After emerging from his first start with a fair amount of credibility despite the losing scoreline, Duncan Weir summed up today’s defeat to Wales quite nicely: “both teams would be disappointed that they didn’t get any phases of rugby. It was very stop-start.”
Coach Scott Johnson felt there was “nothing much between the sides” but was clearly frustrated by a lack of chances for his team to show what they can do.
“You score most of your tries off set piece and we didn’t get any. We can cross the line but we had nothing to play off. We’re putting ourselves under pressure all the time.”
The breakdown always going to be key and Scotland missed having an out and out openside while by the end of the match Wales had two on the park in Tipuric and Warburton who turned in a Man of the Match performance and defied his critics and recent form. While Johnson praised them as “two word class scavengers”, he was frustrated at the way the tackle situation went when the shoe was on the other foot, saying “we thought we had opportunities to turn it but didn’t get it.” The suggestion was that it was Joubert, not Wales who denied them.
He refused to blame Joubert for all Scotland’s woes, although highlighted the bizarre nature of the game: “Craig statistically gives away the least amount of penalties at the scrum, so today was an odd one for him.”
With Joubert refereeing the last World Cup final, and the penalty count so high, are we really to believe that both Scotland and Wales are just not up to Joubert’s level, technically? And if they are not at that elite level couldn’t we have someone more empathetic to our level of play to move the game on a bit? Neither side got a chance to get going – even Wales would have been frustrated. With Johnson’s emphasis on set piece it was doubly frustrating for the genial Aussie.
“We think we have a world class front row but we’re getting nothing from it, for three weeks now,” continued Johnson.
“We’ve got a good scrum; we’re not trying to avoid [that area].”
Kelly Brown agreed, saying “we’re not going to sit here and blame the ref. We need to go away and look at ourselves and what we need to improve.”
Debut cap Ryan Wilson too refused to be drawn on the failings or otherwise of Joubert: “I wouldn’t like to be a ref. It’s a bloody hard job especially on a day like today.”
Welsh defence coach Shaun Edwards praised the high percentage of tackles that Wales turned into turnovers and Wales’s goal line stand; those were the key to the win.
Halfpenny’s kicking was vital too despite a shaky start. On the noisy crowd, he described it as “probably the toughest atmosphere I’ve had to kick in”.
On the matter of the breakdown, Brown had this: “we were maybe going a little bit high and if you do that against players of their quality its going to be tough. We need to learn our lessons as we have an absolutely massive game next weekend.”
Pushed by a Welsh press pack keen to talk up tournament deciders, Scott Johnson agreed of next week’s Cardiff match between Wales and England: “it’s a good finale to the tournament.”
“I just wish we were a part of it.”