Scotland making progress, says Greig Laidlaw

Scotland vice-captain Greig Laidlaw insists the side have progressed under Scott Johnson’s charge.

Greig Laidlaw: Scots improving. Picture: TSPL
Greig Laidlaw: Scots improving. Picture: TSPL

The Australian replaced Andy Robinson 12 months ago after the Englishman resigned following the shock defeat by Tonga in Aberdeen.

The former Wales and United States coach’s initial set of results during the RBS Six Nations looked promising as he led the nation to third place in the championships - their highest finish since 2006.

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But after defeats to both South Africa and Australia in the autumn Tests, Scotland finish the year with seven defeats from 11 matches.

Despite those worrying figures, scrum-half Laidlaw insists the side are improving under Johnson, who will step down next summer to be replaced by South African Vern Cotter.

Edinburgh number nine Laidlaw told Press Association Sport: “We are where we are. Results don’t lie. But I do think we have come a long way.

“I’m a big fan of Johnno. He’s a good coach, a very good coach. Everyone has benefited from playing under him.

“We have definitely made progress but international rugby is won on fine margins.

“The games we have won we haven’t won by much, and the games we have lost - on the whole - have been close as well.

“We have to learn quickly but the Six Nations isn’t far off.

“We finished third last year and there is the potential to do the same, if not better, this time. In the past, Scotland have failed to maintain results over a long period, so that is what we need to aim for in future.”

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The Scots were stunned by the Springboks as they lost 28-0 the weekend before last, but showed more resolve and bravery as they were edged out 21-15 by the Wallabies on Saturday.

They had beaten Australia Down Under last year, having also registered a victory back in 2009, but failed to make it three in a row at Murrayfield.

Once again, a lack of cutting edge let them down as they failed to register a try for the fourth time in 2013.

Laidlaw, who kicked 15 points to at least keep them within touching distance of their opponents, said: “I’m gutted after the game on Saturday to be honest. It was a close game and it was there for the taking.

“To beat Australia for the third time in a row would have been a huge scalp and I’m just disappointed we never did it.

“We were brave but that was always going to be the case. The bravery of this squad has never been in question for me, so it was no surprise we bounced back well after the South Africa match.

“There were times during that game where we played well and that was the same against the Wallabies.

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“We had a couple of opportunities but we just didn’t take them. If we had, I think we would have won the game.

“We had one opportunity with Sean Lamont in the first half when he came up just short of the line. If we had taken that, things might have been different.”