Gregor Townsend praises Scotland’s resilience in Rome

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend praised his side’s resilience as they twice came back from a 12-point deficit to beat Italy in Rome.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend praised his side’s resilience as they twice came back from a 12-point deficit to beat Italy in Rome.

Greig Laidlaw was the hero for the visitors as his 79th-minute penalty completed a dramatic 29-27 win for Scotland on Super Saturday.

But Scotland did not have it all their own way and the Azzurri controlled large parts of the game in the opening match of the final round of this year’s NatWest 6 Nations.

Townsend said he was impressed with how his players coped under pressure and reflected on a positive Championship overall.

“I think there’s two ways to look at it,” he said. “We can analyse the game which was disappointing in parts, especially the first half.

“But it was an improved performance in the second half and we showed resilience and togetherness to get that win.

“In the context of the Championship, it was great to pick up an away win and finish with three wins.”

Having already beaten France and England before their trip to Rome, Townsend said the experience Scotland has gained during this year’s Championship will only help in the long run.

“I think today’s game will be as valuable as the win against England in terms of the experience this team has and working out how to beat teams when you’re not playing your best,” he said.

“Each game is different, you have different game plans and different game plans the opposition are bringing to you, you have to react to different situations whether the game is going well for you.

“The game obviously wasn’t going that well for us in the first half. There were a couple of good parts of our game in the first half when we scored a try, but Italy controlled most of the possession.

“They were very strong with their ball carries, a lot of direct rugby, and that was narrowing up our defence and then they were able to find space.

“So, we obviously didn’t have as much possession as we did against Ireland and a lot of that was down to our errors, but sometimes it was due to Italy playing really well.”

Captain John Barclay, who scored one of Scotland’s four tries, said it was crucial the visitors remained calm when things were not going their way.

He said: “I thought Italy played really well, they held on to the ball really well, kept it for phase after phase after phase, but we stayed in the game and were calm when they scored just after half-time.

“We were not perfect by any means, a lot of error in our game, but we found a way to win.

“It’s been the story of our Championship that when we’re accurate we’re very good, but when we’re inaccurate and not quite on it teams can thrive off that.

“We played some good stuff and when we played accurately and held on to the ball we put them under a lot of pressure, but for me moving forward that’s the area we have to be better at.

“The guys are happy, exhausted and relieved. We came here and said we wanted to leave the Championship with three wins out of five, which we’ve not done many times.”