SCOTLAND centre Alex Dunbar reckons the Dark Blues are still heading in the right direction – despite their spectacular fall from grace at Twickenham.
Vern Cotter’s side suffered a record-equalling 40-point loss to England on Saturday as their RBS 6 Nations title hopes were ruthlessly crushed.
It was a devastating defeat for a side who travelled to London with genuine hopes of grabbing the nation’s first away win over the Auld Enemy in 34 years.
But Dunbar is adamant one bad day at the office does not wash away the progress made under Cotter over the last three years.
Speaking ahead of the Kiwi’s final match in charge – against Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday – before Glasgow boss Gregor Townsend takes over, Dunbar said: “We have been building and getting better week on week. But it obviously didn’t work at the weekend.
“I still think we’re a far better team than we were a few years ago.
“We just need to get back to doing what we do well. Getting quick balls, putting teams under pressure and scoring good tries.”
Dunbar admits being forced to sit through the painful re-run of Saturday’s capitulation was an uncomfortable experience.
He was culpable for the error which set the flood gates open as he allowed Jonathan Joseph to run in the first of seven English tries. But he insists no one in the Dark Blues camp is hiding from the mistakes they made in London.
“It was tough to watch,” he said. “There was a lot of mistakes out there. We came up against a very good side who pretty much capitalised on every mistake we made.
“We had an honest debrief of the game but since then we’ve been looking to put a few things right looking ahead to facing Italy.
“It was blunt. Everyone knew we played s**t. We didn’t need anyone to say it. But everyone put their hands up when mistakes were made.
“We just didn’t start well. (Fraser Brown’s yellow) Card didn’t help but we then slipped off a few tackles and they had a few mist-matches which they exploited.
“I made a lot of mistakes defensively. I should have done a lot better. I’ve looked at that this week and hopefully I can put it right.”
But Dunbar believes the plan which reaped wins over Ireland and Wales can work again this weekend as his side look for the victory over the Azzurri which could see them finish second for the first time since the Championship was expanded to six teams,
He said: “Italy have shown a few different things in the Championship so far. We just need to go back to basics.
“We started the Championship well but things didn’t work against England.
“Now we just need to go back to what was working for us in the earlier games.
“There is always pressure on us to win. We played some of our best rugby in those first three games. But we don’t want to go into our shell and not play like the way we know we can.
“We want to go out and express ourselves and pick off these mismatches that we can find.”