BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Former skipper Al Kellock has urged Scotland not to get involved in an ‘arm-wrestle’ with Italy as they seek to arrest a run of nine consecutive Six Nations defeats.
Vern Cotter’s men fell just short of pulling off a shock in Cardiff at the weekend, going down 27-23 to Wales after leaking two second-half tries in the space of six minutes.
Kellock insists the defence will have to be shored up if the Scots are to progress at this year’s championship following a promising showing at the World Cup.
However, he believes they can take heart from the way they attacked in the Principality Stadium and, after watching England sweep Italy aside 40-9, is adamant a bold approach will be rewarded in Rome a week on Saturday
Kellock said: “I was really pleased with some of the attack. They scored 23 points down there (Wales) and you would have taken that before the game.
“But, just a couple of defensive lapses and Wales got in for 27 points.
“It’s tiny margins, as far as I’m concerned.
“What really pleases me about the Wales game was we went out and played, like in the World Cup. We were a difficult team to play against – that’s the only way for Scotland.
“We can’t go and be nervous about how we’ll play or nervous about the score-line. Go and attack and play rugby like we did at the weekend, and it will come.
“You don’t win in Italy if you get involved in an arm-wrestle. You go there and play, and England showed that in the last 20 minutes.”
Kellock, capped 56 times at international level, believes continuity is required in personnel if Scotland are to turn around their fortunes in the remainder of the championship.
However, he does advocate back-up scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne being given longer on the pitch as a late replacement for captain Greig Laidlaw.
The Edinburgh number nine was left on the bench throughout the 15-9 defeat to England and was only given the final three minutes in Cardiff.
Kellock told the BBC: “I don’t believe there’s huge, sweeping changes needing to be made – keep the group together.
“I’d probably like to see Sam Hidalgo-Clyne get a wee bit more game-time and come on a bit earlier. He’s a different type of scrum-half.
“In saying that, Greig had his best game at the weekend, he was very, very good.
“But get Sam on and if the game needs changed he’s got that ability.”
* Meanwhile, Saturday’s defeat to Wales in Cardiff was the fourth time in Scotland’s losing streak that they have lost a half-time lead.
The Scots have now tasted defeat in a record nine consecutive Six Nations outings following the 27-23 loss but the match hinged on a two-try burst from Jamie Roberts and George North in six second-half minutes.
Vern Cotter’s men went from a 13-10 half-time advantage and then a 16-13 lead to 27-13 behind and that is a story repeated in recent times.
In defeats to France, Italy and England in the last two tournaments, the Scots have been unable to press home their interval lead.
- 8 March 2014 Scotland 17-19 France (14-9 h-t)
- 28 February 2015 Scotland 19-22 Italy (16-15 h-t)
- 14 March 2015 England 25-13 Scotland (10-13 h-t)
- 13 February 2016 Wales 27-23 Scotland (10-13 h-t)