SCOTLAND’S performance against the world’s second-ranked team improved only on their most recent showing against the best in rugby because they registered a win this time around, according to their head coach.

Gregor Townsend described yesterday’s defeat over England as the greatest moment of his coaching career after a three-try opening half set up a convincing 25-13 win, but he reckoned they had played just as well in the opening period against the All Blacks in November.

“The first half of that game and the first half of the New Zealand game were similar, in our intent to play the way we believed would be a success, and our accuracy,” he said.

“Our defence was outstanding in both those games. The difference tonight was that we finished off opportunities and took them really well.

“The second half was always going to be a tighter affair. They were going to come back, they would have adjusted to certain things we were doing and the ball was certainly slower in the second half for us.

“It wasn’t the complete performance, but the way we defended in the second half, especially in the last two minutes, was excellent. When the clock ticked to 80, we were still defending very well, keeping England out. That was very satisfying and we’re very proud of the players’ effort there.”

Both those results have been achieved at Murrayfield, however, and having put themselves back into championship contention with wins on their own ground over France and England after a dreadful opening day

performance in Cardiff, they now face two road trips and in particular a visit to Dublin where they have won only once in the past 20 years, back in 2010.

“We know we’ve got Ireland who are an outstanding team with a great home record,” he said.

“We’ve got our own issues to deal with about being better away from home, and that’s going to be our focus when we come back into camp in a week’s time. We have to show a truer picture of what we’re about when we play away from home and we’ll see where that takes us.”

This is, however, a Scotland squad that has started to overcome its traditional hang-ups having, in 2016, beaten France for the first time in a decade, then last season claimed a first opening day win in the Six Nations Championship in 11 years before beating Wales for the first time in a decade, also going on to claim home and away victories against Australia in the same year.

The ending of another 10-year wait against opponents who were pursuing history in seeking to be the first England team to win three successive championships – something they could still achieve – was, then, just the latest milestone in terms of their reinventing themselves and gaining respect.

“We want to improve. It is about progressing,” said Townsend.

“It’s about finding a way to win but getting better… getting better during games and getting better game to game. It was much more like the standard of performance that we put in in November.

“Last time we found a way to win but we probably weren’t playing at our best, that was getting closer. We now have to move onto our next two games and make sure we improve.”

Meanwhile, England coach Eddie Jones paid tribute to Scotland’s performance, while insisting that the need to do so should not be over-shadowed by commentary on the pre-match incident in which Owen Farrell appeared to push a Scotland player, causing a tussle among a number of players as the teams headed into the tunnel after their preparations.

While he was obviously keen to deflect attention away from a misdemeanor by one of his key players, he was right to do because any effect it had on the home team was a positive one.

Nor did it have any benefit for the England team on the basis of Dylan Hartley’s admission that they had been off the pace as the game got underway.

“Scotland were outstanding today and deserved their win,” he said. “For some reason we lacked intensity at the start and Scotland took advantage.”