Better than the Welsh game, but it could hardly have been any worse

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Massive disappointment once again at Murrayfield on Sunday, but there was no doubting that this was a step-up from the Welsh performance.

To be honest that was not too difficult to achieve, but the promise of having a good start disappeared in six minutes with the first of the three soft tries by Jamie Heaslip.

Once again we were playing catch-up rugby and that is a very familiar situation for the Scots – I think the statistic is now seven games out of nine has seen us concede a try in the first 10 minutes of a game. It isn’t good enough.

Coach Andy Robinson is confident that the tries will come sooner rather than later as our game improves, and while we have already said goodbye to any hope of Triple Crowns, Grand Slams or championships, it’s now all about concentrating on the World Cup later in the year.

Next up is England at Twickenham – a daunting prospect – followed by a home game against Italy for, most probably, the wooden spoon.

But one thing about Scotland is that when we are on the ropes carrying huge odds to beat England on their home patch, there’s always that little bit of belief in the back of the mind that we can produce our best performance against the red-hot favourites who are 1/10 to take the championship.

Ever the optimist, I predicted a comfortable win against Ireland with tries being thrown into the mix. To be honest a team that scores three tries to nil deserves to win a game of rugby, but there is an argument that a team that gives away 12 penalties to four (as Ireland did) deserves to lose.

Andy Robinson was more than a little concerned that Allan Jacobsen was sin-binned while Ireland had nobody yellow-carded despite the lopsided penalty count. We can all sympathise with that.

Our defence has gone backwards lately. Ireland managed seven line breaks to two by us.

Our finest defensive hour-and-a-half in a game of rugby against Australia seems a distant memory now and that has to be addressed for the English game or we will be cut to ribbons.

Basic errors were still in evidence on Sunday and we allowed the ball to be turned over at crucial moments. We appear to be very easy to defend against, but Richie Gray pinching line-out ball three times from Ireland’s throw-ins was a big positive.

So to conclude, a step in the right direction, but we need to find that winning mentality again and it will not be easy against England.

I am sure there will be changes for Twickenham with injured players being available again and I still think that we need some new blood in the team, starting with the powerful Bath back Jack Cuthbert who I believe could inflict some damage.