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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 October, 2003, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Stuttering start not good enough

By Gordon Bulloch
Scotland international

Despite opening the tournament with a win over Japan, it was a very disappointing performance and we must improve in all areas of the pitch.

We were more than a little rusty after four or five weeks without competitive action but that simply shouldn't be the case with all the preparation we've done.

In Townsville our ball retention and decision making wasn't good enough and against better opponents we would have been severely punished.

The Japanese were well-organised, got stuck in and scored the pick of the tries.

We knew they would be full of running and determination but I think a few of the lads were surprised at how technically good they were.

Japan did the simple things well and we made a meal of things once too often
It was a bit of a shock to see us struggle at set-pieces, particularly the line-out - where we have been traditionally strong.

We certainly weren't at our best but I thought we'd have a huge advantage at scrums and line-outs and that wasn't the case.

Japan did the simple things well and we made a meal of things once too often for our liking.

With the score at 15-11 after 65 minutes it was real nail-biting stuff, I can tell you.

We can't use the heat or humidity as an excuse either. A few of the boys said they found it quite draining but there was a bit of breeze and it was not nearly as bad as it could have been.

On a personal level it was disappointing not to take any part in the match.

Of course, everyone wants to play in every game, but it's hard to take when it's the first match of a World Cup and you've been training for six or seven months with this tournament as the sole focus.

Hopefully, I can use the frustration that I'm feeling and my burning desire to play to turn in a good display when I'm called upon.

The coach (Ian McGeechan) has hinted that I'll be involved in the next game, but you always take that with a pinch of salt and I won't be taking anything for granted until I see the team-sheet with my name on it.

We've got eight days to prepare for the match with the USA and we'll have to work hard at improving our understanding on the field.

Having watched us struggle, the Americans will be confident of causing an upset and we'll have to field a strong side against them. It's not a case of just handing out games to all our players.

We played the USA in San Francisco last year and ran in ten tries against them but they have come on a lot since then and their warm-up games have shown signs of promise.

I'm desperate to play and, hopefully, I can be part of a side that can build on an opening win and go on from there.

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