Cotter frustrated after defeat

Published: Sunday 15th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Scotland head coach Vern Cotter cut a frustrated figure after seeing his team suffer a second successive defeat of this season’s RBS 6 Nations Championship.

Eight days after going down narrowly to France in Paris, Scotland suffered another painful loss, being edged out 26-23 by Wales.

It was Wales’ eighth win in a row against Scotland, and as they revived their title hopes, the Scots are now left heading for a potential mid-table finish.

“There are a lot of things we don’t have control of,” Cotter said.

“I don’t want to lose a lot of energy talking about it because it isn’t going to change the result.

“What we can do is take some positive things out of the game, and things we have improved on from from Paris, and for me that is encouraging. This game illustrates areas we need to work on.

“Somebody will look at the referee display or decisions made on the paddock. We have things to sort out, and perhaps they will have as well.

“There were three penalties inside their 22 in the last 15 minutes. I thought some of those errors might have been cynical as well and maybe deserved a yellow card, but obviously not.

“That is the way it is. We deal with reality.

“The reality is that we got close and showed some good signs and played some good rugby, but we have to improve on our high-ball reception.”

Scrum-half Rhys Webb and centre Jonathan Davies scored tries for Wales, while full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked 16 points. Scotland replied with touchdowns from full-back Stuart Hogg and substitute lock Jim Hamilton, while skipper Greig Laidlaw booted 11 points and fly-half Finn Russell added a conversion.

Laidlaw said: “I felt it was a tight Test match. The result shows that.

“We scored a great try in the first-half, but fell away a wee bit after that. We finished very strongly in the end there, and as Vern touched on, there was six penalties in the 22. I was disappointed not to get anything out of that.

“It’s very frustrating. We talked about small margins after the result out in Paris.

“As Vern said, we’ve got to keep working and improve our game. This group of players is becoming a strong team. I really believe we’re not far away, and we need to keep believing.

“We’ve got a massive game against Italy at home (in two weeks), and all that matters now is that we turn up in that game and get a positive result.”

Wales captain Sam Warburton sang Scotland’s praises after his team bounced back from losing 21-16 at home to England last week.

“My first game against Scotland was in 2010. I have played against them five times, and that was the toughest match they have been involved in,” Warburton said.

“They were powerful at the breakdown and their driving lineout was effective, although we managed to deal with that as the game went on.

“They were impressive, and it’s going to take a big performance for anyone to come up to Murrayfield and win, because it’s extremely tough.

“It was really important to grind the win out. Every game becomes a must-win game, and there is a lot of pressure on every game now.

“It would take a mathematical miracle to win the Six Nations with three wins. We came up here knowing if we lost, that was the championship race over for us, so we were under a lot of pressure to deliver the win.

“That’s why I am so delighted. Murrayfield is a tough place to come, and we got the win.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland was pleased that his side showed an improvement from the England game. On that occasion, Wales failed to score a second-half point.

Gatland said: “We went out and played more rugby than last week, and the possession and territory were pretty favourable.

“The disappointing thing was we had chances to put the game to bed and we allowed them back into the game. We were relieved more than anything with the win and to get the campaign back on track.

“Probably both sides felt some decisions went their way, and others didn’t.

“At this level it’s difficult, and you have to back the judgement of the referee and the TMO (television match official) to make those decisions.

“I understand Scotland would have been aggrieved at a couple of calls, and it was the same with us. It was a tough competitive game, and both sides competed at the breakdown.”

Reflecting on his second try in successive Six Nations games this season for Wales, Webb said: “I guess I am picking my time to run with some of the tries, but the last couple have been down to support lines.

“I think it’s just about hard work, really. When I pass the ball, I know it’s not time to rest. I have got to keep going, keep alive and just hope that someone makes a line-break.

“With the backs we have in this team, they are capable of making line-breaks whenever, so I am always on my bike ready for support and luckily enough I was there today.

“We knew we had to play well this week. You are not guaranteed the jersey, you have to play well to keep it. We were lucky enough to have another chance to redeem ourselves.

“We were obviously bitterly disappointed with that loss to England, but we had to put that to the back of our minds, regroup and get together.”

Published: Sunday 15th February 2015 by The News Editor

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