February 2, 2019 / 6:32 PM / 6 months ago

Scotland cannot afford to go to sleep again, warns Laidlaw

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw said his side could ill afford a repeat of the late slump they suffered against Italy in Saturday’s Six Nations opener at Murrayfield when they take on holders Ireland in their next clash next weekend.

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v Italy - Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 2, 2019 Scotland's Greig Laidlaw during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

Scotland were cruising at 31-3 ahead after an emphatic first 70 minutes, having scored five tries without reply, but then seemed to go to sleep and allowed Italy to score three tries in the final 10 minutes.

Although Scotland still won 33-20 and their victory was never in doubt, they lost concentration in the closing stages, exacerbated by the sin-binning of Simon Berghan which handed the visitors a one-man advantage for those 10 minutes.

“It doesn’t get any better than to win here at Murrayfield for us and we were pretty happy with how the middle part of the game went; we put Italy under a lot of pressure,” said Laidlaw.

“I think we’ve got a couple things to work on going into the game next week but I see that as a positive.

“Against a quality opponent like Ireland you cannot afford to let a test slip like that. We were well in control but we gave away the momentum by probably being less aggressive near the end and slipping up on our tackles.

“But it will heighten our awareness for the quality team that is coming here next weekend so it’s important to recover and come back,” he added.

Scotland have set a lofty ambition of ending a 20-year drought and winning the Six Nations this year and while they looked clinically efficient for most of Saturday’s opener, their performance in the last 10 minutes will be ringing alarm bells.

But Laidlaw said he was confident they could win a second game in this year’s competition. Scotland have won six matches in a row at Murrayfield in the northern hemisphere championship, stretching back to 2016.

“We can win. It’s going to be great to be back at Murrayfield, where we are building something really strong. We are proud of our record and we want to build on that,” Laidlaw added.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Clare Fallon

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