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Scotland skipper Laidlaw accepts guilty verdict as 'naive' Scots fail to make case for defence

IN many ways it was a game that satisfied nobody.

For Scotland, the sapping sorrow of another home defeat in a game where they never threatened an upset; for England, the frustration of smashing the opposition for the final 40 minutes but being able to convert that only into a single score and even that coming when the other side were down to 14 men.

It was the Scots, though, who were struggling with their emotions as they tried to make sense of a game where they were left humiliated up front where the pack was taken apart in the line-out, and hammered at the breakdown. The only consolation was they stopped England scoring directly from innumerable driving mauls.

"It's tough to explain," said Greig Laidlaw, the captain. "Obviously, there was no intent for that to happen. We struggled at the set-piece, it's there for everybody to see, unfortunately. Once you do that, I think we had 30% possession and we were lucky to have that.

"It was just as well we had some resolve or we would have had a lot more [points scored against them]."

Which, as Scott Johnson, the head coach, admitted was the crux of the problem. "I got a sore neck looking down one end of the pitch for the entire second half," he said.

"There was bit of a character out there today. When you look at 20 set-pieces in your own 22 against formidable opposition, a world-class driving side - we let them in when we had a yellow card but, other than that, the scoreboard sort of flattered us in many ways. We held on.

"There will be a lot of things about 'are these the right players?' - I've heard it all before. Trust me, there's resolution in this group. They're naive, sometimes their skill lets them down and puts them under pressure.

"But I think the majority of them can provide Scotland with a really competitive national team against anyone, I genuinely think that and I'm not going away from it."

However, he chose to concentrate on the "naivety" of the midfield and the back division, which is fair enough but not really relevant. This was a game lost up front.

"We fell into England's strengths a little bit," he admitted. "I've gone down a road with some younger players and they haven't played that many Test matches. We've got plenty there, they're just not used to it [international rugby] and they're not getting the possession to play off yet.

"I've still got some naivety in the pack, and it will cause immense frustration - for no-one more than me, I get it - and for the crowd, I understand that."

"It was very disappointing," said David Denton, the No 8 whose ability to break the first tackle when carrying was one of the few bright spots.

"You are not going to be in the game when you defend all the time. I don't know what the possession statistics were, but they must have been huge.

"The set-piece was an issue for us, it is something that we really need to fix. We are lucky in that we have two weeks to the next game and can work on things like the line-out to make sure that everything is really going to plan.

"After a defeat like that there are not many silver linings to the cloud. One positive we can take is that the boys showed a lot of resolve, but that is always going to be the case."

For Stuart Lancaster, the England coach, there was the satisfaction of the win, but some annoyance at not being able to do better, particularly in the second half.

"The Scottish side made it hard for us but we got the win," he said. "We have regrets on the points left out there.

"At 13-0 at half time and plenty of territory in the second half, we played some really good stuff and kept being awarded penalties but the detail of the execution was just a bit off.

"That said some of our attacking play was good in really, really difficult conditions."

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