Lamont urges Scots to make good on Johnson gains
EDINBURGH (AFP) –
Scotland veteran Sean Lamont wants the side to launch a new era by beating Wales at Murrayfield on Saturday and thereby cement the progress already made under Australian interim coach Scott Johnson.
Back-to-back wins over Italy and Ireland under Johnson have left Scotland level on points with second-placed Wales heading into this weekend’s Six Nations Championship clash between the Celtic rivals.
However, the 12-8 win over Ireland saw Scotland defy rugby logic in a match where the losers had more than 70 percent territory and possession.
“Against Ireland, we were lucky at times — they bombed a couple of chances — but I want it to be more than just luck this weekend,” Lamont told a Murrayfield news conference on Friday.
“I want it to be us doing everything right, making no errors. That’s the only way we are going to beat Wales,” the 32-year-old Glasgow centre added.
Scotland defence coach Matt Taylor added that falling off tackles was not an option against a Wales side featuring powerful strike runners in George North and Alex Cuthbert.
“There were a number of situations against Ireland I was unhappy with, such as players falling off tackles,” Taylor said.
“But the one thing I will say was that our ability to scramble and ability to get back and regroup was fantastic. But the scramble is not the type of thing we can do game after game.”
Not since 1996 have Scotland won three Championship matches in a row and victory on Saturday would keep the Scots in the title hunt even though England, chasing a Grand Slam, remain in pole position.
It’s all a far cry from the situation Johnson, promoted from within the existing Scotland set-up, inherited after former coach Andy Robinson resigned following the shock loss to Tonga in November.
Scotland, who finished with the wooden spoon last season, had won just two of their previous 15 Championship matches heading into this term’s campaign.
But Scotland under Johnson, assisted by a fellow Australian in Taylor and English forwards specialist Dean Ryan, have been a different side this term.
“Johnno’s a very good coach,” the 74-times capped Lamont said. “From when he came over in the (northern) summer, he’s certainly helped me as a back.
“Hitting lines, attaching to players, little things and it’s been the same with Deano (Ryan) and Matt with defence.
“It’s all been little things that have worked well to paint the big pictures really simply. I think that’s made a difference. Little things, the fine detail hammered out and I think we are starting to reap the rewards now.”
And having spent much of his career in a losing Scotland side, Lamont had no problem embracing the burden of expectation associated with a winning team.
“Two wins, we don’t want to be a flash in the pan,” he said.
“We want this to be the start of something new and we want to do that by backing it up again this weekend.”
He added: “Certainly, there’s less stress than this time last year. Rugby’s a damn sight more bearable when you’re winning than when you are getting beaten every week.”
Wales have won their last five matches against Scotland.
But Lamont, who spent several seasons with Welsh side Llanelli Scarlets before rejoining Glasgow in 2012, said the knowledge gained from playing their Welsh counterparts in the Celtic League should inspire Scotland.
“We face these guys a lot of the time week in week out, so we know what they are capable of. They are talented players, but no one is infallible.”