Scots don’t want to end strong campaign on a sour note

John Barclay wants a strong finish to a good Six Nations for Scotland in Rome.

Scotland are determined to avoid the hurt of a few months contemplating a let-down end to this NatWest 6 Nations campaign by beating Italy for the fourth time in a row and the third time in succession in Rome.

Captain John Barclay agreed that the positives of the campaign could be outweighed by the “sour taste” left by defeat in the final game.

“We want to win every game whether it’s the first or last game of the championship, but we need to win this as it’s the last one.

“To go away from camp having done some good stuff and not win, like we did when we lost poorly to Fiji at the end of the summer tour, you go away with a sour taste in the mouth. So nobody wants to have that tomorrow.

“We want to finish three from five as we did last year. There are different permutations where we could finish in the table, but three from five we could walk away thinking we have played some good rugby.

“There are a couple of games when we maybe didn’t perform as well as we could have, but we’re playing a good brand of rugby. We just want to go out here and play that way but with a bit more accuracy and finish well.”

Barclay scored a try in the win in Rome two years ago but has had some less pleasant memories in Rome.

“Playing here is tricky, the crowd are pretty berserk to start with, they are very passionate,” he said. “They will be pretty frustrated at how their own campaign has gone, having made a gradual change to their style. They now have some players who have some magic dust in their backline and we will need to watch them.

“They’ve always mixed up their game but it’s a much bigger challenge now.”

Assistant coach Mike Blair agreed that the Scots would find a different Italy yto the team they have dominated in recent games.

“This is really two new teams,” he said. “The Italians have built on Zebre and Treviso’s improved form in the PRO14 and they are playing a fair bit of good rugby.

“I don’t think banana skin is the right word but we are very aware that we need to play well to win the game. Apart from the Irish game, they have been in matches for long periods of time. They have a lot of quality there now and a lot of dangerous players.”

But finishing the championship strongly playing the fast style they are trying to perfect is the aim for Scotland, added Blair.

“We had a successful tour in the summer, and then throwing in that loss to Fiji at the end definitely hurt, it was a long few months afterwards.

“We don’t want it to be the same in this tournament.

“There’s been a lot of stuff that we have been really pleased with but we want to show the progress we have made and end the tournament on a high.”