Scotland dogged by defensive woes as New Zealand test looms

Scotland survived a late onslaught from Samoa to win the first of three Autumn Tests at the weekend but the focus this week will be on a poor defensive display against the Pacific islanders.


Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend’s first game at Murrayfield was nothing short of a try feast. However, for the more solicitous Murrayfield attendees, the game was marred by Scotland’s defensive mishaps as they secured a narrow victory over Samoa.


Speaking after the game, Townsend said: “We have got to make sure we don’t give up possession in our half as cheaply and defend much better.

“Credit to Samoa, they played really good rugby. The first 15 minutes, they kept a lot of ball, they attacked either through the forwards or out wide, and when we gave them opportunities off our restart or errors within our half, they made the most of them.”


Huw Jones scores for Scotland
Source: Scottish Rugby


A try inside the opening two minutes from that man, Stuart Hogg, reassured the sell-out crowd that the Scots had built on their fine Summer form; which saw them reap revenge against the Wallabies after 2015’s bitter loss in the World Cup.


An impressive first half on Saturday saw Scotland leading 25-10 and buoyed with confidence. Not long after the break, the home side’s lead extended after a driving maul off the back of the line-out saw hooker Stuart McInally bundle over for his second try, a carbon copy of his first, to put Scotland 22 points ahead. You could be forgiven for thinking Scotland had Samoa sewn up at this stage. 


However, at this level of the game, composure is everything. Just four minutes after McInally’s score, the Samoans replied with a series of pick-and-go efforts up the middle eventually seeing blindside flanker, Piula Faasalele breach the Scottish defence. Tim Nanai-Williams then worked his magic in the 62nd minute and, all of a sudden, Townsend’s side looked vulnerable. Centre Alex Dunbar used all his brawn to smash through a short while later but this was met with yet another reply from the Samoan pack to bring the score to 37-31. 


A raft of replacements saw Scotland’s front row change from an all Edinburgh lineup to that of Glasgow Warrior’s choice front three. Changes to the halfbacks meant Peter Horne took over from Finn Russell on kicking duties and Henry Pyrgos replaced Ali Price at the side of the scrum. Horne proved a useful asset almost immediately as an inspired switch on the inside from Cornell du Preez put him through in space to go under the posts. Again though, the inevitable onslaught came once more as London Irish flanker, Ofisa Treviranus capitalised on Scotland’s sloppiness around the base of the ruck as he went through the middle to finish off the scoring.


Daryll Marfo dominated the scrum the loose-head prop gained his first cap
Source: BBC


Positives for Scotland include an impressive debut for Edinburgh loose-head prop, Daryll Marfo who was unrelenting at scrum time. The zip and pace demanded by the Scotland coaching team in pre-match press conferences was present in heaps but the focus will inevitably be on Scotland’s leaky defence as they look to avoid a drubbing against a ruthless New Zealand side who come off the back of a win in Paris.


An early knock to prop, WP Nel will be giving Townsend a headache in selection this week given current injuries ruling out Alasdair Dickinson, Gordon Reid, Allan Dell, Fraser Brown and Ross Ford. It is thought Zander Fagerson will step in against the All Blacks this weekend.


Scotland kick off against New Zealand at 5.15pm on Saturday the 18th of November.

Four uncapped Edinburgh players are included in Scotland’s test squad

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has included four uncapped Edinburgh Rugby players in his squad for next month’s Autumn Test Series.

It will be Townsend’s first series in charge on home soil at Murrayfield. The test begins on November 11 against Samoa, followed by New Zealand on November 18 and concluding with Australia on November 25.

Centre Phil Burleigh, scrum-half Nathan Fowles, front-row Darryl Marfo and back-row forward Jamie Ritchie are the Edinburgh Rugby call-ups. Ritchie scored a try in Edinburgh’s recent 37-14 victory over London Irish in the Challenge Cup.


Phil Burleigh is one of ten uncapped players in the squad (Credit: Edinburgh Rugby)

There is no place in the team, however, for two Edinburgh players. Magnus Bradbury is out as he serves a club suspension for picking up an injury on a night out and fellow back-row John Hardie is under investigation for alleged cocaine abuse.

A total of 10 uncapped players have been named in the 36-man squad. The other six include Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Byron McGuigan (Sale Sharks), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow), Luke Hamilton (Leicester), Scott Cummings and George Turner (both Glasgow).

As Greig Laidlaw is missing with a fractured ankle, John Barclay has been named captain for the series.

There are places in the team for full-back Stuart Hogg and wing Tommy Seymour following their involvement with the British and Irish Lions earlier this year.

Townsend has said that he will not be trying to experiment with his new-look side when the series begins.

“There are 10 uncapped players – five of them have been involved before, but we wanted to choose this squad based on form.”

“We will be looking to play our best team in all three games. Now is not the time to be trying things we are not sure about”.


Forwards: Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, John Barclay, Scott Cummings, Cornell du Preez, Zander Fagerson, Ross Ford, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray, Rob Harley, Luke Hamilton, Darryl Marfo, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Tim Swinson, Ben Toolis, George Turner, Ryan Wilson, Hamish Watson

Backs: Phil Burleigh, Alex Dunbar, Dougie Fife, Nathan Fowles, Chris Harris, Nick Grigg, Stuart Hogg, Pete Horne, Ruaridh Jackson, Lee Jones, Huw Jones, Byron McGuigan, Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell, Tommy Seymour

Scotland gear up for Six Nations opener

Rugby fans across the the world are eagerly anticipating the start of the 2017 RBS Six Nations Championship, which gets underway on Saturday.

The prestigious tournament, which displays the best of the sport within the northern hemisphere, is now in its seventeenth year, having launched at the start of the millennium.

BT Murrayfield is the venue for the opening fixture of the competition, where Scotland host Ireland, knowing that getting off to a winning start is of paramount importance.

The Scots are hoping to end a dismal run of results on the opening weekend, with ten successive defeats. The last time they won their first game of the Championship was back in 2006, when they defeated France by 20 points to 16 at Murrayfield.


Greig Laidlaw press conference at Oriam

Scotland captain, Greig Laidlaw, faced the media at their Oriam training base yesterday, and admitted that a few things have been adapted, before this weekend’s showdown with the Irish. He explained that they have focused heavily on their game plan since day one of training, and the team are confident that they can change their fortunes on Saturday afternoon.

Fly-half, Johnny Sexton, was influential in Ireland’s successful Autumn test series, where they recorded wins over Australia and Canada in Dublin, as well as a memorable first ever victory over New Zealand, in Chicago.

Sexton, however, has been ruled out of this weekend’s encounter due to a calf injury sustained last month. Flanker, Peter O’Mahony, will also be absent from the clash with a hamstring problem.

Scotland’s only notable absentee is prop, Willem Nel, who has recently undergone surgery on a neck injury.

The squads for both teams will be announced tomorrow.



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Edinburgh University take on Dundee in BUCS Tournament

Edinburgh University rugby team is set to play Dundee this evening at Peffermill, in the fifth round of the BUCS tournament. EN4 News reporters Emma Logan and Robyn Baillie caught up with the team to find out more.

Munster clash off after terror attacks

Photo courtesy of Fabien Lavocat/Flickr

French national stadium, Stade De France. Photo courtesy of Fabien Lavocat/Flickr

Munster’s European Champions Cup match against French side Stade Francais has been postponed following the terror attacks which rocked Paris on Friday.

The series of tragic incidents around the French capital left 129 dead and Stade Francais said they had taken the decision to call off the game so as not to add to the workload of public and law enforcement employees in the city.

The club proposed a new date for the fixture, however there has been no decision yet and it will be announced in due course.

Stade’s statement added:

“In light of recent and tragic events, Stade Francais Paris does not wish to overburden or complicate the work of the government and security forces by organising a sporting event to bring together 15,000 people in Stade Jean-Bouin.”

Munster’s chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said the Irish club “fully understood” the decision to postpone the game.

All of last weekend’s matches due to be held in France were called off, including Ulster’s trip to Oyonnax.


Stuart Lancaster Leaves Post

England were defeated 33-13 by Australia at Twickenham

England were defeated 33-13 by Australia at Twickenham

Stuart Lancaster has stood down from his post as England coach this afternoon, following a disappointing World Cup performance.

England became the first host-nation of a Rugby World Cup to be eliminated in the group stages, with losses to Wales and Australia.

After such poor performances on home soil, Lancaster’s position was always in doubt, with many bookmakers cutting odds on his resignation or sacking.

Despite the disappointing of the world cup, Lancaster claimed he was still proud of the team’s performances, having won 28 out of 46 games since taking charge in 2012.

“We have played some excellent rugby and it was always going to be tough to get the right level of experience into them in time for 2015.

“I am immensely proud of the development of this team and I know that there is an incredibly strong foundation for them to progress to great things in the future.”

The Rugby Football Union now begin their search for Lancaster’s successor, with Australia coach Michael Cheika sounded out for the position. Despite this, RFU have encouraged patience from the fans.

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