WELL that was fun, wasn’t it?
Scotland getting past 30 points with four tries scored in one game and Borderers Stuart Hogg and Greig Laidlaw being written about in the national media in glowing terms – young Stuart was even included in the BBC1 News headlines at the start of their programme that night. How cool was that?
I must congratulate Hawick’s latest rugby hero for what he has achieved in a couple of years. It really has been a whirlwind for him and he has been the ultimate professional on and off the pitch, and already in the two games in the Six Nations he has put himself in the shop window for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia later this year.
Greig Laidlaw must be in contention too. He looked much more at home at 9, his favourite position, and it’s where he is more potent as a player. His ability to cover two positions and being an excellent goal kicker are also big pluses in the Jed man’s armoury.
Good to see Scotland beating the Italians so convincingly, particularly after the hype of Italy’s win against France, but if you look at the stats, one of the few areas from the match that we won was the scoreline. Yes, that is the one that really matters, but losing the territory and possession by a big margin is a concern.
It meant that we didn’t really dominate the game, but what we did do was to take our chances when we got them. I’ve never seen Matt Scott sprint so fast for his try. Sean Lamont’s drought of no tries in more than 40 games for Scotland was brought to an end and you could see how much it meant to him as he threw the ball nearly over the stand roof, such was his relief and excitement as he dotted down for a five-pointer.
Tim Visser’s five tries in seven games is a remarkable statistic when you consider Scotland’s recent record, and while he will be the first to admit that areas of his game need work, it’s a long time since we had a player able to score tries almost at will, and the try-scoring record for Scotland looks very much a possibility to be broken by the Flying Dutchman over the next few years.
Tim’s try was the one that started the ball rolling after Greig’s two penalties, but the big turning point was when Stuart Hogg intercepted a pass which should have given Italy a try. It was a 14-point swing to the Scots as Hoggy raced down the pitch 80 metres to touch down for his third try in a Scotland jersey.
Ireland next, at home, and after watching the Dublin game on Sunday in the lashing rain, I see no reason why we cannot win. Still plenty to put right, but there’s nothing like a good victory to boost the confidence and I think we can do it again.
I loved Scott Johnson’s press conference after the game. The guy is a real character and enjoying his time as head coach. Let’s hope the honeymoon lasts a long time.