Blair Kinghorn is hoping to savour the joy of six after insisting the Scotland unbeaten streak is no fluke. Gregor Townsend’s team are currently on their joint-best run since the advent of professional rugby, having chalked up consecutive wins over Italy, France, Georgia, Wales and the Azzurri again.
They can go one better and match a sequence last achieved in 1990 by beating Les Bleus when they visit Murrayfield on Sunday for their next Autumn Nations Cup clash.
Yet former Scotland skipper John Barclay attempted to put some perspective on his old side’s recent achievements in the build-up to last weekend’s 28-17 triumph in Florence when he wrote in the Times: “Cool-headed analysis makes it clear that Scotland have not transformed themselves into world-beaters. Yet.”
The retired flanker insisted he was not trying to rain on Townsend’s parade but felt it had to be pointed out that Italy are the perennial whipping boys of the Six Nations, Wales are struggling under new coach Wayne Pivac, and the Georgians were playing their first game in six months.
As for the French, they found themselves battling with only 14 men for 46 minutes back in March after seeing Mohamed Haouas sent off for punching Jamie Ritchie. But winger Kinghorn insists all those facts do not diminish what his team have achieved of late as he insisted Scotland should be proud of their recent record.
This game had it all! ?
— Autumn Nations Cup ? (@autumnnations) November 15, 2020
“Winning five international games in a row is not a fluke,” said the Edinburgh back. “We have been playing good rugby, regardless of what people think of the other teams. We play a good brand of rugby. We managed to keep our momentum going from the Six Nations, which was great to see.
“A lot of that comes from our defence as well. We conceded the fewest points in the Six Nations, which is a great start, and we’ve managed to keep backing that up. We know the challenge that France can bring, but we are up for it. I’m more than confident that we will put in a performance that will justify a victory.
“We obviously back ourselves in every game we go into. Yeah, France only had 14 men last time we played but quite often you see teams with 14 men come out on the winning side of the result because a team with 15 think they’ve got the game won and relax. That wasn’t the case with us, so hopefully we can back that performance up and get another victory.”
That Murrayfield setback was France’s only defeat this year and Townsend reckons this weekend’s opponents are currently in better shape than the All Blacks. Fabien Galthie’s team will certainly be fresh when they run out in the capital having been awarded a 28-0 win after Saturday’s clash with Fiji was axed on the back of a Covid outbreak in the Pacific Islanders’ squad.
But Kinghorn has backed Scotland to do the double on Les Bleus if their rock-solid defence holds firm. “The main feeling I had in the first game against France was that in the second half I felt really comfortable,” said the 23-year-old.
“I felt we could contain their threats are very well. They have some dangerous individuals, but we defended really well that day and it was good to get the result. We are all buying into the same goal. Line breaks and missed tackles will always happen in games, that’s the nature of the game, but you see our work rate and our relentless effort to work hard for each other.
“That’s the main point – everyone is working hard together for one goal. I feel that our defence is relentless. You see some of the big lads getting through 20-odd tackles per game and that is paying off.”
Scottish Rugby announced on Wednesday that it supported a recommendation by the Scottish Rugby Council to suspend 2020-21 competitive fixtures at all levels of the club and school game due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The season had been delayed until January 2021, but the timescale has now been extended to the end of the regular season in the spring.
"It seems like they are in between two different styles of play"
– Dylan Hartley and Simon Zebo focus in on Wales' 6-game losing streak on the latest episode of RugbyPass Offload https://t.co/oSnWSStuWz
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 18, 2020
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