Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Scotland will learn from losing key players says head coach Vern Cotter

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter feels they will take valuable experience from being made to adapt to losing key players throughout their narrow defeat by France in Paris.

Scotland had three captains during the course of the 22-16 RBS 6 Nations defeat with Jonny Gray ultimately taking the armband after Greig Laidlaw and John Barclay went off injured.

Barclay's replacement, John Hardie, also went off hurt in a bruising encounter along with the likes of Allan Dell, Fraser Brown and Alex Dunbar, the latter temporarily.

Scrum-half Laidlaw's departure with an ankle problem 25 minutes into an even first half was a particular blow given his leadership skills, his ability to manage the game and his influence on stand-off Finn Russell.

Russell was instrumental in setting up both Scotland tries - finished by Stuart Hogg and Tim Swinson - but his failure to convert the second from beneath the posts, which would have put Scotland 18-13 up, seemed to unnerve him despite having Glasgow team-mate Ali Price beside him.

Scotland did not score again in the final 35 minutes and, although they withstood some intense pressure after the hour mark, Camille Lopez added two more penalties in the final nine minutes to leave the visitors with only a bonus point to show for their efforts.

Cotter said: "It's an experience that will help us on a positive side to be able to deal with those types of things again.

"And it's a good experience for Finn. He will be the first to have a look at his game and how it was run from there on.

"But we don't want to make excuses. They put us under pressure, they put Finn under pressure. It wasn't perfect, sometimes it isn't.

"But there will be key things to come from it. I thought Ali stepped in well. John Barclay was captain and he went off and Jonny became captain.

"All the guys dipped in well. It wasn't perfect but there was a good team opposite us."

Russell seemed to hurry his kick after being urged to take it quickly, possibly to ward off the prospect of a review as the French claimed an infringement in the lead-up to the try. He booted the ball underneath the bar from close range as it fell off the tee.

Gray said: "I'm not sure what happened, but whatever happens you can't blame (defeat) on one incident. There were many things that led to it, especially the unforced errors."

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph