1 Cutting edge
Too many Scotland teams in the recent past have been all promising approach work and little or no end product. This one, conversely, knows how to forge openings, and how to finish them off.
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It is still only relative consistency, as was proven by Twickenham, but the squad now turn in solid, dependable performances far more regularly than used to be the case.
3 A good start
In such a short tournament, getting off the mark in your opening game is vital, and Scotland did it for the first time in 11 years with a win over Ireland.
4 Game management
This team can now think on its feet, adapting tactics as circumstances dictate, and refusing to be panicked if their opponents have the upper hand for long spells.
It is only that confidence in their own ability that has allowed the team to manage games in a more composed manner. Again, like consistency, the self-belief wavers at times, but it is light years ahead of what it was, and it is one of the many qualities that outgoing head coach Vern Cotter has enhanced in this group of players.
1 Twickenham. “Unacceptable”, as Ryan Wilson said this week. No matter how much credit you give to England, no matter whether you think this was a weird one-off performance by Scotland or something that showed up more fundamental flaws in their game, it was really bad. Not only the low of this Six Nations, but a record defeat for the fixture and a blot on the record that will hurt for a very long time.
Alasdair Dickinson and Willem Nel were ruled out before the tournament, Greig Laidlaw, Josh Strauss and John Hardie, among others, during it. We can only wonder how much better the team had fared with a little more luck on the injury front.
3 Lack of depth
There is real competition at centre and in the back row, but other areas of the time still lack strength in numbers. This aspect of the squad has improved considerably under Cotter but still has some way to go.
Fraser Brown’s yellow card at Twickenham was the worst but by no means the only example of a lack of self-restraint that continues to cost the team points. There is always a delicate balance between playing committedly and going over the top, just as there is between staying just onside and straying just offside. At times, Scotland still fail to maintain that balance.
5 Away form
After fighting back to beat Ireland late on, Scotland were faced with a similar situation in the closing stages of their game in Paris. But, racked by injuries, they were unable to show the drive and direction they had displayed on home soil. The next step has to be translating impressive home form to other venues.