Autumn Nations Series: Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend eyes defensive improvements for Australia clash | Rugby Union News


Scotland kicked off this year’s autumn internationals with a 60-14 win over Tonga, but head coach Townsend believes his team must improve defensively; “We set very high standards in our defence and at times it wasn’t at those standards”

Last Updated: 01/11/21 2:38pm

Gregor Townsend wants Scotland to tighten up their defence against Australia

Gregor Townsend wants Scotland to tighten up their defence against Australia

Gregor Townsend has warned that Scotland will have to improve defensively when they take on Australia this weekend.

Townsend’s side notched an emphatic 60-14 victory over Tonga in their first of four Autumn Nations Series games at BT Murrayfield on Saturday.

However, the concession of three first-half penalties and a second-half try was a cautionary note for the Scotland head coach ahead of the visit of the Wallabies on Sunday.

Dave Rennie’s team have scored an average of 30 points in winning each of their last five games – two victories over both South Africa and Argentina, and a defeat of Japan.

“Defensively, we’ll have to be at our very best,” Townsend said. “Australia have shown they are a good attacking side and they are full of confidence.

“We set very high standards in our defence and at times [against Tonga] it wasn’t at those standards. We also have to see how quickly we can integrate the players who are going to come back into the team during the week.

“We’ve got an extra day to prepare which should help us, but we know it’s going to be a massive challenge on Sunday.”

We set very high standards in our defence and at times [against Tonga] it wasn’t at those standards.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend

Townsend has some selection dilemmas to ponder ahead of Sunday, with his 10 English-based players joining the pool along with Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell and Sharks flanker Dylan Richardson.

The Scotland head coach handed starts to the previously uncapped Pierre Schoeman, Jamie Hodgson, Sione Tuipulotu and Rufus McLean against Tonga, while Marshall Sykes, Luke Crosbie, Ross Thompson and Jamie Dobie made their debuts off the bench.

Kyle Steyn marked his first start by becoming the first Scotland player to score four tries at BT Murrayfield, while fellow winger McLean grabbed a double and Schoeman one.

“I think there are a few players who put their hands up for selection,” Townsend said. “Maybe people will think that scoring tries is a key element in selection, but we’ll look at a number of other things.

Scotland hammer Tonga

Kyle Steyn scored four tries as Scotland ran riot against an under-strength Tonga side to win 60-14 at Murrayfield on Saturday.

“I thought that both wingers were very, very good. Obviously, Rufus got two early tries and Kyle got four in the end. Both contributed really well on kick-chase, with Kyle making some kicks that might not have been brilliant kicks into ones that had great outcomes. Rufus the same.

“And we had a winger [in Darcy Graham] who started our last Test match in Paris at full-back, so it’s great to see three wingers pushing for places. We’ll have Duhan [van der Merwe] back available for us next week, and I believe he got two tries for Worcester.

“So, there’s real strength in depth in that position, and in other positions throughout the team. Hopefully we’ll have no injuries and can select from a full squad.”





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