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Scots left to rue slow start, admits Townsend


Gregor Townsend
Gregor Townsend
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

After his side were thumped by Ireland to open their World Cup, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend bemoaned his side's slow start, admitting they "missed the first 20 minutes".

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Ireland began the contest in storming fashion, scoring the game's first try after only six minutes through James Ryan. Using their tight five as a platform, front-rowers Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong both got over themselves inside the opening 25 minutes.

And while Scotland have shown an ability to dig themselves out of such holes before, most notably at Twickenham in the Six Nations this year, there was to be no comeback this time around, leaving Townsend searching for answers as to how his side could have started so slowly in a game that has been on the horizon for so long.

"We missed that first 20 minutes and credit to Ireland, they started well and put points on the board," said the former Lions out-half.

"We didn't start with the energy, the accuracy or the aggression required to beat a team like Ireland.

"They started well and took their chances when they got into our '22'.

"More than any other team in World Rugby probably if you give them a 15-20 point lead it's very difficult to come back."

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It was certainly a curious opening from the Scots, Ireland's expected dominance of the forward exchanges even more pronounced than Joe Schmidt would have dared hope.

"That's what we're asking each other," added Townsend when pressed for why his side were so far from the required level.

"The energy wasn't there, it wasn't as high as it needs to be to beat a team like Ireland. That wasn't (the case) in the warm-ups. A few players hadn't played for a few weeks, certainly we'd trained well. We just missed the start of that game and that's very disappointing."

With Samoa and then Russia to come, before a four-turnaround to face Japan in a game now likely to have a last eight spot as the prize for the winner, they must improve quickly.

"We need to win the next three games. If we had have won today we'd have needed to win the next three games.

"We have to bounce back and play a lot better against Samoa, carry it on against Russia and then especially against Japan who started well."

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