IT’S BEEN an interesting week of reflection following the 38-18 defeat at the hands of the English, writes Stuart Cameron.
I have been digesting Scotland’s performance as well as monitoring what other journalists and supporters have been saying, and it’s been a mixed bag of hope and disappointment.
The optimists have been pouring praise on the likes of Stuart Hogg, Kelly Brown and Johnnie Beattie, and the fact that we scored a couple of tries in one match against arguably the top team on form in the world – a team that expect to win the World Cup in 2015 when they host it.
England scored more points against New Zealand than us and we scored more points against England than the All Blacks.
The pessimists have been moaning about same old areas of concern – giving too many penalties away, particularly when you have a goal kicker like Owen Farrell who can punish you from anywhere inside your own half … and he did.
Then there’s the basic errors, the possession we allowed England to turn over and our inability to defend out wide. How many tries have we seen scored against us where the opposition have a massive overlap out wide?
We tackled well at times and certainly stopped tries being scored, and the commitment was there for sure, but England were guilty of not putting chances away. If they had we could have been facing one of our biggest ever defeats against the Auld Enemy.
England looked confident with ball in hand, an area we have had problems with for many years. Having said that, we enjoyed some purple patches when we gave our fans something to cheer about with some sparkling open play, but this happened only now and again.
It’s not doom and gloom yet and we can look forward with some relish to the visit of the Italians, who appear to have found themselves a fly half!
It was a tremendous result for them to beat France again, but this was a France which thought they only needed to turn up to win.
Even when they were behind with 20 minutes to go there was no urgency about their play, and Italy took full advantage.
Traditionally, the Scotland v Italy game is the one which settles the wooden spoon, but I think Wales may be dragged into it this year. If England can beat Ireland I think they will go on to win the championship, but you can never predict the RBS 6 Nations!
In many ways you can write off the match against England – they were hot favourites and we were expected to lose. Our three home games on the trot can be treated as a separate test completely.
There’s no Grand Slam or Triple Crown available, but three wins at home against Italy, Wales and Ireland are all possible and how we perform at Murrayfield will be key to whether or not the likeable Scott Johnson can turn the interim coach job into a permanent one to take us forward to the World Cup.