I have had another look at the game against Luxembourg yesterday and have a few final thoughts. Sweden could easily have lost of course if the final penalty had just drifted inside the post instead of just outside. But I think on balance Sweden did just about enough to win. Their attack was a bit sharper and, apart from a burst just before the interval, Luxembourg never really looked like challenging the Swedish line. In fact, Sweden haven´t conceded a try in the two games so far, which is always a plus.
The backs were better this week than against Moldova, with a much lower error rate, but the off-loading still needs to be improved. The two centres and Arnold on the wing were threatening and the oldest brother Murphy created gaps when coming into the line from fullback. My main complaints when it comes to the backs are that there are four or five scrum halves in Sweden who offer more than the young lad from Södertälje. Once Fredrik Enstad moved to his best position the threat from the Swedish backs increased dramatically. I also feel that Philip Murphy has a bit to go at standoff. He makes half-breaks, stops and is not terribly good at offloading. Once again there is one far better player in Sweden.
Turning to the forwards, I think it is an insult to Swedish sport to have three obviously overweight players in the starting line-up. They seldom contribute in the rucks and mauls, especially towards the end of the game, and end up in the backs where they slow the other real backs down without ever making more than two or three metres, if they don´t drop the ball. This is very poor selection indeed.
On the positive side I think Arthur Marini had his best game for Sweden. He took 7 or 8 lineouts and disrupted a couple of Luxembourg throw-ins, as well as getting about the field. Theo Karlsson was his usual dynamic self and the Luxembourg scrum started going backwards when he moved up to the front row. Giga has had a quiet start to his international career but in the last 20 minutes yesterday he began to flex his muscles and showed up well in attack and defence. Not bad for a refugee after three years in the country!
It´s sad to think how much stronger we could be with the 7 – 8 reinforcements who are available. A whole squad of them are off to play in the Dubai Sevens in a few week times with several international select teams. I think we would have a chance against Ukraine in the Spring if they were included in the Swedish team, but I doubt if we can make promotion with the present squad.