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Failure in attack has now become trying for Scots

The starting XV has been repeatedly overhauled while last week's schedule saw their day off switched but it now seems that radical change rather than mere tinkering is required for Scotland.

The defeat by England on Saturday highlighted a familiar flaw in Andy Robinson's side, they continue to lose because they cannot score tries.

The Scotland coach said that the responsibility is collective and that ultimately he is most accountable, but the pressure is now mounting on a coach whose teams – in four attempts with England and Scotland – have never finished higher than fourth in the RBS Six Nations. He is aware, too, that his Scotland sides have won fewer times in 11 championship matches than his predecessor Frank Hadden's did in his first campaign in 2006.

However, Gregor Townsend has now been the team's attack coach for three years during which the flow of tries has reduced from a trickle to a complete drought – a total of 13 in all in 16 Six Nations Championship matches, four at the World Cup all against Romania and none in the last four matches. It is a feeble return and, for all that he prizes loyalty, Robinson has to accept that if there is any point to having assistant coaches then such repeated failure in their specialist area must be addressed.

It must be acknowledged that many of the players also speak enthusiastically about what Townsend brings, but it is one thing being liked as a coach and quite another being able to put the right combinations together and get the right response from a squad.

What we now know beyond any question of doubt is that Scottish players can score tries at everything up to Test level and we know that because of the contribution made by Michael Bradley, whose Edinburgh team has been rattling in tries and who took charge of the Scotland A side that trounced England Saxons 35-0 on Friday.

Where Townsend was completely untried he joined the Scotland coaching team three years ago, Bradley has served a long, challenging apprenticeship in nine years at Connacht.

It is, then, also noteworthy that while Townsend has been very visible around a Glasgow Warriors set-up this season that has been resolute but relatively uninspired, there has been less evidence of his involvement with free-scoring Edinburgh. It is telling,, too, that two young Glasgow players placed in Bradley's hands – Stuart Hogg and Duncan Weir – set Galashiels alight with outstanding scores in that win for the A side.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh's Ross Rennie, Dave Denton and Lee Jones made their first Six Nations starts, all put in superb performances, yet were part of a Scotland team that failed once again to cross the try line. Robinson must, then, be wondering whether he should have relied more on the young players he had brought into his squad.

International team management, as Robinson acknowledged when he went for mentoring after losing the England head coach's job, is about much more than coaching. It is also about deployment of resources through selection of both players and assistant coaches which sometimes requires the courage to admit to being wrong and taking action. An English colleague observed on Saturday evening that it was his failure to be sufficiently bold that ultimately cost him his job down south.

He has taken what many, particularly in Wales, regard as a huge risk in appointing Scott Johnson, the out-going Ospreys director of rugby, as an assistant coach to come in this summer, apparently with a view to helping Townsend. That is actually ludicrous when we are talking about someone who has been working at Test level for three years.

However, if Robinson does not win at least two matches in this championship, something that will now be very difficult to do looking at the remainder of the schedule, a combination of the way things go in professional sport and his own self-respect, may mean that he is not there to welcome Johnson when he arrives.

A short-term solution is required, and with Edinburgh having all but admitted that they have little chance of making the Pro12 play-offs and must now focus on their Heineken Cup quarter-final in April, a switch of roles between Bradley and Townsend for the next two months could be what is needed.

The nous that the former could offer the squad may just open the floodgates for the Test team, while sending Townsend to Edinburgh to work with his former Scotland team-mate Tom Smith might tell us once and for all whether or not his involvement with the national side has been a complete waste of money.

It would be a temporary fix perhaps, but as Stuart Lancaster, England's caretaker coach, can testify, interim appointments can sometimes work out.

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