Scotland boss tells players to learn from Six Nations defeat to Ireland
Ireland took their chances clinically as the Scots spurned a host of opportunities.
Gregor Townsend admits Scotland remain a work in progress as they aspire to reach the levels of Grand Slam-chasing Ireland.
The Dark Blues contributed to their own downfall at the Aviva Stadium as their hopes of mounting a late bid for the NatWest 6 Nations title crumbled.
Peter Horne gifted Joe Schmidt’s men the opener in Dublin midway through the first period when his pass was intercepted by Jacob Stockdale.
And while the hosts in Dublin showed no mercy as they ran in further scores from Stockdale, Conor Murray and Sean Cronin to secure a 28-8 win, landing the championship, Townsend’s team were guilty of blowing three golden opportunities to claw themselves back into the clash.
The frustration of those missed chances stung the Scotland head coach and he urged his men to learn the lessons in the same way their conquerors did following Schmidt’s 2013 appointment.
“We’re very proud of how the team played but there is a realisation that we have more work to do,” Townsend said.
“We are three or four years behind Ireland in terms of what they’ve done and achieved in there experiences over the last few years.
“We need to make sure that when we have these experiences that are tough, it goes into our work to improve.
“We play Ireland next year in the Six Nations and we will play them in 18 months at the World Cup and we need to make sure we are a better team when we play them.”
FULL TIME | Ireland run out winners in Dublin 28-8 pic.twitter.com/qfYlw1OHOR— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 10, 2018
Huw Jones, Stuart Hogg and the luckless Horne all failed to find a blue shirt with simple passes just as the whitewash came into view as Horne’s initial mistake was compounded.
But Townsend denied that was another sign of Scotland’s much-discussed travel sickness as he insisted his team have improved markedly since their desperate campaign opener in Wales five weeks ago.
He said: “That was night and day compared to Cardiff. It was a team performance right from the start. It was committed, focused and we took the game to the opposition right to the end.
“Our basic skills were pretty good in a number of areas, our tackling was outstanding and our contact work when we had the ball was outstanding.
“We created those opportunities and it was basic passing skills which caused a couple of missed opportunities.
“Sometimes that’s about what the defender does. I thought Rob Kearney did very well when Stuart Hogg was about to pass as he stepped back. But Stuart finishes them off in every training session, we all make errors.
“We certainly played some outstanding rugby at times, we caused a very good side problems through the set-piece and defence and by what we did in attack.”
Joe Schmidt admitted the 20-point winning margin was harsh on Scotland and skipper John Barclay agreed his side were hard done by.
“I don’t want to say it because I think you get what you deserve in rugby but the scoreline didn’t maybe show the competition in the game,” Barclay said.
“They had three chances on top of the intercept, and took all of them. We had four chances, clean two-on-one chances, and took one of them. That’s the difference today.”