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Six Nations 2022: Stuart Hogg ‘incredibly proud’ of inspirational Ali Price but knows vast improvement needed for Dublin

Scotland's Stuart Hogg and Ali Price celebrate with the Cuttitta Cup
after the win over Italy.
Scotland's Stuart Hogg and Ali Price celebrate with the Cuttitta Cup after the win over Italy.

Stuart Hogg was `incredibly proud’ of fellow Lion Ali Price for his man of the match performance and crucial intervention against Italy in Rome.

Price, winning his 50th cap, was heavily involved in four of the five Scottish tries and described as “inspirational” by head coach Gregor Townsend in the Scots’ 33-22 victory, their seventh successive win on Italian soil.

But it was the interception close to his own posts when Italy were pressing for the lead that was the pivotal moment of the game. It was a real 14-pointer, as it led to Chris Harris’ try at the other end and turned a potential 10-5 deficit into a 12-3 lead.

‘What a decision it was’

“Ali shot out the line and made it happen, and what a decision it was,” enthused the skipper. “We talked a lot about our workrate back and our hustle to make it incredibly difficult for the Italians.

“Ali’s made that decision to go for it and that’s what we’re about. The boys work incredibly hard for each other and have licence to make those raids and go for the big plays.”

Price having such a great game on his 50th appearance wasn’t lost on the skipper, who got the assist for his try from the scrum-half.

“I thought Ali was absolutely outstanding for the whole time he was on the field. He was livewire and kept the carrot in front of the donkey in terms of his kicking game. He asked a lot of questions of the Italian defence with his running game as well.

“I’m incredibly proud of him. To put in a performance like that on his 50th cap was absolutely tremendous.”

Hogg enjoyed the five tries mainly through counterattacking rugby all scored by the backs. But he was less pleased with some aspects heading towards the final fixture in Dublin.

“We slipped up at vital moments in the game and that is something we’ll look back on and be pretty frustrated about,” he said. “We slip up ever so slightly defensively they become a tough animal to stop.

‘You have to stay in every single passage of play’

“There were little moments when we dived into rucks, we didn’t quite get our fold right and we don’t get a dominant collision. It’s almost like a snowball effect. These are the little things we need to tighten up on.

“You have to stay in every single passage of play in Test match rugby.”

Townsend knows only too well Scotland’s poor record in Dublin. They’ve never won since Lansdowne Road was re-styled as the Aviva Stadium. Their last Dublin win was in Ireland’s final game before resettling at the Aviva, at the GAA’s Croke Park in 2010.

“It is one of the biggest challenges in rugby, playing one of the top sides away from home,” he said. “In a venue where we have not done very well in for a while.

“At least we go into next week with confidence on the back of a win. We are very honest with each other and know that we have to be better to win in Dublin.”

‘No chance’ in Dublin with that kind of performance

Townsend was clear that despite the win, “the reality is if we play like that in Dublin, we have no chance of winning.”

“You will get a grumpy coaching group tonight rather than one that should be happy with the result,” he said. “Look at the players. They know themselves that we did not perform as well as we should have in that final quarter.

“Credit must go to them for the work they put in before then against a really good Italian side. But we will have to improve to be in a position to really challenge Ireland, and create opportunities to go ahead of them.

“I think it will be a much more open game than games against Ireland in the past. They play a lot of rugby now. That could work in our favour or put our defence under real pressure.

“We know Ireland are very good in the contact area, very good at the set piece. They have built this attacking game that is really threatening.

“We have got to be able to match that. We need to create problems for their attack through the way we defend and bring our own game to put them under pressure.”

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