Gregor Townsend warns Scotland must keep improving despite wins

Finn Russell orchestrated a second half rout as Kyle Steyn grabbed two scores as Scotland beat Wales 35-7.

Gregor Townsend refused to get carried away after watching Scotland kick off a Guinness Six Nations campaign with back-to-back wins for the first time as Finn Russell led a second-half destruction of Wales.

The head coach felt his team were slightly better in their 35-7 victory over the Welsh than in their opening weekend triumph away to England, but he was keen to stress the importance of continued improvement.

Asked if it felt like a statement win ahead of the trip to France in a fortnight, Townsend said: “No. It feels like an improved performance.

“It did not feel like that at half-time, but the second half was improved.

“If it was a seven out of 10 last week, it has moved up to an eight out of 10 and we will have to improve again.

“The next two teams we play (France and Ireland) are ranked one and two in the world and we have to get up to nine out of 10 to beat them.

“The internal focus was on playing better than we did last week. We did in the end do that but there is more to come from the group.”

Stand-off Russell produced a magnificent performance in which he directly laid on three of his team’s tries and also played a part in another.

“Very good,” said Townsend of the number 10’s display. “The threats that Finn has around him set up opportunities. He made very good decisions on what opportunities to take.

“In November, he played really well against New Zealand and Argentina. Against England he built into the game, and today was something similar.

“I thought he was really good defensively today. He’s a really competitive player and that comes out in different ways. It often comes out in his defence, his contact clears – things that won’t get spotted.

“The things that will get spotted are his offloads and kicks which were excellent, but when he’s at that level of focus and competitiveness, he’ll deliver a very good performance like he did today.”

The victory saw Scotland claim the Doddie Weir Cup in the first Test match at BT Murrayfield since the death of the former lock, who lost his battle with motor neurone disease in November.

Townsend was delighted to get the win in honour of his friend and former team-mate.

“I’m sure he would have been proud,” said the head coach. “He used to message me before and after games.

“He would always wish us all the best before the game and I’d picture him having a Guinness or a red wine sitting at home.

“If we won, he would say after the game that it was all down to the coaches, and if we lost he would say it was nothing to do with the coaches.

“It was always a nice text to receive from him, and Cathy (his wife) has continued that tradition.

“It was a big day for Cathy and the boys and for them to feel that love that everyone has for them. And for Doddie’s legacy to continue with the fundraising, today was a special day.

“It was brilliant that we were able to win for them.”

Wales head coach Warren Gatland admitted his side “are in a bit of a hole at the moment” as he lamented a second heavy defeat in consecutive matches following last weekend’s 34-10 loss at home to Ireland.

“We’ve given away 17 penalties in the game which is not acceptable at this level, and we’ve created opportunities and haven’t been clinical enough to take them,” he said.

“It is pretty disappointing because we could have gone in at half-time ahead and once they took their opportunities well we ended up chasing the game.”

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