Robinson wants defence to improve

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 00:00
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Scotland coach Andy Robinson believes his side can win their first match of this season's Six Nations - if they can improve their defence against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Scotland coach Andy Robinson believes his side can win their first match of this season's Six Nations - if they can improve their defence against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Both sides come into the wooden spoon encounter with four defeats out of four and Robinson, widely believed to be on his way out after this match, says his side have been as good as anyone else this season but individual errors have cost them.

"One of the key parts of our game tomorrow is we need to improve our ruthlessness in defence," he said.

"We've shown it in parts and when we've had our defensive structure in place we've stopped every side from being able to play. We made some individual errors to allow Ireland to score points, to allow France to score points and Wales.

"When that happens it puts you under pressure. Our attacking game has been developing, we're offloading well and we're creating opportunities. There's a real confidence and we have to be able to take that onto the pitch.

"When you look at the reason why we've lost it's down to the individual errors we've made. If we stop making those individual errors we'll win the game."

Robinson, though, recognised that Italy will be no push-overs and the key to victory will be to stop the hosts by having a good first-half.

"Their defence has really improved and if you look at the last six, seven games going into half-time, they've been level with teams or within a score," he said.

"That's something they'll take pride from and they'll feel if they can do that against us they'll put us under pressure. This game is about the way we can perform in that pressure environment."

Italy have identified Scotland's line-out as an area of strength but for the visitors it is the scrum where they have to be wary.

It's an area where Robinson is looking for an improvement in order to set a platform for victory.

"[We need to] score more points than the opposition and that will occur by not giving Italy penalties at scrum-time," said the former England international. "We've got to be very physical and scrum as an eight.

"They'll try the double shove and we have to make our tackles and put them on the floor but have discipline not to be offside and not give away penalties at the breakdown.

"We need to be really sharp there and on our line, defend for our lives.

"If we do that, the game can be won against a good Italian side, who defend their territory passionately.

"We have to break them, and the way we do that is by not giving them any chances."

Scotland number eight David Denton said he was looking forward to testing himself against Italy counterpart Sergio Parisse.

And he was also keen to wipe out memories of last week's 32-14 defeat to Ireland, in which they conceded four tries.

"It was the first game we had really under-performed in the Six Nations," he said.

"We've been playing some great rugby and it's about getting back to that this week.

"There was a lot of disappointment in camp after the Ireland game, particularly that night. But there was a real quick turnaround so there wasn't time to dwell on it.

"We needed to start concentrating on the task at hand and we've done a lot of work on the scrum this week.

"Being at the back of the scrum, that's the best I've felt it since being with the Scotland squad and the front row's been saying the same thing, so we're really confident."

Scotland have lost on their last two trips to Rome but they have also won their last two matches against Italy.


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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 5 5 0 0 26
Wales 5 3 0 2 15
Scotland 5 3 0 2 13
France 5 2 0 3 11
England 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 1