Shell-shocked Scotland skipper Stuart so sorry for “schoolboy error”
Shell-shocked Stuart Hogg has apologised for the incredible “schoolboy” gaffe that cost Scotland dear in Dublin.
The star full-back was looking to lead his team to victory on his first outing as Dark Blues captain.
But, with the Scots trailing by seven points 11 minutes into the second half, he blew a certain try with an astonishing blunder when the ball slipped out of his grasp as he attempted to dot down.
With that let-off, Ireland were allowed to hand new coach Andy Farrell a maiden Guinness Six Nations win as they ground out a 19-12 triumph at the Aviva Stadium.
Asked to explain what had happened, Hogg replied: “Just a schoolboy error. I’m gutted with how that happened. I can’t change what’s happened now. I just need to get on with it.
“I apologised to the boys. What will be will be and we have to move on.
“I’m bitterly disappointed to drop the ball over the line. We got ourselves into a good position after the forwards’ good work.
“I’m so disappointed I couldn’t finish it off.”
Expectation levels among the Scottish faithful have rarely been lower after a disastrous 2019, which ended with a first-round World Cup exit.
The fact they crossed the Irish Sea without talisman Finn Russell after his late-night drinking session controversy only lowered expectations.
Yet Gregor Townsend’s team fronted up in a way they failed to do when taking on Ireland in Japan last year and should have punished Farrell’s side more than once.
But despite furrowing to within five yards of the Irish line on six occasions, they failed to cross the whitewash.
Ireland were hardly sparking themselves but did enough to claim victory thanks to Jonny Sexton – himself captaining his country for the first time – after the Leinster ace scored the only try of the game while also contributing 14 points with his boot.
Hogg said: “I’m incredibly proud of the boys. We came across here with a huge task on our hands and we fronted up.
“Our defence stood firm, something we’ve worked on incredibly hard over the last couple of weeks.
“I’m proud of their efforts. We’re bitterly disappointed not to have come away with a result.
“We feel we’re in a good place and it’s now about kicking on and learning from today come next Saturday.
“We talk a lot about our conversion rate in attack and making sure when we get into the 22 we’re coming away with points.
“Unfortunately we came up short there.”
Farrell was delighted to get his reign off to a winning start, saying: “I thought we thoroughly deserved the win, although I thought Scotland were great.
“It was a good Test match. First up, it was very attritional, I thought that Scotland’s forwards were excellent.
“Defensively they were hitting hard and we know what a threat they can be with ball in hand and we had to fight and dig deep plenty of times.
“Our performance, you can sum it up in the last five minutes, really. We asked the lads all week to make sure they star for something and I think you could easily see the true grit.”
There was concern around the stadium when back-rower Caelan Doris went down after a heavy hit and had to be replaced just four minutes into his debut.
But Farrell reported: “He’s up and talking. He’s there with his family now in the changing room, they’ve just presented a cap to him and he’s in fine spirits.
“It was unfortunate for him, it was just an accident, head on head. It’s just unfortunate for him. He’ll lick his wounds and he’ll be back.”