Jonny Gray: We drew strength from series of bitter losses

Scotland used the pain of past heartbreaks to conjure up a winning display against Ireland, according to lock Jonny Gray.

The Dark Blues kicked off an RBS 6 Nations campaign with a win for the first time in 11 years, but they had to show nerves of steel to clinch their 27-22 victory,after Ireland roared back in the second half.

In the last two years, the Scots have surrendered winning positions late on three times — against Italy at Murrayfield during the 2015 Championship then twice to Australia — in the World Cup quarter-finals and the autumn Test defeat in Edinburgh.

This time, though, they refused to buckle and fought back with two late Greig Laidlaw penalties.

It is a win which justifies the wave of optimism that has been circling the Scotland camp all week and Gray reckons it took those late setbacks to learn how to grind out victory. The giant Glasgow second-rower said: “The experiences we’ve had before, there’s been a lot of pain in the Scotland shirt before. It’s how you learn from that. We’ve still got a lot to grow.

“Ultimately, it comes down to times like that at the end. It was hard, the boys were tired and sore. It was tough out there. There could have been a moment when we put our heads down but we knew we had to grind and luckily we get the win in the end and we’re absolutely delighted.

“Personally, I’ve got a lot of improvements to make but it’s great to have guys like my brother [Richie] alongside me, sharing his experience, talking to Greig and seeing how he would deal with things, while there are other guys stepping up too.

“To stick together, have the belief, have Greig kicking over the points and then the game management from Finn Russell and other guys stepping up to see out the win, it was a special day to get a win over a tough Ireland side.

“We talk a lot about not making the same mistakes. In life and in rugby when you make mistakes it’s important to learn from them. Personally and as a team we’ve got a lot of improvements to make. We’re happy, it’s a good start but it’s going to be tough going forward.”

Gray reckons Scotland will have to redouble their efforts when they run out at the Stade de France next Sunday.

He said: “When you look at the French side, the individuals they’ve got, they’re unbelievable talents. We’re under no illusions how tough it’s going to be out there. It’s going to be very physical when you look at the players and stars they’ve got in their team.”


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