Six Scotland takeaways from Canada thrashing as Sale pair thrive and one player finds a new position

Scotsman rugby writer Graham Bean picks out the key points after a new-look Scotland side bagged a 73-12 win over Canada in the opening match of the summer tour

Harry Paterson is the real deal

Harry Paterson scored one try and assisted three more in an eye-catching performance that saw him deservedly named player of the match. There was much to admire in the Edinburgh full-back’s second international outing, particularly in an attacking sense. His eagerness to get on the ball and make things happen was apparent from the off and although he had to leave the field early on for repair work on a nasty-looking facial injury he returned with the same zest. Paterson, 23, played just six times for Edinburgh last season during a campaign bedevilled by injury and has made only 10 appearances for the club in total but Gregor Townsend has already seen enough to be convinced by his merits. The Scotland coach gave him a shock Test debut against France during the Six Nations and Paterson didn’t let him down. On the evidence of that game and his performance against Canada, Paterson is making a strong case to be Blair Kinghorn’s understudy in the national side. And with the Toulouse man absent from this tour of the Americas, Paterson has the opportunity to gain decent Test experience.

This is not a vintage Canada

Any assessment of the value of Scotland’s 73-12 victory has to come with caveats. Canada are ranked 21st in the world, 15 places below Townsend’s side, and it showed. Although the hosts started brightly, the Scots soon exerted total control and the hosts simply couldn't cope with their skill levels and energy. Kingsley Jones draws the bulk of his Canada players from Major League Rugby in the US and they were no match for a Scotland side who were able to blood ten new caps, five as starters and five from the bench. Canada suffered the ignominy last year of failing to qualify for the Rugby World Cup for the first time in their history and it's safe to assume this is not a vintage Canadian side. They have been playing international rugby since 1932 and memorably reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 1991 but Chile beat them for a place at the 2023 tournament and the form of the South Americans suggests tougher tests lie ahead for Scotland on this tour.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Stafford McDowall is captaincy material

To be named Scotland co-captain on your third international outing might have fazed some but Stafford McDowall took it in his stride. The centre shared the leadership burden with Luke Crosbie and it was a combination which worked well in Ottawa. McDowall captained Glasgow Warriors regularly in the first half of the season while Kyle Steyn was injured and was a huge contributor to their URC-winning campaign even if he did miss the play-offs due to a hand infection. McDowall acquitted himself well in defence and attack against Canada and got off the mark at international level by notching the tenth of Scotland’s 11 tries. He also handled pre-match media duties with his usual aplomb.

Dylan Richardson embraces change of position

Dylan Richardson
scores a first half try for Scotland against Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images for Scottish Rugby)Dylan Richardson
scores a first half try for Scotland against Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images for Scottish Rugby)
Dylan Richardson
scores a first half try for Scotland against Canada. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images for Scottish Rugby)

With Fraser Brown and Stuart McInally having retired and George Turner likely to be unavailable as he pursues his club career in Japan, there is a changing of the guard in Scotland’s hooking department. Three of the four selected for the tour of the Americas had one cap between them ahead of Saturday’s game and that was won by Dylan Richardson over three and a half years ago when he was playing as a flanker. The Sharks forward has since transitioned back to hooker, the position he played at age-grade level, and did enough against Canada to suggest he has the materials to challenge for a place in the national squad. He scored two tries, one from open play and one from a lineout maul, and showed athleticism in the loose as well as set-piece solidity. He was replaced by Robbie Smith for the final quarter, giving the Northampton Saints man his first cap. The 17-times capped Ewan Ashman and his uncapped Edinburgh team-mate Patrick Harrison have been kept in reserve for later in the tour.

Sales Sharks duo were bright and dangerous

Townsend has been circling the Sales Sharks for some time, acutely aware that a handful of their talented backline players are dual-qualified. So far he has managed to convince Arron Reed and Gus Warr to commit to Scotland but Tom Roebuck remains tantalisingly out of reach. Two out of three ain’t bad and Reed and Warr took their chances in Ottawa, each scoring a try double. Reed’s pace and footwork were showcased in his second score and the blond winger will fancy his chances to bag a few more on this tour. Warr was on the field for just over an hour and deserves a big chunk of praise for keeping Scotland’s attack motoring against limited opponents. The scrum-half moved the ball quickly and showed his eye for a try, scoring two in seven minutes early in the second half.

Bottom of the bill in festival of televised rugby

Arron Reed
of Scotland scores a try as Cooper Coats of Canada tries to tackle him in the second half of Scotland's 73-12 win. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images for Scottish Rugby)Arron Reed
of Scotland scores a try as Cooper Coats of Canada tries to tackle him in the second half of Scotland's 73-12 win. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images for Scottish Rugby)
Arron Reed
of Scotland scores a try as Cooper Coats of Canada tries to tackle him in the second half of Scotland's 73-12 win. (Photo by Chris Tanouye/Getty Images for Scottish Rugby)

Scotland were very much bottom of the bill when it came to Saturday’s televised festival of rugby. They may have been on last but no-one could suggest their clash with Canada was headline material after Sky Sports had already served up New Zealand v England, Australia v Wales, South Africa v Ireland and Argentina v France. The sense that Scotland are the poor relations of Six Nations rugby when it comes to summer tours persisted with the low-rent production on TNT Sports which borrowed the feed from the local Canadian broadcaster. Bells and whistles were conspicuously absent but that is unlikely to bother Townsend who picked what had to be the most inexperienced side of his seven-year tenure. Scotland’s starting XV in Ottawa had 58 caps between them and 30 of them belonged to Rory Sutherland. The point of this tour is to grow the squad's depth by giving new talent exposure to international rugby and assessing their suitability. He was able to give ten players their debuts and although the opposition was modest it is a useful starting point for the tougher tests ahead.

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.