Cotter: Tour success is sign of good things to come

Greig Laidlaw scored four late penalties to give Scotland victory. Picture: David Gibson/Fotosport
Greig Laidlaw scored four late penalties to give Scotland victory. Picture: David Gibson/Fotosport
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Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has urged his team to build on their 2-0 series win in Japan.

Cotter’s men failed to score a try in Saturday’s second Test in Tokyo but four late penalties from the boot of Greig Laidlaw ensured Scotland rounded off a long season with a 21-16 victory.

“Everybody that came on, everyone who has been part of this tour brought something,” Cotter said.

“The group is as tight as it could be. The tour has been different – the weather, the culture – there are a lot of differences. The team adapted well during the game but also everybody played their role within it.

“They were always going to be 23-man games and we knew we would be relying on the bench to come on and add that extra energy and hopefully wear them down.

“We will review the trip with total honesty. Performance is about consistency. We need to make sure we are out there and performing consistently.

“We are disappointed we lost ball and some of our plays did not come off as well as we would like them to have. I know players are disappointed but we will look at all that next time we come together.

“The next time we come together is November and I would like to think that the players from what has been a pretty big year will take time to look at the performance and the content of the performance as we did when we broke up last time.

“Our last game (before the tour) was the loss against Ireland so some things are coming right. No coach is ever going to be totally happy and I know we will find parts we need to improve, we saw some of them here. It will be a focus next time we come together.”

One of Scotland’s problems is that they have always taken a long time to come together and the four-week break between the end of the season for Glasgow Warriors – longer for those in teams that did not make the play-offs in their leagues – meant a lot of players looked rusty, particularly when it came to hanging onto the ball in contact.

All the same, Cotter was encouraged by what he saw as evidence of a growing depth to his squad – his first-choice midfield at the start of the Six Nations, Finn Russell, Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett, all missed the trip while Duncan Taylor had to head home with a hamstring injury.

After winning the first Test, Cotter felt confident enough to make six changes and though that played a part in some of their problems, they still found a way to come through.

“To be able to shift the team from one week to the next and get these guys to play and to get the win is important,” Cotter added.

“They were difficult conditions out there for everybody. Our scrum and set piece gathered in strength. The conditions were tough for both teams. We knew they would be extremely physical in the first half and we were hoping they might get tired in the latter half of the second.

“Maybe a little bit of fatigue from them enabled us to get on top.”