So it’s all done and dusted for another year.
The autumn tests have come and gone and we’re looking at a series of results for Scotland which many people predicted – comfortably winning against Japan while losing the other two.
Saturday’s Hopetoun Cup match against Australia was there for the taking, and in the end the match whimpered out with no points scored in the last half hour, leading to a disappointing six point defeat for the Scots.
Despite 56,000 people in the stadium there was surprisingly a fairly under -whelming atmosphere as Scotland tried to get a converted try to make history. Scotland were still in the game in the closing stages and could have beaten the Aussies three times in a row for the first time ever.
Having said that it was a much better performance from the Scots compared with what went before it against the South Africans. To come away from the last two matches once again struggling to score tries was disappointing, although there were a couple of moments which could have produced touchdowns. But in the end we had the familiar sight of a Scotland team in a game thanks to the reliable Greig Laidlaw’s place kicking – although his last attempt was disappointing but equally Australia had kicking opportunities which didn’t come off.
Scott Johnson, the interim head coach, was using the three match series to try out new combinations and blood new players, so who stood out for me over the three games? Well I was very impressed with David Denton who is turning into a world class rugby player, always looking for work and an excellent ball carrier.
Kelly Brown continues to lead by example and I love the attitude of Jim Hamilton who ran onto the pitch at the weekend in a very emotional and touching moment to commemorate his 50th cap. No one gives more to the jersey than Jim and it’s incredible to think that he’s already reached the 50 mark. It seems only yesterday he was running on as the 1000th player to win a Scottish cap.
Ross Ford’s throwing in at the line out has again come under criticism but it was interesting that Scott Johnson was quick to point out that there was more to the issue than simply not throwing in straight or missing the target. But most typical armchair fans couldn’t give a jot about the technicalities – all they see is a man throwing the ball in and expecting it to go (more often than not) to one of his mates! For sure the line outs were not working throughout the campaign and work will be done before the 6 Nations to remedy this.
Ireland, Italy and Wales have had disappointing runs too with the French and English not firing on all cylinders, and this will surely lead to one of the most open 6 Nations competitions for many years.
Scotland can come good in February and hopefully they will – real success is long overdue!