Gregor Townsend pinpoints area in which Scotland must improve after defeat by Australia

Gregor Townsend has urged his Scotland players to improve their discipline after they conceded 14 penalties and had Glen Young sinbinned in the 16-15 loss to Australia in the Autumn Nations Series.

Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie speaks with referee Luke Pearce during the 16-15 defeat by Australia.  (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)
Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie speaks with referee Luke Pearce during the 16-15 defeat by Australia. (Photo by Ross MacDonald / SNS Group)

The coach stopped short of blaming the defeat on the high penalty count but knows his team needs to tighten up for the remaining Tests against Fiji, New Zealand and Argentina. Townsend stressed the importance of adapting to the referee’s interpretations on a match-to-match basis.

Australia’s penalty count was actually one worse than Scotland’s according to match statistics but the Wallabies were able to harvest nine points from kicking three penalties at Murrayfield, while the home side kicked one and missed one.

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“It was one of those games but we have to be better,” said Townsend. “We have to be better where we go close to the edge in the lineout for example, to make sure we’re learning from what the first penalty is telling us about the way the game is being refereed. It’s highly contested and you’ve got to be close to the edge so you’re making it hard for teams to set up mauls, for example.

“At the breakdown we got two or three wins in our 22 that got us the ball back. Outside our 22 it looked like we’d got the same but we were penalised for not rolling away. But we have to learn during a game because a referee might be allowing the lineout defence to do more, and that’s the important thing. Our players realise that it can lead to bigger problems, like having to defend in your 22, so it has to improve, absolutely.”

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