No Scottish player has made greater strides in the past two seasons than Jamie Ritchie, but the Edinburgh flanker admitted that Saturday’s experience was of a different order.

The 22-year-old is among the players who has benefited most from head coach Richard Cockerill’s arrival in the capital, the promise Ritchie was thought to have when he arrived at the club as a teenager, now beginning to be fulfilled through consistent performances that have helped Edinburgh into the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals and earned Ritchie his place in the Scotland team.

An ever present in Scotland match squads this season, starting every autumn Test and Six Nations match barring the meeting with South Africa’s Springboks against whom he came off the bench in November, but suggested that Ireland had lived up to their status as the world no.2 ranked side, saying: “That is definitely the hardest 80 minutes I have played for Scotland.”

Ritchie had to have 12 stitches inserted into a head wound, his attitude summed up by his observation that he would not have left the field to have that attended to if the team’s medics had not insisted that he do so.

His frustration was compounded by what happened when he was off the field being attended to as, 12-10 down, Scotland spent the last six minutes of the opening half in possession deep in the Irish 22, including one 25 phase sequence of touchline to touchline attack without being able to earn the scoring opportunity that would have taken them into the interval with a lead.

“It was disappointing from our point of view,” Ritchie admitted.

“I was off the field getting stitched right on half time but there’s no doubt that was a huge moment in the game. Had we scored it may have been different. It was a huge passage of play for us but we couldn’t convert. You have to give Ireland credit for keeping us out.”

That sequence included one clear opportunity when Huw Jones could have put Tommy Seymour into the right corner, only to throw his pass behind the winger, just one of many costly errors by the home team. However Ritchie reckoned that was a near inevitable consequence of the intensity of the contest which increasingly took its toll as the match went on.

“Individual errors are what they are, it’s people making poor decision and I was guilty of it myself,” he said. “You can make mistakes, they happen. It’s when you compound those errors that you find yourself in real difficulty. We were compounding mistakes after the break. We couldn’t execute and we were under pressure in the game. It’s international rugby and this is the highest pressure you can face. Defensive pressure comes into it. We hold ourselves to higher standards and will look at ourselves over the coming days. We need to look at that, I felt we played well in the second half, but let ourselves down. You are under pressure and have to handle that better. We need to eradicate the mistakes ahead of the next game against France. We started the game really well and overall I thought we played well in the first half, but again, we gifted them two tries and you can’t do that.”