So we didn’t win the spurtle – how are we going to stir it up?

Scotland versus Italy, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, in the 6 Nations Championship 2011. The final score was 21-8. Pictured is Scotland's Nikki Walker celebrating his try. 19th March 2011. Pictured by JANE BARLOW
Scotland versus Italy, at Murrayfield, Edinburgh, in the 6 Nations Championship 2011. The final score was 21-8. Pictured is Scotland's Nikki Walker celebrating his try. 19th March 2011. Pictured by JANE BARLOW

The wooden spoon has gone to Italy.

The unwanted award for the team which finishes bottom in the RBS 6 Nations was the last thing Scotland wanted in their final match in the championship.

In front of 42,500 spectators – well short of the capacity at Murrayfield – Scotland’s second-half controlled performance ensured that they would win this game.

They cut right down on errors and bossed the scrums and line-outs. Their defence was excellent too – much improved from the opening games in the campaign – and the icing on the cake was the fact that Scotland finally got a try on their home patch ... in fact they got two.

Nick De Luca, in his 24th game for Scotland, crossed for his first five-pointer for his country on 46 minutes, and then, nine minutes later, Hawick’s Nikki Walker was given a little bit of space and used it magnificently, crashing through Italian tackles to dive over for a crucial try.

Former Gala stand-off Chris Paterson converted and later added a penalty to seal the win 21-8 and give Scotland their first (and deserved) victory in the championship. Paterson once again produced a remarkable tackle to prevent Italy scoring and he has certainly proved beyond doubt that he has plenty to offer his country.

Let’s not get carried away with the win as one out of five in the RBS 6 Nations is still a bad statistic, but even when we played at our worst against Wales, we were not on the end of a thumping in any of the games.

Coach Andy Robinson always talks about rugby being a game of inches and he’s right, but what the team must take forward into the World Cup Finals is to ensure that those inches come out in Scotland’s favour.

We did get the bounce of the ball and some key decisions at Murrayfield against Italy, and the visitors made mistakes which we capitalised on; but Scotland have won at last and this will build their confidence for certain.

We have two warm-up games against Ireland and Italy at Murrayfield before we head out to New Zealand and I am confident that, despite having a poor 6 Nations campaign, we can turn things round for the World Cup and it will be a major disappointment if we cannot preserve our record of making the quarter-final stages of all World Cups since the first one back in 1987.

Georgia and Romania, while not pushovers by any means, should be put away comfortably and we have recent form against Argentina, which will be the crucial match. We end the pool stages with a match against England. A win against either of the big two should be enough to progress.

Needless to say we have to cut our error-count right down and learn from the mistakes we made, but there was enough evidence shown over recent weeks to say that we are not far away from being on track when September comes for the biggest tournament in the world.