There were positive signs when Scotland took on England at Twickenham, but while the 13-point margin looks reasonable on paper, England did find a lot of holes in our defence.
And, if their three disallowed tries (for forward passes) had counted, and if Stuart Hogg hadn’t been on top form in defence, we could have been looking at a very different scenario.
Hogg, again, was our best ball carrier, a fraction behind Dougie Fife for metres made in attack, and it was very good to see us run the ball compared to the lateral play we’ve been used to seeing recently.
England’s failure to take their chances kept us in the game right up to the final four minutes, when we were one converted try away from a draw.
Captain Greig Laidlaw said the Scotland performance in the first half was brilliant. Yes, there were touches of brilliance, and effort could not be questioned, however, the ease with which England continued to batter through our defences was a concern.
The Scottish team will be announced today and I think Vern Cotter won’t tinker too much with the team that started against the English, because if they can cut down on their defensive errors they will certainly give Ireland problems.
Looking at the stats is always interesting – it doesn’t always tell the whole story, but sometimes it does. Twenty-six missed tackles is far too many at this level, but we did reduce our penalty count to under double figures. England gave away 10 penalties to our eight. Our line-out success was 100 per cent, so credit to all for turning that round from a few years ago when this was an area of concern. Dan Cole’s professional foul should have given him a yellow card, which would have given the Scots an advantage.
Yes, it was a much better performance than against Italy, but it was another defeat, and that is the bottom line. We’ve lost our last five home matches in the Six Nations, and if we lose on Saturday that will be a stat which will be very unwelcome.
Our worst ever home spell was nine losses in all games between 1951 and 1955. This team has quality players and it’s unfair to say they are the worst Scottish squad in over 60 years, because they are not!
As I said, stats don’t tell the full story, but history books record results, and that is what people will read.