would drop like a bag of tatties. Matt Fagerson is the real deal and it is about time he had the limelight as his actions do the talking and 27 tackles a game is what he does week in and week out. He is a real athlete and punches well (no pun intended) above his weight compared to the lumbering pseudo hardman big brother. Everyone talks about his work in the loose but stats show that he is not a hugely dominant carrier of the ball. I just do not know why he goes straight back in and why we had to change a winning team.

    • 17 tackles, none missed. Only bettered by his brother, who played 80mins to the prop’s 64mins. Nel made 1 tackle in 16mins. He also made 14 carries in 64mins, Nel 0 in 15 mins No work rate eh? What does that make Nel?


  4. As Russell played 80 minutes and not just the second half, perfection is hard to justify, but then I find the scoring puzzling at the best of times. Marking Ritchie Gray behind Gilchrist and questioning his value is eccentric, to put it mildly. As far as the Fagerson penalties are concerned, I had hoped he’d behave and he largely did. He needs a strong captain to have a word occasionally, as he sometimes seems to leave his brain in the changing room.
    One question, highlighted by Turner being unable to hear the ref clearly at the yellow card despite being only a few feet away, are these scrum caps causing problems at scrum engagement? I’ve never worn one, but they do appear to be an issue.

  5. I have probably said this before on this forum, but Matt Fagerson- has this lad ever had even an average game for Scotland? He is for me a consistently outstanding performer at test level. Matt isnt the biggest number 8 out there for me he regularly and comfortably punches above his weight at test level. Work-rate phenomenal, tackle count phenomenal, link up play outstanding, ability to spoil outstanding, brave as a lion puts his body on the line every time. I think he gets the kudos he deserves from alot of folk but also feel he is a bit of an unsung hero at times. Also just 24 years of age, still room to grow and alot more to come from him.

  6. Can’t recall the last time a Welsh side looked so lacking in both ideas and basic ability. They look like they’re going to have some lean years ahead of them…

  7. Firstly before anyone thinks this is bias I live and support Edinburgh . The massive change in the Scotland team this year has come from the Warriors players and from what they say it’s down to the culture and training Franco Smith has implemented – never seen a team turn around so fast .
    Turner v good to world class . Bhatti ok to vgood now a real impact player and could easily start if required . Ritchie Gray utterly transformed from the player who returned from France who looked jaded and past best. Fagerson has stepped up . again defence outstanding and progress in attack . Tuipolotu gone from vgood to excellent and cornerstone of backs. The biggest change of all Jones I rewatched the game and his tackling strength intensity in defence was outstanding and he has not lost any of his speed strength side step in attack – he is like a different player. Steyn gone from good to vgood and rock solid . Don’t get me wrong other players ( Richie , DVM , Kinghorn , Gilchrist Finn ) have continued to improve but the conditioning and intensity change of the Warriors players is amazing . What is even more impressive is the progress has affected player particularly those who are coming up and are not in contention or not qualified for Scotland . Please please Edinburgh coaching team find out what they are doing re conditioning and training and copy the hell out of it next season particularly in forwards .

  8. I don’t think that Ben White had his best game yesterday, and his first half nervousness infected the team. Needs to get back to Twickenham levels in Paris.

    As stated a few times, Zander gives us all the fear. What daftness is he going to come up with next ? To be fair to him, he got better as the game went on so benefit of the doubt.

    The rest of the forwards were professionally excellent. Possibly Mish back for Crosbie in Paris, but if Luke keeps his place nobody will complain.

    The backs are starting to look like the most polished unit we’ve had in a generation….fast, sharp, clinical, defensively like steel (maybe Duhan excepted). The fact that we’re not crying for the world’s best winger over the last 12 months to come back in shows just how well Steyn is playing.

    The big question for Townsend for Paris is full back. A tired looking Hogg, or a rejuvenated and frankly excellent Kinghorn ?

    Kinghorn for me, and given that Townsend after 5 years seems to have somehow stumbled over the ‘play players in form’ mantra, I hope that he’ll agree.

    • Yeah Horne should start in Paris. Nerves aren’t an issue with him, always looks eager, opportunistic, predatory. And his service is very fast. I’d say bench Hogg and give Kinghorn a chance.

  9. Dan Biggar 7???! no danger. He was was absolutely woeful in every facet of the game.
    North, Williams both a 6? See above.

  10. Hogg is not a starter any more. His passing is poor always has been, but his speed has dropped too. Bench impact much better option.

  11. as ever some “interesting” comments about Zander Fagerson and penalties conceded. He conceded 2, one for alleged early engage (straight pen against Scotland for 2nd offence). I’ll ignore that Brace, and he does this a lot, has such a long pause between bind and set that it happens to loads of players. Just 3 pens against Fagerson.
    His contribution around the field is in a different universe to Nel’s. That is not a slight on Nel, its a recognition of how much Fagerson puts in; probably only Furlong contributes as much in open play among tight heads. For example, 17 tackles and none missed is insane for a prop, never mind a huge tight head prop

    Anyway, back to pens conceded. Just 2. Guess how many Nel gave away last week against England?
    Yep, 2. Folk should learn to judge on reality not perceptions or media tropes

    • Septic +9.
      You are naive if you are suggesting that Fagerson does not have an issue with discipline , if you count the penalties he did give away on Saturday plus probably another 2 that Mr Brace could have given against him and the his unnecessary and prominent involvement in a scuffle that required Jamie Ritchie to pull him out of then you have a significant discipline issue. No individual player can afford to give away 3/4 penalties in a game. In a team context this number of penalties for an induvidual player is not sustainable without having significant consequence. The other issue with Fagerson is that all his penalties are dumb , it’s fine if you get penalised in the context of competition but most of Fagersons are in the acts of stupidity.
      As I alluded in my initial post , his reaction is also an issue , nothing worse than seeing a player smirk and smile when he has just given away a stupid penalty , not only is it disrespectful it will definitely get on the referees nerves.
      My comment was not based on just one game , this is a recurring theme and one that has cost Scotland dear in the past. Scotland are not good enough to be able to give away territory and momentum to any team and Fagerson repeatedly does this. If Scotland are to have any chance against Ireland and France they will have to be squeaky clean on discipline and having watched the first two games I would rather have Nel over Fagerson on this basis because Fagerson is a liability.

      • I’m not naive. Zander does get involved sometimes when he shouldn’t. Then again I often read Scottish fans moaning the lack of an enforcer!

        What I did post above were facts. Not what ifs or following media tropes. 2 pens, same as Nel previous week. And a mountain higher load of stuff more around the park

  12. Pretty much agree with all said below ….

    Couple of comments … must be close BK for Hoggy v France … he’s played really well.

    ZF, what do you do with him, I was suggesting he’d sorted out his penalties, but not on that performance, maybe the coaches have him 2 weeks on the naughty step to sort him out.

    If the back line keep playing as they are ….. I’d even fancy giving Ireland a run for their money …

  13. ZF was being pulled/pushed away by Ritchie after Turner’s try.
    Presumably being told not to get redcarded again this year. Fortunate not to be noted by the ref.
    Seemed to be giving away penalties all the time.
    Nel to start and Fagerson to finish, less time to offend.
    Still think Skinner would be more dynamic than GG. Your description to go with the rating doesn’t match up.

    • Looking at the match stats Zander conceded 2 penalties, hardly “giving away penalties all the time”. With 17 tackles 0 missed) and his hard carrying it seems to me he’s well worth his starting place.

  14. Yeah, I thought Zander looked understandably rusty after 2 months out. I wouldn’t have given him an 8 but I would cut him some slack too.

    Seems an odd comment about Ritchie Gray. He’s having a good tournament. Yes, he’s 33, but he is going well and it’s a world cup year. You imagine he is enjoying a last harrah, and it’ll be all change in the next world cup cycle. But he looks fit and keen enough to me right now and a key man in the lineout.

    • Big man is playing a blinder this season. Not sure if he was evera clenched fist type of guy but works his size 15 socks off. Worthy of an 8 methinks

  15. This scores are generally reflective of the second half performance but a game lasts 80 minutes and that first half performance was back to the Scotland of old.Thankfully Wakes are pretty average. It seems churlish to criticise after a record win but if we play like that first half against France or Ireland no second half metamorphosis is going to be good enough to claw back the first half thumping that will surely eventuate. RR individual scores I think you’ve got the ZF, GG, RG numbers the wrong way round. Should have been 7,8,9 in that order. RG has been instrumental in the packs improved performances.

  16. We can’t get ahead of ourselves as it’s only 2 games but wow what a score line. This Scottish side seems to have no truck with batting aside the weight of history. Somethings clicked in the backs, be it Jones angles, Duhans rampaging runs, Russell’s mojo being on fire but for me it’s the unseen work and hands from Tuipulotu. He brings a different dimension. Up front Turner is world class, Fagerson has matured into a fine player and Big Richie is probably in the form of his life. Last word on Kinghorn, he’s had a tough time but he now looks rejuvenated. He’s such a dangerous attacking threat and its great to see him playing with a smile. The next game will be tough but the skys the limit for the team and they can be as good as they want to be.

  17. Did you mix up Ritchie Grays rating with Grant Gilchrist’s. The only notable thing big Grant did was throw a pass 5m away from the nearest Scottish player whilst under absolutely no pressure.

  18. Zander Fagerson should not be as high as 8 because time and time again his discipline lets him down and gives easy possession and territory to the opposition which against a better teams could be decisive. Last week discipline was exemplary , yesterday normal service resumed with Fagerson. Even after being penalised for a number of infringements in quick succession he was still getting involved in nonsense and getting himself noticed by the ref.
    Fagerson never seems to learn and his reactions to being penalised with the insolent smirking endear him to nobody and will simply irk referees further.
    Believe me , referees will pick up on this and store it and subsequent 50/50 calls may well be influenced by this dumb insolence.
    Probably the most frustrating thing about him is that the penalties he gives away are so brainless , blatantly obvious and unnecessary. He could actually have had another two penalties against him as well. Swimming stupidly up the side of mauls is his forte and so blatantly obvious , a 2nd XV player would have more sense than repeatedly do this. As good as the performances have been at times over the past couple of weeks – Scotland cannot afford to give away cheap , stupid penalties , particularly against France and Ireland who will punish this severely. Fagerson’s stupidity has probably become something that oppositions teams will try to exploit …
    To have any chance against France and Ireland our discipline will have to be the same as last week which was the best I have seen for some time.
    Fagerson needs to wake up to himself and show a bit of respect otherwise he will continually find himself on the wrong side of the penalty count …. no way he was an 8 yesterday ..

    • 2 penalties given away, same as Nel last week. Balance that with 17 tackles made none missed. Doesn’t get the credit he deserves due to a past reputation and his love of handbags.

    • Last week the team gave away 9 penalties over the course of the whole game. This week it was 10. ZF gave away two penalties on Saturday, this is the same number as WPN the previous week, and the same number as JR this week. All of this suggests that the false (or, at the very least, outdated) narrative about Zander is still going strong.

  19. Wouldn’t give zander fagerson an 8, gives away needles penalties and offers nothing more than WP

    • I think a few of those marks are off to be honest.

      Fagerson as mentioned.

      Gray out tackled, out carried, won and stole more lineout ball than Gilchrist. Yet is scored two points less than him? The Gray tackle on Cuthbert at the end of the 1st half saved us going into the sheds behind too.

      Steyn shouldn’t be scored the same as the centres or Duhan either. An international winger needs to make more than half his tackles and get a good bit closer to finishing that try. Two walk ins don’t change that.

      • Not sure I would call Steyn’s tries “walk ins”. The first he had to react quickly to Russell’s amazing offload, probably not expecting it and it was quite low. Second try he had to keep his eye on the ball while not being distracted by the desperate scramble defence. Neither is a “walk in”. Steyn has been really solid under the high ball in both games and doesn’t hide from his defensive duties. Happy with 8/10 for 11-14, maybe 8.5 for Duhan. While Finn wove some magic, I’m not 10 is correct, probably 8.5-9. If it’s an imperfect 10, it can’t be 10!!

      • For any international wingers they were walk ins. The 1st was between midriff and knees and the 2nd the closest defender was 10m away. If he was getting distracted by the defender then I’d be concerned.

        He may be solid under the high ball or not shy from defensive duties but he has missed half his tackles and the weekend and 40% over the 1st two games. That’s just the tackles he’s attempted, not for example the gap he let Cuthbert through just before half time before Gray made a try saver.

        At first I thought it was the inside man at fault but rewatching the inside man has Biggar.

        He’s the first man up after Graham or Duhan but he is a better defender than he’s shown the 1st two weeks.

    • I’m not a big fan of the Zander bashing. He plays in a position at tight head which is one of the most penalised in the game for every team and is often down to the lottery of referee interpretation of the scrum. For me it was obvious that Wales were really trying to get under his skin yesterday with lots of edgy stuff at the mauls and rucks. I saw one maul where his was hit illegally from a side entry and another where he was grabbed in the face. A lot of that stuff goes unnoticed in these high speed games and we’d all do well not to react. Pressure from the supporters doesnt make it any easier and he’s the best we’ve got.

      • Agree, overall ZF is our best option, his work about the field is ahead of WP Nell, his scrum perhaps less secure, but most of the time he can survive. But with Scotland playing a pretty fast and wide game, his extra mobility and carrying puts him in the starting shirt. So much depends on the referees, witness last week)s total disregard for the angles that England were scrumming at. So WP remains an important cog in the squad to cover incase of injury or penalties become an issue in a game.

  20. Incredibly generous for Zander Fagerson who yet again was a liability at scrum and went looking for cheap pens to give away….luckily Brace is utterly inept. Felt harsh on Kinghorn who who was magnificent. Centres should be 10s for me. Finn well he’s turned it up to 11….no bad for our Fourth best stand off….

    • Jamie Ritchie gave away 2 penalties yesterday. Does that mean he went looking for cheep penalties to give away? I dont think so.


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