Townsend wants even more from Scotland against Ireland

Meanwhile, Scotland counterpart John Barclay admitted they can't be considered a title contender until they win away from home. "Why I am not 100 percent sure".

They were deep into Ireland territory and leading 3-0 through Greig Laidlaw's penalty when they offered the hosts the first of several gifts during the afternoon.

The Irish - unbeaten at home in the Six Nations since head coach Joe Schmidt took over after the 2013 edition - will start as favourites even though Scotland arrive in Dublin buoyed by a scintillating 25-13 victory over champions England.

"We know if we do we'll be there or thereabouts and everything else takes care of itself". I'm always saying in this column that whoever looks after the ball best usually wins these games and Ireland look after the ball extremely well.

What about Scotland - can they win the Six Nations?

Those are some impressive numbers.

"They certainly steer the ship in terms of the way they play".

Murray and Sexton nearly combined to break through the middle of the Scottish defence and, as the interval approached, they began to scent the opportunity for a second try which would have them firmly in the driver's seat. About 70% of their ball carries are off nine.

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"I would say to him don't build into the game explode into it". It's a brutal style of rugby, and it's been brutally effective.

"Tonight's game won't play huge amount on our minds". We got a lot of good opportunities which we weren't able to finish, but there's lots to be happy with.

Scotland, who came in on the back of a win over England, landed two penalties of their own before another O'Sullivan break from a scrum led to flanker Matthew Agnew going over to hand Ireland a 18-6 lead at the break.

The turning point came early in the second half when a high tackle by England full-back Anthony Watson on wing Benjamin Fall as he closed in on the line denied France a certain try, earned Watson a yellow card - and gave Les Bleus a penalty try which put them seven points clear.

"The intent we showed in attack and defence in the first half was very encouraging and we continued to work hard in the second-half".

It was the third defeat of Jones' 27 Tests in charge and the Australian called for a sense of perspective while England address their slump.

"Our players had prepared very well for the challenge of taking on England and there has been a similar focus and commitment this week at training".

However, Best admitted that his side will need to improve if they are to beat England.

  • Lawrence Cooper