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Johnson reflects on Groundhog Day


Scott Johnson believes Scotland will only improve through experience

Scott Johnson believes Scotland will only improve through experience

Scott Johnson believes Scotland will only improve through experience

Experience will drag Scotland out of the vortex of greeting a new day with the same old mistakes, according to head coach Scott Johnson.

Scotland bossed possession and territory in the first half of Sunday's 28-6 RBS 6 Nations defeat to Ireland in Dublin.

While gritty in their approach, Scotland's finish was so blunt as to be almost void.

Ireland rode out a first-half bombardment before Johnny Sexton's searing break sparked Joe Schmidt's men into life.

Wing Andrew Trimble, captain Jamie Heaslip and full-back Rob Kearney claimed tries as Ireland coasted home.

Australian coach Johnson noted the irony of Scotland's latest promising to end up in defeat coinciding with the Pennsylvania celebration of Groundhog Day.

"I can see the comparison there," said the former Opsreys boss. "There was a fair amount of naivety; we got punished for turning the ball over.

"I thought we showed good intent, and that's the irony of it and the disappointment, because a lot of our work was quality."

Centre pairing Alex Dunbar and Duncan Taylor boasted less than 10 caps between them before facing Ireland, who had former captain Brian O'Driscoll reaching 129 international appearances.

Johnson admitted the false assumptions of inexperienced operators tend to cost dearly in the Six Nations, but vowed to keep faith with his young squad.

"You get frustrated but that's what happens when you're teaching younger players," said Johnson. "Things they take for granted they can get away with at different levels, you just can't get away with it here.

"Of course you get frustrated, and the coaching box took a bit of a pounding.

"But they will get better, and we will persevere with it."

Scotland move on to entertain England at Murrayfield on Saturday, with replacement wing Max Evans admitting there will be scant opportunity to lick wounds.

"You want to start with a bang, and even if you don't win you want to put in a good performance," said Evans.

"And it kind of left a bitter taste in the mouth, because it wasn't the performance we were looking for.

"We weren't as good as we could have been at the set-piece and that cost us.

"If you've pushed the opposition to the wire then losing is easier to take, but we didn't do that and that's the frustrating thing.

"There was an element of naivety, and there were parts of our game where we looked like we could have beaten anyone.

"And then there were parts of our game which weren't very good.

"It's about consistency, that's the general message."

Sean Maitland suffered concussion during the course of Scotland's lacklustre loss, with Johnson admitting medics will monitor his progress throughout the week.

Evans hopes the powerful wing will be back in action without delay though.

"It did look nasty, it was right by the subs' bench," said Evans. "So you could hear the hit and see how he fell, and it looked a bit uncomfortable.

"But hopefully it's not as bad as it looked."