Vern Cotter hails win over Ireland as his best with Scotland

‘It certainly changes the dynamic, to start the Six Nations with a win’

Coaches Vern Cotter and Joe Schmidt share a moment before the Six Nations match at Murrayfield. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Coaches Vern Cotter and Joe Schmidt share a moment before the Six Nations match at Murrayfield. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Scotland coach Vern Cotter hailed their win over Ireland and his old mate Joe Schmidt as the best of his time as head coach and said that their physicality at the breakdown was critical.

“I think it would have to be,” said Cotter when asked if this was the best win of his tenure. “I’m really happy for the players that put in so much work, it validates that work. It certainly changes the dynamic, to start the Six Nations with a win. But it’s only one game. I know their feet will be firmly on the ground to make sure we back this up with another good performance.”

Reflecting on the game, Cotter said: “A good first half and we probably lost a little bit of purchase in the second half when they changed their defence and came up a bit harder and cut off our outsides and we turned over a bit of ball.

“But credit to Greig [Laidlaw] and the boys they got it back and got the win in the last 10 minutes in what was a tough Test match. So overall it was great to see. It was a good result.

“A lot of things came off. I don’t think we started particularly well – we lost a scrum and a lineout – but we made up for it with some lineout defence and then we were pretty critical at the breakdown, which is pretty key to playing them, and the guys did roll their sleeves up and were reasonably accurate, and kept them out and we got turnovers.

“We knew at half-time these guys would come back much stronger. We defended very well for long periods. What was nice was stopping them scoring tries a metre from the line, total commitment.”

After two excruciating near misses against Australia, and other ones that got away, the Scotland captain Laidlaw said this victory underlined that Scotland have a changed mentality in tight contests.

“Yeah there is, definitely. We know what plays to go to when we’re in tight games. It’s the way we’re coached during the week through V[ern] and the other coaches, we know how to build pressure on teams, through field position and that’s why we won today.

“It was so pleasing to come back and close it out. Just to grab it back was so pleasing. It was a great team effort and one we’re delighted to start the championship with.

“We just don’t want to be getting beaten anymore, so it was so pleasing to get this over the line. The message was hold onto the ball, and it worked very well overall.”

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