The Scottish Mail on Sunday


- By John Greechan

ANOTHER week, another apology. Whether Stuart Hogg’s latest instance of white-line fever was quite as bad as his Dublin disaster hardly seemed to matter.

The Scotland captain, having fumbled and fudged the ball under his own posts to concede a five-metre scrum that set up England’s try, was understand­ably inconsolab­le. But in no mood to duck responsibi­lity.

‘Devastated,’ said the full-back. ‘Again, it was a huge chance for us to exit and get down the right end.

‘Unfortunat­ely the ball just didn’t sit up and it was tough to take. I put the boys under a bit of pressure and, unfortunat­ely, we didn’t manage to get out of it.

‘I’ll take that on my shoulders, take it on the chin and be in a position to say I made a mistake.

‘I’m not going to shy away from it. Unfortunat­ely I made a mistake — and these things cost us. We’re hurting now. On Monday when we’re back in together, we’ll look forward to our next job.

‘We will have to realise and accept where we’ve gone wrong, learn from these costly errors and put them right for Italy in a couple of weeks’ time.’

As Storm Ciara blew into Edinburgh just in time for kick-off, players on both sides suffered from

the conditions. Even for someone like Hogg, born and raised playing in all weather, the wind and rain were among the worst he’d ever seen.

‘They were definitely up there,’ he said, adding: ‘I had to jump in a shower straight after game because I was freezing. And I’m still not warmed up. But it’s the same for everybody.

‘It was really tough. The wind and the rain, it wasn’t ideal. But we had to adapt. Sometimes we did. Sometimes we struggled. But credit to England, they executed their kicking game very well.

‘We got some good opportunit­ies in that second half, especially early doors, got ourselves into some good areas. Unfortunat­ely we just came up short. A couple of decisions didn’t go our way. But we had to get on with it and try again.

‘The boys are really bitterly disappoint­ed with the outcome but there are things to improve on.’

French referee Pascal Gauzere’s interpreta­tions left some in the Scotland camp angered, with one particular incident — Kyle Sinckler stripping the ball while lying on the ground after a tackle — bringing howls of protests from the coaching box.

Hogg added: ‘We can only control what we do. We can’t control the ref. He sees it some ways, sometimes he sees it in a different way. It’s up to us to get on with it.

‘No matter what we say, we can’t change the outcome. You need to suck it up.’

Second-row forward Scott

Cummings, an on-hand eye witness to some of the wind-assisted line-out mayhem that made the game such an ugly affair, said no one in the Scotland side should have lacked fire on such a cold day.

‘You’re playing England,’ said Cummings. ‘If you can’t get yourself up in the cold, you shouldn’t be there.

‘That performanc­e wasn’t for lack of effort. It was just key things like the line-out not functionin­g. And you need that when you are playing England. We need to look at that and find a way round it.

‘It obviously got a lot worse as the game went on. At the start, we threw middle-to-tail once and we were pretty close to getting it — but the conditions got worse and worse.

‘England definitely controlled that area better. They heavily marked the front of the line-out and we should have had better options or executed the options we had perfectly to get those balls.

‘It’s tough when you can’t really throw further than a few metres. It’s not hard to work out. They lost a couple of line-outs as well but, at the end of the day, they were able to execute that bit better than us.’

England captain Owen Farrell declared himself unaffected by either the wind and rain — or the booing of home fans as he took for ever to line up penalties in the testing conditions.

‘I’m just trying to get on with my job,’ he said of the crowd response. ‘It shouldn’t affect me. I stick to my process, which hopefully I do more than most. They shouldn’t expect me to be affected.

‘It was a good performanc­e in difficult conditions. It was tough, everybody could see that. It was unpredicta­ble. So, for us to stay at it for 80 minutes was good.

‘We’ll look to get better, look to improve, as we did this week. There will still be a lot more that we can do better.

‘It was pretty clear for everyone to see — it was wet, windy and gusty. That’s why you saw a lot of balls go out on the full. But I felt our attitude was right up there for the full 80 minutes.’

I won’t shy away from it, I made a mistake and these things cost us

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