Scotland coach reaches pivotal moment

Scotland coach Frank Hadden has demanded a reaction from his team to their loss at home to Italy, saying that his side will be measured by how they rebound.

Refreshingly for the current rugby climate, there were no excuses offered for the defeat nor blame meted out to anyone but Hadden’s own team, with the coach confessing that it all went wrong from the first minute.

Mauro Bergamasco charged down Phil Godman’s kick after seventeen seconds to score Italy’s first try, but Hadden said that the kick had been the part of a tactical manoeuvre.

“I’ve already talked to the players about the situation and I take full responsibility for the situation,” he said.

“We wanted to have a high tempo start. We felt it was absolutely vital to get the crowd going right from the start.

“We knew we had to chip the opposition rush defence early on and make it slow down, and obviously it was bitterly disappointing that we went down to a chargedown try in the first couple of minutes.

“We always had a mountain to climb and I thought, midway through the second half, we just about got ourselves back in contention.

“Then we allowed the ball to bounce into touch from the kick-off and from thereon in the Italy pack did what they do extremely well, got a grip of the game and closed it down.”

But he could not coneal his frustration at his team’s inability to finish off the fightback despite dominating the game for long periods, and he demanded a reaction from his players in the next game.

“I’d like to think we’ve learned a lot today and it will simply be a measure of this side as to what happens next,” he said.

“We were absolutely shell-shocked in the changing room. It’s a watershed moment and it’s absolutely vital that they respond appropriately.”

Hadden also defended his decision to ignore kickable penalties and instead try to claw back the deficit through tries alone.

“It’s a very difficult thing to get the balance right when you are 21-0 down after six minutes,” he said.

“We had opportunities to kick penalties but I felt it was better to kick for the corner, keep the pressure on and look for tries.

“When you are 21-0 down, reducing their lead by three points at a time is a long way back. And if you take the penalties then you are back in your own half from the restart.

“We wanted to keep them down there and look for tries and it worked for Rob Dewey’s try.”

Wing Sean Lamont talked of the dejection and the bizarre opening in which Italy were gifted three tries in the opening seven minutes through a charged-down kick and two intercepts.

“It’s beyond comprehension. It’s gutting. We gave them too much of a start with three interceptions in the first five minutes. That killed us,” he said to the BBC.

“It was a nightmare start. That is unacceptable really and we couldn’t recover.

“It all came down to that start – the three intercepts. They’re intercepts, they’re so off-the-cuff you can’t really do much about them. It’s rubbish really, unfortunately.

“We knew they were going to be tough but if you take off the 21 points it’s a different game.”

365 Digital

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