Cotter keeps Scotland grounded

2014-11-09 10:18
Vern Cotter (AFP)

Edinburgh - Scotland head coach Vern Cotter is determined to keep his players' feet planted firmly on the ground in the wake of their impressive 41-31 victory against Argentina in their opening November Test at Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday.

The Scots ran in five tries against a top-tier nation for the first time in seven years - since a 31-21 win against Ireland in August 2007 - but the looming visit of the All Blacks to Edinburgh ensured an absence of excessive euphoria in the aftermath of Cotter's first home match.

"We're not getting carried away," said Cotter. "We're playing the best team in the world next week and there are certainly things to work on."

A native New Zealander, Cotter joined Scotland in May after eight years in charge of Clermont Auvergne in the French Top 14. In that time he turned the Stade Marcel Michelin into a fortress, Clermont enjoying a 77 match unbeaten run there until their defeat to Castres in the French Top 14 play-off semi-finals in April.

On Saturday he guided Scotland to their first home win against Argentina since 1990 and their first win against any opposition at Murrayfield for twelve months - since a 42-17 victory against Japan in their opening November international last year.

What pleased Cotter the most was the manner in which his side recovered from conceding a second minute try to Pumas flanker Javier Ortega Desio. They responded with tries from second row brothers Richie and Jonny Gray, wingers Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour and full back Stuart Hogg.

The concession of three tries in the final ten minutes took a little of the gloss off what was a convincing victory against an Argentina side who looked a pale shadow of the team that beat Australia in the Rugby Championship in Mendoza last month.

"We arrived from the Rugby Championship in good form but today we did not play well," acknowledged Argentina's head coach Daniel Hourcade. "We made many mistakes, especially in defence, but I think Scotland played a really good game, especially in the first half."

The Pumas face Italy in Genoa next Saturday, before finishing their tour with a Test against France in Paris a week later.

As Cotter looked ahead to the challenge presented by New Zealand, whom Scotland have never beaten, he did praise his players.

"I really enjoyed the way they played for each other," he said. "I was really pleased for them to get over the line and score those five pointers. And I thought we varied our game well, which is important."

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw deservedly earned the man of the match award, the Gloucester scrum-half having fashioned the first four tries and kicked 14 points, taking himself into third place behind Chris Paterson and Gavin Hastings in his country's all-time scoring chart.

"From one to 15, the boys put their bodies on the line," said Laidlaw. "They were all man of the match in my eyes."

Laidlaw was the only player picked behind the scrum who does not play for the in-form Glasgow Warriors. The former Edinburgh captain joined Gloucester in the English Premiership for the start of the 2014-15 season.

"I think I've got the spring back in my step," he said. "Going down to Gloucester, you're playing pressure games every week and that's helped me.

"Going to a new club, you have to prove yourself again. You have to go out and work hard and that's certainly brought my game on."

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