1) Duncan Taylor can play a bit
There were concerns, not least from myself, that dropping a proven try scorer like Mark Bennett was a mistake but when his replacement plays like Taylor did the Scottish midfield suddenly looks seriously strong. Taylor scored a good solo try (with an “assist” going to Ruaridh Jackson) against Wales and the centre showed initiative, pace and determination to score against France. When Matt Scott is fit again Vern Cotter will have four international class centres to choose from. When could you last say that about any Scotland coach?
2) The Scotland scrum has gone from laughing stock to match winner
The match against Italy hinted as much but, we wondered out loud, did Scotland’s utter dominance have more to do with the opposition that any home grown excellence? Now that the Scots have dominated France, the best scrummaging side in world rugby bar none, no one will take them likely. The opposition is forewarned - watch Ireland cheat their way out of a direct confrontation next Saturday - but referees are also reminded that the Scottish scrum has no need to gain an illegal advantage these days. The transformation has been astonishing.
3) Everyone needs a little bit of luck
And Scotland rode theirs on Saturday. Taylor’s try should have been stopped at the source and would have been but for a missed tackle. Greig Laidlaw was lucky not to be pinged for holding back the jersey of a French defender, another referee may well have wiped Taylor’s try off because of it, and when Stuart Hogg flapped on the scrumhalf’s pass, completely blind, it fell perfectly for Tim Visser. Vern Cotter dead-panned in the press conference that “we practise that in training” and, because it was Cotter, we were all left wondering if they did.
4) Scotland won because they made very few mistakes
Scotland have played good stuff in most of their games but as a team they have simply made too many mistakes to win. Good teams don’t make a host of unforced handling errors and on Saturday it was the French who had butter fingers rather than the Scots. The proof is in the scrum stats. Scotland had nine put ins; France had one. Scotland made one handling error all match. In the opening game against England the visitors that day were given eleven put ins. Scotland have gone from making eleven errors (mostly handling ones) to making one. Now they need to back it up in Dublin.
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