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Jonny Gray wants improvements from impressive Scotland

Scotland may be ripping up the history books but Jonny Gray has warned they will be in for a familiar sorry story if they do not make improvements before facing England.

Vern Cotter's side will travel to Twickenham in a fortnight's time looking to claim their first Triple Crown success in 27 years.

That follows their best start to a Championship in recent memory.

Victory over Ireland meant the Dark Blues kicked-off with a win for the first time since 2006, while Saturday's triumph over Wales saw them beat the Dragons for the first time in a decade.

The Holy Grail, however, remains a victory over the Auld Enemy in London - a feat not managed since 1983.

There is a feeling that this squad, even missing skipper Greig Laidlaw, has as good a chance as any in 34 years that have passed but giant lock Gray is preaching caution ahead of the Calcutta Cup showdown.

The Glasgow forward said: "It's going to be a massive, massive challenge to go down to England and win.

"Every game in the Six Nations is getting closer and closer. It took a late try to separate Wales and England a couple of weeks ago. Our game in France was decided by just six points.

"It just shows the small margins that are at stake, so we need to get better. We can't stand still."

For those getting ahead of themselves, footage of Saturday's 29-13 win over the Welsh provides the clear evidence that Cotter's team remain a work in progress.

While Tommy Seymour and Tim Visser provided the match-winning tries after the interval, Scotland were lucky they only went in four points down at the break after being out-muscled by Rob Howley's side.

"It was a very hard win," admitted Gray. "The first half was pretty frustrating. They put a lot of pressure on us.

"But I thought in the second half we stuck to the game plan, changed things up a wee bit and all in all we're very happy to get the win against a very tough and very physical side like Wales.

"All credit to Wales. We knew they were going to put a lot of pressure on us and they did.

"They have guys in their team like Alun Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton who cause problems at the breakdown.

"We just didn't get our flow sometimes but there was some good stuff in our first-half display. We just had to get more of the good things coming through after the break.

"Our backs were clinical and scored some good tries.

"We'll enjoy this but we have a week off now and we'll look at the improvements we have to make, because there was some sloppy moments which we have to tidy up."

With Laidlaw also ruled out of the Scots' final two games with England and Italy, flanker John Barclay has assumed the armband.

It was expected the lose of their regular captain would have a destabilising effect but Gray revealed the Gloucester man was never further than a phone call away to provide some guidance where necessary.

And he hailed the way their new leader - and the rest of the team - negotiated the trickier moments against Wales.

He said: "When Greig was here he said he wanted the guys around him to step up a bit more, as much as possible. It was the same on Saturday with Barcs.

"It was a blow loosing Greig. He is an amazing rugby player and an amazing guy. He text me to see how training has been going. We also spoke on the phone just before his injury was confirmed.

"It was gutting to lose such a big player with his personality and what he brings to the squad, on the pitch and off it.

"But it's not just about one guy, it's about all the other lads around us.

"Everyone stepped up. Barcs has done an incredible job. He was outstanding with the way he led us through the week and the way he spoke. He made the right points.

"But there were others too. Finn in attack was also a big voice this week.

"All in all it was still a whole squad effort, not just the 23 guys who played on Saturday. It was as much down to the guys who ran against us in training, the boys from the Under-20s who came in and ran opposition plays for us.

"It's a special feeling that everyone was able to come together and put in a performance."


From Belfast Telegraph