Scotland v Italy: post-match round-up

Thumbs up for Chris Paterson; thumbs down for Dan Parks

I’m exhausted having watched the Scotland v Italy game this evening. Exhausted and relieved that Scotland won by the narrowest of margins (18 – 16), and only thanks to Bortolussi failing to slot a 77th minute penalty.

It wasn’t an elegant win, it wasn’t a win that Scotland fans can be particularly proud of except that it was a win, and that’s what counts at the end of the day, and now Scotland are through to the Quarter Finals, facing the winner of Pool D (I’m hoping it will be Argentina) at St Denis on Sunday 7 October.

This is my opinion on Scotland’s play this evening:

  1. Scotland defended well

    I was proud of how Scotland defended, particularly in harsh, wet conditions. Italy are a very physical side and even when Scotland were reduced to 14 men (see point #2) they defended consistently well, and made good advantage of Italy’s ill-discipline. If Scotland can continue to build on their defensive skills all the better, but they also need to improve their kicking game (see point #4).

  2. Scotland gave away too many stupid penalties

    I was disappointed at the stupid penalties that Scotland gave away: holding on in the tackle, coming into the side of a maul, pulling the maul down. In the heat of the moment, under pressure Scotland need to keep the heid and retain their discipline. There were too many points and too much ground lost because of this kind of lapse of discipline.

  3. When given the opportunity the forwards played a good driving game

    When given the opportunity! There were a few passages of play when the forwards were able to move the ball, drop, recycle and create a few good phases of play. But more often than not certain players (see point #4) simply kicked the ball up the field.

    When you’ve got the ball in your possession you have control of the game. As soon as you kick it, especially into open ground and not high enough to allow your own players to get up the field, you open up the possibility of something horrible going wrong. And this evening there were too many examples of this; it was just as well that our defence was so strong.

  4. Dan Parks kicks too often and too inconsistently

    I can’t understand why Dan Parks gets picked to play so consistently, because from my point of view his playing is less than consistent. ‘DP‘ — as he’s unaffectionately known here (or sometimes ‘Dorothy’ if I’m feeling even less generous!) — appears to be a one-trick pony, and his trick is kicking.

    If he is passed the ball he kicks it. Sometimes it finds its mark and Scotland gain ground, but more often it goes straight into the hands of the opposition.

    Now, I know that I was a forward and forwards like running game, but I do understand that sometimes you do need to quickly gain yards by kicking the ball strategically into touch. I just wish, more than anything else in the whole of the Scotland game, that we had a fly-half who could kick consistently and accurately.

    Is it because Parks is an Aussie that we’re afraid to drop him? I’d give the job to Gordon Ross. I really, honestly cannot understand why Parks is playing. Can someone please explain this to me? The commentators keeps saying what a good game he had, and I always think/shout at the telly: “Were you watching the same game?!”

  5. Chris Paterson is the man!

    Now as anyone from the Scottish Borders will know there is a long and affectionate rivalry between Selkirk and Galashiels. I’m from Selkirk; Chris Paterson is from Gala. But let me be the first to say that Chris Paterson is the man, and I’m deeply proud of him. So far in this World Cup he’s slotted 16 out of 16 balls over the posts. Fabulous!

I’ve now got eight days for my nerves to recover until the next match. At the end of the day though: well done Scotland, and it was nice to see my former high school Rector (head teacher) George Jack on the TV in the crowd (he’s now the SRU President).

Commonwealth of rugby

Welsh rugby player flying over the line

It’s been nice to see the colonies playing so well today at the Rugby World Cup. New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Fiji, Wales and Scotland — six out of the eight sides playing today — are all members of the Commonwealth of Nations.

  • New Zealand beat Romania ( 85 – 8 )

    Good effort to Romania who scored eight more points than Scotland did against the All Blacks last weekend.

  • Australia beat Canada ( 37 – 6 )

    Australia’s victory wasn’t quite as decisive as I’d hoped, play was sloppy in places, given that they face England next week. That said they were siding a second team, so resting their main players is probably a good tactic: England must be beaten!

  • Fiji beat Wales ( 38 – 34 )

    I found this an inspiring game to watch. The first half was all about Fiji: what power and a display of some beautiful passages of rugby. The second half was all about Wales, returning from the half-time break by running in three tries.

    But then Fiji powered over to a final try within the last four minutes. I’m not ashamed to say that I had tears in my eyes at the end of this match — sad that Wales would be leaving the World Cup, but delighted for Fiji who played like giants today.

But what of tonight’s game: Scotland v Italy. Scotland need at least a draw to go through to the quarter finals, where they will face the winner of Pool D (is there any doubt that this will be Argentina?). I wait nervously for the match to begin.