Scotland ‘need a rocket’

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell endured a frustrating outing against England

Scotland fly-half Finn Russell (left) endured a frustrating outing against England

Scotland’s players ‘need a rocket’ from coach Vern Cotter after their eighth straight Six Nations defeat, according to ex-England centre Jeremy Guscott.

The Scots extended a try drought against England at Murrayfield to 504 minutes in Saturday’s 15-9 defeat.

“I think these guys need a rocket,” Guscott told the BBC Six Nations Forum. “Vern probably won’t give them one, but I thought he was very soft on them.

“Maybe he blames himself, maybe he didn’t get the message across.”

Scotland spurned several first-half opportunities, including a botched drop-goal attempt from Finn Russell with the last kick of the half that would have seen Scotland lead at the interval.

“The scoreline suggests it was close but I thought there was a lot between the teams in terms of shape, composure and strategy,” Guscott added.

“When Scotland got into position to score points, which was rare – whether it was a try, a drop-goal or a penalty – they just lost their shape and didn’t apply themselves well enough.”

Guscott cited an example of Scotland’s attack misfiring when Russell had the ball deep in the England half with three team-mates to his left, and only three English defenders ahead of them, but took the ball into contact.

“That was a four-on three, but it was head-down, very blind, not heads-up rugby. They need to be smarter and show more composure in those situations.

Stuart Hogg offered Scotland’s most potent attacking threat but could not breach England’s defence

“Russell has Mark Bennett, Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour outside him, all Glasgow team-mates, so that should be like clockwork in the Scottish backline.

“It is about thought-processes for me. What was going through their minds in those situations? I would suggest nothing.

“Scotland were maybe stifled by the expectation and pressure of being at home and maybe being slight favourites. I would give them an earful, I really would.”

Former scrum-half Andy Nicol, who led Scotland to Calcutta Cup victory in 2000, believes the same side should be given a chance to redeem themselves against Wales in Cardiff next Saturday.

“I would give them a rocket, but also give them another opportunity,” he told BBC Sport. “That was Scotland’s best team out there today, and we need to stick with them.

“Scotland’s only attacking threat was Stuart Hogg and he had a really good game. But if your only threat is from full-back, that is pretty easy to defend against.

“(Centre) Mark Bennett had a quiet game – maybe he was just feeling his way back from injury.

“Finn Russell tried a lot but he never quite got free. He just has to re-group – and he will, he has a good temperament – and come back strong next week.”

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