DCSIMG

Slipshod Godman coupled with Parks masterclass gives Robinson food for thought

AT LEAST we know what Andy Robinson got for Christmas – a helping of Hobson's Choice, a surprise sprinkling of Catch 22, with a nasty little No-Win Situation thrown in for good measure. Little wonder that the Scotland coach looked even more intense and beetle-browed than usual.

The clash between Scotland's top two sides has given Robinson plenty of food for thought, but nowhere are the selectorial decisions he will be taking less enviable than at stand-off, where all of the cards in his hand were on display at Murrayfield. Unfortunately, the outcome was as plain for him to see as it was for the rest of the stadium.

On the one hand there was the player who is out of favour with the Scotland management and seemingly on his way out of the country, bound for the bright lights of Cardiff Blues in the summer. Dan Parks was imperious in virtually everything he did, playing with a control, confidence and experience which his coach Sean Lineen later described as breathtaking.

"Dan's contribution was absolutely huge," said his coach Sean Lineen after his protege dominated the game against Edinburgh for the second successive week. "His attitude has been outstanding, and he's playing so well for Glasgow that, while it's up to Andy, you can see there that Dan can control a game and that he has real authority and is starting to really bring players in. He's even beginning to stand flat..."

On the other hand was Phil Godman, the player who is flavour of the moment with his national coach, a player supposedly born to run, to stand flat on the gainline and spark a back division renowned for its enterprising play with ball in hand. A player who endured arguably his least effective game for Edinburgh.

His coach Rob Moffat had little choice but to concede that "Phil wasn't 100 per cent today, but don't worry, he will come back", before adding in mitigation that he has a hip injury and hasn't been able to train all week. Shame on those who thought he looked like he'd hit the Christmas cheer too hard.

Where the little Aussie was the fulcrum around which an increasingly impressive Glasgow side turned, the Edinburgh No.10 was so unfailingly incapable of doing anything right, that when his coach finally took him off with 25 minutes remaining it was felt like he was putting Godman out of his misery.

It was difficult to square the player who has made so much progress over the past couple of years with the No.10 whose passes went awry, whose kicks were either charged down or missed touch, whose tackling was untypically powder-puff and who was so off the pace that his own side's fans cheered as he wandered forlornly to the sidelines.

The contrast with Parks was particularly cruel as the 1872 Cup has been billed as a national trial. If so, the Glasgow player could scarcely have made a more compelling case for his inclusion in the Six Nations mix. He finally stood on the gainline, finally unleashed Evans and Morrison with some neat, snappy passing, and with his crossfield kick to Stortoni for the second try, and his neat grubber to Van Der Merwe for the first try, he unlocked the Edinburgh defences with some sublime artistry.

His place-kicking remains hit and miss – he missed two conversions and a penalty – but Parks otherwise looks like a player who has had a large weight taken off his shoulders. In fact, make that two weights: he's leaving behind a Scottish public which hasn't taken him to its heart since he first appeared in a Glasgow shirt in 2003, and soon after wore the thistle for the first time; while he has effectively been told that, barring a disaster of epic proportions, he won't be playing for Scotland again.

He might just find that Godman's performance was that disaster. Robinson was given additional data to compute by Paterson's composed 25-minute cameo in the No.10 shirt and Ruaridh Jackson's late appearance.

When it comes to his Six Nations stand-off, he has a lot of food for thought. The 1872 Cup diptych was a pretty picture for Parks. For Godman, eclipsed in successive games, it was more like Edvard Munch's Scream.

 
 
 

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