Scotland boss Townsend insists he is to blame for defeat by Ireland

Ireland's Devin Toner attempts an off load

Ireland's Devin Toner attempts an off load

Coach Joe Schmidt believed Sexton will be available for the next match at Italy on February 24.

Rory Best insists Ireland took a giant leap "mentally and emotionally" in their patchy 22-13 Guinness Six Nations win in Scotland on Saturday.

Scotland badly needed some points but turned down a simple three for a quick tap by Russell and the Irish defence swarmed to force a turnover inside their own five metre line.

But after a breathless first half in which the Irish edged 12-10, they scored a third soft try for some breathing room and their defense limited Scotland to just a penalty.

Kinghorn's pace running the ball back gave Scotland a little lift but it needed opportunism from Russell to get them back in the game on the half-hour.

They have beaten England, Australia, Ireland, France, Wales and Argentina in the past two years, while Edinburgh and Glasgow - who contribute about three quarters of the national team's players - have both reached the last eight of the European Champions Cup, the first time two Scottish clubs have done so. It's frustrating as you love going up against the best teams in the world, and we get close, but come up just short.

"Our contact work against a very good defense was outstanding; just that final piece, the execution of set-piece, which has been really good, that fell off the jigsaw today". 'If we were able to replicate it in the second, I think we'd be here with a win.' Laidlaw, meanwhile, was critical of referee Poite, citing one instance of particular injustice as far as the Scotland captain was concerned.

"There was a lot of doubt around Ireland coming into this game", he said.

BOD reiterated what needs to occur in Sexton's mindset and game preparation if Ireland are to keep hold of their talisman for a longer time. We're confident that he will bounce back quickly.

"I thought one of two decisions didn't go Scotland's way that could've, but at this level you rely on your performance".

His coach Gregor Townsend took responsibility, saying Scotland had to improve their set-pieces.

"He wanted to stay on but his shoulder was not right". 'We'll see what will happen over the next few days.

"Why did we have such a good first half and not play the same in the second half?"

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