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Vern Cotter not getting carried away after Scotland's heavy win over Italy

Published 29/08/2015

Vern Cotter felt Scotland's display against Italy was a 'mixed bag'
Vern Cotter felt Scotland's display against Italy was a 'mixed bag'

Scotland coach Vern Cotter insists his side still need to improve before the World Cup despite running in six tries against Italy.

The Dark Blues claimed their biggest victory since their 46-point winning margin over Portugal at the 2007 tournament with their second win over the Azzurri in a week.

The nervy side which edged out the Italians narrowly in Turin last week was replaced by a line-up oozing confidence at Murrayfield at they stormed to a 48-7 success.

Sean Lamont and Tim Visser both scored doubles, while John Barclay and Mark Bennett also crossed over.

But as much as Scotland were impressive - particularly at the scrum, where they dominated the heavyweight Italian pack - Cotter saw plenty of things to stop him getting carried away.

He said: "Once again, it's a mixed bag. Two tries came from interceptions and that's the reality of that.

"We have tried over 40 players and that's our third pre-World Cup game. Some players had their first game and we weren't particularly accurate at times.

"From our launch plays, we threw a few balls to the ground. We need to be more accurate at that. We certainly need to improve all over.

"The positive side of things was that we improved in certain sectors we looked at last week. We had more ball than last week but we will need to become more accurate once again.

"There were some good things and definitely things to focus on. I'm not entirely happy with everything. We're improving but we're not there yet."

The head coach will now sit down with his assistants to asses the 40 remaining members of his squad and make the tough choices on which of them will make the 31-man squad he will take south to England.

The majority of the XV who started against Italy are certainties to travel but for flankers Ryan Wilson and Barclay, it was their last chance to impress.

It was Scarlets man Barclay who showed up most, but Cotter refused to give anything away before he breaks the news to his team ahead of Tuesday's squad announcement.

Asked to assess the performance of Barclay - who ended a near two-year stint in the wilderness with his starting role - the Kiwi said: "He was okay. But I can't offer anything until I look at it closely."

The Scottish pack - and front-rowers Al Dickinson, Ross Ford and WP Nel in particular - set the tone for victory as they went head to head with Italy's forwards.

But it was the stylish display of Finn Russell which caught the eye.

He set up two tries and carefully managed Scotland's attacks with some measured passing.

But skipper Greig Laidlaw believes he can improve further.

"Finn is a wonderful talent," his half-back partner said. "He's a confident bloke and you can see that from the way he goes about his business.

"He was brilliant on a couple of occasions. The way he picks his head up, he just sees the game so well.

"The little cross-kick for the first try, the long pass that opens things up just after half-time for Tim.

"He's great to play with and makes my job easier. But like everyone else he has a couple of things he can work on to help the team a bit more.

"But he certainly had a great game and hopefully that will continue at the World Cup."

Disappointed Italy head coach Jacques Brunel said: "It's really difficult to understand how we can change so much in the space of one week.

"My concern is how to keep up our momentum. We played really well last week but then this week we give away three intercepts and a huge amount of possession. That's what scares me.

"I really don't understand what happened today. You really should ask the players what went wrong."

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