Ben White admits Scotland ‘fell short’ when it mattered as he rued their lack of ruthlessness in the key moments of their Six Nations campaign.
After kicking off with back-to-back wins over England and Wales, Scotland’s hopes of silverware were dashed by defeats against the world’s top two sides as they lost 32-21 away to France a fortnight ago and then 22-7 at home to Ireland on Sunday.
Gregor Townsend’s men competed well for large chunks of both games but scrum-half White admits they need to be more clinical if they are to have a chance of beating elite nations.
‘It’s tough to take any positives right now because we fell short,’ he said. ‘Ireland were very good, they were accurate when they needed to be.
‘Against the top sides, you’ll get three or four chances and you have to take them all if you want to win.
‘Against Ireland we created three or four chances and we took one, and ultimately that cost us in the end. They took their chances and we didn’t.
‘Our accuracy in the final third wasn’t good enough and that’s something we’re going to have to work on going into the Italy game. We were in that game until about 55-60 minutes and then they turned the screw on us, which is disappointing.’
Scotland hooker Fraser Brown, who came on for the last quarter, felt Ireland showed their resilience in how they dealt with the challenge of losing two hookers, Dan Sheehan and Ronan Kelleher, to injury within 50 minutes.
‘Ireland adapted very well to losing two hookers,’ he said. ‘It takes something for a side to adapt their game that well and come out with a win. ‘
The fact they extended their lead after both their hookers went off, they controlled that situation really well. I’m disappointed we didn’t put more pressure on them though, particularly at set-pieces.’
Brown says Scotland will be able to rouse themselves for their final match at home to Italy. Although they no longer have a chance of the title, the Scots can land a top-three finish if they win on Saturday.
Brown hopes they can deliver a big performance to cap a campaign that promised so much. It will be easy to pick ourselves up because we’ve got another big game on Saturday,’ he said.
‘We started well, with two victories. We played well in parts against France in Paris and did well to work our way back into the game and against Ireland we played well in the first half and put them under pressure.
‘We know the quality we have within our squad and how well we can play but the next part of the puzzle is putting it all together week after week for 80 minutes.’
Star pair Hogg and Russell ruled out
Scotland stars Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell have withdrawn from the squad ahead of Saturday’s final Six Nations match against Italy.
The pair went off in the closing stages of Sunday’s defeat by Ireland with ankle and knee injuries respectively. Edinburgh fly-half Charlie Savala has been called up, while Josh Bayliss is also back after being released to play for Bath at the weekend.
There are still doubts over Richie Gray for this weekend’s match at Murrayfield. The 33-year-old lock went off after just six minutes on Sunday with suspected rib damage but he has stayed with coach Gregor Townsend’s squad for now.
A Scottish Rugby statement yesterday read: ‘Stuart Hogg sustained an ankle injury and will be unavailable for this weekend’s match against Italy. ‘He will return to his club in due course for further management of this injury.
‘Finn Russell suffered an injury to one of his knee ligaments. ‘He will return to Racing 92 to continue his rehabilitation.’
MORE : Ollie Lawrence out of England’s Six Nations clash with Ireland due to injury
MORE : ‘We got exposed today’ – Steve Borthwick speaks out after England suffer record defeat to France in Six Nations humiliation
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