Grant Gilchrist believes Scotland's Six Nations bid is on a firm footing
Grant Gilchrist believes the lessons learned from Scotland's autumn campaign could prove to be invaluable as they prepare for another stiff examination in the Six Nations.
Gregor Townsend’s side ended their November series on a high as they edged out Argentina on Saturday amid testing conditions in Edinburgh.
The highlight of the past month was the eight-try hammering of Fiji but the roller-coaster journey also included a couple of disappointing dips.
Wales were allowed to triumph in the opening clash in Cardiff when two Huw Jones missed tackles resulted in tries while South Africa escaped with victory at BT Murrayfield as the Scots failed to make the most of their chances.
But Gilchrist believes those setbacks will help drill into the squad the lengths they must go to if they are to establish themselves as championship contenders come the spring.
The Edinburgh lock said: “We’ve had a good autumn. The Six Nations still seems a long way away but on the whole we’ve done well.
“Obviously we would have loved to have won those narrow defeats against Wales and South Africa. We feel that we let ourselves down and we could have won those.
“But there is good learnings from that and if we do take the good stuff that we did and add the learnings to make some improvements then we will back ourselves against anybody.
“I’m sure Gregor will have taken a lot on a coaching side as we have on the playing side from the whole four-game series and there will be learnings across the board.”
Gilchrist believes there are signs already that Scotland have taken on board the lessons they have received from facing some of the world’s top sides as they overcame the Pumas 14-9.
The damp conditions left the ball resembling a wet bar of soap and ruled out any chance of the hosts utilising their trademark free-flowing passing game. But there was enough in Townsend’s plans as they eventually triumphed thanks to Sean Maitland’s second-half try.
“It was one of those games where the weather conditions played a part,” said Gilchrist. “Some of it also had to do with our own execution but we were just delighted to get over the line in what was a scrappy win.
“There was frustration. Obviously we want to play a certain way but the ball was that slippery and Argentina defended really well.
“We had to look to a different way to win and the main positive is that good teams find a way to get the result. Sometimes it’s not pretty but we’re delighted to get a win against a strong Argentina side.
“There was a bit of relief at the end but I think you’ve got to take joy out of winning Test matches. As soon as we got back in the changing room we celebrated a win the same way we always do.”
Argentina coach Mario Ledesma was frustrated as his team spurned four make-able kicks, while there was no punishment for Scotland hooker Fraser Brown, despite his high tackle on wing Ramiro Moyano.
“I think we missed 15 points and a couple of line breaks we should have scored, especially in the last five minutes,” he said. “So we have to learn something from the game; we need to put away the opportunities that are presented to us.
“There was a tweet about all the red cards and yellow cards that should have been awarded to players and (the Brown incident) is one of them.
“Clearly he is late, he applies force, it ticks all the boxes, but that’s the way it is. The ref didn’t see it that way, the TMO didn’t see it that way, it’s just the way it is.”