Scotland’s Huw Jones in rich vein of tryscoring form

Scotland's Huw Jones scores against France at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Scotland's Huw Jones scores against France at BT Murrayfield. Picture: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
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Eight tries may not seem much compared to the likes of South African speedster Bryan Habana, Australian genius David Campese, and Welsh wing wizard Shane Williams, who all took their Test tallies into the 60s.

Scotland have a good record of producing points accumulators down the years with man-of-the-moment Greig Laidlaw passing 600 in Sunday’s 32-26 win over France but still chasing the 733 of Gavin Hastings and Chris Paterson’s 809.

Prolific tryscorers have been a bit harder to come by with the national record of 24, jointly held by Ian Smith and Tony Stanger, relatively modest when compared with other leading rugby nations.

When Huw Jones cut through the French defence with angular perfection to get Scotland back on Les Bleus’ coat-tails on Sunday it was his eighth score in a Scotland jersey, with the fact they have come in just 13 Test appearances being the most notable aspect.

That strike took Jones’s try count level with greats like Jim Renwick and Keith Robertson. At just 24, allied to Scotland’s recent embrace of a more attacking style, a few bob on the Glasgow centre passing the current Scottish record wouldn’t be the maddest punt in history, although the likes of Stuart Hogg (17) and Tommy Seymour (16) could well get there before him.

“I try to take opportunities when they come up. Luckily, I saw little bit of a disconnect and managed to get through for a fairly easy try,” said Jones as he reflected on Sunday’s much-needed home victory after the terrible start to the Six Nations in Wales.

Jones moved inside to the No 12 berth in Cardiff, where he played a lot for the Stormers in South Africa, but it is at outside centre that he has been successfully deployed for 
Scotland.

After the pairing with Chris 
Harris didn’t quite gel in Wales, coach Gregor Townsend returned Jones to outside centre at the weekend, with Peter Horne his inside foil.

“At this level I’ve only really played 13. I really enjoyed playing outside Pete,” he said. “He is like another playmaker and he gives me opportunities to attack a little bit wider, where I like to. It was really good having him there.

“It wasn’t as open as some of the games we have played. The autumn games were open and I had a lot more opportunity on the ball. I had to work a lot harder for it and pop-up in different areas to get my hands on the ball.”

Every time Jones crosses the line for Scotland, which is almost 
every game at the moment, it would be nice to think a few free drinks are sent in the direction of Scotland’s head of performance analysis Gavin Vaughan. The Welshman, then an analyst at Glasgow Warriors, spotted Jones playing in a game for University of Cape Town and, suitably impressed and intrigued by the name, clicked on the team’s Wikipedia page, only to have eyebrows raised by the sight of a Saltire next to his name in the squad listing. Born in Edinburgh to English parents, Jones was schooled down south before heading to study in South Africa and surprisingly finding himself a professional 
rugby player.

Vaughan had alerted Townsend to the player and Jones eventually did end up signing for Glasgow, joining them at the end of last year following the completion of his Stormers/Western Province contract, which ended with a two-try display in a 
Currie Cup final win.

Jones has been finding his feet with his new club and was delighted to get back on the scoresheet for Scotland after the Cardiff caning broke his streak of a try in each of the November Tests.

“I don’t think anyone could really feel comfortable after the previous week’s game,” said Jones. “There was definitely a bit of tension around training. But I think that’s probably a good thing. We showed that we’ve come back from that.”

Asked to pinpoint what changed on Sunday, Jones found it difficult to specify.

“Not much, really. We didn’t change our gameplan much,” he said.

“A few changes to the team. It was basically that we got knocked down by Wales and really refocused our minds. That brought us back down to earth. We knew we had a job to do. We like playing at home, as results have shown.”

Scotland are at home again a week on Saturday for a Calcutta Cup clash that remains foreboding but a lot less so on the back of a win.

“If we had lost [against France] it would have been looking down the barrel a bit,” admitted Jones. “We are glad we won. That was part of the motivation.”

Scotland are, for now, back in the mix and relieved to be on the board ,but those pre-tournament noises about possible title contention remain firmly silenced by that Wales pounding.

Jones is willing to keep the dream alive, though. “Yeah. Why not?” he said. “There are no easy games and that [France] game showed that. If we can win in two weeks’ time, it sets us up for another two weekends to really have a go at it.”