Lamont defends his teammates

Sean Lamont has dismissed suggestions that transfer talk surrounding players in the Scotland squad affected their performance in the defeat against Italy in the Six Nations Championship at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Several key members of the squad are poised to leave the club scene in Scotland, a move which will not go down well with coach Frank Hadden, who prefers his players to play for the country’s three professional sides.

Simon Taylor, the golden boy of Scottish rugby, was linked with a move to Heineken Cup giants Stade Francais on the morning of the game while Rob Dewey is on his way to Ulster and Scott Lawson poised to join Sale.

After the victory over Wales, the 37-17 reverse against Italy at Murrayfield was a huge disappointment for the Scotland camp.

Within six minutes they were 21-0 behind after backline errors saw Mauro Bergamasco, Andrea Scanavacca and Kaine Robertson all cross.

Dewey and Chris Paterson replied for Hadden’s side but Alessandro Troncon’s late try sealed the Azzurri’s first Six Nations success away from Rome.

Lamont, though, shrugged off the implication that uncertainty over club futures may have played a part in the defeat.

“I’m sure everyone will be wondering if it’s because of all the noise of people moving here and there but this happens at this time every year – contracts are up,” said Lamont.

“Okay, you might give your team-mates a bit of ribbing about moving here or there but it’s nothing serious and certainly nothing to affect your performances or mentality for the game. That’s about it.”

Lamont puts the loss solely at the door of the inaccuracies in the backs which gifted Italy such a handsome early lead.

He does not, however, believe the players were not comfortable with the more expansive game plan which Hadden put into place for the clash with Italy.

The former Edinburgh coach revealed after the match that he wanted his charges to start with a high tempo and move the ball around in a bid to confuse Italy’s blitz defence.

A charge down from an attempted chip in their own 22 and two interceptions later, though, and Scotland faced a huge task to reel in Pierre Berbizier’s side.

“It was just the start. That’s what killed us. Three tries like that makes it a different game. Interceptions are just so irritating. It was good timing by them and they capitalised on them,” said the Northampton winger.

“If they hadn’t got them then we were in, especially for the second one. It was last-man stuff and if the ball had been half a yard higher we were down the line.

“We had an uphill battle after that but we battled well. When you’re behind like that every little error seems all the worse, whether it’s an offload that goes wrong or a knock-on.

“We had loads of possession but just didn’t turn it into points. The crowd were great and I’m sure all the boys will say the same. It’s a massive disappointment for them and we’re disappointed we lost in front of them.

“It wasn’t a great performance. Knock-ons and ball retention were killing us but the crowd were with us all the way and all credit to them.

“Italy had a rush defence and we had to try to cope with that. The players are comfortable with it (expansive game) because we have been doing it for two years now.

“It’s just the minor inaccuracies with the ball which cost us, as did the charge down which like the interceptions would have set us free.

“The spaces were there, it’s just we couldn’t capitalise. We’ve got to dust ourselves down and confidence can’t be an issue because we’ve got Ireland here next weekend.”

 

365 Digital

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