Hadden frustrated by missed chance
November 15, 2008
Scotland boss Frank Hadden was "gutted" at his side's defeat © Getty Images
Frank Hadden was a picture of frustration after seeing Scotland blow a golden opportunity to beat world champions South Africa as they lost their place at rugby's top table.
Head coach Hadden watched his side roar into a 10-0 half-time lead at Murrayfield today, but the Springboks scored 14 unanswered points after the break before holding on to secure victory.
The defeat meant Scotland lost their status as second seeds going into the draw for the World Cup, all but guaranteeing a nightmare pool at the 2011 tournament in New Zealand.
"It's difficult to explain how gutted we are at that, simply because of the amount of work that's gone in," said Hadden, whose side were also beaten 32-6 by a second-string New Zealand team last Saturday.
"I'm not just talking about last week, I'm talking behind the scenes, I'm talking over the years, the battle we've had since professionalism began to cling on to our place at the top table with our resources.
"It's a massive battle that we've faced over a last few years and I felt that, slowly but surely, we had been winning that battle."
Hadden, who once again pointed out the lack of preparation time he was afforded going into a series of Tests, accepted his side had wasted a great chance to save their own skins.
He said, "We knew that we were going to be more competitive because we have another week under our belts in terms of players getting familiar with each other again.
"But, ultimately, the game was there for the taking."
It looked as if Scotland would do just that when Nathan Hines scored their first home try for 14 months less than two minutes before half-time.
But the hosts were punished again and again in the third quarter of the game, eventually conceding a try to substitute Jaque Fourie. Ruan Pienaar also kicked three penalties for the tourists, while Phil Godman got Scotland's other points with the boot.
Hadden was particularly disappointed to be penalised so frequently after the break, questioning referee Dave Pearson's interpretation of recent law changes - though he refused to blame the official for the defeat.
He said, "At the moment we're just working out where Dave's going with his game."
Hadden was equally upset at the number of injuries his side suffered today. He revealed Chris Paterson - whose goalkicking was badly missed as Scotland wasted three straightforward penalties - has a suspected fractured cheekbone.
Also hurt were Thom Evans (dead leg), Rory Lamont (dead leg, neck and shoulder), Euan Murray (cheek), Scott Gray (medial ligaments), Allister Hogg and Godman (stitches), Jason White (neck), John Barclay (shoulder), Hugo Southwell (shin) and Dan Parks (back).
Hadden praised those who played through the pain, saying, "You certainly couldn't fault their desire, their commitment, or their effort."
Despite Scotland's three penalty misses and watching his side cling on at the end, South Africa head coach Peter de Villiers insisted his men were worthy winners.
He said, "Definitely, the scoreboard says it. We showed strong character to come back. It wasn't pretty but it was just routine."
It was a second unconvincing win for the stuttering world champions on their European tour following last week's victory in Wales. De Villiers believes his side are not far from being at their best.
"We are a pretty good all-round team," he said. "We weren't allowed to play with the ball in hand and if we can get that right, I think you'll see a well-balanced side: attack, pretty good and defence, outstanding."
De Villiers removed star winger Bryan Habana early in the second half, with replacement Fourie making an immediate tryscoring impact. De Villiers said of the out-of-sorts Habana, "He took a bump early in the second half. All great players do have some times when their form goes.
"We can't leave our individual stars to survive on their own."
South Africa lost hooker Bismarck du Plessis to a hamstring strain early in the game and he will be assessed over the next 48 hours.