Vern Cotter admits late red card turned game in Scots’ favour

Greig Laidlaw was impressive with the boot
Greig Laidlaw was impressive with the boot
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Scotland coach Vern Cotter acknowledged a key late call from referee Mike Fraser had turned the game in his team’s favour after the tourists ground out a 19-17 victory in Toronto.

The Scots had conceded a kickable penalty on their own 22, only for Fraser to be alerted to an earlier piece of foul play which resulted in him awarding a red card to Canada flanker Jeb Sinclair and giving the penalty to Scotland instead.

Cotter, who had not had a chance to have a proper look at replays of the decisive moment when he spoke to the press after the match, was just pleased to see his side get over the line having been under the cosh for much of the game.

“The referee was on the field, so they made a decision based on what he saw,” the New Zealander said.

“It did change the match. They were attacking at that stage. We know little things make a difference and that was a little thing that turned out to be a big thing. It had a major effect on the result.”

His biggest worry, though, was the number of injuries.

Although the major casualties were suffered by players due to go home after this match, it meant Cotter has lost the chance to strengthen the squad in Argentina with some of the experienced internationals who were in action for this match.

The most serious was Alasdair Strokosch, who was taken to hospital with a neck injury and kept in overnight, although the word back was that it was only for observation.

Kelly Brown, the other flanker, and Johnnie Beattie went off with arm and leg injuries respectively that are likely to keep them out for months, while Ruaridh Jackson was concussed in the incident that led to Sinclair’s red card.

“That is my major concern. We have two more games after losing three loose forwards and a No.10. We have a new group joining us but are still losing a number of players,” Cotter said.

“You can see there is an element of fatigue on the field and injuries don’t help. We will have to look at other options.

“We are trying to do things and now we need to have a good look at how to do them better. We can change things, but we need to get them right. We can repeat the good things we did and have to have a good look at ourselves on the rest.”

For captain Greig Laidlaw, who kicked the goals that mattered, it was a case of escaping with a result Scotland did not deserve.

“It was a bit of a get-out-of-jail card,” he said. “We never played our best and were a bit lucky. Our defence was good and we managed to kick enough points between myself and Stuart Hogg to get us over the line. I am happy with that.

“There were a lot of handling mistakes. The boys need to sort that out. We had the right intent. We tried to play the game in the right manner, but our execution let us down on a number of occasions. That is why we put ourselves under pressure.

“Holding them out was important, especially in tight games. It is nice to get tries, but we won the game by a couple of points in the end.

“The defence was good in parts. We slipped off a few times, but the scramble defence was pretty good and saved us. Hats off to Canada - they played well.”