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Jonny Gray: Scotland have used heartbreaks to their advantage

Scotland used the pain of past heartbreaks to conjure up a winning display against Ireland, according to lock J onny Gray.

The Dark Blues kicked off an RBS 6 Nations campaign with a win for the first time in 11 years as they shot down Joe Schmidt's men at Murrayfield.

But they had to show nerves of steel to clinch their 27-22 victory.

Stuart Hogg's first-half double was followed up by a third touchdown from Alex Dunbar before the break to put Vern Cotter's side in a commanding 21-8 lead.

However, when Ireland roared back after the break, taking a 22-21 lead with 18 minutes left, it looked as though the Scots were in for more disappointment.

In the last two years, the Scots have surrendered winning positions in the final throws three times - the first against Italy at Murrayfield during the 2015 Championships then twice to Australia in the World Cup quarter-finals before their recent autumn Test defeat in Edinburgh.

This time, though, they refused to buckle and fought back with two late Greig Laidlaw penalties.

It is a win which justifies the wave of optimism that has been circling round the Scotland camp all week and Gray reckons it took those late set-backs for Scotland to learn how to grind out victory.

The giant Glasgow second-rower said: "The experiences we've had before, there's been a lot of pain in the Scotland shirt before. It's how you learn from that. We've still got a lot to grow.

"Ultimately it comes down to times like that at the end. It was hard, the boys were tired and sore. It was tough out there. There could have been a moment when we put our heads down but we knew we had to grind and luckily we get the win in the end and we're absolutely delighted.

"Personally I've got a lot of improvements to make but it's great to have guys like my brother [Richie] alongside me, sharing his experience, talking to Greig and seeing how he would deal with things, while there are other guys stepping up too.

"To stick together, have the belief, have Greig kicking over the points and then the game management from Finn Russell and other guys stepping up to see out the win, it was a special day to get a win over a tough Ireland side.

"We talk a lot about not making the same mistakes. In life and in rugby when you make mistakes it's important to learn from them. Personally and as a team we've got a lot of improvements to make. We're happy, it's a good start but it's going to be tough going forward."

Scotland have rewritten several chapters from their recent history with Saturday's win.

As well as picking up their first day-one Six Nations triumph since beating France back in 2006, it was also their first win over the Irish since 2013.

Now they will head to France next week looking to erase another of those nagging statistics which has refused to budge since their last triumph in Paris back in 1999.

But Gray reckons Scotland will have to redouble their efforts when they run out at the Stade de France on Sunday.

He said: "The belief is there. We want to do the jersey proud and you do that by making yourself better.

"That's just the first game. We'll enjoy this and have an extra day's recovery and then back on it for France.

"I think it's going to be very tough. When you look at the French side, the individuals they've got, they're unbelievable talents. We're under no illusions how tough it's going to be out there. It's going to be very physical when you look at the players and stars they've got in their team."

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