In this years 6 Nations, Scotland v Ireland pitted two mastermind coaches against each other. Both Joe Schmidt and Gregor Townsend understand the dark arts of elite level strike moves and generating defensive mismatches. Ireland won, and that result will now be etched in history. But here are some moments that could have tipped the balance the other way.
Scotland v Ireland | The Injury that cost a try
Here Scotland get a turnover and Hogg puts a kick in. Unfortunately, he is then checked and taken out of the play. This results in a shoulder injury for the talented Scottish full-back.
Scotland now desperately need to organise their backfield defence in his absence. Maitland instructs Hogg (red circles) to join the defensive line while he tries to cover fullback and wing.
Ireland are aware of Hogg’s absence in the backfield and move to take advantage of it immediately with a kick. Here we can see where Hogg is in the line at the start of the clip, and where he should have been if not injured.
Ireland finish off the move and score. Would Hogg have covered this had he not been injured? Would Ireland have even kicked if he wasn’t injured? A speculative kick like this is certainly not their usual behaviour. Let us know if this was 5 saveable points.
If you have been keeping up with the 1014 content you know we are big fans of the current form of Finn Russell. The article below explains some of his skills last week against Italy.
Let’s take a look at the Finn Russell magic that both worked and didn’t work.
Scotland v Ireland | Finn Russell’s many moments
Here we can see Russell in the defensive line. He is going for an intercept, and the read on the pass is beautiful.
Scotland would score their sole try off this play.
Here are some of the moments that almost came off. Below Russell throws a great pass to Johnson before a line break. The next pass is questionable for sure, but nevertheless Scotland advance.
Russell now demands the ball again and skips past 2 defenders, then has the presence of mind to put a chip in. Seymour can’t quite get the pass away for the try.
This is another moment where good Irish defence prevented 5 or 7 points for Scotland at the final second. The margins between these two sides were very narrow. However, Ireland fully deserved the win for the way they shut down one particular Scottish tactic.
Scotland v Ireland | Why stacking players outside the 15-metre line didn’t work
Ireland don’t like playing outside the 15-metre lines on both attack and defence. Scotland, therefore, made a point of stacking players out there on attack. Below, Scotland uses a pod to hold defenders before going outside the 15-metre line.
On this occasion, the kick finds good territory. But Scotland would get closer to making this tactic work later in the match. This time they manufacture a two-on-one by stacking players wide, but Kearney saves the day for Ireland by applying pressure to Jones at just the right moment.
Scotland had the right idea by using pods and dummy runners to try and get around Ireland’s rush defence, but they couldn’t plan for the Kearney effect.
Again below the Irish full-back applies pressure at just the right time. Scotland have already worked this one wide with an overlap. Kearney checks Johnson just as he kicks, and Murray is able to gather the ball under less pressure.
Scotland had bad luck in some areas (such as the Hogg injury), but the Irish players were just too good in others.
The 1014 Rugby explored what is holding Scotland back in significant detail over on their YouTube channel. See the following video for more information.
How far away are Scotland from England, Ireland and Wales? Do they have all the pieces of the puzzle to win a 6 Nations? We would love to hear your thoughts.
Author: The 1014 Rugby and Henry Stokes