SCOTLAND’S downfall in Cardiff was a setback of their own making, said head coach Gregor Townsend after watching his team control long periods of possession and territory at the Principality Stadium yesterday but make little headway against a powerful and accurate Welsh outfit.
“We did not start with the energy and accuracy that is required in a game like this against a very good opponent,” he lamented. “That was a game in which we had enough pressure, territory and opportunities to win.
“The two tries they scored we will look at those as defensive errors – that is 14 points. We got over the try-line on two other occasions – that is 14 more points. So we will have to improve those areas,” he added, after watching his team go down by just 11 points in this inaugural Doddie Weir Cup contest.
Townsend insisted that the second-half try scored by replacement Peter Horne, which was chalked off by the Television Match Official (TMO) because he appeared to knock-on as he gathered little brother George’s clever chip ahead, should have stood.
“I thought he did [touch it down]. It is a hard one at the time but with his reaction and the ball being underneath his body, I did think it was going to be awarded, but obviously it wasn’t,” he shrugged.
The coach then acknowledged that the fourth official got it right when ruling that Jonny Gray had been guilty of a double-movement as he went for the line a few minutes earlier. His frustration in this instance was with the player being naive in trying to force the issue when he could have recycled, which would have allowed Scotland to keep the pressure on Wales as the game moved into the final quarter.
“That obviously cost us,” Townsend said. “We were a couple of inches short of the try-line and not only did we not get the try we got a penalty against us. It is a decision-making and learning experience. They used to call it white line fever, didn’t they? That initial movement has to be one movement and the ref and TMO got that one right, but it was very tough for us to take when we were an inch away and come away with a penalty against us.”
This was a day Scotland centre Huw Jones will want to forget. So often a star for Scotland during his brief international career, the 24-year-old fell off two tackles which directly led to tries for Wales.
“He put his hands up to the players in the changing room straight away,” Townsend said. “These were errors that were big mistakes in the game. I thought he attacked well but if you are defending at this level you have to put your tackles in, especially when you have guys who are world class attackers.
“Huw will put the work in after this and if he gets the opportunity again he will put these tackles in.
“That was our first time together since Argentina in June so the accuracy at the beginning was not where we wanted it to be – our depth, especially with forward runners off Adam Hastings, and a couple of our running lines – but we got better at it.
“We have another week in training, it will be a different focus next week as Fiji offer different challenges – huge threats off turnover ball, the best individual players one-on-one in the world – but there will be a chance for us to play a game we believe can put them under pressure.”
Meanwhile, Scotland captain Stuart McInally said the overriding emotion after the game was frustration; but insisted that the team will draw confidence from the way they performed – without a raft of leading players – against the third ranked team in the world.
“We can take a lot of confidence from this, we kept it tight and pulled the score back before half time,” he said. “On the whole, I thought we defended really well.
“We had a lot of ball in attack, but the tries we conceded, they didn’t really have to earn. If they had scored them with quality executions and after sustained pressure then OK, but that wasn’t the case, so we will learn the lessons from that. It was about a lack of accuracy but there was also a lot of good stuff out there.”
Source : HeraldScotland