EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Scotland have plenty to work on ahead of next weekend’s meeting with world champions New Zealand, coach Gregor Townsend admitted after his side held out for a narrow 44-38 win over Samoa at Murrayfield on Saturday.
He says the Scots need to work on both attack and defence after conceding five tries and letting a 22-point lead slip as the Pacific islanders came close to only a second ever win over them.
“We have got to make sure we don’t give up possession in our half as cheaply and defend much better,” he said after the first of three November internationals at Murrayfield, with much tougher tests against the All Blacks and Wallabies to come over the next two Saturdays.
“We know how great a side the All Blacks are in attack and defence, so this first game is history now. We can move on to things we need to be better at next week to play at our best against the All Blacks.” Townsend said Scotland had been weak at dealing with the visitors’ restarts and given away two cheap tries as a result.
“The restart is an aspect of the game. It’s the third set-piece, so you’ve got to make sure you practise it,” he said.
“Today it cost us, but another day it might be line-out or scrums. It’s always something you look at. “We’ll have a look at our set-up and what we could do differently and make sure the players practise their roles of communication in getting up for the ball in the air.”
But Townsend, who began his tenure as coach in mid-year, was pleased with the mauls, which led to two tries for hooker Stuart McInally.
“That was a strength of our game,” the coach told reporters. “It does need a lot of work from the forwards and someone at the back to make sure the timing’s right to score the tries.
“Stuart did very well outside of that aspect of the game - he carried strongly and his set-piece was a real positive, too.”
Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Neville Dalton