Wednesday 26 July 2017

Lamont unleashes rage on team-mates after feeble Scotland display

Scotland 6
Wales 24

Alasdair Reid at Murrayfield

The Welsh fans who headed towards Edinburgh's bars on Saturday evening were probably thinking of sipping something other than local culture, but some words of warning from Robert Burns would not have gone amiss.

"Prudent, cautious, self-control is wisdom's root," wrote Burns in 'A Bard's Epitaph', a nugget of advice with applications far beyond the hostelries of the Scottish capital.

The Welsh had every right to celebrate, of course, but any level-headed analysis of their team's victory would have to include the consideration that their opponents were truly dreadful.

In a week in which Andy Robinson had signed a contract that will keep him at Murrayfield until 2015, Scotland dished up a performance that was comfortably the worst of their head coach's reign.

It was illuminated only by the arrival of Sean Lamont, who replaced Hugo Southwell in the 20th minute after the full-back's clumsy collision with Lee Byrne. Lamont had an equally invigorating effect after the post-match press conference, turning the air blue (and his media minder puce). "Angry?" snapped Lamont. "Am I angry?

"I am angry. I am very angry. I think everybody is. I know the coaches are. They're f****** raging and I am f****** raging because I know we can play better. Without a doubt. I've had a lot of pent-up rage over the last few weeks and it's still there.

"There are a few boys now who need to be worried. We've got depth in positions and they need to be wary. They have to go away and do some soul-searching. If they aren't coming up to the mark then someone else will step in."

If Wales have turned a corner by ending their streak of eight games without a win, Scotland made the manoeuvre absurdly simple. Wales took their chances efficiently, but the Scots' profligacy on the ball and their utter ham-fistedness in possession, meant that the Welsh defence was rarely stretched.

The Scottish scrum was horribly creaky, a facet of the game that called into question Robinson's decision to keep faith with Euan Murray in the front-row.

Scotland's feeble contribution was put into perspective by the suggestion of Wales coach Warren Gatland that his team had performed better in losing to England in the championship's first round than they had in victory over the Scots.

"I thought we played better last week and we were unlucky," Gatland said. "England came away as fantastic and we were rubbish, but if you looked at the statistics they showed it was a very tight game. I thought we were clinical today, defended really well and thoroughly deserved to win."

Defensively, the Welsh loose forwards were immense, making by far the most significant contribution to the team's tally of 137 tackles. Yet the Scots seemed well capable of turning over possession even without such close attention, as many of their errors were unforced.

Shane Williams raised his tally of Test tries for Wales to 53 with his brace of touchdowns, but James Hook's contribution at out-half may have more significance for the future of the team. After a two-year absence from the Wales No 10 jersey, Hook put in a sublime performance, untainted by the impetuosity that has disfigured his appearances as a playmaker in the past.

Hook set up the first Williams try, after seven minutes, with a lovely break, while a Jon Davies kick created the second 10 minutes from the end. Hook also weighed in with a conversion and four penalties, with Scotland's points coming from two penalties by Dan Parks. (© Daily Telegraph, London).

Scotland -- H Southwell (S Lamont 20); N Walker, J Ansbro, N De Luca, M Evans; D Parks, R Lawson (M Blair 46); A Jacobsen, R Ford (S Lawson 67), E Murray (M Low 46), N Hines, A Kellock (capt, S MacLeod 71), K Brown, J Barclay (R Rennie 67), R Vernon.

Wales -- L Byrne (R Priestland 76); M Stoddart, J Roberts, J Davies, S Williams; J Hook (S Jones 66), M Phillips (T Knoyle 75); P James (J Yapp 66), M Rees (capt, R Hibbard 75), C Mitchell, B Davies, AW Jones (J Turnbull 71), D Lydiate (J Thomas 53), S Warburton, R Jones.

Ref -- G Clancy (England).

Irish Independent

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