Iain Morrison picks out five pros and five cons from Scotland’s defeat to Ireland in Dublin
1 Almost every outside back brought something to the party with the Scots looking dangerous in attack and the ball “out the back” working well in creating space wide.
2 The Scots held firm in that opening quarter when they could have collapsed under pressure from the Irish forwards. They conceded one softish try to Chris Henry but it could have been so much worse.
3 Two new caps, Hugh Blake and Mike Cusack, made solid contributions. The set scrum was better with Cusack in harness and Blake silenced the critics even if the Kiwi didn’t do enough to push himself far up the openside pecking order.
4 Scotland scored three tries in Dublin, and Cotter’s determination to attack with the ball in hand seems to be paying dividends. Will they risk the same fast and loose style against a very fast and loose Japanese team?
5 Grant Gilchrist played his first game for ten months and managed the full 80 minutes while David Denton returned from his concussion problems with no ill-effects. Apart from ignoring one screaming overlap, the Edinburgh eight made a huge contribution to the Scotland cause. Just like old times.
1 The rolling maul is a gaping chasm in Scotland’s armour and every opposition coach will be practising it. Italy mauled two tries past Scotland in the Six Nations and Ireland would have scored two had the Scots not conceded the penalty. In the World Cup it will come with a yellow card attached.
2 The set scrum is an issue because the Scots were under the cosh from the off and, despite his tag, David “Killer” Kilcoyne is far from the scariest of the front row beasts Scotland will encounter in the coming weeks.
3 Too often the Scots were reduced to the role of spectators as Simon Zebo and Tommy Bowe regained possession from numerous high balls.
4 Despite picking two out and out loosies the Scots still lost the battle of the breakdown to a team that has made this area their own. Too many Scots found themselves isolated. The only answer is getting numbers there in good time.
5 Variety is the spice of life and the key to Scotland’s kicking from hand lacked vision, precision and ambition. Greig Tonks didn’t play badly but he needs more time and that commodity is in short supply.