They completely failed in most of what they set out to do but Scotland's players seemed to glean almost as much satisfaction from addressing that yesterday as they would have had it gone perfectly.

"We sat down and thought of a plan and we didn't do it, but we're really, really happy to get the win," said Kelly Brown, their captain. "Some of our 'D' [defence] wasn't quite up to the standard that we needed. While the skills weren't spot on I thought our work and fight and guts were very good, and for that I'm very proud of the boys. We got a little bit of luck as well."

Brown accepted, too, that more of the same will not next month bring a third Murrayfield win in succession.

Loading article content

"We know we need to improve because if we play like that against Wales, we won't win that game," he said. "We can take a lot from that. There was a lot of talk we hadn't won back-to-back matches since 2001, so we've done that and we'll enjoy it over the next day or so, but we're aware that was by no means perfect and we need to improve."

Brown's newly-appointed vice-captain, Ryan Grant, had not envisaged a contribution which included reducing his team to 14 men when he was sin-binned just 15 minutes into the match with Scotland on the rack. He may have been a victim of misidentification when Conor Murray was tackled before travelling 10 metres after taking a quick penalty.

However, just as was collectively the case as the team coped with a string of penalties against them, at least some of which were contentious, he did not dwell on his misfortune but returned to help ensure that the job of changing Scotland's image as soft touches continues.

"There is a perception that this is the same old Scotland so, no matter what happened, we had to show a bit of grit and determination and if that meant defending for 40 minutes that was just what we were going to do," he said. "We did that and the boys did that with 14 men on the pitch, so credit to all of them, they defended outstandingly. That is not what we wanted, but if the situation arises, that is something we can do.

"There was a real change [during the second half]. It might have been Dougie Hall's hit, but around that time there was a real shift in momentum. Jim [Hamilton] was leading and bigging the boys up, and Al [Kellock], when he came on, brought a lot of energy. The game did not go the way we wanted. Ideally, we want to involve the back three as much as we can, but we did not have the possession that we wanted. Things don't always go your way, so it is about working on the things that do. I can't say enough about the way that the boys defended."

That the rudimentary Hamilton won the man-of-the-match award spoke to the nature of the game.

"You make your own luck, don't you, and we've worked extremely hard on the areas that it takes to win Test matches," he said. "We've worked extremely hard on the set piece and the contact areas. That doesn't come by luck.

"Over the last couple of years it's been difficult for me and for the team not winning games, whether back-to-back or just winning, and that's fantastic in itself.

"We know how much hard work we've put in over the years and to get a win against a very good Ireland team is a great feeling but we're not getting carried away.

"The coaches have asked me to go back to basics and do what I do. I've got to understand the player that I am and make small improvements in the areas I'm not great at. I'm not just saying this, though, it isn't about me, it's about the team going well."