Horne: Only victory against France will convince critics

Peter Horne is desperate for a win at BT Murrayfield
Peter Horne is desperate for a win at BT Murrayfield
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Peter Horne is glad Scotland have made a start as they look to turn around their sorry RBS Six Nations record.

But the Glasgow centre insists no one in the Dark Blues camp is naive enough to think they have convinced critics they have sorted all the problems which contributed to nine straight championship defeats.

The Scots’ 36-20 win over Italy in Rome on Saturday was their first tournament triumph since February 2014. But for sceptical pundits, a win over the Azzurri is the very least that should be expected from Vern Cotter’s team.

Now Horne says his side are desperate to build on their overdue success when they take on France and Ireland in their final two games and begin transforming the fortunes of Scottish rugby.

“Now we’ve won we just feel like we can really crack on and have a go at winning these last two games,” he said. “Within the group we are all desperate to get better and drive the nation on.

“That has to start with France. We have to go out and back it up. Just because we’ve won one game, it doesn’t make us world beaters. Believe me, in that changing room we are the first to admit that.

“We want another win, especially at home for our fans. It’s been a while since we’ve won at Murrayfield in the Six Nations and everyone deserves that.”

A 16-point winning margin suggests Scotland bossed proceedings in the Eternal City but the truth is they were made to hold on for spells in the second half.

Italy threw everything at the visitors but were eventually disappointed as a moment of magic from full-back Stuart Hogg set up Tommy Seymour for a decisive score two minutes from time.

And Horne believes the manner of the performance was just as important as the win itself for Cotter’s men as they look to bounce back from their slump.

“Yeah I think it was,” he said. “It was a bit gritty, we had to dig in. That is good because in the summer there before we went off to the World Cup we played them at home and controlled it from the first minute. This time it was like a real Test match.

“There was momentum switches throughout the game and times where they had the upper hand. We did have to dig deep.

“We were under our own posts a couple of times but we got together. There was a real calm. We weren’t panicking. Everyone stuck to their task and ultimately Hoggy came up with a massive play to put us out of sight with Tommy’s try.

“I think we’re in a great place after that win. There’s a bit of confidence about the place. We’re in a much better place than we were two weeks ago.”

But Horne knows Les Bleus will come to Edinburgh a week on Saturday packing a threat even more muscular than the one Scotland faced against Italy’s heavyweight pack.

However, with their front row of WP Nel, Ross Ford and Al Dickinson functioning impressively, he’s confident the Dark Blues will cope.

He said: “France are a massive, physical side. Everyone expects all that Gallic flair. But at the end of the day they have some big men in their side.

“We will have to match them up front. We can’t be scared to have a crack. Our forwards did a great job in Rome, if we can win the breakdown and set-piece like we did on Saturday we can have a fantastic game because our outside backs can always score tries.

“There is nothing better as a back than seeing your scrum moving forward and winning penalties. You can stick the ball in the corner, win the lineout and drive forward.

“In the past teams have done that to us but now WP, Dicko and Fordy have been fantastic over the last few weeks. You can’t underestimate how great that is for us.

“When I was younger I would always want to see props who could carry the ball, offload and pass. Now I couldn’t care less about that. So long as the set-piece is going well and they fall into a few rucks, then I’m happy.”