Iain Morrison: Stuart Hogg is proving he is mortal after all

The ball squirms away from Stuart Hogg under his own tryline. England would go on to score from the subsequent scrum. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
The ball squirms away from Stuart Hogg under his own tryline. England would go on to score from the subsequent scrum. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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I don’t know how the players felt but it was hard work watching for the poor spectators in Murrayfield, especially those that found themselves in the wet seats on the lower tier.

Storm Ciara had a big say in moulding yesterday’s action but when the conditions are bad you adjust and simplify things – however, neither side showed much gumption when it comes to wet weather rugby and the Scots can’t complain they don’t get much practice.

Such was the strength of the wind it wasn’t an obvious advantage even with it at your back. Four times in the third quarter of this match it carried an English clearance kick into touch on the full with the Scots getting the lineout deep in opposition territory where the man in white kicked the ball.

This was a day of mistakes all round and in a close game, the team that made the fewest would probably finish on top.

At times it looked as if both teams were doing their level best to hand the honours to the opposition but on the day the Scots edged a tight contest to claim the most unforced errors.

Scotland’s discipline was a little better yesterday when compared to the opening weekend in Dublin, although Scott Cummings still managed to concede two penalties in as many minutes in the opening exchanges, but their lineout was hopelessly wayward.

In the tricky conditions, the Scots lost three throws in the opening quarter alone, another one before the break and another just after half-time. Fraser Brown is a wonderfully competitive character but either he needs to improve his arrows or whoever calls the lineout needs to simplify things.

Owen Farrell made two howlers last weekend against la France and he made another three yesterday afternoon, shanking three penalties comically wide of the posts, both into and with the wind at his back. Two of those kicks you would have put your mortgage on… and now you’d be sleeping rough. Oh, and his mate George Ford also messed up a simple drop goal, although it got a lot closer to the posts than Farrell’s efforts and he deserves some kudos for attempting what may have been the first drop of this championship.

The net result was that instead of England winning comfortably, they had to wait until the final few minutes.

We have said it before but it is worth repeating, Scotland’s players make far too many mistakes. According to the official stats, Scotland made 12 knock-ons compared to England’s four, and 15 handling errors to England’s seven. They had 29 possessions inside the England 22 and still could not conjure up a try. After 160 minutes of Championship rugby, that makes a total of, err, none.

Others might make more, but no one makes bigger mistakes than captain Stuart Hogg who had another forgettable afternoon in blue despite one brilliant run out of defence in the second half.

In the first half Ali Price was forced to collect an England high kick while scuttling backwards that Hogg should have made his own and would have done had his confidence been high.

On 34 minutes Scotland were awarded a penalty and Hogg somehow managed to miss touch and the opportunity for an attacking lineout deep inside the England twenty-two.

When Farrell had the same opportunity for England a few minutes later, the English skipper hoofed the ball into the 20th row of the East Stand just to make sure.

Late in the game, with the match finely in the balance, the full-back guddles a George Ford kick and was hugely fortunate not to concede the try under the Scotland sticks. One minute later Ellis Genge scored the winning try from the ensuing scrum.

These matches are usually determined by small margins and without Hogg, or with the Hogg of a few years back, Scotland might be contemplating the trip to Rome with two wins under their belt.

Sooner or later we will be forced to conclude that the Scotland full-back is no longer a brilliant talent having an off day but something a little more mortal.