Inability to weather storms now worrying trend
When the fixture fates set the paths of Scotland and Russia crossing at both rugby and football on consecutive days, it provided an opportunity for the Scots to at least sneak a victory on aggregate.
Lips may have been pursed when Adam Hastings’s last-play try was taken off the board by a TMO replay, but a 61-0 lead from the first leg still seemed just about enough for the hapless round-ball team to defend.
But while the Scotland squad in the Far East monitor weather alerts in the hope of avoiding an enforced 0-0 draw, their unheralded footballing counterparts set about weathering the storm in pursuit of an equally unlikely blank scoreline.
And for a while, it looked as if the winds were blowing in Scotland’s favour.
Though ravaged by injury to the point of starting Mikey Devlin – arguably not among the best two Scottish centrebacks available to Derek McInnes, let alone Steve Clarke – the Scots defence rendered Russia virtually shotless in the first half.
Alas, like a front-row forward, Scotland’s defenders know all too well that they will inevitably have to deal with a collapse at some point, but unlike in that other code they are unable to hunker down and start over.
This was the fourth time in this group that Scotland have conceded twice inside less than eight minutes, and the fourth time the team has lost by three goals or more.
It is not that Scotland have lost so many matches – that much was only to expected from the day the draw was made – but the severity of the beatings
they are taking which is alarming.
This run of fixtures against the top two seeds was always likely to be chastening, but overall Scotland have been truly competitive for so few of the 360 minutes as to leave Clarke wondering what it would take to end his side’s run of defeats.
At this point, his best chance may well be a typhoon.
Defender Mikey Devlin