Scotland’s game plan costs them

Scotland’s poor execution of a more expansive game plan cost them dearly against Italy in the Six Nations, according to Frank Hadden.

The head coach revealed after the 37-17 defeat at Murrayfield that he had impressed upon his charges the need to start the match in a more open, attacking manner than they have shown for much of his reign.

The former Edinburgh coach was seeking to take the sting out of Italy’s blitz defence and enthuse the 50,000 crowd in the capital.

From the kick-off, Scotland gained possession and, instead of clearing his lines with a long kick to touch, stand-off Phil Godman opted to chip over the onrushing defence.

Mauro Bergamasco charged down Godman’s kick and, as the incident happened deep inside the Scotland 22, the flanker had a simple task to collect the ball and touch down for his 10th international try after just 19 seconds of the match.

Five minutes later, Italy had trebled their lead after Andrea Scanavacca and Kaine Robertson intercepted two passes from Chris Cusiter as the scrum-half attempted to force the pace.

It left Scotland 21-0 down after six minutes and facing a huge task to turn around their third match of the 2007 Six Nations.

Scotland controlled much of the rest of the game and scored tries of their own through Rob Dewey in the first half and Chris Paterson midway through the second period to give the home support some hope.

But a couple of penalties from Scanavacca and a late try for veteran scrum-half Alessandro Troncon secured a famous win for the Azzurri, their first in the Six Nations away from home.

Hadden was left to rue the chaotic start to the game, from which his side were unable to recover.

“The charge-down was a bitter blow and, after the two interceptions, the players were shell-shocked,” said Hadden.

“The players just didn’t execute as clinically as we should have.

“Our first 20 minutes against England were good and the first 20 minutes against Wales were excellent. The first 20 minutes against Italy were a nightmare.

“I talked to the players about the situation immediately after the game and I take full responsibility for the situation.

“I wanted a fast tempo at the start to get the crowd on the edge of their seats and start the game in a way which would make the game difficult for their rushing defence.

“You have to chip, you have to slow down the rushing defence but, sadly, the execution went absolutely pear shaped and that created a surreal atmosphere from there on in.

“But I thought we regrouped well and got ourselves back into the match. When Chris Paterson scored his try, I felt that we were going to go on and win the game.

“When we let that restart bounce into touch, though, it was a decisive point and gave them the chance to kick a penalty and go on and close out the game.”

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

The former stand-off said: “It’s a very difficult thing to get the balance right when you are 21-0 down after six minutes.

“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. I supported the decisions over the penalties.”

 

365 Digital

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