An exasperated Scotland boss Scott Johnson could find precious few positives after his team crashed to a 20-0 defeat to England.
An exasperated Scotland boss Scott Johnson could find precious few positives after his team crashed to a 20-0 defeat to England at Murrayfield.
“Extremely frustrated,” was the coach's response when asked how he felt in the wake of the loss.
“I've got a sore neck from looking down at one end of the field during the second half. It was incredibly frustrating.”
His side missed 20% of their tackles, but the coach claimed that was by virtue of the possession statistics emerging heavily in favour of the visitors.
“They had twenty set pieces in our 22 to our one,” acknowledged Johnson.
“The sheer weight of that tells you you're going to miss some. And some of those missed tackles allowed them to get down in our 22.”
Particularly puzzling was the Australian's decision to replace number eight Dave Denton, Scotland's best carrier, with Johnnie Beattie early in the second half.
“He wasn't injured,” revealed Johnson.
“We lost a sin-bin and Johnnie could cover a variety of positions while we were under pressure.
“It's a pretty hard slog carrying as much ball as he (Denton) does on that sort of pitch. It was just a tactical sub from the circumstances we put ourselves under.”
The coach once again pointed to the character of his side; perhaps a diamond in the rough following such a one-sided affair.
“There's a lot of naivety in our team, I keep speaking about it,” added Johnson.
“We have a lot of younger players in our backline who haven't played much rugby. We've got a pretty inexperienced ten, twelve, thirteen. Even Hoggy (Stuart Hogg) who was away with the Lions hasn't played many Test matches.
“But there's a lot of athleticism there too. I genuinely think these guys are part of Scotland's solution. I feel that we have to try and play some of these young kids and get them through.
“I feel, athletically, we can get a lot out of this group. They're not perfect; they're a long way off perfect, and they will be frustrating to Scottish fans, but I'm trying to build so that when Vern (Cotter) takes over there's enough maturity and depth and athleticism around this squad, so that we can compete against anyone.
“But there was a lot of character out there: we faced twenty set pieces in our own 22 against a world-class driving side. We let them in when we had a yellow card, but other than that we held on.
“There are a lot of questions about picking the right players, I've heard it all before. But trust me, there is resolve in this group.
“They're good enough athletes, they've got a bit of resolution, they're naive and sometimes their skill lets them down and puts them under pressure, but i think the majority of them can provide Scotland with a really competitive national team against anyone.”
Skipper Greig Laidlaw, visibly distraught, was in no mood to blame the pitch for both his missed penalty attempts in the first half.
“I hit two poor kicks today, I'm not going to blame the pitch,” said Laidlaw.
“The pitch is there for everyone to see; it's not ideal conditions, but it's the same for both teams. That's the end of that, it was just two poor kicks.”
“We were lucky to have what little possession we got,” continued Laidlaw.
“It was just as well we had some resolve or it could have been worse.”
By Jamie Lyall at Murrayfield