GREIG LAIDLAW has urged Scotland to target second in the Six Nations as they bid to get over Saturday’s Calcutta Cup hammering by finishing the championship on a high.
Laidlaw has been sidelined since injuring his ankle early in the defeat to France last month and the captain’s leadership was sorely missed as Vern Cotter’s team unravelled horribly in their 61-21 mauling at Twickenham.
The Scots are desperate to move on quickly from the record defeat and have the ideal opportunity to restore some pride when they host winless Italy in Cotter’s last game in charge this weekend.
With so many injuries, it could be a patched-up side that takes to the field but Laidlaw hopes they can bounce back from a performance branded ‘useless’ by stand-in skipper John Barclay.
A bonus-point victory over the Italians coupled with the right results elsewhere could even see the Scots finish runners-up.
Laidlaw said: “We have been building over the two and a half, three years and it was massively disappointing to see a performance like [Saturday].
“We’re an honest group, honest with each other, and that was nowhere near the standards we set. We’re a humble group and we need to take it on the chin.
“But we can still finish second in the championship.
“If we put in a strong performance and a couple of results go our way, we can still finish second and it would be a positive championship.”
Laidlaw was left dispirited by his team-mates’ display against England after travelling south with hope they could even end the country’s 34-year wait for a win in London.
And, against the backdrop of Fraser Brown’s yellow card and a spate of injuries, the Gloucester scrum-half reckons too many ignored the pre-match game-plan.
He added to ITV Sport: “It sure was a sobering afternoon. From a Scottish perspective, it was very disappointing.
“The way that we started the game set the tone, really, in terms of the way the afternoon panned out with the yellow card.
“We just weren’t doing the simple things well, chucking big passes on our own try line.
“It’s certainly not the kind of game and occasion to be doing things like that.
“We got away from what we practised during the week and it was very disappointing.”