Ireland-Scotland reaction: Pundits have say on Gregor Townsend's team - 'long day at office, what might have been'

Praise for defensive work but ultimately Scots left to rue missed opportunity again

Scotland earned praise for their defensive resilience in going down 17-13 to Ireland in Dublin, but former player Johnnie Beattie admitted it was “always going to be a long day at the office” for Gregor Townsend’s men.

Scotland made 239 tackles during a gripping encounter at the Aviva Stadium and while Scotland gave themselves a chance with their resolute defending, they did not carry enough threat in attack. And Beattie, capped 38 times by his country, believes they paid the price for not having enough ingenuity when in possession of the ball.

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“I thought they defended valiantly, didn’t they?" said Beattie. “They were gritty and determined. Their scramble defence on their tryline was phenomenal … Andy Christie, [Grant] Gilchrist, saving two or three tries. But ultimately, when you give away 58 per cent possession and 62 per cent of territory, and you allow Ireland 22 visits to your 22, it’s going to be a long day at the office. It was always going to be difficult. They couldn’t quite find the answers in attack and they didn’t hold on to enough ball to really challenge Ireland. Some of the ambition and devil shown in their defence, they can be proud of.”

James Lowe of Ireland is tackled by Blair Kinghorn and Huw Jones of Scotland.James Lowe of Ireland is tackled by Blair Kinghorn and Huw Jones of Scotland.
James Lowe of Ireland is tackled by Blair Kinghorn and Huw Jones of Scotland.

Another ex-Scotland player Peter Wright commented: “Scotland could end up second and still be really, really disappointed. It's been a very inconsistent championship. Should have beat France, Italy was disappointing, and when [head coach] Gregor [Townsend] actually watches this game back, he'll be disappointed. He'll reflect on the words he said. Be proud of the defensive effort, but that was an Ireland team that was misfiring. Scotland were still in the game because Ireland didn't take chances. It's what could have been for Scotland. Overall, a disappointing Six Nations.”

Former Ireland hooker Rory Best hailed Scotland’s performance but said Ireland’s togetherness ultimately shone through. “Scotland played really well,” said Best. “It was a proper gritty test match. Probably both teams were a bit nervous off the back of results last week at the start of the game, but it really came down to the end. And then obviously for Scotland to score late on, it really made it nervy. It wasn’t that enjoyable to watch the last five minutes as an Irish fan. They really stuck together and they ground out a win. That was all they had to do today. Never, never devalue a championship. That is what was at stake. They really rolled up their sleeves and showed the game they have.”