Five things we learned from Scotland’s summer tour
Yesterday’s narrow win over Samoa means this Scotland side are the first to return home from a Southern Hemisphere tour with three Test wins.
1 RYAN GRANT IS THE FIND OF THE TOUR: Two seasons ago Grant couldn’t get a game for Edinburgh, but now he has slotted into the Scotland No.1 jersey like it was made for him. Grant was on top in Fiji and even held the whip hand against the colossus that is Census Johnston yesterday afternoon in Apia. After years of having almost no competition, Allan Jacobsen suddenly has Grant and Jon Welsh breathing down what passes for his neck. “Chunk” may not be finished, but he will have felt a cold wind blowing his way from Apia.
2 TIM VISSER IS HUMAN: There was always a danger that the Dutchman would be targeted and it duly happened yesterday when his handling, positioning and defence were all found wanting. After two tries against Fiji, the Samoans gave him a lot less time and space. Indeed, the limelight was stolen by inside backs in both places, Nick De Luca in Lautoka, Matt Scott here in Apia. The big Dutchman managed two tries in two games, a run-rate that will do very nicely thank you, but he has plenty of work to do on those aspects of his game that don’t entail running with the ball in hand.
3 WHITE MEN CAN’T DANCE: I know I’m on dangerous ground here and I promise not to mention the word “rhythm”, but the lasting memory of this tour off the field was Andy Robinson dancing with a sizeable Fijian matron and looking like he’d rather be facing a firing squad. Uncomfortable doesn’t begin to cover the agonies writ large on the coach’s face. Al Strokosch did the sensible thing and excused himself.
4 DON’T BE CALLED “ALEX”: Neither Alex on tour managed so much as one minute of one match and, while Glasgow’s Alex Dunbar might not have expected much, Alex Grove was a little unlucky not to have been called upon. With Greig Laidlaw still hankering after the No.9 shirt might the selectors be tempted to shuffle everyone in one place, Laidlaw to nine, Matt Scott to ten with Grove, doing his best Gordon D’Arcy impersonation, coming in at 12. He is determined, stuffy and skilful. Moreover, his relative lack of pace won’t matter so much at 12 instead of the 13 channel where he won his three Scotland caps.
5 WE LEARNED THAT WE HAVEN’T LEARNED THAT MUCH: The Scots can tackle in the rain and they have recovered much of the fighting spirit that they mislaid in March, but we’ve been here before and ended up disappointed. The series win in Argentina back in 2010 preceded one miserable victory in the Six Nations and most of Robinson’s successes have come in “friendlies”. It’s time to back up this tour with some meaningful success. Grant Gilchrist, Fraser McKenzie, Kelly Brown and David Denton will all be due to return to the squad but Robinson still has far too few options in the backline. New Zealand in November will be a good marker and next season’s Six Nations an even better one.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
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