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Six Nations: Rory Best left baffled by where it all went wrong for Ireland

By Jonathan Bradley

Frustrated Ireland skipper Rory Best was left mystified by his team's slow start to the Six Nations after they fell 27-22 to Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.

The visitors had led by a point entering the final 10 minutes but two late Greig Laidlaw penalties ensured it was Scotland who got off to a winning start.

It was Ireland's terrible first half, however, that was of greatest concern for Best with a tricky trip to face Italy in Rome coming up on Saturday.

"The first half was hugely frustrating because basically everything we talked about doing, we didn't do," he lamented.

"We got narrow in defence, we weren't physical. We knew that they would come at us. We knew we needed to get front-foot ball.

"We knew, especially the way their team was, that we had to be accurate at the breakdown and get out ball carriers across the gainline.

"But we didn't do any of that. I suppose the only good thing was that at half-time, we said we hadn't done any of that, so if we could start to do that, we could start to get back into the game.

"We prepared well all week, but it's different preparing and doing it on the day.

"We gave them access but then we also had an opportunity to exit and we turned the ball over."

Ireland had plenty of possession throughout the contest, and a huge advantage in the scrum, but could not convert from some promising positions out of touch.

It was a try from a Scottish line-out that Best found most maddening and he accepted responsibility for that, saying: "Myself and Tadhg Furlong in there just didn't quite cover all the bases you have to at this level.".

The move that irritated Best over Irish failings came when after Stuart Hogg had already ran in two tries, Vern Cotter's men inventively found a third when bringing centre Alex Dunbar into their line-out.

Ireland weren't switched on to the unusual look and all the Glasgow Warrior had to do was catch his hooker's dart and scamper across.

"We were probably a little bit sluggish on that lineout try they scored," reflected Best.

"It was a little bit of a special move where we knew they're a quality side who could come up with. You always prepare for what you've seen before but you also prepare yourself for something you haven't seen.

"I think that summed up where we were probably a little bit behind."

Dunbar himself admitted he was surprised at the ease with which he evaded Irish detection.

"The defenders were there initially and they didn't seem to pay any attention to a centre being in the line-out.

"Johnny (Gray) made the call. It was direct to me and they moved and the gap opened up and I just concentrated on catching the ball.

"When I saw such a gap, I just went for it. I have never done it on a pitch before, we have a few in training like that at Glasgow but the others are for different players, not me."

Best admitted that, with all the momentum on their side, when Ireland took their late lead he felt sure his side would go on to secure the spoils.

"The big thing we said at that point was that we had to keep playing. We had seen in the first-half that when they get the ball, they're very dangerous and unfortunately we just gave up a few penalties, lost field position and they put us under pressure and we gave up another penalty.

"That gave them the lead back reasonably cheaply and the talk was to keep attacking them.

"We know how good they are and we also know how good we are when we go out with that mentality."

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