Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said yesterday’s 28-8 defeat to Ireland in Dublin was “night and day” compared to the 34-7 ravaging suffered in Wales on the opening weekend of the NatWest Six Nations.
Townsend insisted he was “proud” of the team’s performance against a team he believes are “three or four years” ahead of his Scotland side.
“The players responded very well. That was night and day compared to Cardiff,” said the coach. “It was a team performance right from the start. It was committed, focused and we took the game to the opposition right to the end. The players stuck to their task and kept going at Ireland and that was great to see.”
Mistakes proved costly as Huw Jones and Stuart Hogg wasted two-on-one try chances in either half with poor passes and Peter Horne threw a wild pass which was intercepted by wing Jacob Stockdale for the first of his two tries in the opening 40 minutes after Scotland had led 3-0.
“Our basic skills were pretty good in a number of areas, our tackling was outstanding and our contact work when we had the ball was outstanding,” stressed Townsend.
“We created those opportunities and it was basic passing skills which caused a couple of missed opportunities.
“Sometimes that’s about what the defender does. I thought Rob Kearney did very well when Stuart Hogg was about to pass as he stepped back. But Stuart finishes them off in every training session, we all make errors. We certainly played some outstanding rugby at times, we caused a very good side problems through the set-piece and defence and by what we did in attack.
“It’s disappointing we are not sitting here with one, two or even three more tries on the scoreboard. It would have made for a very interesting game going into the last ten minutes.”
Scotland now travel to Rome to face Italy in their final match on Saturday looking to make it three wins out of five in the competition for the second year running.
Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw was also keen to stress the positives and said the players are now determined to finish on a high.
He revealed that the players responsible for the errors were downbeat after the game. “They’re obviously disappointed with the way things have turned out. They are pretty cut up about it,” said Laidlaw.
“We’ll go away and dissect the performance and take positives because we played some brilliant rugby at times and caused Ireland a lot of problems at times.
“The coaches were pretty happy at half-time even though we had just lost that try. We felt as though we were creating a lot of space and if we could have just executed we felt we could have scored a couple more tries.
“We win and lose as a team. Nobody goes out there to make mistakes. Sometimes it just happens and you accept it and you move on and do the next job. We have to come to the party on Monday and make sure our attitude is correct.”