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Centre Scott's commitment to the cause underlines spirit in squad

Matt Scott claimed one try and could have had two more, but the Scotland centre's determination to stay the course was perhaps even more telling.

Matt Scott, who scored Scotland's second try,  makes a charging run. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Matt Scott, who scored Scotland's second try, makes a charging run. Picture: Stewart Attwood

The 22-year-old suffered two painful-looking injuries in quick succession late in the second half of Saturday's 34-10 defeat of Italy at Murrayfield, but felt compelled to follow the earlier example of Ryan Grant, the team's new vice-captain, by remaining on the pitch.

"It was important to stay on," he said. "The first one, I just got a bit of a pass right on the gain-line from Jacko [Ruaridh Jackson] and the guy absolutely read it and creamed me. Jacko apologised for it, but I was winded.

"Then I banged my head while making a tackle and there were a fuzzy few seconds where I thought, 'whoa . . .' but James Robson [the Scotland doctor] was good. He said, 'are you OK to go on? We could take you straight off', and if I'd felt terrible I would have gone because it would have been to the detriment to the team if I had been wandering about and didn't know where I was going.

"It would have been easy to come off at that stage, but when Ryan Grant took a knock early on I heard the physios and it didn't sound good. I thought, 'Granty's going to get taken off and that's going to be a blow for us'. However, he stayed on when he was struggling big time and fair play to him.

"Everyone was determined to see it out and I didn't want to get subbed two minutes before the end. I wanted to see it out and enjoy the moment. Even in terms of Edinburgh as well, Greig Laidlaw and I were saying in the changing room that we've not won a game in a long time and it's just great to get one. We'll just be gunning to beat Ireland now. That's a big aim for us."

A key task for Scotland had been to subdue Sergio Parisse, Italy's talismanic captain, and his opposite number, Johnnie Beattie, expressed satisfaction at how well that had been done.

"You could see Parisse was getting fairly despondent with the way things were going," Beattie said. "Obviously he was trying his best, but things around him weren't quite going the way he was hoping for and maybe that was similar to the way it went for us last week when a lot of us were incredibly frustrated with ourselves. Italy have maybe had that this week but it's just pleasing to be on the other end of it."

Scotland's No.8 agreed that there had been improvements made in the tackling, but noted that was by no means the only area. "We did change things, but before the breakdown there are a lot of things you can change to make it a lot easier and we got the things preceding the breakdown a lot better this weekend," Beattie added.

"Our scrum, our lineout, our quality of ball and what we did in second phase made things a lot easier and when we gave the likes of Matt Scott, Sean Maitland, Hoggy [Stuart Hogg] some room after generating some half decent balls we saw what they could do," he said. "That's what we didn't do last week, but we did this week, so we have set a benchmark and that paves the way forward."

The Montpellier player's former Glasgow Warriors club-mate Ruaridh Jackson, meanwhile, described the way he had the chance to bring the backs into the game as "making my job fun".

However, he also accepted that while Scotland are now targeting successive championship wins for the first time since 2006, there is still much work to be done

"We'll have to wait and see how we kick on from this," said the playmaker. "We can't rest on that. There are marked improvements, but we want to kick on again and if we want to be challenging where we want to be we have to win all our home games. We have a big one coming up in two weeks and we have to produce back-to-back good performances now."

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