Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Scots in the hunt - Johnson

Scott Johnson warned Scotland that they still have much to improve following the victory over Italy
Scott Johnson warned Scotland that they still have much to improve following the victory over Italy

Scott Johnson declared Scotland were right back in the RBS 6 Nations running after their four-try victory over Italy - but warned his side still have much to improve.

Scotland bounced back from their disappointing opening-day defeat by England to sweep to a 34-10 victory over an Italian side that had stunned France last weekend.

Interim head coach Johnson said: "We are really happy with the scoreboard and who wouldn't be? But we are in a championship and we want to win the championship. Whilst there were some really good things in that game and much improvement in areas we needed to improve in, there is still plenty left out on that pitch."

Tim Visser notched his fifth try in seven internationals as Scotland controlled the first half without ever looking in danger. And they wrapped the game up within six minutes of the restart as Matt Scott crossed for his first international try and Stuart Hogg ran almost the full length of the field to score after intercepting a pass, with Italy set for a walk-in score.

Sean Lamont also got a breakaway try before Alessandro Zanni's late consolation helped the Italians into double figures.

The Australian added: "We did really well in the defence for most of the game and there was a real turning point when Hoggy took it from one end of the field to the other, which was really a 14-point turnaround. But the events that occurred just beforehand were disappointing. The scoreboard could have changed really quickly.

"We have to acknowledge that but I keep saying if we get our part right, we can put sides away from some distance because we have a potent back line.

"We just have to keep doing our work. We have to keep improving. We're in a tournament and today's result puts us right in it. We're in this."

Johnson had been bitterly disappointed with his side's physicality and defence in their 38-18 defeat at Twickenham and told his players in some frank team meetings. And a tackle count of 146 with a 92% success rate showed they had responded well during spells of Italian pressure in the second half.

"There is no point telling a kid without being completely honest," said Johnson. "There is such a propensity in the world when you are in trouble that you try to go to the end before you understand the beginning. The reality is we have to do a lot of the beginning. It's a reckoning that this is what we need to do and do it well."

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