Townsend hails dogged defence
Head Coach Gregor Townsend praised Scotland's defensive resolve in yesterday's 17-0 win over Italy in Rome.
Defensive improvements were a key area of focus coming into the campaign and in three Tests thus far the Scots’ whitewash has been breached just three times – compared to the 11 against the same three sides last season – while tries from full-back Stuart Hogg, centre Chris Harris and stand-off Adam Hastings put the game out of reach of their opponents in a dogged contest in which both teams defended with ferocity throughout.
Townsend was pleased to win the outcome overall, especially with the defensive effort shown to keep the scoreboard untroubled in the Rome sunshine.
“To come here against a difficult opponent – which has always been a tough fixture for us – score three tries to nil and keep them to zero on the scoreboard shows the players put in a huge effort.”
Head Coach Gregor Townsend
“We had to tough it out at times, Italy are a difficult team to break down and they play a lot of rugby as well, which can stretch your defence but I thought we held firm.”
Despite the clear improvement in the rearguard this season so far, Townsend was quick to point out improvements are needed going forward, with back-row Jamie Ritchie and scrum-half Ali Price both perilously close to five-pointers.
“We got turnovers, which helped break up the flow of their attack, however our attack didn’t flow as well as we would have liked and there were opportunities we didn’t take,” he added.
“At the beginning of the second-half we ran hard on the ball and created opportunities and that gave us the try to move further ahead.”
Townsend went on to praise his back-row, along with captain Hogg for his sensational opening score.
“Our back-row were very good.
“They knew it was a big challenge against the Italians and they were everywhere. It was also good to see Matt Fagerson come off the bench, he brought real aggression in his defence.
“Stuart (Hogg) scored a world-class try.
“It might not have been the best of games but to score a try like that shows his ability.
“He almost got a couple of other tries later on too.”
It's Scotland who strike first in Rome!
— ITV Rugby (@ITVRugby) February 22, 2020