Autumn Nations Cup

Frustrated Townsend says Scots must up their game

Denied: Stuart Hogg (pic: SNS Group)

Scotland 15 Italy 22
BT Murrayfield

Gregor Townsend was left to rue Scotland’s lack of killer instinct as they slipped to a rare home defeat against France.

It was a frustrating 80 minutes for the Scots who matched up well against their opponents, with defeat handing the initiative to Les Blues in the battle to finish top of Group B.

A win over Italy next week in Paris will send the French through to the final of the inaugural competition.

The game’s only try came from Virimi Vakatawa in the second half and handed the visitors an advantage they refused to surrender as they recorded their first win at Murrayfield for six years.

“It was quite an equal game and one breakthrough really put us on the back foot and we just weren’t accurate enough at times in the last 15, 20 minutes to make the most of the opportunities that did come around,” said Townsend.

“Being ahead of the scoreboard certainly made it easier for them just to close things out. It’s frustrating.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re better than just being tough to beat.

“We were in the arm wrestle today, the effort was outstanding but to take that next step, we’ve got to take our opportunities and be accurate in those times we have them.

“We played some good rugby in that first half. We put them under pressure with our kicking game. France showed their strength at times, too.”

Scotland were aiming for a sixth successive Test win for the first time since 1990 but it wasn’t to be and Townsend will now start laying his foundations for next year’s Six Nations.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (capt, Exeter Chiefs), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Duhan Van Der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby); Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors), Ali Price; Oli Kebble, Fraser Brown (all Glasgow Warriors), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs), Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson (both Edinburgh Rugby), Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors).

Subs: George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) for Brown 67 mins), Jamie Bhatti (Edinburgh Rugby) for Kebble (67 mins), Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) for Berghan (43 mins)., Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) for Gray (67 mins), Blade Thomson (Scarlets) for Watson (60 mins), Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Exeter Chiefs), Duncan Taylor (Saracens) for Johnson (72 mins), Sean Maitland (Saracens) for Kinghorn (60 mins).

Scores: Scotland – Penalties: Weir (5); France -Try: Vakatawa; Conversion: Ramos; Penalties: Ramos (4); Drop goal: Jalibert.

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