Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Scotland have been overwhelmed 16-15 by Australia of their first autumn TestVenue: Murrayfield, Edinburgh Date: Saturday, 5 November Kick-off: 13:00 GMTCoverage: Reside textual content commentary on the BBC Sport web site & app

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend stated on Thursday his staff must “ship profitable performances”, beginning in opposition to Fiji on Saturday.

It seems like an apparent factor for any coach to say, however Scotland are in determined want of not solely a victory however a efficiency of actual substance at Murrayfield.

Final weekend’s defeat by Australia – with the caveat the unavailability of gamers based mostly exterior Scotland – did little to revive confidence within the nationwide facet’s route of journey in 2022.

They’ve performed 9 Check matches and misplaced six of them, with the All Blacks and their summer time conquerors Argentina to comply with Fiji this month.

Townsend spoke this week of “positives” from the one-point loss to the Wallabies, simply as he had in regards to the summer time collection defeat by the hands of Michael Cheika’s Pumas.

It’s not a view shared by everybody exterior the camp. These at Murrayfield final week spoke of a unusually subdued environment, whereas Saturday’s contest in opposition to Fiji is just not but bought out.

For a number of years, the Scottish Rugby Union may depend on the previous floor being packed for roughly each match. A practice strike, the expense within the present value of dwelling local weather, and an earlier 13:00 GMT kick-off have little doubt have performed their half in seats being unsold, however there has actually been a drop in enthusiasm.

That’s the awkward context even earlier than you contact on the controversial omission of fan favorite and playmaker Finn Russell, whose magic has been key to lots of Scotland’s most exhilarating moments in current occasions.

His shadow will loom giant over the Autumn marketing campaign if issues don’t enhance.

Adam Hastings has been given the quantity 10 jersey this week, bringing to an finish Blair Kinghorn’s five-match run at fly-half and whereas most individuals would say the Edinburgh man has achieved a good job, it nonetheless appears like one thing is lacking.

Townsend was at pains to level out when his Autumn squad was introduced that Hastings’ kind for Gloucester has been incredible. The Scotland coach added this week that he brings extra when it comes to game-management than Kinghorn, who as a full-back by commerce is of course extra of a runner.

It is management that Scotland are crying out for.

They’ve loads of attacking expertise to harm groups, and nonetheless do at occasions, however too typically essential chances are high missed. Sione Tuipulotu was the most recent participant responsible of butchering a gilt-edged try-scoring alternative in opposition to the Wallabies, however there have been many others. Extra composure is required.

On the different finish, Scotland’s defence is being breached too typically – they’re conceding a median of practically 21 factors per recreation this yr – and self-discipline has turn into a severe problem.

Scotland gave away 14 penalties in opposition to Australia final week, so as to add to a median of 12 per recreation within the Six Nations. That’s clearly not a recipe for fulfillment.

The Scotland XV chosen for the go to of Fiji is about as robust as Townsend has been capable of subject for the reason that spring, and that must be mirrored within the efficiency and end result.

Hastings is in kind and has a strong-looking centre pairing of Cameron Redpath and Chris Harris exterior him. They play in midfield collectively for the primary time since that well-known win at Twickenham in 2021.

Duhan van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg are a potent again three, and there may be sufficient abrasiveness within the pack – in Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson and others – to make an influence.

It is a robust staff going up in opposition to an extremely proficient Fiji facet, however one Scotland have overwhelmed on six of the eight occasions they’ve performed them in a Check match.

Scotland ought to win, however they want greater than only a victory. They want a way of id and on the pitch to revive some religion – particularly if the intention is to maneuver ahead with out Russell.

Beneath Townsend, Scotland’s greatest triumphs have come both by means of the Racing 92 fly-half serving to to orchestrate a swashbuckling attacking recreation – witness the 2018 win in opposition to England at Murrayfield – or by means of a miserly defence.

The 2020 and 2021 Six Nations have been the height of the latter strategy. However proper now the staff feels far-off from both. Towards Fiji they’ve an opportunity to say themselves and present what sort of staff they need to be shifting ahead.

If they do not, the “mounting stress” former captain John Barclay talked of this week, will solely develop.

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