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Ireland still looking for 'fluidity' despite step forward in Scotland

Captain Rory Best was pleased with an excellent set-piece outing for his pack.

Murray Kinsella reports from Edinburgh

FOLLOWING AN AFTERNOON where Ireland won 100% of their own ball from the lineout and scrum, as well as stealing two Scotland throws out of touch, Rory Best could reflect on a job well done from himself and his pack.

A 22-13 success over Gregor Townsend’s side in Edinburgh saw Ireland get back to winning ways but captain Best saw major scope for improvement in the three-try victory.

Rory Best lifts the Centenary Quaich Rory Best lifts the Centenary Quaich. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

There was at least some relief at lifting the pressure that came after a home defeat to England last weekend, and Best wants Ireland to push forward from here over the course of the next three rounds of the Six Nations, starting against Italy on 24 February.

It was telling that Best pointed to Ireland’s desire to become a more fluid force in attack after that aspect of their game fired only intermittently in Murrayfield.

“I think it was a different pressure but we’re back now to the pressure that we put on ourselves,” said Best. “We’d ideally like to play better and with more fluidity than we did today, probably get on the front foot more than we did.

“Defensively, they came off the line very hard and worked hard at the breakdown. We’ll go back to the pressure we put on and the coaches put on us. We want to be better.

“Last week was a very strange week. We felt we’d done alright in some areas, and were pretty poor in others with some silly mistakes. But we don’t strive for alright – we want to be the best we can be and last week wasn’t it.

“Mentally and emotionally, we took a step forward.”

Ireland’s defence was strong after a dip against England – when they conceded four tries on home soil.

The single try Scotland managed was from an intercept, again highlighting the struggles Ireland had with their attack at times. Overall, it was much-improved from defence coach Andy Farrell’s charges.

Rob Kearney celebrates after the game Rob Kearney applauds the Irish support. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Ireland’s kicking must make rapid improvement after two poor showings in a row now, with head coach Joe Schmidt expressing his disappointment at that element of the performance post-match.

The set-piece was perhaps most satisfying of all, as Connacht lock Quinn Roux stepped up to the responsibility of calling the lineout with comfort, Ireland winning all 11 of their own throws and picking off two of Scotland’s.

“I think we were pleased by that area of the game,” said Best.

“I think it’s an area of the game that we work very hard on. Feeky [scrum coach Greg Feek] and Simon [Easterby, forwards coach], and Quinn and the front five, we put a lot of time in there and whenever you have a good day it’s very satisfying.

“But I think it’s one part of a bigger team performance. There is that pressure because we want to play off the set-piece and get good ball for our dangerous backs.”

As we saw for Jacob Stockdale’s try, Ireland can be lethal when the platform is good from Best and co.

Progress made but plenty more to come.

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Murray Kinsella

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