Press Conference: Gregor Townsend and Stuart Hogg

Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend believes Scotland created more than enough opportunities to defeat Wales despite being reduced to 14 men in a thrilling contest at BT Murrayfield.

Gregor Townsend believes Scotland created more than enough opportunities to defeat Wales despite being reduced to 14 men in a thrilling contest at BT Murrayfield.

The hosts went into the break 17-8 ahead thanks to tries from Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg but the match was turned on its head by the second-half red card for Zander Fagerson.

Despite Hogg scoring his second try of the game to put Scotland back ahead with 15 minutes left, Scotland were unable to hold on as the visitors fought back again to triumph 25-24.

And Townsend was left to rue the chances that his side were unable to convert, including Gary Graham’s disallowed score, after their first defeat of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations.

“It’s more difficult when you give away penalties that lead to points and obviously that’s not helping your chances of winning – those two things we did during the game,” Townsend said.

“We had a lot of opportunities, some that we took, some that led to penalties, some that we felt could have led to more penalties with the pressure that we had Wales under in the second half.

“Then there were just a couple of finishing issues, with Scott Cummings and Gary Graham running the same line and that should have been a try with the pressure we had on them.

“That would have taken us well ahead but it didn’t and credit to Wales, when they had their chances especially through the lineout maul they scored points.

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“But I really believed that we could still win because of the effort and the opportunities we had, we created a great opportunity for Duhan van der Merwe and it was a certain penalty for us at the breakdown when Wales recovered the ball but in the end it wasn’t enough.”

Scotland had opened their Championship campaign with a famous victory over England – their first at Twickenham for 38 years – in a display that was defined by their impressive discipline.

But Townsend was frustrated with the errors that began to creep into Scotland’s play as the contest wore on, as well as highlighting the loss of Blade Thomson as a key moment.

“I felt we were in control defensively, there was a dozen phases in the first half that Wales won going forward and we got caught for offside and it was only three points and it was only three points they scored for 30 minutes but that was disappointing,” Townsend added.

“I think three penalties in the row from lineout maul to another lineout maul that ended up with a try at the end of the first half, we have to be much better there.

“I think the loss of Blade Thomson so early in the game certainly affected our lineout, Blade was playing really well, he carried strongly, and it was unfortunate he just got caught with a stray knee.

“But Wales did well in the lineout from there and we shuffled things up when Richie Gray came on and we put them under a lot of pressure, but we could have done better in terms of our discipline.”

Louis Rees-Zammit scored a brace while Wyn Jones and Liam Williams also dotted down for Wales as Wayne Pivac’s side made it two wins from two in the 2021 Championship.

And while Hogg’s own double ultimately proved not to be enough, he praised the character of his teammates following the red card – insisting they could have won on another day.

“We talked all week about going out there and expressing ourselves and really taking it to Wales and we’ve done that for large periods of the game,” said the Scotland skipper.

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“I think for us we were very much in control of the first half especially and then just a few moments didn’t quite go our way, giving away penalties for us is one thing, conceding three or four on the bounce is unacceptable.

“In international rugby it is going to cost you and it’s done that to us twice. Going into the last 25 minutes after Wales had just scored, we challenged each other.

“The character in the squad we knew very well that we could come back and bounce back from it [the red card] and we did, we fought right to the very end and on another day we win.”