THE Scotland forward Dave Denton believes that he and his fellow players have become marked men for referees in an RBS 6 Nations Championship in which they have conceded more penalties than any other side.
The Scots have had 51 penalties awarded against them over the course of the tournament to date. The average for the other four teams is 36. Asked if he thought Scotland's reputation for loose discipline now preceded them, Denton said: "There is a bit of that. It is tough for us to take because we are getting penalised quite harshly in some cases."
However, Denton stressed that it is for Scotland to remedy the situation themselves and establish a different reputation.
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"If you look at the way Ireland are playing, they are very good example of being on the right side of that line. Whether that is to do with interpretation of what they are actually doing is quite hard to see, but at the moment what we're doing seems to be scrutinised quite hard so we have to be extra careful. If referees start seeing us as a dominant scrum, for example, then they are not going to penalise us so much. But you have to earn that reputation first."
Scott Johnson, the head coach, has raised the issue of the refereeing of Scotland games with International Rugby Board officials in Dublin. "We have got to look at ourselves with the penalty count and accept what we get wrong," said Johnson. "My frustration lies with the inconsistency of the law. That's been expressed."
Denton was was named as one of the eight Scottish forwards who will face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, but Johnson sprang a surprise by naming 14 backs, with the seven who start expected to be confirmed today. The delay has been cause by injury doubts over wingers Tommy Seymour and Max Evans, plus one other player.
Saturday's match at the Millennium stadium will take place with the roof closed. Johnson explained that he was looking for a claustrophobic atmosphere as he wanted his team to put down a marker to say that they had no fear of taking on the Welsh in their own backyard.