STUART Hogg accepted last night that Scotland’s indiscipline had let them down against Wales, in a game which for a time they had looked like winning with something to spare. But the captain, who scored two tries in his team’s 24-25 defeat at BT Murrayfield, also insisted that the squad had the character to bounce back quickly from the defeat, and said that even after Zander Fagerson’s second-half red card had reduced the home team to 14 men they believed they could go on and win.
“We’re bitterly disappointed,” he said. “We talked all week about going out there and expressing ourselves and really taking it to Wales – and we’ve done that for large periods of the game. I think we were very much in control of the first half especially, and then just a few moments didn’t quite go to plan.
“Giving away penalties is one thing: conceding three or four on the bounce is unacceptable. In international rugby it’s going to cost you, and it’s done that to us twice.
Scotland 24-25 Wales: Scots pull up short in Six Nations thriller
“It’s little things that are costing us. But the pleasing thing is we know exactly where we’re going wrong – there’s been times in the past where we’ve made mistakes and keep making them, whereas now I believe that’s a one-off in our ill discipline. We’ll be much better prepared for the France game in terms of our discipline and we’ll get excited for that challenge.”
“For large periods of the game we were very much in control. Our game management was outstanding. We were playing in the right areas, we were causing Wales problems.
The game appeared to turn on a sequence of events early in the second 40, when a Gary Graham touchdown was chalked off for a Scots offence, then Wales scored, then Fagerson was red-carded after making contact with a Welsh player’s head in a clear-out. “On another day Gary Graham probably goes across for that try and the game’s probably put to bed then if we’re being honest,” Hogg continued.
“It’s pointless me sitting here and expressing my views on [the red card]. Nothing’s going to change now, is it? It’s a red card, that’s what’s happened, and it’s pointless going on about it.
“I still believed we could win the game and so did the rest of the boys. Everybody to a man was outstanding, we stuck at it, played right until the very last second, and as I said earlier, on another day we probably win that game.”
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend proud of his men despite defeat but unhappy over red-card decision
Having picked up a losing bonus point to take their tally to five following their win over England in week one, Scotland are still very much in the running in what looks like being the most wide-open Championship of recent seasons. But the captain, as he had done last week, insisted that he and the squad were looking no more than a single match ahead.
“We’re very much focused on playing against France in a couple of weeks. If we get too ahead of ourselves, as I said last week, we’re going to slip up. So we’ve got two weeks now to make sure we’re mentally and physically prepared and are in the best place possible, and I fully believe we can go across to France and win.”