Hadden happy to grind out win
February 28, 2009
Winger Danielli scored one try, narrowly missed another and produced a try-saving tackle © Getty Images
Frank Hadden admitted he always expected Scotland to make hard work of beating Italy following today's 26-6 Six Nations win at Murrayfield.
A sensational try from Simon Danielli - his first at Test level for five years - and a fine maiden international score for Scott Gray lit up an otherwise laboured display from the home side. However, the result was ultimately all that mattered, with the consequences of a third successive Six Nations defeat to Italy potentially dire both for Scotland and their head coach.
The win also staves off the threat of the wooden spoon following losses to Wales and France in the opening two games. Hadden said, "A roll always starts with one win and it was important to make sure that we got that win today.
"It's always extremely difficult to play against Italy. Everybody finds it difficult to play against them, especially with their power up front and their rushing defence. What you tend to find against a rush defence is you can't get the rhythm that you get - like we got in Paris - against a sliding defence.
"But we made more line breaks at the end of the day and we created more tryscoring opportunities so sometimes it can be a bit messy. But we stuck to our guns, we were very clear about what we needed to do to break down the rush defence.
"The try of Simon Danielli was an example of what we had worked on hard during the week, specifically for this type of defence. Our defence was always in control in my opinion, conceding only one line break, considering the amount of possession we had.
"And we were comfortable with that. We were happy to give them the ball and sniff around on the turnovers. Our second try actually came from that kind of situation although it was more a counter-attack than a turnover."
He added, "A key area was the scrummage - it was a massive performance from us in there. Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford and Euan Murray were excellent, especially against such tough opposition. They created the sort of platform that in some ways we probably could have done better with."
Scotland were second-best up front for long periods and Hadden said: "I thought we were physical enough today, perhaps not quite as dynamic as we had been in the contact last week."
Hadden revealed today's win came at the cost of a "shed load of injuries", with Jacobsen (shoulder), Max Evans (facial injury) Alastair Kellock (ankle) all doubtful for the penultimate game against Ireland in two weeks' time.
Italy head coach Nick Mallett claimed his side were on the wrong end of some 50-50 decisions by Nigel Owens but refused to blame the referee for his side's third straight defeat in this year's tournament.
"I don't like talking about refereeing decisions straight after the game, because it's very difficult to see exactly where there have been mistakes," Mallett said. "I'm certainly not complaining about the referee today and I'm not saying that was the reason we lost the game. That was not the case whatsoever.
"But I think on two or three occasions I saw at half-time for example, there were two or three penalties that were given against us that I felt were a bit harsh. These are 50-50 calls that went against us today but they didn't make the difference between winning and losing. I thought on quite a few occasions we had the rough side of the call."
Mallett once again faced questions about his team selection following his decision to play Andrea Marcato - nominally a fly-half - at full-back and Luke McLean - nominally a full-back - at fly-half.
He said, "If you like to play rugby the way we would like to play, you need a number 10 who has got some physical presence and who can take it to the line and not lose the ball."
Scotland wing Simon Danielli felt his side were good value for their first win of the campaign after putting in a man-of-the-match display.
Danielli told BBC1, "It feels great at Murrayfield, getting the win. I thought we really deserved it. Obviously when you've had a run of injuries and there's really good the strength in depth, you've just got to bide your time. I was fortunate to get the opportunity and really pleased.
"The forwards were really good today, they gave the backs some space. I've had quite an injury-prone season so I'm fairly fresh, I've just played six or seven games. It just feels good to be out there playing, getting opportunities."