Six Nations 2015: Vern Cotter again left to salvage positives

By Phil GoodladBBC Scotland at Twickenham
Six Nations 2015: England 25-13 Scotland Highlights

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter was left to once more salvage the positives from a Six Nations defeat as his battling team

Having regained their composure after a blistering England start at Twickenham, Scotland led 13-10 at the break but their old foes were deserving winners.

"It was a much better performance," the New Zealander told BBC Scotland.

"The guys played with a lot of spirit and a lot of courage, so we'll take those positive things from the game."

England were quickly on the front foot and would have been celebrating a Luther Burrell try but for the defensive tenacity of Scotland's full-back Stuart Hogg.

Six Nations 2015: Scotland's Mark Bennett makes it 7-7 against England

The home side were worthy of their 7-0 lead when Jonathan Joseph crossed the line and Scotland again had Hogg to thank when he thwarted Mike Brown just two metres from the try line.

Yet Scotland drew level when Mark Bennett swept through the white shirts to touch down and skipper Greig Laidlaw pinged over the difficult conversion.

Two more penalties by Laidlaw to one by George Ford gave Scotland a three-point advantage at half-time that seemed hugely improbable after 20 minutes. It was the first time Scotland had led at Twickenham at the halfway stage in quarter of a century.

But England stepped up a gear in the second period and tries by Ford and Jack Nowell earned them the Calcutta Cup and a good chance of winning the Championship, while Scotland must beat Ireland in their final game to have any hope of avoiding the Wooden Spoon.

The Scotland team line up at Twickenham
The Scotland team line up at Twickenham ahead looking for their first win there since 1983

"The boys played for each other," continued Cotter.

"It was a tough, tough game. We played a very good English side.

"I thought we attacked well, defended well and scrambled well.

"If we can keep developing on those good things and tidy up on a few things to become competitive for 80 minutes, that is something we'll be looking at.

"We got a try scored against us early and I think everybody thought it was going to be a walkover. Once the players got their hands on the ball we started making ground.

Scotland's 2015 Six Nations campaign
7 February: France 15-8 Scotland
15 February: Scotland 23-26 Wales
28 February: Scotland 19-22 Italy
14 March: England 25-13 Scotland

"In and around rucks Greig (Laidlaw) was darting, we had forwards running off with pace, the ball going forward, so it was nice to see, it should give the guys confidence."

Openside flanker Blair Cowan said he was "absolutely devastated" at the result but praised his team-mates for bouncing back from the dispiriting last-minute defeat by Italy at Murrayfield on 28 February.

"To come in on top from the first half, we were buzzing. The attitude and the passion was all there," he said.

"But full credit to England, their composure took it in the end.

Stuart Hogg
Stuart Hogg made some excellent saving tackles for Scotland but could not prevent England winning the Calcutta Cup

"We believed the whole way. We were up for it. This week's been one of the most intense weeks of training in my life.

"There were some harsh truths said after Italy and the way we bounced back, we can't fault that.

"We have to look back at some of the technical things but on the whole I'm really proud of the boys.

"Obviously, we are in the same boat as Wales and France, where we put in a good performance but didn't get the result."

Cotter has injury concerns for the final match of the campaign next Saturday.

Blair Cowan and Rob Harley tackle England's Geoff Parling
Blair Cowan and Rob Harley tackle England's Geoff Parling

"I'm not sure we're going to have a team for next week," he said.

"Matt Scott took a shot to his thigh, Finn (Russell) was cramping and wasn't good at the end, we've got a number of knocks, Jim Hamilton came off with his back (injured), so I think at the start of the week we won't be doing a lot.

"Hopefully we can get it together for another big game against Ireland."

Meanwhile England head coach Stuart Lancaster rued his side's finishing in the first half.

"It was frustrating watching the first half against Scotland," Lancaster said.

"We probably left three or four tries out there. We were creating chances but we didn't finish them."

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