McFarland confident Scots can learn from missed opportunities

Scotland headed to Dublin on Friday with the hopes of recording a third straight championship win however lapses in accuracy at critical times proved their ultimate undoing against an undefeated Irish side, who later secured the championship a week early.

Scotland Assistant Coach, Dan McFarland, believes his side can take confidence from the opportunities they created against the championship winners but must do more to capitalise on their efforts and secure the win in future.

He said: “I think it was pretty clear what went wrong in the game. We had a number of opportunities we didn’t take.

"If you go to Dublin and face a team with the quality of Ireland and don’t take opportunities then you are always going to up against it, and that’s what happened.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Ireland, they’re one of the top teams in the world winning that many games at home in the NatWest 6 Nations.

"They’re very difficult to beat at home and, although we created opportunities for ourselves, we just didn’t take them and we’re all disappointed in that.

"Ireland have won four of their games so far, they're going for a Grand Slam next weekend. They're the level that the rest of us in the Six Nations are aspiring to,” McFarland added.

Glasgow Warriors hooker Fraser Brown returned to the Scotland fold as a replacement in Dublin on Saturday after missing the opening three games from concussion, and agreed with McFarland that Ireland have turned winning into a ‘habit’.

“You have to get used to winning and then when you're used to winning, even when you don't play well, you seem to find a way to win,” said Brown.

"Some people call it a mental block but it's not, it's just habit and consistency comes from habit and vice versa."

Looking ahead to this Saturday (17 March), Scotland face Italy in Rome (kick-off 12.30pm GMT) in their final round of the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations, as they look to secure a third win of the championship – live on ITV.

Even with Scotland’s title hopes over there is still much to play for in Rome, and McFarland insists the team are preparing for the occasion the same way as any other Test match this championship.

He said: “It’s about winning a Test match. It's about winning our third game in the championship, focusing on going to Italy and playing against a proud nation, who desperately want to win a match in the championship this year.

“We are fully aware that this is another Six Nations game and everybody knows how competitive it has been so far, and we see a stern test ahead of us.

"There are threats there and we're fully aware of them.

"They have a good tradition of forward play, something that is at the forefront of my mind [as forwards coach] and they've got some class players.

"We'll have our eyes firmly on the ball, there."