Scotland must improve ‘everything’ against Ireland, says Gregor Townsend

first_imgTopics Blair Kinghorn hat-trick sparks Scotland’s Six Nations victory over Italy Read more Gregor Townsend believes that Scotland will have to improve “probably everything” about their game if they are to beat Ireland on Saturday, despite the panache with which they played for large stretches of their 33-20 win over Italy.The head coach was not overly concerned by the late lapse which saw this team concede three tries in 10 minutes when the substitute tighthead prop Simon Berghan was in the sin-bin, and took encouragement from the attacking prowess that produced five tries, three of them for Blair Kinghorn. But, speaking before England’s victory in Dublin, he argued that his team would have to produce the best performance of his tenure if they are to make it two wins out of two in the Six Nations. Since you’re here… … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. 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This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Messenger Rugby union Robert Kitson at the Aviva Stadium Share on Twitter Ireland’s Johnny Sexton fails to lift wilting shamrock against England The Breakdown: sign up and get our weekly rugby union email. Support The Guardian Share on Pinterest Finn Russell enjoyed some inspired moments against the Italians, notably the diagonal kick that produced Kinghorn’s first try. The fly-half has improved markedly since his move to France, but Townsend thinks that he too will have to raise his game when he confronts Johnny Sexton.“Finn’s playing very well: that was an excellent performance today. He’s up against not only the best stand-off in the world but the best player in the world, a key man for a team that has a number of key men.“You want to take on the best players. Finn always seems to rise to the occasion, the bigger the game, the better the stand-off opposite him – and Sexton is the best in the world right now.”Townsend believes that the loss of those scores in the final 10 minutes will combine with the size of the task that awaits to ensure Scotland do not get too carried away by being top of the table after the first round of fixtures. “Feet on the ground is good for us,” he added.Sean Maitland, Jonny Gray, Peter Horne and Fraser Brown are among those players who could be available to face Ireland after missing out two days ago because of injury, but Willem Nel and Sam Skinner are both potential additions to a casualty list that remains lengthy.center_img news Italy, meanwhile, are in less optimistic mood as they prepare for the visit of Wales on Sunday. They were forced into a late change at Murrayfield when the scrum-half Tito Tebaldi strained his back during the warm-up, and his replacement, Guglielmo Palazzani, was one of a number of players who had been ill with a vomiting bug since setting off for Edinburgh. That produced further strain on already stretched resources but the head coach, Conor O’Shea, took some heart from the character shown by his squad.“I saw a team that fought in a huge amount of adversity,” he said. “We know the challenge. We know the level we have to get to in the coming weeks, months, and years in Italian rugby, but I think everyone can see that we’ve started a process that is doing the right things.” Six Nations Six Nations 2019 Share on WhatsApp Share via Email Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Scotland rugby union team Italy rugby union team Read more “We’re looking forward to welcoming Ireland here – we’ve got to play the best game that we’ve played in the last few years to beat them,” Townsend said. “It’s a real challenge for us.“Probably everything,” he continued when asked which aspects of his team’s performance needs to get better. “There are some little tweaks that we had in our attack shape that we managed to put in place today – we’ll see if we’re going to follow them through for next week.“But Ireland will test us in every area. They have an excellent set piece, with their scrum, their lineout maul. They do special plays which seem to work out where a defence might be vulnerable on first, second, third, fourth phase, so we need to be really switched on defensively.“They’re the best team in the world in contact, in terms of recycling ball; they’ve developed a real line speed and aggression in their defence and they still compete for ball. They’re the complete package, so we know we’ll have to be at our very best.” Reuse this contentlast_img

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