Scotland 12-8 Ireland, Six Nations
Johnson hails Scotland's resolve
ESPN Staff
February 24, 2013
Scotland boss Scott Johnson admits his side were a little fortunate
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Players/Officials: Scott Johnson | Jim Hamilton
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: Ireland | Scotland

Scotland interim boss Scott Johnson hailed his team's 12-8 win over Ireland but emphasised the need to improve ahead of their round four clash with Wales.

Scotland rode their luck at times with Ireland dominant in both territory and possession throughout the 80 minutes of rugby. But it was Scotland who came away from Murrayfield with a morale-boosting 12-8 triumph with Greig Laidlaw slotting four penalties to bring up their total.

It is the first time that Scotland have secured back-to-back wins in the Six Nations since the 2001 championship and Johnson praised his team for their performance. "I am happy for the boys because it showed a different side to us," Johnson said. "We probably should have been well behind at half-time and I think we showed great resolve.

"If we combine the resolve and the skill-set we think we can, we can do some damage. I'm happy but we go back to what we originally spoke about before the game - about performance, and there is plenty in that performance that we need to improve on.

"They (Ireland) felt they should have been well in front on the scoreboard and that creates its own pressure. You have to ride your luck sometimes in this game and what we can't do is get too carried away with it. We are proud of the victory but have to give an honest assessment that we need to improve."

He added: "We have got to be honest and say that that wasn't perfect from us. At half-time I felt like we must have watched Ali and Foreman or something. We were lulling them into some false sense of security. My neck was getting sore looking down to one end of the pitch.

"It's a funny game. I've played in games when I've been on the other side. It puts a bit of pressure on the team that should be in front. We went in at 3-0 down and I would have taken that. So we took it and we took our chances. We will enjoy the next 24 hours but we will also acknowledge that we have got to work on a few things."

His side remain in the title mix and Johnson believes his side can kick on from this result. "I think we are in it," he said. "There's no doubt we can compete. We have shown that once we get things right, we can hurt sides with the ball. But unfortunately in the first three games we have lost possession and we have lost territory. We have got to get a combination of both back into our game. If we get that right we have shown we can score tries against quality sides and we have shown we can defend like hell."

Ireland coach Declan Kidney reflects on his side's agonising defeat

Asked if he fancied the job of head coach full-time, Johnson added: "I keep saying - let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. I said I would sit down with the board at this completion of this, and we will do that and decide what is in the best interests of Scotland."

Scotland lock Jim Hamilton was handed the Man of the Match award for a huge performance where he disrupted Ireland's line out and also kept their pack moving forward. "That is a massive win for us," Hamilton said. "The support here was absolutely outstanding today and you saw what it meant to the boys hanging on in there at the end.

"We have put a lot of work into our line-out and scrum. I thought our scrum was absolutely immense. I think a special mention has to go to Geoff Cross today - he has come in and done a magnificent job. Credit to all the forwards. We really dug deep today and I think you can see that means a lot to us.

"We knew Ireland notoriously start well and we hung in there in the first half. To go in (at half-time) at 3-0 to Ireland was probably a good outcome for us. We went out in the second half and had to dig deep, and we took our chances."

Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip refused to accept his side should have opted for kicks at goal with two early penalty chances rather than kick for the corner and take a quick tap. "They were the right decisions given the momentum of the game at those points," he said. "We were applying a lot of pressure. Some kicking opportunities for the post we took and on the other ones it was better to go for the corner.

"We weren't accurate with our opportunities and Scotland took theirs, which is disappointing. We made a good few line breaks and applied pressure, but maybe we weren't accurate enough. In the second half we hit the ground running with the try. We knew Scotland could stay in games with very little possession. We felt confident and were focused in what we had to do. Confidence hasn't become an issue. In the second half we were good with the ball in hand. It was another close game and missed opportunity."

Debutant Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson missed two penalties and a conversion, but coach Declan Kidney refused to blame the 21-year-old. "Paddy's general play was good. He helped us get a few line breaks and his kicks down the line put us in a good field position. He had the courage to go for those, which is a good thing," Kidney said. "His place kicking didn't go the way he would have liked but some days go like that. It's too easy to point the finger at that. Overall his general play was good.

"It's extremely disappointing. We lost by six points to England and by four points today. We had a lot more scoring opportunities today and put ourselves in good positions a few times, but had a few turnovers we wouldn't normally do. That just makes it a frustrating day for everybody."

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