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Irish pundits once again go after Stuart Hogg and Scotland

By Sam Smith
Scotland's Stuart Hogg after swapping shirts with an Italy player at the end of the Guinness Six Nations match at Stadio Olimpico, (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

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Irish television rugby pundits have once again taken a fairly hefty pop at Stuart Hogg and his Scotland teammates following their victory over Italy in Rome.

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Centre Chris Harris scored a brace of tries as Scotland edged to a 33-22 bonus-point victory over Italy in their Six Nations encounter at the Stadio Olimpico, inflicting a 36th successive defeat in the competition on their hosts.

Centre Sam Johnson, wing Darcy Graham and fullback Stuart Hogg also crossed for tries as Scotland came out on top in a game that was more of a street fight than an arm wrestle, with both teams playing some loose rugby compounded by errors.

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Italy had managed only a single try in the Six Nations coming into the game, but got three in Rome as scrumhalf Callum Braley and debutant Ange Capuozzo, with a brace, crossed to score.

Capuozzo’s first try gave the home side their first second-half points in this year’s competition.

Scotland move into fourth in the table with 10 points from their four games, while Italy remain marooned at the foot of the standings, having yet to break their duck and with a game to come in Wales next weekend.

They may have bagged the win but they certainly didn’t impress Shane Horgan and Matt Williams on Virgin Medis Sports in Ireland.

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The subject of Hogg, Finn Russell and Scotland has been a go to talking point for this particular panel in recent weeks and once more they went after Gregor Townsend’s men.

“I sometimes listen to Hogg after games and it’s very then the ones you hear – for example – from an Irish player.

“I sometimes wonder if he recognises how bad that performance was there?”

“Yes, there were elements of it that were good, but the idea of doing the simple things right, well, they didn’t do the simple thing right.

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“He [Hogg] threw at least four balls on the ground. From your captain, your best player… yeah, it is pushing a pass because it’s Italy, but if you want excellence and you want to win against France, Ireland or Wales or England, then you can’t have those performances in that game against England.

“They were always going to win that game. They were too good, they have too many good players. As long they keep going ‘It’s okay, we’re using the pass, a few go on the deck’ and especially when it’s by your captain, they’re going to be left in a similar situation when they come across those better teams.”

Former Scotland coach Matt Williams agrees that a cultural change needs to happen in Scotland for them to become a real force on the world stage.

“The Scottish performances of the last few years reinforced what you [Shane Horgan] are saying,” said Williams. “They beat England and France last year and then lose to the others. [This year] They beat England at home, lose to Wales. It’s like the cliché: the situation determines the attitude, not the attitude determines the situation.

“They are lifting their performance for their opposition. They are playing the opposition instead of saying, ‘Culutrally, this is the way we play’. Great teams like New Zealand, and to be fair, Ireland of recent times, they play at a level that is internally driven. It’s not determined by who you play against.

“I’ve got real belief that there’s a lot of talent in that Scottish side. But until they get that real mongrel dog mentality, they’ll continue to have performances like that.”

The criticism is the latest in several weeks worth of barrages aimed at Townsend’s team. Following the loss to Wales, Williams advised his former side to ‘shut up’.

“They have just got to shut up. Until they actually action out and live their talk, they have got to shut up because they are making fools of themselves. They have done this for about four years in a row. They win a couple of biggies and then the next week they lose. And each time they come out and say ‘we’re going to win, we’re a great side’. They’re not doing themselves any favours in the rugby world.

“They have just got to stop the talk, tone it down and live it,” concluded Williams, who left the role as head coach of the national team in 2005.”

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Scotland will now travel to Dublin and the Aviva Stadium and have what must now be a mouthwatering opportunity to make the this particular panel eat their words. If they don’t, they may expect to be once again put to sword by messrs. Horgan and Williams.

additional reporting AAP

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