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O'Driscoll's comments will simply spur us on, insists Townsend

Momentum: Gregor Townsend feels Scots can improve
Momentum: Gregor Townsend feels Scots can improve

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Having made one enforced change to his starting XV for Saturday's clash with Ireland, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has shrugged off Brian O'Driscoll's assertion that his side's poor away record puts pressure on the visitors.

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Edinburgh's Blair Kinghorn comes on to the wing for his first start as he replaces the injured Tommy Seymour, while Fraser Brown and Lee Jones are added to the bench.

O'Driscoll's comments caused a stir in Scotland as he said the victory over England had not changed the perception of them as a team who only perform at Murrayfield.

"Great performance against England, no massive shock," the former Ireland skipper said.

"It was always going to be a tough game. But now they've got to get on the road and prove they can perform like that against a good Irish team in the Aviva, and if they do beat Ireland then we'll start properly respecting them.

"But until they do that, they'll be seen as a home team."

The comments were put to Townsend at his team announcement yesterday, but he gave it short shrift.

"That's his opinion. I think, as I've mentioned before, we have a poor away record in the Six Nations," he said.

"We're working hard to change that. But this is up there with the toughest challenges in world rugby, playing Ireland in Dublin.

"We'll just be focused on how we go about that, how we get that win."

Townsend believes Scotland can improve on their impressive display in that famous victory over the English.

"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," he said.

"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," he added.

"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: S Hogg; B Kinghorn, H Jones, P Horne, S Maitland; F Russell, G Laidlaw; G Reid, S McInally, S Berghan; G Gilchrist, J Gray; J Barclay (capt), H Watson, R Wilson.

Reps: F Brown, J Bhatti, WP Nel, T Swinson, D Denton, A Price, N Grigg, L Jones.

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