Ford laments Scottish indiscipline
November 17, 2008
Ford looks on as team mate John Barclay tackles South Africa's Victor Matfield © Getty Images
Scotland hooker Ross Ford admits discipline let the Scots down in the second half of Saturday's Test against South Africa at Murrayfield.
The home side led 10-0 at the interval after a performance of bravery and efficiency which was capped by a close-range try for Nathan Hines. Scotland's first try at Murrayfield gave the hosts genuine hope of repeating their 2002 victory over the Springboks and avoid two of rugby's powerhouses in the pool stage of the 2011 World Cup.
However, they got on the wrong side of the penalty count in the second period as referee Dave Pearce started to penalise them regularly at the breakdown. Those penalties gifted the world champions both possession and territory and they converted that dominance when replacement Jaque Fourie slid over in the corner.
Ruan Pienaar also kicked nine points and despite late pressure on the Springbok line, Peter De Villiers' side held on for the second win of their tour. Scotland now face the prospect of being drawn to face the likes of the All Blacks and France in the pool stage of the World Cup in New Zealand in three years' time. But while Ford was unconcerned about that prospect he was visibly frustrated at how Scotland let the game slip from their grasp after half-time.
The 24-year-old said: "We knew we had to keep on top of them in the second half. It was all about being disciplined and streetwise but we weren't because the penalties helped them back into the game. They came out with a bit more spark after half-time but we also let ourselves down because we didn't really dominate them like we did in the first half and we did give them penalties.
"Everyone knows it was a good chance and it's obviously extremely disappointing. The IRB rankings and the World Cup draw doesn't come into it, we're just disappointed about not winning this game."
Ford - who felt the physicality of the Springboks was considerably greater than that the All Blacks the previous week - could however be pleased with his performance as he once again demonstrated that he is a Test-class hooker. Along with tighthead prop Euan Murray he is certain to be on the plane to South Africa for the Lions tour next year.
If he is successful in the provincial games he could find himself coming face to face once more with a man he greatly admires, John Smit. The Edinburgh hooker said: "It was always going to be physical against the South Africans and there was a big difference at the contact area. I think we handled ourselves well for most of the game. I was really pleased with how it went in the scrum and I enjoyed it. These games are ones you can call upon and obviously John Smit is a great hooker and I am pleased I managed to hold my own."
His coach Frank Hadden believes a lack of preparation time has been a significant factor in Scotland facing what is certain to be the toughest World Cup pool they have ever tackled. And Hadden, who clashed with English Premiership clubs prior to the November matches, lamented the battles he has had with clubs over access to his players.
He said: "Obviously, we'd prefer to be in the second pool of seeds, but it's going to be tough at the World Cup whatever happens. If you were looking realistically over the last few years, Ireland and Wales have done a bit better than us. But I believe if we'd had the preparation time that we'd have liked, I don't think we'd be sitting here arguing about it. I think we would have done better, particularly over the last 12-18 months.
"I don't want to go into two much detail because it might come across as trying to make excuses but you can see the difference after three weeks of preparation - well, it's not really three weeks of preparation. We got a few days of preparation. Then a significant number went away to a different environment and then they came back again."