REACTION | Scotland 13-22 Ireland

Gregor Townsend this evening paid tribute to his players despite a disappointing 13-22 loss to Ireland in the second round of the Guinness Six Nations.

 “We got a lot of our attacking game into play as well as really good decisions, really good work-rate off the ball, which meant we were finding space and the first half. If we were able to replicate that in the second half I think we’d be here with a win.”

Townsend said he felt in the second-half the execution of Scotland’s set-piece plays to get them into our game and to put more pressure on Ireland just didn’t happen.

“We always expected a really good set-piece play which they brought out and scored so credit to Joe and the players for executing it, that was an outstanding try,” he said.

“They have very strong contact and you have a choice whether to compete or not compete; we competed hard and with our line speed in defence we managed to get a lot of balls back off their attack, so that was something that was a bonus, was probably frustrating them. 

“I think both teams’ energy levels dropped in the second half because of the effort that went in to the first half with the tackles and the carries and the contact work was at a very high level, and I don’t think you can keep that going for the 80 minutes.”

Townsend highlighted the effort the players and aspects of their performance that went well.

"A game of rugby is a lot of things, it’s the defence battle that you have to do, the contact battle, the kicking game is so important and the pressure we put on Irelands kicks, I think we won those battles.”

“Our contact work against a very good defence was outstanding today; just that final piece, the execution of set-piece, which has been really good, that fell off the jigsaw today. 

Looking ahead to the third round fixture against France in two weeks’ time, Townsend said: “It’s going to be a huge challenge in Paris, we’ve not won there in 20 years and France - the way they played in the first half against Wales - showed what a quality team they are. 

“But I believe in our squad I believe that the way they play will put pressure on any team whether we’re playing home or away and we’ll take a lot of confidence in how we defended, the effort we put into the game, how we attacked against an excellent defence, but we have to be accurate and that will be the big focus for us over the next two weeks.”