Scotland captain Stuart Hogg refused to blame a red card to prop Zander Fagerson for the loss to Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The hosts led by as much as 14 early on the match, but twice gave up leads as Wales fought valiantly for a crucial win. Both sides came into this clash having won their opening Six Nations clashes by five points, and equal on four competition points.
After Wales opened the scoring in the eighth minute through a Leigh Halfpenny penalty, Scotland largely dominated the opening half. Tries to winger Darcy Graham and captain Stuart Hogg saw Scotland run out to a 17-3 lead.
But as Wales coach Wayne Pivac later commented post-match, a try to 20-year-old winger Louis Rees-Zimmit was “vital for us going into the changeroom.” Wales trailed by nine heading into the break.
‘That felt back to us’https://t.co/gDdyd8IdJw
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There was a 14-point swing early in second-half, with replacement Gary Graham having a try disallowed by the TMO due to obstruction. Wales took advantage, going up the other end and scoring through Liam Williams soon after.
“For us we were very close to scoring seven points there and unfortunately we’ve ended up conceding. Look, it’s little things that are costing us. But the pleasing thing is we know exactly where we’ve going wrong,” Hogg said post-match.
“There’s been times in the past where we’ve made mistakes and we 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.”
But arguably the turning point in the match was the red card to Fagerson, who caught Wales prop Wyn Jones’ high with a cleanout attempt. While controversial, it saw Scotland go down to 14 men with less than 30 minutes to play.
“We knew fine well that we could come back and bounce back from it, and we did. We played right to the very very end and on another day we win that game.
“It’s pointless me sitting here and expressing my views. Nothing is going to change now is it? It’s a red card and that’s what’s happened.”
Scotland coach Gregor Townsend also shared his view on what was a significant moment in the match, saying that going down to 14 men means that “it’s going to be more difficult” to walk away with a result.
“I didn’t think they had much of a discussion. I didn’t think they showed enough of the angles, I think they showed one slow-motion angle to begin with and then ages to find another one.
“The TMO did say, ‘yeah, you sure, because of the players’ late movement there’s no mitigation there.’ But I thought the whole process could have been much better.
“It’s obviously very serious when someone gets a red card and just felt that we didn’t show the angles right and have the proper discussion. There was a discussion between the team of three when they were waiting for angles and they seem to have made their mind up then. But we accept that or we get one with whatever decision the referees made and there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
While they went behind soon after, Scotland managed to take back the lead with 15 minutes to play, with Hogg crossing for his second.
But an incredible solo effort from Rees-Zimmit regained the lead for the visitors, who held on for a 25-24 win.
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“We’re bitterly disappointed. We talked all week about going out there and expressing ourselves and really taking it to Wales and we’ve done for large periods of the game. For us, we’re very much in control of the first-half especially, and then just a few moments didn’t quite go to plan.
“For us 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.”
After beating England last weekend at Twickenham, Scotland are still in the hunt for the Six Nations crown despite the loss. But their next match against France in Paris in two weeks’ time is set be a significant test for Scotland, as they come up one of the favourites of the competition.
“We’re very much focused on playing against France in a couple of weeks. If we get too far ahead of ourselves as I said last week, we’re going to slip up.
“We’ve got two weeks now to make sure that we’re mentally and physically prepared, we’re in the best place possible, and I fully believe we can go to France and win.”
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