Gregor Townsend gives verdict on Blair Kinghorn on his first Scotland Six Nations start at stand-off

Gregor Townsend was impressed by Blair Kinghorn’s first Six Nations outing as Scotland’s starting stand-off despite the disappointment of another defeat in Dublin.

Scotland have not won in the Irish capital since 2010 and the hosts prevailed 26-5 at the Aviva Stadium, outscoring the visitors four tries to one.

Townsend made the bold decision to drop Finn Russell to the bench for the game at the Aviva Stadium and picked Kinghorn as playmaker.

The Edinburgh man has been converted from a back three player and has impressed for his club in that role this season.

Scotland stand-off Blair Kinghorn tries to find a way past Ireland's Bundee Aki. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)


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“I thought he played very well,” said Townsend. “He was a real threat with his passing game, his running game.

“In the first half we were finding space, putting them under pressure, and I thought he defended well too. He was unlucky, he had one really good kick but Darcy [Graham] got penalised which we felt was an Irish obstruction.

“For his first Six Nations match at ten, against such a good side, I thought he played very well.”

As has been a theme of this season’s championship, Scotland fell foul of the penalty count, conceding 15 to Ireland’s ten. Townsend acknowledged it was a problem but still felt it was one of his side’s better performances in the tournament.


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Blair Kinghorn was off target with his conversion attempt after Pierre Schoeman's try. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

“Discipline has been an issue this year and it can be more than one thing,” said the coach. “Against France, it was our attack where we gave away a lot of penalties around the jackal area.

“Our set-piece defence was very good today. Ireland had over 20 lineouts and our maul defence stood firm. Our scrum got better and better as the game went on, we won a few penalties in that area.”

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Scotland ended the campaign with two victories, over England and Italy, and three defeats, against Wales, France and Ireland. They finished in fourth place, the same as last year, but with one fewer win and a sense of underachievement.

Asked for his overall view on the championship, Townsend said: “Disappointed, obviously. As coaches we’ll look more at performances, the fundamentals of a performance. Yes, we’ll look at results, that’s what we’re here to deliver, but the performances weren’t good enough, the Wales game in particular. That was the most disappointing aspect.

“Following that, we had some very good moments against France but they were the better team on the day. Likewise today. Italy was a good bounce back.”

Townsend said he would use the summer tour to Argentina and the autumn internationals to try to revitalise his side ahead of next year’s Six Nations campaign.


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“We’ve got a real challenge in the summer when we go away from home to Argentina,” said the coach. “We’ve got some outstanding teams coming to visit us in November.

“Those are ultimately the ways we will prepare to be more competitive in the next Six Nations. It’s such a strong tournament. France have won every game they’ve played this season, Ireland have won every game apart from the one they played in Paris, so they are two of the best teams in the world and they’re in our competition, never mind about Wales and Italy .

“We believe in this group and believe we can be a match for anybody. We weren’t good enough this year, that’s obvious. We’ll have to reflect on that and build towards the summer and build towards the November games.”

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