dmg media (UK)


Six Nations

ABONUS-POINT victory would probably have been the bare minimum Scotland expected heading into their final Six Nations clash against Italy. Listen, we got there in the end. But I don’t think anyone who watched that game will feel like the final scoreline offered a true reflection of how things panned out. Make no mistake, that became extremely nervy towards the end. There was real jeopardy around the result and it could easily have gone either way. Had Italy scored a try when they were pounding away at Scotland’s line late in the second half, I don’t think we could really have had any complaints. I heard Stuart Hogg say on his punditry duties on TV that Scotland could probably count themselves lucky — and I’d have to agree. We just weren’t as dominant or fluent in attack as I’d hoped we’d be. Barring moments of individual brilliance from Duhan van der Merwe and Blair Kinghorn, Scotland looked disjointed at times. I suppose that was to be expected when we lost a player of Finn Russell’s quality, but I think Gregor Townsend would have hoped for more. Kinghorn deserved his hat-trick and finished his tries really well, but I’m still unsure about his long-term prospects at 10. We’re more likely to see him putting Hogg under major pressure for the full-back jersey heading into the World Cup later this year. Kinghorn has had an excellent Six Nations. But, to me, a lot of his best work comes when he’s playing in the back three or finishing off attacking moves, as he did so well against Italy. He offers a huge attacking threat. Hogg has been a magnificent servant to Scotland and is one of our best players of all-time. Absolutely no question. But Kinghorn’s form could give Townsend a real headache going into the World Cup. He’s breathing down Hogg’s neck now. A lot of attention will now turn to what the future looks like for Townsend and whether or not Scotland will look to extend his contract as head coach. Personally, I would give him a new deal. We’ve got the nucleus of a really good squad and we’ve definitely made progress. I don’t think we’re a million miles away from being a team who can compete with the likes of Ireland and France for silverware. But, ultimately, that decision will be for Mark Dodson and the SRU. But I do think Townsend has made a decent case for staying on. Three wins in this year’s Six Nations offers Townsend and his players a decent platform heading into the World Cup. The problem comes from the fact we are in a hellishly tough group along with Ireland and world champions South Africa. That still looks to be a mighty tall order and Scotland will certainly need to raise their game if they are to beat either of those two teams. But I do believe it’s been a fairly successful campaign overall. Despite the nervy finale against the Azzurri, Kinghorn’s hat-trick helped us get the job done in the end.