Rugby Union: Scots' scrum exposed in truculent trial

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Blues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24

Reds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

SCOTLAND'S selectors met last night and pledged to investigate the scrummaging problems highlighted in a truculent and penalty- strewn international trial.

In front of a crowd of 14,000 at Murrayfield, some embarrassment was eased by the way in which Gavin Hastings roused the senior Blues to secure a 24-14 victory after the Reds had levelled at 14-all with 10 minutes remaining.

But the team manager, Duncan Paterson, made no attempt to conceal his concern over front-five

performances which even saw the rival loose-head props, Alan Sharp (Blues) and Alan Watt, switch sides without conspicuously improving the stability of the set-pieces.

Paterson said: 'I'm obviously concerned about the scrummaging. We made the switch at half-time to see whether it was only the props. Obviously it wasn't'

Although Doddie Weir took what little worthwhile line-out possession there was in a match littered with scrums, clearly his return to second row from No 8 has not been accomplished without upsetting a scrummage missing the injured Lions, Paul Burnell and Andy Reed.

With Rob Wainwright outstanding at No 8 yesterday, Weir may be one of two major casualties from the Melrose club since Craig Chalmers failed to do enough to win back the stand-off berth from 20-year-old

Gregor Townsend.

Some of Townsend's drop-outs and restart kicks were exemplary and the Gala player had the added satisfaction of scoring a try, gliding past Derek Stark then shrugging off tackles from Craig Chalmers and Ian Smith on a blind-side break close to the line.

That try should have settled the Blues; instead they allowed themselves to be drawn into some petty niggling, Peter Wright especially.

Wright, a Lion, was penalised five times for collapsing scrums and was punched by the opposing centre, Dougie Wyllie, after a professional foul on Craig Chalmers. Wright's nadir came after 61 minutes when he was charged with stamping at a ruck by the touch judge, but instead of dismissal the prop escaped with a lecture.

The Scotland coach, Douglas Morgan, managed to find some virtue in proceedings so tempestuous that the captains were spoken to. Paterson said that some players had appeared more fired up than in the a tame 51-15 surrender to the All Blacks.

Scotland's team to play Wales on 15 January will be named on Sunday and the likelihood is that the Blues backs will be retained en masse with possible new caps for the second row Shade Munro and the flanker Peter Walton who crashed over for a try on a short penalty move.

What Scotland would give for some of Walton's 18-stone bulk, properly channelled, in the front two rows of their scrummage.

Blues: Tries Townsend, S Hastings; Conversion G Hastings; Penalties G Hastings 4. Reds: Try Walton; Penalties Dods 2, Chalmers.

BLUES: G Hastings (Watsonians, capt); A Stanger (Hawick), S Hastings (Watsonians), I Jardine (Stirling County), K Logan (Stirling County); G Townsend (Gala), A Nicol (Dundee High); A Sharp (Bristol), K Milne (Heriot's FP) P Wright (Boroughmuir), S Munro (Glasgow High/Kelvinside), G Weir (Melrose), D Turnbull (Hawick), R Wainwright (Edinburgh Academicals), I Morrison (London Scottish).

REDS: M Dods (Gala); K Milligan (Stewart's Melville), S Nichol (Selkirk), D Wyllie (Stewart's Melville), D Start (Boroughmuir); C Chalmers (Melrose), B Redpath (Melrose); A Watt (Glasgow High/Kelvinside); K McKenzie (Stirling County, capt), D Herrington (Dundee High), N Edwards (Northampton), A Macdonald (Heriot's FP), P Walton (Northampton), C Hogg (Melrose), I Smith (Gloucester). Replacement: R Shepherd (Edinburgh Academicals) for Nichol, 38.

Referee: K McCartney (Hawick).