Scotland’s Six Nations couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. Gregor Townsend’s men usurped favourites England to win the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years, and straight away people were beginning to question if Scotland could go on to win their first Six Nations title, with their last victory coming in 1999 when it was still the Five Nations.
The 11-8 victory over Eddie Jones’ side in London certainly didn’t flatter Scotland on the scoreboard. However, if you look deeper into the stats, Townsend’s men were dominant throughout and the win was thoroughly deserved.
It was a victory that overshadowed Wales’ triumph over Ireland in Cardiff. Wayne Pivac’s men beat 14-man Ireland 21-16 at the Principality Stadium, but it was far from a convincing victory and many still expected Scotland to thwart Wales in Edinburgh in-game week two.
However, things didn’t go to plan for Townsend’s side. Wales were 17-8 down at the break, but fought back in the second half to win 25-24 and, after a month without a game due to a coronavirus outbreak in the France camp, Scotland suffered back-to-back home defeats, losing 27-24 against Ireland as Jonathan Sexton’s late penalty separated the two sides.
As a result, the Scots have been left to rue missing out on a massive opportunity. At the time of writing, Townsend’s team sits second bottom in the table, albeit with a game in hand over the likes of England, Ireland and Wales. But it’s worth noting that that game is away to France and victory there is unlikely, according to the 2021 Six Nations odds.
For Townsend, failing to build on the momentum of beating England has left him understandably frustrated.
“That’s the frustrating thing – that we’ve not been able to build on that excellent performance against England and back that up with one, if not two, victories,” the 47-year-old said.
“Twickenham set the bar and for 32, 33 minutes against Wales the following week we played as well as Twickenham, in some aspects we played better. But since then we’ve not been consistent over the 80-minute period, against Wales and today.
“As much as I am so down about the loss today – and I know our players and our supporters are too – there is still a lot to be proud of this team. It’s two games in a row now that they have come back and created an opportunity to at least draw the game with a few minutes remaining and this team has had to be adaptable.”
Of course, the two defeats will be a bitter pill to swallow for Scotland. However, they must remember that their tournament is far from over. A bonus-point victory over whipping boys Italy at
Murrayfield this weekend could see them climb above England in the table, should Eddie Jones’ side lose to Ireland in Dublin, and they have their game in hand with France to look forward to after that, which is expected to take place on March 27th.
It’s not what Scotland would have wanted when they beat England at the beginning of last month but finishing on a high and as high up the table as possible must now be their sole focus.