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Cotter makes no excuses

Vern Cotter admits Scotland's flaws shone through with "brutal clarity" as they were bulldozed by title-chasing Ireland.

The Dark Blues ended this year's RBS 6 Nations with a whimper as they slumped to a 40-10 defeat at Murrayfield.

It was their fifth defeat of a miserable campaign, meaning Cotter becomes the third Scotland coach to have presided over a whitewash of losses in the expanded championships after Matt Williams first achieved that unwanted feat in 2004 before Andy Robinson matched it eight years later.

The Kiwi is convinced he can turn this side around - but he could make no excuse for them after Joe Schmidt's side romped to a four-try victory.

He said: "I knew this press conference wasn't going to be pleasant.

"It's a competition where you need to develop confidence with victories early on. We had two narrow defeats and then the momentum shifted.

"We got exposed today with a very good team in front of us.

"We conceded far too many turnovers - about 24 - and we only had 30 per cent possession in the second half.

"It was always going to be difficult with those stats but we do think we can play the way we played in periods for longer in future.

"Our mindset has got to be about building games and not to end up playing catch-up rugby. We've got to take silly errors out of our game.

"They were brought home with brutal clarity today.

"Today we saw one team that has built and one trying to build but isn't quite there yet."

Scotland were always going to be under the cosh as Ireland chased the points that would edge them past Wales and England in the race for the title.

But they could have done without the visitor's skipper Paul O'Connell scoring after just four minutes.

A second try was added by Sean O'Brien before Finn Russell marked his impressive debut campaign with his first international score as Scotland pulled one back.

But Ireland continued to push forward and added to more touchdowns after the break as Jared Payne crossed over before O'Brien got his second.

Scottish Rugby Union chief executive Mark Dodson raised eyebrows last year when he insisted the Dark Blues should make a World Cup win their aim - but there were plenty of times during the last six weeks when that looked a laughable suggestion.

"I think we've got to address a fair few things in our game before we make ourselves a true threat," admitted Cotter, who also revealed his hope that Alex Dunbar's knee ligament tear will only keep him out for five-and-a-half months.

"But that's something that will be addressed earnestly, right from the start.

"There were encouraging individual performances during the Six Nations, things were starting to come together.

"But we need a mindset change, and we'll have to work towards that, and become more efficient.

"There were a lot of things that quite genuinely I think can be worked on quite quickly.

"There were periods against France, England and Wales where we dominated.

"Those are things we need to find and understand, build pressure, build a game and not just be content with two or three phases."

Skipper Greig Laidlaw added: "Where we're becoming poor is because we can't exert pressure from our own half.

"In competitions like this, if you can't do that you'll be in trouble, and again it proved today."

A Wooden Spoon is not the type of thing Cotter - a Top 14 winner with Clermont Auvergne - will appreciate on his CV.

But he insists he knew the size of the task ahead of him when he swapped his life in France for the Scotland job last summer.

He said: "We know that we don't have a large number of players, we are what we are and who we are.

"But there are things within that we can improve on. We know we can't get a lot of injuries because we don't have a lot of depth. But I knew it was going to be tough.

"These are good guys to work with I just wish we'd get a shift a little bit sooner.

"But we've seen things we can improve ourselves quite quickly.

"Players and coaches will look at how we can develop skill-sets, change mindsets, and come back stronger."

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