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Scotland have to be at their best to beat Ireland, says Gregor Townsend

After beating England at Murrayfield last time out, Scotland have blown the championship wide open.

Perfectionist Scotland coach Gregor Townsend admits he could spend hours pointing out where his team went wrong during their stunning Calcutta Cup triumph over England.

And he admits his side will need to rid themselves of their flaws completely if they are to spring another surprise by gunning down Ireland in Dublin this weekend.

The Dark Blues’ 25-13 win over the Auld Enemy has propelled them back into NatWest 6 Nations title contention.

But to keep their championship tilt on track, they will have to become the first team this year to derail Joe Schmidt’s Grand Slam-seeking outfit.

“They are a top-three team in the world and they have a very good home record,” admitted Townsend. “There are not many, if any, weaknesses in the team and they get the detail and physicality right, so you have to be at your best to win.

“There are lots of things we could improve on from the England game. I would be here for hours if I listed them all.

“Look, the pleasing thing was the accuracy and intent we played at in the first half. How we defended, we were aggressive there.

“We were obviously very good around the breakdown.

“It will be much tougher this weekend because of how Ireland are in contact.

“But there were a few things we didn’t get right, things you probably don’t see until you go through the video two or three times – just looking at where a player could be to take an opportunity that might have presented itself.

“In the second half we did have a couple of opportunities we didn’t take.

“But the commitment and effort in defence over the last five or 10 minutes against England, that’s up there with the best we’ve seen from this team.

“Considering England had a lot of ball and were trying to get the ball, to stay in the game or at least get a losing bonus point, our players were still coming off the line, still competing for the ball, making it tough for England to attack.”

Scotland sit third on eight points after three games, one behind the English while Ireland lead the way on 14.

But victory this weekend will take the title race to the wire

“Yeah, we’re not out of it,” said Townsend, who will be hoping France do his side a favour by downing England in Paris this weekend.

“So we understand that this game is huge for us, firstly as a one-off, but also to stay in the mix on the last weekend.

“That gives the players a lot of motivation, knowing that if we can get a win, we will still be challenging for the title come round five.”

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