Scotland v Ireland: “This one really, really hurts,” says Hogg who wants to right some wrongs v Italy

By Gary Heatly

A six day turnaround in Test rugby is very difficult at the best of times, but when you have lost a close game for the second time in succession and have a few injuries it is even tougher.

That is the challenge facing Head Coach Gregor Townsend, Captain Stuart Hogg and the Scotland squad as they now get ready to host Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday in the Six Nations.

On Sunday at the same ground they hauled things back to 24-24, but a late penalty from Irish skipper Johnny Sexton saw them to victory 27-24.

It was a similar story to Wales’ 25-24 triumph in Edinburgh in mid-February and Scotland’s win over England on February 6 at Twickenham seems a long time ago now.

After the Italy game Scotland still have their final game of the tournament to play in Paris against France, likely to be on March 26, but for now the focus must be on a polished performance – and win – against Italy.

“I think the thing for us is that we know fine well what we’re about,” Hogg said after the Ireland match.

“We know we can stand firm in defence and challenge teams. We know that we can have that clinical edge in attack and finish off tries and score points and get into the right areas of the field.

“It’s just making sure we combine all of that from the very ‘get go’.

“I’d love [against Italy] to be in a position that we’re not chasing the game.

“We want to be in a position where we’re comfortable and we’re in control of everything from the very beginning.

“Against Ireland I thought we just lacked that clinical edge at times.

“And the big thing we talked about in the changing rooms after the game was about chasing the game. We believe we’re a lot better than that and unfortunately we’ve had to chase 24 points, which isn’t ideal.

“The boys are really, really disappointed with the final outcome. The frustrating thing for us is that we know we’re a lot better than that, a lot better than what we showed at times.

“And it hurts. This one really, really hurts. Like every other defeat.

“It’s just frustrating. It’s really, really frustrating.

“But look, what’s happened has happened. We can’t change it. We’re going to have to stick together and pick ourselves back up, because it’s a six day turnaround and another chance to represent Scotland.”

Thanks to David Gibson/FOTOSPORT for the main image

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