Player ratings: Outclassed
OPINION: A day to forget for Scottish Rugby, who went behind early and stayed there.
For much of the match it looked like a Tier One versus Tier Two game, such was the divide between the sides.
Seven players that started in Scotland’s quarterfinal defeat against Australia at RWC 2015 started Sunday, but the heroics of that tournament seemed a distant memory.
“When you go behind against a team like Ireland, who are very good at staying in front, then it’s always going to be difficult and it was obviously very difficult in the second half with the rain,” Gregor Townsend told the post-match press conference. He wasn’t wrong.
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Ian Cameron rates the Scotland players!
1. Allan Dell
Hard to fault the front row who enjoyed parity with Ireland at scrum time. Scrummaged well but was on the back foot for most of the game.
2. Stuart McInally (captain)
Won a potentially try-saving turnover in front of his own post in the 32nd minute. His darts were accurate too. Slightly worryingly, Townsend said that the hooker was out of breath in the press conference following the defeat, which McInally didn’t attend.
3. Willem Nel
The Scotland scrum (and lineout) was on point despite systems failures elsewhere. Managed a remarkable 15 tackles, which was as much testament to the dominance of Joe Schmidt’s men in the first 40 minutes.
4. Grant Gilchrist
Part of a pack that was monstered upfront by the Irish in the first half. Was outshone by the efforts of Iain Henderson and James Ryan. Very nearly linked up well with a basketball-style passage of play in a 36th minute. Got turned over with the Irish line beckoning with ten minutes to go.
5. Jonny Gray
Containment was the name of the game for Gray and he tackled his heart out. Is there more to come from the not so young anymore Scottish lock? Scotland desperately need him in his best form and not just the tackling machine version.
6. John Barclay
Spent his afternoon tackling Irishmen. Knocked the ball on in a promising attack position for the Scots in the 49th minute. Worryingly was brought off in the 52nd.
7. Hamish Watson
Looks like a potential tournament ending injury for the openside just before halftime. Aside from one impressive 8-metre carry and 13 tackle in less one half, he never got an opportunity to truly show off his considerable wares. A big loss to Scotland and the RWC generally if his tournament is over.
8. Ryan Wilson
Played the full 80 but struggled opposite MOTM CJ Stander. With 13 metres from 8 carries, a Scottish Billy Vunipola he is not. An uncompromising player but Scotland need more from their No.8.
9. Greig Laidlaw
Gregor Townsend clearly favours the experience of Laidlaw for big games, but his lack of a break and the unhurried nature of his service doesn’t offer Scotland much scope in their attack. His box kicking was okay.
10. Finn Russell
Survived a Bundee Aki smash tackle in the 20th, which actually left the New Zealand born centre needing a HIA. Moments later tested Jacob Stockdale’s corner with a kick and found the Irish wing wanting. Struggled under immense Irish defensive pressure.
11. Sean Maitland
Got away with a late hit on Murray early doors. In the 29th minute turned over after a promising attacking move up the flank. Got beaten in a straight one on one with Conway in the 38th minute. A good break in the 46th minute shouldn’t stop him being replaced by Darcy Graham.
12. Sam Johnson
The former League player had limited opportunity to shine and generally didn’t. He doesn’t seem to read Finn Russell well in attack, running frustrating dud lines in his flyhalf’s wake. He runs and tackles hard, but struggles but like many league converts before him, seeming to lack the nuance needed to play centre in rugby union.
13. Duncan Taylor
The Saracen struggled to play his way into the game, and was largely limited to shovelling balls out wide. Knocked on the ball early in the secondhalf, albeit in torrential conditions. With Hugh Jones left at home there will many eyes on Taylor, today’s performance will do nothing for his case.
14. Tommy Seymour
As you’d expect the Lions wing looked dangerous with ball in hand. As a back three unit Scotland struggled to contain an inform Conway. Was replaced by Darcy Graham.
15. Stuart Hogg
Kept busy during the opening salvo with two early carries. After outsprinting Andrew Conway following a kick ahead, the Scottish fullback did his best to deal with a tricky bounce of the ball which rebounded against the post. Through no real fault of his own, it would gift Ireland a 5-metre scrum, which resulted in the men in green rumbling over a minute later. Emptied ball and all by Stockdale in the 35th minute before being stepped by powerful Ulsterman two minutes later. His massive boot helped relieve Irish pressure in the second half.
16. Fraser Brown
Made seven tackles and five carries after coming on for McInally.
17. Gordon Reid
Got in the way out wide several times when for some reason the ball was passed to him. He’s not designed for that.
18. Simon Berghan
Came on for WP Nel in 52nd minute and held up his side of the bargain at scrum time.
19. Scott Cummings
Didn’t get on the ball once but did enough off the ball to warrant a rating.
20. Blade Thomson
Was part of a modest Scottish forward revival in the second half.
21. Ali Price
Was an improvement on Laidlaw despite the mucky conditions.
22. Chris Harris
Played his part in a number of Scottish attacks that were foiled by knock-ons. Came out of the line looking for big hits when maintaining the blue line may have been preferable. Made a beautiful offload in the 69th minute that deserved a try.
23. Darcy Graham
Not an ideal situation to be plunged into. He kept busy but the torrential conditions meant it wasn’t a day for bleach blonde 12 stone wingers.