Tuesday 19 September 2017

Calm Cotter pledges to keep learning

Scotland 22 Australia 23

Scotland's coach Vern Cotter:
Scotland's coach Vern Cotter: "you can feel that there’s an element of frustration within the group, and that frustration will develop into positive energy". Photo: PA

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

Almost as soon as Vern Cotter had processed the lessons of a bruising second consecutive one-point loss to Australia, the focus switched to Saturday's match against an Argentina side still smarting from a 24-20 loss in Cardiff.

Injuries aside, the Scotland coach took a phlegmatic approach to Saturday's defeat.

Australia's fly-half Bernard Foley kicks the game-winning conversion. Photo: Getty
Australia's fly-half Bernard Foley kicks the game-winning conversion. Photo: Getty

"It's the first game in a series of eight games in a season which finishes in June," said the New Zealander.

"We knew we would get some information from this game that would help us improve for the next game, which is a philosophy we have used from the start.

"Nothing changes. We are using these three games to get better for a Six Nations which is going to be particularly important [in terms of World Cup qualification]. We'll get something from the next game as well and the game against Georgia because you can feel that there's an element of frustration within the group, and that frustration will develop into positive energy."

Despite the defeat, Cotter praised his players, suggesting that this had been one of the most polished performances in his time as Scotland coach.

Scotland's Richie Gray tackles Israel Folau. Photo: Getty
Scotland's Richie Gray tackles Israel Folau. Photo: Getty

Individually and as a team, Scotland stepped up to the mark, he said. "It was certainly a more complete performance than in Japan. I thought we kept our shape in a way we didn't against England in the Six Nations. Most of all, what you like to see is the boys fighting for each other.

"It was a good performance, but Australia are a good team and they were never going to go away. There were some things that I feel didn't go our way and some things we didn't manage well either, but I think there has been improvement.

"If we can keep our set plays producing ball and we can get over the advantage line and vary our attacks and keep that defensive aggression we saw I think there are positive signs. Against Argentina set phase and scrum will be important, they are the highest offloading team in world rugby, just about, so our focus will change in how we defend."

Cotter's mention of the set piece came in the context of an encouraging display by Scotland's two young props, debutant loosehead Allan Dell and 20-year-old tighthead Zander Fagerson, who had played just 11 minutes of international rugby. Despite being targeted, they held up well and even drew an early scrum penalty.

Australia's centre Tevita Kuridrani reaches out to score their final try. Photo: Getty
Australia's centre Tevita Kuridrani reaches out to score their final try. Photo: Getty

"The winning score wasn't there but there were certainly wins within that and we will take those and develop them," said Cotter. "Take Allan Dell in his first international game at loosehead, I thought he did pretty well, while Zander certainly took a big step up from the last time when he pulled the jersey on against England in the Six Nations.

"If we can keep developing those players to come through for the Six Nations this year, we may surprise a few teams."

Dell, the 24-year-old Edinburgh loosehead grew up playing as a No 8 and idolising Taine Randell and Zinzan Brooke, and was sufficiently impressive in the loose to be namechecked by Cotter. But he knows that next week it is his tight game that will come under pressure.

Scotland: Hogg, Maitland, Jones, Dunbar, Visser, Russell, Laidlaw, Dell (Reid 52), Ford ( Brown56), Fagerson (Low 68), R. Gray, J. Gray, Barclay, Watson, Wilson .
Australia: Folau, Haylett-Petty, Kuridrani, Hodge, Speight, Foley, Genia (Phipps 68) , Sio, Moore, Kepu (Alaalatoa 62), Arnold (Mumm48), Coleman, Pocock, Hooper, Timani
(Skelton 62).
REF: J Lacey (Ire)

Both teams react to the result. Photo: Getty
Both teams react to the result. Photo: Getty
Stuart Hogg shows his disappointment after the match. Photo: Getty
Stuart Hogg shows his disappointment after the match. Photo: Getty

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