Just in case we forgot, it’s still Scotland.
A week after the best away win this century, the Scots were deservedly beaten by Fiji in Suva. One step forward, two back as normal?
Well, maybe; at least if this game can be treated as an outlier, a tired squad at the end of the long season in humid conditions against a Fiji side that has mixed their natural and traditional flair with physical defence and some structure in setpiece.
Only this is the second game in this long season – played eleven, won seven, lost four – that we’re having to treat as an exception to the trend. The first was the Calcutta Cup debacle, and with 30 missed tackles, Suva was almost as bad defensively.
The strength in depth we were all extolling last week in Sydney turned out to be a bit misleading; without the pace generated by Finn Russell and Ali Price at half-back they looked punchless. Alex Dunbar was badly missed, John Barclay and Jonny Gray looked exhausted.
The aerial game, especially at the contestable restarts, was dreadful; Scotland conceded 10 points directly after they had scored due to failing to secure Fiji’s short kick-offs.
At least Gregor Townsend – who played in the 51-26 disaster in Fiji in 1998 – learned plenty about some players. The tour has been a success despite this, only now the new head coach faces his toughest task.
Having had the squad together like a club for two months, he now doesn’t see them for four months. It starts again fresh in November, and maintaining Scotland’s upward curve then will be much more testing.