Scotland Under-20 coach Carl Hogg expressed frustration that his side played into the opposition’s hands in Argentina yesterday as defeat to Georgia left them winless from the pool stage after earlier losses to South Africa and New Zealand.
It means the Scots are now in the bottom-four bracket of the World Rugby Under-20 Championship and need to win one of their last placing games to avoid the ignominy of demotion from the tournament.
“Very disappointed, we didn’t perform anywhere near where we were in the first two games,” was coach Hogg’s immediate verdict.
A botched lineout throw close to their own line in the last ten minutes saw Georgia’s sub hooker Luka Nioradze dash over for what turned out to be the defining moment after a try by Scotland wing Jack Blain, which would probably have settled things in the other direction, was correctly ruled out for a forward pass.
“We needed to play the game on our agenda and play with multi-phase with ball in hand against a big set-piece orientated side and we just weren’t able to execute, we lacked accuracy,“ added Hogg, pictured.
“We couldn’t retain the ball beyond two or three phases and we let Georgia into the contest.
“We got off to a good start, a good first 20 minutes, but our ability to go beyond two or three phases was very poor.”
The wind seemed set fair when Sale hooker Ewan Ashman crashed over to give the Scots an early lead after prop Euan McLaren had been denied moments earlier when the TMO intervened to clarify he was short of the line.
Replacement stand-off Tedo Abzhandadze kicked the East Europeans’ first points a few minutes after the restart but the Scots hit back when Cameron Henderson made a lineout steal and, after some powerful surges at the Georgian line, Ashman finished off.
“We got that driving lineout try, but our inaccuracies let Georgia back into the game,” said Hogg,
“We spilled too many balls, we lost the ball too many times in contact and so we could never get to the multi-phase rugby we wanted to play.
Our lack of ability to look after the ball meant that it was just about an arm wrestle after that. We couldn’t get it into a game of rugby, the arm wrestle suited them.”
After the positives in the defeats to South Africa and New Zealand, there were hopes that the Scots could push on in the tournament, albeit against opposition they lost to in France a year ago.
“This was a pivotal fixture for us. We showed elements of good rugby in the first two games, but we didn’t get anywhere near that today,” said Hogg.
“We have to go away and really work out why in our most pivotal game we had our poorest performance.
“We don’t have time to dwell on it, our next game is on Monday and we have to go again. There is no time to wallow, we have to raise our spirits and do the simple things well again.”
Scotland skipper Connor Boyle was distraught at the end of the game.
He said: “We took our foot off the gas.
“We came out all firing. We talk about playing smart and playing in their half and I thought first ten minutes we did that.
“We let that big Georgian pack get into the game and from there they just capitalised.
“We can’t tire these big Georgian forwards out if we give the ball away after one or two phases and they were able to get turnovers and get the ball into the area of the pitches they wanted,” added the Watsonians flanker.