Scotland might have scored 10 tries and easily beaten Tonga 60-14 in their Autumn International at Murrayfield on Saturday, but coach Gregor Townsend is warning his sides defensive skills need improving ahead of much tougher tests against Australia and South Africa over the next fortnight.
Scotland were devastating on the front foot but also let Tonga, who were missing key players and had little preparation, have some attacking passages of play and a consolation try midway through the second half.
Townsend is concerned defensive lapses could prove a lot more costly in their next two Murrayfield tests - against Australia next Sunday and the world champions Springboks on November 13.
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“Defensively we’ll have to be at our very best. Australia have shown they are a good attacking side and they are full of confidence. They have won five test matches in a row and theyve beaten the world champions twice,” Townsend said. “We set very high standards in our defence, and at times against Tonga it wasnt at those standards. I thought Tonga played really well. We didnt know what to expect from them, but I felt when they had the ball they caused us problems, so well have a few things to work on this week.”
Scotland could only choose home-based players for the Test against Tonga but will, from this week, have a full squad as players are released by their English and French clubs, including the likes of British & Irish Lions Chris Harris, Stuart Hogg, Finn Russell and Duhan van der Merwe.
“We also have to see how quickly we can integrate the players who are going to come back into the team during the week. We’ve got an extra day to prepare which should help us but we know its going to be a massive challenge on Sunday,” Townsend added.
Barrett still going strong
Elsewhere, Beauden Barrett believes he has the energy and drive to remain a key player for the All Blacks after celebrating his 100th cap with an impressive display against Wales on Saturday.
Barrett scored a pair of tries in the All Blacks’ 54-16 victory at a sold-out Principality Stadium in Cardiff and the 30-year-old remains a vital component in Ian Foster’s team.
“I was a very raw young boy from Taranaki who was all-out attack and who had little opportunities off the bench “ a few cameos here and there,” Barrett said after the game. But now being a more senior player and having a lot more responsibilities in my life, there is a bigger picture. I’m more conscious of that and do things for different reasons now and my purpose is different.
“It’s all part of growing up I think, but I’m still very driven and determined and I’ve got plenty left in the tank.”
Barrett made his debut for New Zealand against Ireland in 2012 and since then has helped his nation to the 2015 Rugby World Cup and twice been named world player of the year.
It took Barrett less than four minutes to open the scoring on Saturday as he intercepted the ball inside the Welsh half before sprinting over the line to touch down between the posts.
He then put the seal on a comfortable win for the visitors when he stole possession again and scampered along the touchline to score in the corner.
“I’ve reminisced a fair bit this week, and it brings back some great memories,” said Barrett. “It was hard. I didn’t train that well this week “ there was a lot on my mind. I just wanted to play well and enjoy the moment because it was such a cool place to play my 100th.”