Six Nations: Scots frustration a sign of progress

Stuart Hogg: Back to his best. Picture: SNS

Stuart Hogg: Back to his best. Picture: SNS

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THE Scotland rugby squad flew home from Paris nursing a sense of frustration over yet another win that got away and some aching bodies after a bruising battle in the French capital.

Wing Tommy Seymour sustained a hip injury in the 18th minute of the 15-8 defeat and is a doubt for Sunday’s match against Wales at BT Murrayfield.

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A medical bulletin from the Scotland camp also confirmed that Mark Bennett (leg), Geoff Cross (leg), Alex Dunbar (neck/shoulder), Robert Harley (leg) and Alasdair Strokosch (leg) would require monitoring and assessment in the early part of the week. The casualty list was unsurprising given the nature of Saturday evening’s match, in which the Scots put in a monumental defensive effort, particularly in the second half, and prevented the fired-up French from breaching their line.

The Scots scored the only try of the match – through Dougie Fife – and there were plenty of positives to take. However, the bottom line is that the opening weekend of the Six Nations has yet again ended in defeat and the pressure is on to kickstart this year’s campaign with a home win over Wales at BT Murrayfield on Sunday.

Full-back Stuart Hogg was one of Scotland’s star performers in Paris, and looked back to his best. He missed a month of the build-up with a hamstring problem but showed no signs of sluggishness as he caused the French defence all sorts of trouble with his pace, quick-thinking and dancing feet. However, the Hawick-raised Glasgow Warrior captured the camp’s mood of disappointment that, for the 15th time in 16 attempts, the Scots had ultimately failed to start the championship with a win.

The encouraging start to new coach Vern Cotter’s reign has raised expectations and Hogg said: “We’re massively disappointed. Our mistakes let France into the game and our discipline wasn’t great. We gave them cheap field position, allowing their driving mauls to get going and as you saw that was fairly effective for them.

“So, yeah, it was a match we lost, as opposed to France winning it. Our attack was good and we did not concede any tries but while we are fairly pleased with that, the final outcome is frustrating.

“Gone are the days where we can just come here hoping to be pleased with a performance. We’re here to win championships,” added Hogg.

“It’s a quick turnaround ahead of the Wales match and I’m now massively excited about it.

“They are a great team but we watched Friday’s match with England and we know where we can hurt them and, hopefully, beat them.”

Hogg was glowing in his praise of impressive stand-off Finn Russell and backed his Glasgow team-mate to go on and have a successful Six Nations. “Finn is different class – a class act,” said Hogg. “We’ve found you can only expect the unexpected from him.

“He’ll throw a dummy here, a little chip kick there. He’s got that little bit of invention you need to unpick the top teams. It’s great. We’re looking for a little bit of individual brilliance and Finn is the man that can bring that.

“He’s a brilliant player and as long as he keeps working hard – which he does – then he’ll keep moving in the right direction.”

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