What Blair Kinghorn was like in dressing room after missed Scotland kick as Gregor Townsend backs fly-half to bounce back

Gregor Townsend has backed Blair Kinghorn to learn from his last-minute penalty miss which condemned Scotland to defeat against Australia in their opening autumn Test at Murrayfield.

There were ten seconds left on the clock when Kinghorn’s kick from 45 metres drifted wide of the left-hand post. The Wallabies won 16-15 despite being outscored two tries to one by the hosts, with Kinghorn creating the first for Ollie Smith and then scoring the second himself with a superb solo effort.

Townsend said the stand-off was hurting after the game. “He will feel it more than anybody,” said the Scotland coach. “In the dressing room afterwards he was down. I talked to him about the technical side of things as he can’t dwell on a kick that doesn’t go over in the last minute of the game, or any time. I know that is easy to say but it is what you learn from that. Is it keeping his head down longer? Is it the follow through? What technical things do you have to work on? But for him obviously it is going to hurt but that is sport. The width of a post decides whether you win or lose sometimes.”

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It’s Fiji up next for Scotland and Townsend suggested Kinghorn would remain his frontline kicker if the Edinburgh fly-half is selected to play next Saturday. “He has been kicking well in training. In the third Test against Argentina he only missed one and that was off the crossbar so he has kicked well for us in tough environments before. He doesn’t kick regularly at his club but a few tens don’t kick regularly and he has to use this as a learning so the next time he gets the chance he knows what to do technically.”

Blair Kinghorn missed this late penalty for Scotland against Australia.

Townsend, who left Finn Russell out of his autumn squad, felt Kinghorn’s general performance was of a high standard. “He did a lot of things we wanted him to do well and he led the team in attack and had done that all week in training as well,” he said.

The Scotland coach was less impressed by some of the game’s more contentious decisions which went against the home side. The incident which led to the sin-binning of replacement lock Glen Young in the second half “was a millimetre away from being the best clear-out you’ll ever see” said Townsend, but he acknowledged the yellow card was probably the correct call. Young’s bicep struck Tate McDermott in the head as the Aussie scrum-half was attempting to jackal and Townsend believes the laws need to change to remove that part of the game. “I personally believe the jackal should be taken out the game,” he said. “There are too many injuries to the jackaling player and there is too much risk of where do you take someone out.”

Townsend was surprised when a yellow card for Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami was rescinded on the advice of the TMO. Paisami, who deliberately knocked the ball on as Kinghorn tried to pass to Duhan van der Merwe, had actually left the field before being told to return.. “I’ve never seen that in a game before, when someone is yellow-carded and is off the field, and the TMO says you should bring him back on because Duhan was covered. It is still a deliberate knock-on. I don’t think it would have made much difference, but we should let the referees referee.”

Gregor Townsend has backed Kinghorn to recover from the miss.