Disappointed Stuart Hogg rues intercept try that got away

SCOTLAND full-back Stuart Hogg agreed that it was a pivotal moment which captured the frustration of the home team's day.
Stuart Hogg tries to find a way past England No 8 Billy Vunipola on Saturday. Picture: SNSStuart Hogg tries to find a way past England No 8 Billy Vunipola on Saturday. Picture: SNS
Stuart Hogg tries to find a way past England No 8 Billy Vunipola on Saturday. Picture: SNS

The Scots have gained a reputation for poaching interception tries in recent years and, on an evening when the England defence was as tight as a drum, it felt like that may be the only way the men in dark blue might conjure a try.

When Finn Russell snaffled an intercept deep in Scottish territory, it looked for a split second that a breakaway score was on. But, perhaps, after stumbling slightly off the mark and sensing that he hadn’t quite jumped the gun enough, the stand-off opted to kick ahead instead of backing himself or Hogg outside him, and the ball sailed harmlessly into touch.

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“I was calling for it,” said Hogg. “He apologised straightaway, as soon as he kicked it. On another day we would have scored that, but it’s these little margins that are the difference between winning and losing a game.

“It’s very unfortunate that we didn’t take our chances.”

Hogg believes that, if Russell had given him the chance, he could well have taken it.

“I hope so, but there was a long way to go,” he said.

Hogg was as disappointed as anyone that all the build-up had come to naught and, yet again, defeat was the outcome in a Six Nations match.

“We are bitterly disappointed by the defeat. We worked incredibly hard through the week on our patterns of play but unfortunately it didn’t come off for us.”

The Glasgow Warriors man refuted suggestions that the loss marked a backward step from the World Cup.

“No, definitely not,” he said. The World Cup is in the past and we will continue to learn and work hard on the training pitch.

“Obviously, getting a win first-up would do wonders for everybody. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, but we will knuckle down and work hard and see what happens next week.”

Hogg was peppered with high balls from England and can expect the same from Wales in Cardiff next week.

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“I’m always going to get that, being a full-back. I thought they might have changed after the first two – I was getting a bit bored with them.

“But it’s my job to deal with them and I did that.”

Asked what needed to be put right for that daunting trip to the Welsh capital, Hogg said: “I think we just need to reset a little quicker off the ball. At times we were getting the ball and we had just one out-runner and that’s when it became slow for us. We’ll review this game and see what we can do.

“We’ll watch the Wales game [in Ireland yesterday] and see what they are up to. Hopefully next week we will get the win.”

Hogg said that it wasn’t a case of emotions getting to the team that led to the errors which cost Scotland on Saturday.

“We’ve had a few people in to talk about this,” he explained. “After the anthems, we leave all emotion behind and just look to play rugby.

“I thought we did that fairly well. I got a wee bit excited at times when we got a penalty, but that’s just me wanting to win.

“The boys are bitterly disappointed but we can’t dwell on it too much.

“We’ve got to keep our heads up and congratulations to England on their win.”

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After the free-scoring exploits of the World Cup, England put the shackles on the Scottish backs and Hogg added: “Credit to England, I thought their defence was pretty good.

“At times, we split our attack, but it didn’t come off for us. We live and learn and move on.” England flanker James Haskell, meanwhile, was relieved to come away with the 15-9 win.

“It is always a relief when you come away from Murrayfield with a victory,” the Wasps back row said.

“I grew up watching teams come to Edinburgh and have Grand Slams and Six Nations titles ruined.

“Scotland are a massively improved team. They were unlucky not to be playing in the semi-final of the World Cup and we knew they were going to be dangerous.

“We believed we could win, but this is a very difficult place to come and you want to start the Six Nations in a good way,” he said. “It’s been difficult times for English rugby. This is the first time we’ve played since the World Cup and it was important to get that victory.

“But we haven’t done too much because it’s such a long journey through the rest of the Six Nations. Some things were said about us after the World Cup which were not true, so we wanted to show what we can do.”