SCRUM Columnist Matt Horsman looks at how Scotland’s forward pack did against Australia:
Another Scotland Australia game, another stirring Scottish performance, another one point losing margin.
BT Murrayfield misery again for the gallant Scots in a game where they went from could-be winners, to should-be winners to how-did-we-lose-againers all within the same head spinning 80 minutes.
But there are far more positives to take from this from a blue perspective than a gold one – in my opinion.
Let’s have a look at the forwards.
It must be every coach’s worst nightmare to lose a player in the first five minutes of a game having trained with a specific group all week, and even more so for Ryan Wilson who I’m sure was hoping to stake a claim for that No.8 jersey for the duration of the Autumn.
However, I think Scotland benefited from his injury. Having a back-row trio of Watson, Barclay and Hardie allowed the Scots to stifle the insatiable Pocock/Hooper axis and even slow down some Wallaby ball of their own.
Barclay’s return to the side was long overdue before his recall and ever since he has been playing out of his skin. They might have lost some go forward ball having to play him at No.8, but with the Gray brothers in the sort of form they were in at the weekend it was less noticeable than it might have been.
The inexperienced Scottish scrum was solid enough – though I would have loved to see WP Nel have a crack at Scott Sio – and the lineout lost only one throw in 12 and spoilt two on the opposition throw. These are all positive numbers for a side playing its first game together since the summer.
The problem for me lies on the subs bench, and particularly in the front-row. Whilst a full on Australian assault was inevitable, Scotland’s replacements didn’t show enough when introduced to provide a deep enough trench from which to defend our home try line.
That being said, to be within one point of the Aussies after they have been together for the duration of the Rugby Championship should not be scoffed at.
And lets not forget a serious mention to the ‘Brothers Gray’, who outshone their opposite numbers – two of the brightest talents in the Australian game – to put in two terrific performances.
Richie made 23 tackles, missed none and had seven carries whilst Jonny made 24 tackles, missed none and had an astounding 14 carries. I’m sure Mr Gatland was watching, and whilst the second-row is by far the most competitive position for the Lions, these sorts of performances can be doing their chances no harm whatsoever.
Onto Argentina next. This time two years ago there were 72 points scored, 41 of which were Scottish. More of the same please!
Scotland’s Autumn Tests continue on Saturday against Argentina – ‘Keep It SCRUM’ for the best previews and reaction
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