Gregor Townsend: ‘We missed the start and never caught up’

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend reflected on a “disappointing day” and bemoaned a subdued start to the game which allowed France to rediscover their confidence and ultimately cruise to a bonus-point victory.
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Adam Davy/PA WireScotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire
Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire

The 27-10 defeat at the Stade de France means the Scots’ Guinness Six Nations campaign is now in a bit of a hole following back-to-back defeats and skipper Greig Laidlaw admitted: “We keep letting ourselves down.”

In truth, it could have been an even heavier defeat as the rampaging French had a remarkable four tries chalked off by the TMO as they responded in style to the stinging media criticism which had greeted their meek collapse at Twickenham.

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“We missed the first ten to 15 minutes with bits of detail which we had been previously doing well,” said Townsend, pictured. “We started the match poorly in the first 20 minutes which, after France’s recent results, gave them confidence. That was through our own errors and we put ourselves on the backfoot.”

France scored tries through their young stand-off Romain Ntamack, wing Yoann Huget, whose sinbinning in the first half went unexploited by the Scots, and two late pushovers finished by sub back-rower Gregory Alldritt either side of a late consolation score by Ali Price.

“It’s a disappointing day given our inability to capitalise on our opportunities and score tries,” added Townsend.

“We didn’t finish off the opportunities we should have for the pressure we’d built up especially after France went down to 14 men.

“Failing to capitalise on opportunities and being clinical will be one of the areas we will have to work on ahead of the next game against Wales [at BT Murrayfield on 9 March].

“That’s the element which is the biggest when it comes to winning or losing. When we are accurate we win games and when we don’t we lose.”

The Scots were lucky to be only 10-3 down at half-time but conceded the Huget try immediately after the restart, which particularly infuriated Laidlaw.

“If we hadn’t given them five points straight after the break then we feel we could have gone on and won the game,” said the scrum-half.

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It was a game Scotland never looked like winning, though, as an inability to build any possession momentum was compounded by errors and a setpiece which misfired at the lineout and was overwhelmed at the scrum.

The sloppiness continued the theme of the second half of the home defeat to Ireland a couple of weeks ago and Laidlaw couldn’t explain why basic errors had crept back into the Scottish game.

“The short answer is no,” he said. “It’s something we need to look at as we trained well all week. It’s disappointing as we feel as though we are letting ourselves down in some senses but France played well.

“We need to be vigilant as it allows teams to release the pressure and doesn’t allow us to exert our pressure on the game.

“We broke their line a couple of times and could have scored but we didn’t take those opportunities which is disappointing. We win when we keep a hold of the ball and we didn’t do that today.”