Scotland: Gregor Townsend defends Blair Kinghorn and backs the fly-half to bounce back after costly penalty miss against Australia

Dylan Coetzee
Scotland's Blair Kinghorn with hands on his head during a Test

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend believes fly-half Blair Kinghorn will bounce back after missing a penalty to beat Australia at Murrayfield on Saturday.

The hosts lost the Test 16-15 in a thrilling clash that saw Kinghorn score a brilliant try, hacking the ball through several times in the process.

Learn from it

Townsend admits it will be tough for the Edinburgh star to process and claims the focus should be on improving rather than the fact that the kick was costly.

“For him, obviously it’s going to hurt,” said the head coach. “That’s sport. The width of a post decides whether you win or lose sometimes. He’s been kicking very well for us.

“He doesn’t kick regularly at his club, but a few number 10s don’t kick regularly. He’ll use this as a learning, so that next time he gets that chance he knows what to do technically.

“He can’t think about the fact it was a kick that didn’t go over in the last minute. It’s about what you learn from it. Do you need to keep the head down longer? Is it the follow-through? What technical thing do you need to work on?”

Scotland’s Glen Young was sin-binned in the 56th minute in what proved to be a pivotal moment in the game as the Wallabies made the most of their numerical advantage to kick start a comeback.

Townsend felt his player was unlucky as the margins are so fine in the modern game, with the focus very much on player safety from a refereeing standpoint.

“I was in the coaching box and (coach) Steve Tandy said, ‘Oh, we could be in trouble here’ and I said, ‘No, it’s a world-class clear-out’,” said Townsend. “It was brilliant to see someone sprinting to get with the ball-carrier.

“In his second game for Scotland, Glen was a millimetre away from the best clear-out you’ll see to hitting the smallest guy on the field in the head. I said to Glen, it was a world-class bit of play that became a yellow card.

“All our players thought they were going to the TMO because of the head shot on Duhan van der Merwe just beforehand, but that’s rugby just now. It’s the risk and reward of the game.

“Glen’s was a very good clear-out but his bicep caught the Australia player in the shoulder and chin, so that’s what deemed it a yellow card.

“It was a massive part of the game, not just because of the yellow card. We didn’t score the try from the break, but we would have had a scrum five yards from their try-line, so to go from having them under that pressure to having a penalty against us and a yellow card, it was a massive part in the game.

“We think we should have won it, but it doesn’t really matter what we think because we didn’t win. But I was proud of the how the team played and delighted with how they responded when we went behind.”

Relief for Wallabies

Meanwhile, Australia head coach Dave Rennie was happy that his side snuck over the line and admitted the Wallabies could be better, but a win is a step in the right direction.

“There was a hell of a lot of noise in the crowd, I thought it was over,” said Rennie. “There must have been a lot of Aussies or a lot of drunk Scotsmen in the stands.

“We’re happy to hang on. I’m proud of the effort, because at 15-6 we gave up a soft one straight after half-time, but we fought our way in and got our nose in front.

“We can be a lot better. But there’s been a lot of hard work from a lot of people and it was nice to get a result for the group.”

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