GREGOR TOWNSEND said his Scotland team have only themselves to blame for this [Saturday] afternoon’s defeat to Wales.
“Ill-discipline would be the number one factor [behind Scotland not winning that game],” said the coach. “When you go to 14 men for 25 minutes, it’s going to be more difficult. When you give away penalties that lead to points, that’s obviously not helping your chances of winning either.
“I felt we were in control defensively. There were a dozen phases in the first half where Wales weren’t going forward and then we got caught for offside and they kicked the points.
“We had three penalties in a row from line-out mauls that ended up with a try at the end of the first half, so we’ve got to be better there.
“There were a couple of finishing issues as well, like Scott Cummings and Gary Graham running the same line for the disallowed try at the start of the second half,” Townsend continued. “With the pressure we had on them, that would have taken us well ahead – but credit to Wales, when they had their chances, especially through their line-out maul, they scored points.”
The coach expressed frustration at the way referee Matthew Carley and Television Match Official Karl Dickson handled the red-carding of Zander Fagerson in the 54th minute.
The decision hinged on whether the prop’s shoulder made contact with opposite number Wyn Jones’ head as he tried to clear out a ruck, and the video evidence appeared inconclusive. It certainly didn’t sound like the TMO was as convinced as the referee about it being a red rather than a yellow card offence.
“I didn’t think they had much of a discussion and I didn’t think they showed enough of the angles,” said Townsend. “They showed one slow-motion angle to begin with then took ages to find another one. The TMO did say that, because of the player’s late movement, you should make sure there’s no mitigation there, but I thought the whole process could have been much better.
“It’s obviously very serious when someone gets a red card and it just felt that there wasn’t the right angles or a proper discussion. There was a discussion between the team of three [the referee and his two assistants] when they were waiting for the angles, and they seemed to make their mind up then.
“Did we see it live? It looked like it was played in slow motion on one angle rather than actually going, ‘was there late movement, was there a clear strike of the head?’
“One of the angles I saw, I don’t know if there was [contact with the head].
“But they’re part of the game, red cards, and you have to deal with them. There was one last week and apart from the moment straight after the red card, I thought our players did very well in that period and got back ahead on the scoreboard.
“I really believed that we could still win [after Fagerson’s sending off]. The effort and the skill the players showed in that last ten minutes was outstanding, to create a really good opportunity for Duhan van der Merwe, but it wasn’t enough.”Error, group does not exist! Check your syntax! (ID: 36)
Meanwhile, Wales head coach Wayne Pivac paid tribute to 20-year-old winger Louis Rees-Zammit, who scored two tries and got the assist for a third, in a man-of-the-match performance – but warned that he is not the finished article yet.
“He took his opportunities well and played well with the ball in hand,” said Pivac. “He’s still got a bit to do on his game without the ball but he’s going to be a very, very exciting player.”
The victory puts Wales top of the Six Nations table ahead of tomorrow [Sunday] afternoon’s clash between France and Ireland, which is a big boost to Pivac who was under a bit of pressure pre-tournament after the team finished fifth in last year’s competition.
“It is a great result for this group, especially as we had to go deep into our squad due to injuries,” said the coach. “We’ve built some depth in key positions and it bodes well for the future.”