Murray remaining postive after defeat

Glasgow prop Euan Murray believes the way the Scotland front row stood up to the much-vaunted Italy pack is one positive from the defeat at the hands of the Azzurri in the Six Nations Championship.

Italy recorded their first victory in this tournament away from the Stadio Flaminio when they stunned Scotland 37-17 at Murrayfield on Saturday.

It was the most disappointing performance of Frank Hadden’s reign as coach and was the first defeat at home in the Six Nations during the former Edinburgh coach’s tenure.

On the back of the professional performance against Wales, which got the campaign back on track following the reverse against England, it stopped Scotland’s momentum in its tracks.

The squad now must raise their spirits Ireland a week on Saturday in Edinburgh as they attempt to stop Brian O’Driscoll and co from claiming a Triple Crown.

The most surprising aspect of Scotland’s campaign has been the way the forwards have dealt with the physicality of the England, Wales and Italy packs.

In particular the front row of Murray, hooker Dougie Hall and Gavin Kerr have made genuine progress and can no longer be considered the weak point of the team.

“It’s definitely nice to part of a Scotland front row that’s being praised. We’re all learning and all improving and I’m feeling more and more comfortable in international rugby,” said Murray.

Against Wales they dominated at scrum time and followed that up by not taking a backward step against Italy, whose front row is one of the most feared in world rugby.

Forwards coach George Graham announced himself delighted with the way his props and hooker stood up to the test and noted that Italy had named a full front row on the replacements’ bench for the Edinburgh clash.

This, former Scotland prop Graham suggested, was a mark of respect for Scotland’s developing front row – an area which has been their Achilles heel for some time.

Indeed, if the same progress could be made in the backline, Scotland would be a long way down the road to forming a powerful outfit.

Against Italy the backs left the side with a mountain to climb after six minutes when they gifted the visitors three tries – through Mauro Bergamasco, Andrea Scanavacca and Kaine Robertson – to fall 21-0 behind.

They were then ineffective as Scotland attempted to drag themselves back into the game, perhaps only Rob Dewey and Sean Lamont looking able to break the line.

Murray enjoyed another fine game on the loosehead and is now a fixture in Scotland’s pack having only played two Six Nations matches.

“The Italians are really good players and it was a good experience. They had a whole front row on the bench too, which they used, so that made it a bit more challenging,” Murray said.

“Our set piece was reasonably solid as the game progressed but we’ll look back at the video and see what we can improve on.

“We’re coming up against some of the best front rows in the world and it’s good to challenge yourself against that. I’m learning in every game, every scrum even.

“The Italians were some of the best scrummagers I’ve come up against but we knew that would be the case because they have a reputation for being a dominant pack, especially the front row.

“Any prop can pose a different problem. Last Saturday we stood up to the challenge well. They were on a par with England, who are a good scrummaging unit.

“It was unfortunate that we allowed them to score after Chris Paterson’s try. We had some momentum and they hadn’t scored for a long time so we were thinking we were right back in it and within striking distance but they got a couple of penalties and pulled away.

“We made a mistake at the restart and you can’t afford to make errors otherwise you see what happens.”

365 Digital

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