Stuck in the slow lane after two defeats, Scotland captain Greg Laidlaw accepts there is a responsibility to earn a result against Italy on Saturday.
“We need to win, of course we do, we want to finish as high up in the championship as possible, and if we lose on Saturday, we are in a bit of trouble,” said the Jedburgh scrum half.
In what has become the annual tussle to avoid the wooden spoon, Scotland welcome Italy to BT Murrayfield, with both sides winless after two games.
Scotland’s improvement under head coach Vern Cotter is obvious in performance, if not yet in terms of results, but professional sport is an unforgiving environment. An athlete or team’s value frequently boils down to the simple answer: did they win?
Against France, Scotland fought valiantly, holding their tryline intact, but fell short after an avalanche of penalties handed the advantage to their hosts. Against Wales, Scotland went toe-to-toe with their visitors, winning many of the statistical battles except the one that really mattered – the scoreline.
They have scored tries and have made more than a passable impression of a team on the up, but for all their improvements, their inability to be clinical at crucial moments has shown they have not yet become the team everyone had expected.
Laidlaw, however, maintains throughout the tumult of the past two performances that the team are better than the results say, but he is expecting another tough contest on Saturday.
“If we want to be this team we’re all talking about then we need to start winning, especially at home,” he added.
“We should have won against Wales, which has cut us up, so that energy to win is driving us forward.
“Italy are a big team. They like the set-piece, but if we can play with speed, gain quick ball and move it about, then we feel we can go for 80 minutes and hopefully they will run out of steam before we do.
“If we do the things we’ve talked about and limit our errors, then I truly believe that we’ll win this weekend.
“There’s three games to be won for us in this championship and all we want to do is get the wheels rolling again.”