February 10, 2019 / 12:38 PM / 5 days ago

Rugby - Townsend backs Scotland to bounce back against France

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland coach Gregor Townsend bemoaned a game of two halves as his side slipped to a 22-13 Six Nations loss to Ireland at Murrayfield on Saturday, but has backed the team to bounce back with a win against France in two weeks.

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v Ireland - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 9, 2019 Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Scotland trailed 12-10 at the break having created a number of opportunities to score tries in the opening period, but their execution in the second half was poor, especially at set-pieces, contributing heavily to their defeat.

“We got a lot of our attacking game into play as well as really good decisions, really good work-rate off the ball, which meant we were finding space and the first half. If we were able to replicate that in the second half I think we’d be here with a win,” Townsend told reporters.

“Our contact work against a very good defence was outstanding; just that final piece, the execution of set-piece, which has been really good, that fell off the jigsaw today.”

Townsend was, however, impressed with the pressure his players applied on Six Nations champions Ireland, restricting the visitors’ influence with the boot, usually such an important part of their play.

“A game of rugby is a lot of things, it’s the defence battle that you have to do, the contact battle, the kicking game is so important and the pressure we put on Ireland’s kicks, I think we won those battles,” he added.

Despite the defeat, Townsend is confident his team can get a positive result in Paris on Feb. 23.

“It’s going to be a huge challenge in Paris, we’ve not won there in 20 years and France – the way they played in the first half against Wales – showed what a quality team they are,” he said.

“But I believe in our squad I believe that the way they play will put pressure on any team whether we’re playing home or away.

“We’ll take a lot of confidence in how we defended (against Ireland), the effort we put into the game, how we attacked against an excellent defence, but we have to be accurate and that will be the big focus for us over the next two weeks.”

Scotland will meet Ireland in their opening Rugby World Cup Pool A game in Yokohama, Japan on Sept. 22, with the victor in that fixture likely to top the group and avoid a possible quarter-final with defending champions New Zealand.

Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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