McInally aims to recapture home form
Scotland hooker Stuart McInally is adamant that recapturing the nation's home form moved to the forefront of the players’ minds as they returned from Paris following a round three Guinness Six Nations defeat to France.
The Scots were unable to end a 20-year wait for victory in the Stade de France, ultimately losing 27-10 to their hosts, and while the opportunity to address that particular narrative is in the past, another presents itself in under a fortnight’s time.
The national team’s home defeat to Ireland in the second round was the Scot’s first in the championship in three years, a run McInally is keen to restart against an unbeaten Wales side, in-front of a 14th consecutive capacity BT Murrayfield crowd, before travelling to Twickenham to face England.
He said: “We’re looking to win both of those games, of course we are, and whenever we play at BT Murrayfield we expect to win. We were so disappointed not to beat Ireland there [in the previous game].
“Our home record is something that we’re very proud of and, when we came up against a very tough Irish team, we came up second best. When we bring Wales up, we’re going to be better and do everything to win.”
Scotland started the 2019 Guinness Six Nations in bright, bonus-point winning fashion against Italy, however that match seems long ago now as the home defeat to Ireland was followed by Saturday's away loss to France.
“It’s so frustrating that, over the last couple of years, we’ve gone so well on the summer tour and had good performances in the autumn,” added McInally.
“We were trying to come into this tournament with a higher level of expectation than we’ve ever had before and that’s what makes days like that so disappointing.
“When you put all your effort into coming here [Paris] to win, and really believe that you can win, and then don’t perform, it’s just so disappointing."
He continued: “We need to show that we're good enough to compete with these teams.
“We put a lot into the week of training and really wanted to come here and do something Scotland haven’t done in a really long time.
“I thought France played really well, showed a lot of energy and took a lot of their chances but we gave them too much ball and weren’t accurate enough with the ball as we needed to be against a team like that.”
France and Scotland were separated by just seven points at the half-way mark and McInally revealed that a shared optimism was prevalent in the dressing room as the visitors readied themselves for the second 40.
That wind was, however, knocked out of that particular sail as a kick and chase by Mathieu Bastareaud allowed Yoann Huget to race across the whitewash in the first minute of the second-half.
“At half-time we were really confident going forward,” explained McInally.
“We knew that we were still in the game, even though we hadn’t played particularly well, so that [try] was a massive blow for us.
“Probably that moment after half-time, when they scored, was a real period of time where we wanted to get ourselves back in the game.
“I do believe we’re still in a good place generally, having played some good rugby over the past 12 to 24 months.
“We’ve shown we can take on anyone in the world, but we need to start coming into these tournaments and getting wins.
“We weren’t good enough against France, so we just have to make sure we’re better for the two exciting games coming up to finish – Wales at home and then England away.
"All our focus goes on to that.”