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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Scots must take heart from wins

By Gordon Bulloch
Scotland international

With two games down, we've got the ten points we set ourselves as a target, although we're all aware that there is still a lot of room for improvement.

Japan and USA were potential banana skins and we've got the points on the board, which is the most important thing.

It really was a special moment for me to skipper my country at a World Cup.

I've captained the side once before, but that was at a half-full Murrayfield. In Brisbane the crowd were amazingly noisy and created a brilliant atmosphere.

Even half and hour before kick off, we could hear all the songs and the fans were really behind us for 80 minutes - it was real spine-tingling stuff.

I think only the games I was involved in with the Lions can rival the atmosphere at the USA game.

We must take confidence from our opening wins
The match was a little scrappy, with a lot of stoppages and we only found our rhythm for the final 25 minutes of the first half and in the last 10 minutes or so.

But it was good to score five tries and not concede any.

We also looked solid from set-pieces and did well at putting pressure on the opposition.

We lost our way a bit when we went down to 14 men (Tom Smith was shown a yellow card on the stroke of half time) but we dug in, put in some good tackles and defended well.

It was a hard, hard game. The Americans are a big physical side and the conditions made the ball very slippery.

The referee also made life difficult for both sides with some fussy decisions but we must learn to play referees more.

We gave away too many penalties and against top-class kickers we will get punished if our discipline doesn't improve.

The Americans have come on leaps and bounds since we ran in ten tries against them last summer.

They tackled with a lot of power and they will give other teams trouble.

We've got the French next and that's going to be a really tough challenge.

They are a great side, capable of an awesome running game and they are so adept at switching the pattern of play at high-speed.

But we must take confidence from our opening wins and we're certainly going to give it everything we've got.

We've nothing to lose really and Japan showed us that the French can be rattled.

If we can cut out the elementary errors and hit our stride early in the game, then I think we could surprise a few people.

Scotland hasn't managed a win over France since 1999, so it's about time we rectified that.





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