Al Dickinson backs Scotland to eradicate mistakes

Al Dickinson charges the England line at BT Murrayfield
Al Dickinson charges the England line at BT Murrayfield
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Al Dickinson insists the feelgood factor Scotland built up at last year’s World Cup has not been wiped out by Saturday’s loss to England.

Scotland ran out at BT Murrayfield full of hope ahead of their RBS Six Nations opener after marching to the World Cup quarter-finals last autumn.

But it was the same old story for Vern Cotter’s team as they failed to make the most of their openings while Eddie Jones’ men claimed a 15-9 Calcutta Cup victory thanks to tries from George Kruis and Jack Nowell.

Scotland have now gone eight matches without a championship win. It is their worst-ever run in the competition.

But Edinburgh prop Dickinson believes Scotland can still cling onto the confidence they collected at the World Cup and use it to resurrect their campaign.

Asked if his side’s self-belief had been sapped away after losing in the Capital, Dickinson said: “It’s not. It’s always hard. The Six Nations is such a massive tournament, it’s a long tournament so we can’t get too down on ourselves.

“Obviously we are gutted after Saturday’s result but we have to be confident we can go and win games. There is no easy way to do that, especially when you lose your opener.

“But we have to pick ourselves up. There’s no magic blueprint unfortunately, but it will come. I really believe that.”

A trip to Cardiff to face Wales, though, is probably the last place Scotland would have asked to go to while looking to kick-start their Six Nations.

Two years ago they suffered their heaviest ever championship defeat when they were thumped 51-3 under the roof of the recently-renamed Principality Stadium.

It is nine years since Scotland managed even a win over Wales, and 14 since their last triumph in the Welsh capital.

But Dickinson tried to maintain an image of positivity as he said: “The Millennium Stadium is a great place to go play. The boys should be excited about going down there.”

However, the 32-year-old front-rower knows his side will have no chance of upsetting Wales if they continue to pass up chances like they did against England.

Skipper Greig Laidlaw blamed a series of “dumb” mistakes for letting Jones’ team off the hook when Scotland were on top.

And Dickinson admits the Scotland players will have to sit through a candid assessment of what went wrong if they are to rectify their flaws.

“Crucial errors at crucial times made the difference,” he confessed. “It’s just pretty disappointing.

“There won’t be (anything held back). We’re a pretty honest bunch. We’ll speak to each other and guys who made mistakes will put their hands up.

“They’ll be honest and say, ‘That wasn’t good enough. I’ll sort myself out for next week’.

“But we’re not going to pick on anyone in particular. We all made mistakes in the game. We just need to get back out on the paddock and sort it out.

“It’s a fine line at this level. Just before half-time we were on their five-metre line and gave away a silly penalty. If we’d scored there it could have changed the whole game.

“Those are the little things we need to learn from, although I don’t know how many times we are going to say that. If we want to take the next step, though, those are the mistakes we need to eradicate from our game.”

Scotland full-back Stuart Hogg, meanwhile, pinpointed a pivotal moment which captured the frustration of the home team’s day.

The Scots have gained a reputation for poaching interception tries in recent years and, on an evening when the England defence was as tight as a drum, it felt like that may be the only way the men in dark blue might conjure a try.

When Finn Russell snaffled an intercept deep in Scottish territory it looked for a split second that a breakaway score was on. But perhaps after stumbling slightly off the mark and sensing that he hadn’t quite jumped the gun enough, the stand-off opted to kick ahead instead of backing himself or Hogg outside him, and the ball sailed harmlessly into touch.

“I was calling for it,” said Hogg. “He apologised straightaway, as soon as he kicked it. On another day we would have scored that, but it’s these little margins that are the difference between winning and losing a game.

“It’s very unfortunate that we didn’t take our chances.”

Hogg believes that, if Russell had given him the chance, he could well have taken it. “I hope so, but there was a long way to go,” he said.

Hogg was as disappointed as anyone that all the build-up had come to nought and, yet again, defeat was the outcome in a Six Nations match.

“We are bitterly disappointed by the defeat. We worked incredibly hard through the week on our patterns of play but unfortunately it didn’t come off for us.”

The Glasgow Warriors man refuted suggestions that the loss marked a backward step from the World Cup.

“No, definitely not,” he said. “The World Cup is in the past and we will continue to learn and work hard on the training pitch.

“Obviously, getting a win first up would do wonders for everybody.”

Hogg was peppered with high balls from England and can expect the same from Wales in Cardiff.

“I’m always going to get that, being a full-back. I thought they might have changed after the first two – I was getting a bit bored with them.

“But it’s my job to deal with them and thankfully I did that.”

Asked what needed to be put right for that daunting trip to the Welsh capital, Hogg said: “I think we just need to reset a little quicker off the ball. At times we were getting the ball and we had just one out-runner and that’s when it became slow for us. We’ll review this game and see what we can do.”