Scotland 13-26 Wales, Six Nations Championship, February 8
Hadden confident Scots will bounce back
February 9, 2009
Scotland's Hugo Southwell attempts to escape the clutches of Wales' Shane Williams © Getty Images
Scotland coach Frank Hadden launched a fervent defence of his side after their lacklustre defeat to Wales in their opening Six Nations encounter.
The Scots were outmuscled and outclassed in a 26-13 reverse at Murrayfield to disappoint those fans that had seen them impress against New Zealand and go agonisingly close to toppling world champions South Africa in November.
Despite branding the performance his side's limpest since the 2006 tour of South Africa, Hadden refused to accept all their hard work from last autumn had been undone. "I don't think you can say that in one match," he said. "We're obviously bitterly disappointed with what happened.
"We would have liked to have got off to a faster start but we didn't. But there's no question in my mind we have got a group of players of a enough ability to be very confident that we'll make progress.
"Obviously, we've got to make it quickly, which will be a tough ask: a six-day turnaround going to Paris, but I'm every confident we'll get better."
Hadden is expected to make changes for Saturday's trip to France but he insisted injuries will be more of a factor than performances when it comes to picking his team.
His selection for yesterday's game was a huge gamble, with flanker Jason White starting at lock for the first time in more than six years, Allister Hogg starting at blindside for the first time in five, record points-scorer Chris Paterson starting on the bench, and top tryscorer Thom Evans left out of the 22 altogether.
On top of that, the failure to deal with injuries to key forwards Euan Murray and Nathan Hines cast doubt over Hadden's assertion this is the strongest squad of his near four-year tenure. The two players who did shine both came from the bench, with Paterson twice close to scoring a try - denied by the television match official in the second instance - and livewire centre Max Evans touching down late on.
Hadden said: "Obviously we're delighted the guys coming off the bench made the sort of impact we wanted from them. Max did extremely well when he came off the bench. But, to be honest, we didn't have a platform to assess the qualities of our attacking play at all.
"It wasn't the sort of quick-ball, stable platform that we wanted, that we've been creating recently, and it made it very difficult to get the go-forward. Of course we'll be thinking about selection; we've already thought about selection for next week prior to this weekend.
"We were looking at different options and possibilities but the first thing we need to do is just have a good look at the injury situation and we won't make any firm decisions until we know what that is."
Hadden revealed Murray (rib) and Hines (knee) are both unlikely to recover in time for this weekend's game, with the latter set to see a specialist. There are concerns over debutant prop Geoff Cross and wing Simon Webster, who were both knocked unconscious making tackles yesterday and who will undergo cognitive tests to determine when they can return.
Also in the wars were White, captain Mike Blair, fellow scrum-half Chris Cusiter, fly-half Phil Godman, centre Graeme Morrison, lock Jim Hamilton and flanker Scott Gray.
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