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Scots have to tighten up to mix it with very best, admits Townsend


Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend

By Andy Newport

Gregor Townsend believes there is a race going on as the best teams in the world rush to improve their defensive capabilities - and admits Scotland are lagging behind.

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The Dark Blues head coach saw his team become the first Scottish side in 55 years to register back-to-back clean sheets as they nilled both Samoa and Russia.

But the Scots rearguard failed to stand up to the test presented by rival Pool A big guns Ireland and Japan, allowing both to claim four-try bonus-points as they crashed out of a World Cup at the group stage for only the second time.

Townsend's team are now heading home after Sunday's 28-21 defeat in Yokohama.

And the dejected head coach admits his team paid the price for switching off during a 20-minute spell just before half-time, allowing the Brave Blossoms to boost their quarter-final hopes with a devastating three-try surge.

He said: "Defensively, we weren't good in that second quarter against Japan. Our defence in the two previous games against Samoa and Russia was outstanding. But it's an area of improvement we know is not up there with the best teams in the world. We have shown improvements, but you can't switch off.

"What do you need to match the best teams in the world? Consistency from game to game, and within games. Winning games is the standard you set. Against Japan they kept up the way they wanted to play in the first 15 minutes and it was excellent.

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"We recognise that any Championship-winning team is based on defence. The aim was to address that by selection and the positions where we had debates we went for guys we believed were better defenders.

"We have shown that at times, but not enough as a team. It is something we have to keep working on."

The post-mortem on another failed campaign will now begin but Townsend will wait before looking at where it went wrong for his side.

"There is no analysis of performance for this group over the next few days," added Townsend.

"We've got weeks to analyse why we didn't get to our best level and to play a knockout game."

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