Tried and Tested – For the Full 80 Minutes

The second test of Scotland’s Summer Tour saw Gregor Townsend’s men fall 29-30 to the USA Eagles, in a nail-biting and mistake strewn match. In the aftermath of this result, Erin McRitchie explains why people must keep in mind that this tour is about development, so we shouldn’t discount the new boys just yet.

Scotland must now set their focus to facing Argentina, after a narrow loss to the USA Eagles (Photo from Scottish Rugby)

Match Report

Blair Kinghorn was the first player to cross the whitewash in Houston on Sunday. After just one minute played, the winger collected a delayed pass from Stuart Hogg, finishing off a sequence started by a quick-thinking George Horne.

The Scots would score two more before half-time. The first was a penalty try following the USA’s Samu Manoa being sin binned for a high tackle on George Horne and the second courtesy of George Turner, who Chris Paterson raved was “filling his boots with tries”.

The USA also scored before half-time with their fly-half AG MacGinty successfully kicking two penalties before converting a try from hooker Joe Taufete’e. The teams would run in for half-time with Scotland leading 24-13.

The Scots did not have a positive start to the second half as Taufete’e scored once more just two minutes after the game re-started, with MacGinty once again adding the extras. Discipline from the boys in blue also seemed to falter, leading to a kickable penalty just three minutes after their try. The game became a tight one, with Scotland clinging to a 24-23 lead.

A dropped high ball from Matt Fagerson allowed flanker Hanco Germishuys to run in a try, and with the conversion, the USA went six points clear of the Scots with around 20 minutes left to play.

Dougie Fife restored some Scottish faith, scoring a try out wide on 82 minutes played. Kinghorn was unable to make the difficult kick, however, and the Scots had to accept a one point defeat, as the USA triumphed 29-30.

Fife’s score, two minutes into extra time, wasn’t enough to secure a Scottish win (Photo from Edinburgh Rugby)

Young Players Once Again Afforded a Chance

Despite the result – and a few cringe worthy mistakes – the performances of the Scottish debutants and first starts must be acknowledged. This week, the debutants were forward Matt Fagerson and half-back George Horne, whilst the players earning their first starts were forwards Lewis Carmichael, Luke Hamilton and Jamie Bhatti, along with Adam Hastings in the backs.

In stepping onto the field, the youngest Fagerson became a record breaker – by threefold – as he is now: the youngest player to play eight for Scotland, the first teenager to start in the pack for Scotland since 1951 and the third teenager to play for Scotland in the professional era – following in the footsteps of Stuart Hogg and Jonny Gray.

Blair Kinghorn was another standout player, having switched from fullback to the wing to accommodate the inclusion of Stuart Hogg in the team. The young Edinburgh back made 94 metres, beat 8 defenders and completed 3 clean breaks. His impressive performance did not go unnoticed, with John Beattie, on commentary, noting Kinghorn has “grown in stature” on this tour.

The forward division was not left bereft of young, hardworking players who are determined to prove themselves, though. Lewis Carmichael once again ensured his presence was felt, though this week it was predominantly around the breakdown. His star is still rising however, and under the tutelage of the likes of Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis at Edinburgh, Carmichael should have many more opportunities to prove his skills in Scottish colours.

This tour has seen Kinghorn and other young players prove themselves in Scotland jerseys (Photo from Edinburgh Rugby)

Hoggy May Need Some Help

There have been many great Scottish captains who are back division players – Gavin Hastings and Chris Paterson to name but two. However, they thrived upon the strength of experience which existed amongst their forwards. Hastings had the support of the likes of Kenny Milne and Rob Wainwright, whilst Paterson could rely upon Allister Hogg and Scott Murray.

Unfortunately for Stuart Hogg, in his first outing as captain last weekend, he did not have the same level of leadership within his scrum. The scrum truly needed the guidance of the likes of Grant Gilchrist from the outset, as vice-captain Tim Swinson simply did not seem to provide the leading voice of organisation and reassurance that some of the younger boys needed.

As previously stated though, Townsend is using this tour as somewhat of a testing ground for different pairings, different tactics and different forms of leadership. So, hopefully he has already acknowledged this weakness in his captaincy choice last week and is thinking of ways to address it in time for facing Argentina.

One comment

  • I could not agree with you more, Erin. I was sad to hear the media speculate that some of these young players might never wear a Scotland top again. Yes, there were mistakes and I do think it was a mistake to have so many inexperienced players on the field at one time. However, they worked hard and most of them had moments to be proud of. I hope that they’ve come away wiser and ready to prove their metal to Townsend in the future. It would be wrong to deny them the chance of playing for their country ever again, simply on the strength of one game.

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