Brian Smith’s Analysis: Scotland Brave and Bold

Brian Smith’s Analysis: Scotland Brave and Bold

Scotland were excellent and fully deserved their win over England at Murrayfield on the weekend. Gregor Townsend prepared his troops with attacking ideas to overcome England’s Blitz defence and his players executed the plan. England will be annoyed with their general execution and Eddie Jones may regret taking on Scotland’s back row with only one fetcher. Scotland certainly won the battle on the floor in the critical moments.

Attacking the Blitz

Scotland attacked England’s Blitz defence with a number of deliberate ploys that were effective. Their first try was scored off the back of a lineout drive as Greig Laidlaw bounced out with Peter Horne running a hard line. This allowed Finn Russell time on the ball to put in an attacking kick for Huw Jones to pounce on. Scotland were fortunate to score as England scrambled to clean up the kick but the intent was obvious and Scotland deserved to be rewarded.

Scotland’s third try also started on the coach’s whiteboard and involved some attack minded thinking. Again the play started with a lineout but this time Scotland played off the top and use a forward runner to get some go forward in George Ford’s channel.

As England’s back row folded to pick up Scotland’s next wave of runners they failed to see Huw Jones cut a hard line off Greig Laidlaw and split the defence line between Nathan Hughes and Owen Farrell. Jones then took on Anthony Watson and Mike Brown in England’s back field and found a way to score.

England’s Rally

As you would expect after a pep talk from Eddie Jones at half time England came out with plenty of intensity in the second half. This well worked try gave them a foothold in the game just after half time. England’s try started from a short lineout with Mako Vunipola charging into Scotland’s midfield. As Scotland’s forward folded around this ruck they failed to see Owen Farrell picking a hard line of Danny Care on the blind side and Farrell scored a relatively easy try. England ran this play to isolate Greig Laidlaw defending on the blind side and they did it with great precision.


With Scotland turning over England in Edinburgh and Ireland rolling Wales in Dublin the Irish now enjoy a 5pt lead on the table with 2 matches remaining. In the next round of the Championship England travel to France and Ireland host Scotland.

We’ll learn a lot about Eddie Jones’ England team in Paris where it’s not an easy place to win. We’d expect them to bounce back and hope the Scots turn over Ireland in Dublin. That would set up a great finale to the Championship with Ireland taking on England at Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day.

As it stands Ireland are the team to beat in 2018.


Brian Smith is a rare breed who has both played and coached international rugby and doesn't mind telling it as he sees it. He's currently putting his Oxford degree to good use teaching Commerce and coaching rugby at the Scots College, Sydney.

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