Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Battling performance lifts Brown

Kelly Brown wants Scotland to continue their fighting display against Tonga

Scotland captain Kelly Brown took encouragement from their belated but ultimately unsuccessful attacking fightback against South Africa - but has told his team-mates they cannot afford to wait so long against Tonga next weekend.

Scotland were staring at a second heavy defeat in the EMC Test series after falling 21-3 behind in the 46th minute at Murrayfield following a second try for Adrian Strauss. But replacement scrum-half Henry Pyrgos crossed in the 51st minute after what was then only the second attack of note Scotland had produced.

The try prompted a complete transformation in the momentum of the game with Scotland putting the tourists under relentless pressure for the remaining half-hour. "The last 30 minutes it was either a case of lie down and die or stand up and fight, and I thought we stood up and fought," Brown said.

He added: "As a captain I want a side that is going to stand up and fight but next week we need to do that from the first whistle. We need to learn our lessons and next week it's about really getting fired into Tonga."

Only some desperate defending meant the score stayed at 21-10. Scotland had numerous chances in the last half-hour with lock Jim Hamilton coming closest when he went over the line with the ball in hand before he was pushed back.

Brown agreed with head coach Andy Robinson that conceding too many penalties was the root cause of Scotland's first-half troubles. "We needed to get our physicality right and we needed to be very disciplined," Brown said. "And I felt in the first half we weren't and our energy was a little bit down."

The defeat - on the back of last Sunday's 51-22 loss to New Zealand - means Scotland are all-but certain to be among the third seeds in the draw for the 2015 World Cup, which takes place on December 3, after failing to break into the top eight in the rankings.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Rugby Union announced Richie Gray had suffered a concussion after being injured during the first half and is a doubt for the clash against Tonga.

Scotland doctor James Robson said: "Richie will now be subject to the return to play protocol following a concussive episode. We have been in contact with his club medical team at Sale Sharks to discuss the management of his injury."

The only other injury doubt is flanker Alasdair Strokosch, who was a late withdrawal from the team on Friday. Robson added: "Alasdair Strokosch is continuing his rehabilitation with us following the calf strain he sustained in training last week."