KOBE (Reuters) - Scotland are determined to make up for the meek, lifeless display that allowed Ireland to bully them from start to finish in their World Cup opener but despite a brutally honest review of their performance they still do not know what went wrong.
Gregor Townsend’s side were inferior in every department on Sunday, their worrying trend of conceding early tries continuing in Yokohama where they trailed 19-3 before the half-hour mark and never laid a glove on their Pool A opponents.
Scotland have been impressive in the Six Nations over the last couple of years with their dynamic, attacking play, so the lack of imagination and energy in Sunday’s 27-3 defeat came as a bodyblow to fans.
As defence coach, Matt Taylor said the way Scotland’s line had been breached was disappointing and frustrating, adding that he was aware of the stinging criticism back home.
“It’s tough to take, tough to hear,” he told a media conference on Wednesday. “It’s disappointing, we can’t put our finger on it.
“Maybe the occasion got to us, I’m not sure. If I knew the answers we’d be able to turn it around directly and make sure it never happens again.
“We’ve spoken about it so all we can do is move on and make sure the next game is right. We were pretty brutally honest in the review.”
Next up for Scotland are the big-hitting Samoans, who were reduced to 13 men for almost 10 minutes in the first half against Russia on Tuesday but still managed a six-try 34-9 bonus point victory.
“We’ll be doing everything in our power to put in a performance that the country can be proud of,” Taylor said of Monday’s game.
Scotland’s number 10 Finn Russell was also at a loss to explain their abject display. Ireland were clinical and the Scots sloppy, he ventured, but there were moments in the match when if the ball bounced differently things could have changed.
“It’s fine margins against the best teams in the world,” he said. “It’s understandable fans aren’t happy. They know we can play better than this.”
With very little ball to work with, Russell had minimal impact against the Irish and the Racing 92 standoff said it was key for Scotland to start better in their remaining group games against Samoa, Russia and hosts Japan.
“Looking on to the next three games, we have to make that a focal point for us, make sure we start well,” he added.
“The players this week will be in the right place mentally and I believe we’ll come out with a bit of fire in the belly.”
Editing by Ken Ferris