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Dickinson rages at ref

Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson has criticised George Clancy following the Irish referee's controversial Murrayfield performance.

Scotland slumped to their third defeat of this year's RBS 6 Nations after going down 22-19 to Italy, leaving them staring at the ignominy of a fourth wooden spoon in 11 years.

But while Dickinson admitted the Dark Blues "should have stopped" the driving mauls Italy used to devastating effect as they stormed back to win with a last-gasp penalty try, the Edinburgh forward insisted Clancy did nothing to help them at the scrum.

The set-piece duel was held up time and again in the first half as the official lectured both sides on their engage method before finally scolding the front-rowers for showing a "terrible attitude".

But Dickinson admitted he had no idea what the referee's issue was.

The 31-year-old said: "I think he was making a mountain out of a molehill at times. I better stay politically correct with the media or I'll get in trouble - but when he let us scrum, we scrummed really well and got penalties.

"It was just frustrating that it seemed to take an age to set up.

"The scrum is so heavily regulated now, but it seems like front-rows don't know anything about scrummaging any more - and refs do.

"I don't know many prop refs to be honest.

"It can be a lottery at times, but what can you do? As players we are not allowed to talk to the ref about what we can do to solve it or what issue he sees. Unfortunately in rugby you can't talk to refs or you get sent to the bad boys' corner.

"It's frustrating because the last two games we have scrummaged really well. And at times on Saturday we did."

Saturday's defeat was the undoubtedly a step back after some significant strides forward under new head coach Vern Cotter.

But the reality of the situation is that Scotland have now lost all three of their matches so far this year following the 15-8 defeat to France in Paris and the narrow 26-23 reverse at home to Wales a fortnight ago.

Dickinson said there were still areas the Dark Blues needed to improve on - but insisted the side could not allow themselves to sink into a pit of despair.

He said: "We're disappointed because we didn't take the strides we needed to after the first two games.

"But I don't think we are the worst team in this Six Nations. We pushed France and we pushed Wales. Both those games could have gone either way.

"It was the same with Saturday's game. It just seems to be the monkey on our back at the moment is not being able to cross the finish line for a victory.

"The reality of the situation is that rugby is a minority sport in this country, but we're not going to let that hold us back.

"Rugby is huge in France and it's the national sport of Wales and we yet when we played them we could have - and should have - won those games.

"So we're doing pretty well for minnows if you look at it like that.

"Saturday was brutal. It was a really tough loss to take. It feels like we've take a step back from where we have come from.

"We will try and be as positive as we can but we're not always positive. When you look at the bare bones of it there are things we need to improve on.

"But if you beat a horse all the time, eventually it is going to die. So you can't be negative all the time. But we will be hard on ourselves. We will look at the video and be honest with ourselves.

"The only way we will get out of this vicious cycle is to look at the positives.

"Should we be more angry after this? Obviously there is anger, but we have been told to speak to the media and be professional. There was a lot of anger in the changing room after the game.

"But what can you do? Being angry after the game won't help us. We need to be more brutal on the park by being clinical and finishing teams off."

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