Scotland player ratings: Going into this match Gregor Townsend’s men would have been deservedly happy with their lot, a string of wins for the men in dark blue sees them exit 2020 on a relative high.
With that said, a shot at an Ireland side rather unsure of itself in Dublin, was an opportunity for the Scots to cap after good 2020 [if such a phrase can be used] in style. And indeed, Scotland looked good money for a win in the opening 30 minutes but disappointingly fell away in the face of workmanlike but unrelenting second-half Irish performance.
Here are our Scotland player ratings:
15. STUART HOGG – 5.5
Put under pressure early by Ireland before playing his way into the match with some electric upfield running. At times he appears to be second-guessing himself in defence when dealing with the defensive hand-grenades chucked in his direction.
14. DARCY GRAHAM – 4.5
The lad from Hawick RFC looked lively from the get-go after a couple of weekends off. However, his failure to deal with a high ball under pressure from Robbie Henshaw resulted in Ireland’s opening try and if he did have the key to pierce Ireland’s defence, then he was keeping it to himself. Outplayed by Earls.
13. CHRIS HARRIS – 6
Part of a Scottish backline that had clearly set out to outmuscle and dominate collisions with the Irish. He started so brightly, with 10 post-contact metres, all in the opening minutes. A second-half green-out put pay to him building on it.
12. DUNCAN TAYLOR – 6
A rare start at 12, Taylor ran it straight and hard. Unlucky to be yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on with Bundee Aki threatening the line.
11. DUHAN VAN DER MERWE – 8
Having come in off his wing looking for work, the big winger’s sublime solo try dragged Scotland by the scruff of the neck back into the match. Undoubtedly the find of the Autumn Nations Cup for Scotland.
10. JACO VAN DER WALT – 5.5
His first foray into Test rugby showed he isn’t scared to throw the ball around, even if his ball security let him down at times. After a bright first half, he seemed to fall away in the second as Ireland’s possession stats.
9. ALI PRICE – 6
With six kicks to twenty-nine passes, Price wanted to play. Looked sharp on the other side of the ball even if critics of the speed of his service won’t be convinced on the back of this performance.
1. RORY SUTHERLAND – 6
Got stuck into Andrew Porter early, but didn’t get an opportunity to truck the ball up with Scotland starved anything like go-forward ball.
2. FRASER BROWN – 6
Saved Scotland’s skin with a timely 59th-minute turnover. He was clearly irate after he alleged a gouge by Ireland’s Quinn Roux, but the referee and TMO didn’t find anything to act on. Brown seemed to lose his discipline in the immediate aftermath, which was a shame, because it was one of his better recent performances.
3. ZANDER FAGERSON – 5
Had a ding dong battle with newly minted centurion Cian Healy and came out roughly evens. A non-descript shift by his own high standards.
4. SCOTT CUMMINGS – 5
Launched himself at Irish ball-carriers like a 6’7 ICBM but was left an interested bystander by the time Ireland had got up a head of steam in the second-half.
5. JONNY GRAY – 5.5
Ireland reverted to 10-man rugby following Scotland’s early onslaught and when push came to shove the Scottish pack weren’t able to match Ireland on the grunt-o-meter. Gray has typically been Scotland’s carry-stopper general, but he struggled to contain Ireland’s relentless grinding here. In 2017 he was extreemly unlucky not to tour as a Lion, but would you say that of his 2020 form? No.
6. BLADE THOMSON – 5
Moved to six to accommodate Fagerson, the Aucklander failed to make a mark on the match and was largely left in the Irish backrow’s wake.
7. JAMIE RITCHIE – 5
Told off for mouthing off at the referee, but he was another Scottish forward who failed to shine as the game tilted in Ireland’s favour. Stander, O’Mahoney and Doris grew into the match as the Scottish backrow shrunk from the light. Failed to show the quality he’s capable of.
8. MATT FAGERSON – 6
The No.8 packs a helleva physical punch on a comparatively modest 6’1, 102kg frame. Looked to have gone too upright in defending Cian Healy’s 46th-minute try, although replays suggested he was the victim of a poor refereeing decision, with Peter O’Mahony clearly in front of the loosehead acting as a blocker. Still, he looks like Scotland best option at eight.
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