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Last Updated:  Thursday, 27 March, 2003, 18:48 GMT
We must beat Italy

By Gordon Bulloch
Scotland international

Make no bones about it, this is a huge game for us - a game we have to win to end the campaign on something of a high.

I know we are expected to win, but the fact that Italy scored four tries in the defeat by France at the weekend shows they have plenty of attacking potential.

From that point of view, we can't allow them possession in the way we have allowed other opponents to have the ball very cheaply this year.

A victory won't mean that this year's Six Nations has been a success but it has been a tough tour this time round.

We've been up against three of the world's top six sides, with Ireland having really come on.

We can compete with pretty much any country up front but we don't have the type of world-class back like Brian O'Driscoll that you need to really make the difference at this level.

Our continuity is getting better and, compared to the Ireland game, when we didn't perform at all, the England game was a huge improvement.

But we're still not holding on to the ball for long enough and we need to improve that to avoid so many turnovers, which, against England, was really costly.

Having said that, Ian McGeechan said that our performance against England was our best of the Six Nations Championship so far, and I would agree with that.

To hold England to a winning margin of less than 40 points is something not to many teams can do these days.

With Jonny Wilkinson kicking everything in sight, the scoreline may look somewhat flattering.

Also, I think that was about their 24th win on the trot at Twickenham and that sort of run breeds immense confidence in a side and you could see that in their play.

But we had chances of our own - I made one break that we probably should have scored from - and there were others that should have brought about scoring opportunities.

We showed tremendous spirit when we were reduced to 13 men in the opening 15 minutes.

It had the effect that you often see in football when a man is sent off and the 10 men actually play better than the 11 as everyone works that bit harder for each other.

But our performance in the game as a whole was a further improvement on previous games and but for a little bit of slackness when Matt Dawson took a quick tap penalty and Jason Robinson ran straight through us and Ben Cohen's try, which was a bit of a fluke, we might have had a more respectable scoreline.




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