You can’t keep a good man down for long and, after suffering a horrible start to this campaign against England on the opening weekend, Tommy Seymour is again playing with a smile on his face and doing what he does best, scoring tries.
His late score in Rome was his seventh try in his last eight international appearances: little wonder he is one of the first names on the teamsheet. The one exception came against England, when Seymour was probably a little ring rusty after a few weeks out with injury. He coughed up six turnovers that day but bounced back with a try against Wales in the second round and his late score in Rome ensured that there was to be no last-minute implosion of the sort that has afflicted Scotland all too often.
When you’re on the line it is mostly about the desperation not to let them cross and we got there in the endTOMMY SEYMOUR
“It was important for us to see out the game,” Seymour said. “There was obviously a lot in the build-up to the game about not closing things out so it is great to get over the line.
“We got to the point where we were defending on our line, nine points to the good. If they had scored there with ten minutes to go the game would have been very much in the balance. But I thought the defensive work on the line there was excellent and our scrum did what it was doing all day. We secured the penalty and got up to the right end of the park. That gave the boys a big lift and pushed us over the line.”
If Seymour’s speciality comes into play at the opposition end of the field, the Scots’ victory in Rome was down to defending their line for long periods, especially in the second half. Marco Fuser’s try brought Italy to within six points and, while Greig Laidlaw’s fifth and final penalty soon re-established that nine-point advantage, still the Italians threw everything at the Scots in that final quarter, especially when they were short-handed with first Finn Russell and then WP Nel in the bin.
The improved defence was down to just one thing according to the Scotland winger. “It is just about character,” insisted Seymour. “Obviously there are technical things as well that you are trying to implement but to be honest it was more about character.
“We spoke at half-time about seeing it through, that this was something we were not going to let go.
“When you’re on the line it is mostly about the desperation not to let them cross and we got there in the end.
“This team has been desperate for a win in this competition for a while. We had spoken to you guys [the press], saying that playing well isn’t enough. It’s about results, that’s what drives the business.
“There was a lot of steely determination in the squad to get over the line.
“It was really pleasing that we could get the monkey off our back and can now drive on from here. Going into the last two games this team has a lot of confidence. Leading on against France, hopefully we can go back home and get a result there as well.”
Seymour was a little lucky to be on the field to take his 77th-minute try. Chasing a Russell up and under the winger had jumped high to challenge for the ball but landed awkwardly and at one point it seemed like he’d be lucky to stay on, given the store set by medics on minimising risk. Instead Seymour played on which meant that he was perfectly positioned when Stuart Hogg sucked two defenders on to him with the pace of his outside break before flipping the ball out the back of his hand for yet another Seymour score.
“My back and my neck are pretty sore,” the winger admitted. “That’s something I’ll have to manage, I’m not looking forward to the plane journey home. But these things are a lot easier to take when you come out on the right side of the result.”
Which, for the first time in a while, is exactly where Scotland finished up.