THE 20-point margin of defeat suffered against Ireland yesterday does not do justice to the quality of Scotland’s performance, Greig Laidlaw insisted last night. By the same token, the scrum-half accepted that his team were guilty of obvious failings - above all, several missed try-scoring opportunities - that need to be ironed out before they can really regard themselves as being on a level footing with Ireland.

“It didn't feel like a 20-point game,” Laidlaw said after the 28-8 defeat. “That’s what the scoreboard says, which is frustrating. We certainly didn’t feel there was that much in the game, and the Irish boys are pretty humble and didn’t think so either.

“It's frustrating. A couple of big moments in the game. In the first half there were a couple of errors by us. We didn’t help ourselves.

“We created a lot of opportunities and we’re disappointed not to take them and put Ireland under more pressure. Credit to Ireland, when they had opportunities they took them.”

If the score was reminiscent of the 34-7 loss in Cardiff which began Scotland’s Six Nations campaign, Laidlaw believed that yesterday’s display, while painfully flawed, was a cut above that performance. In other words, he did not see this result as a complete step back after the home wins against France and England.

“Apart from Wales, where we were massively disappointed with the performance, parts of the performance were there today that were there against France and England,” he said. “It’s important now we go forward and perform again in a week.

“You could see we were more composed in a lot of things, but we have some work to do. This team is still young and in its infancy in the way it’s playing. So we understand we’re putting teams under massive pressure at points in the game, but understand our skill sets must be high to not make mistakes and make our opportunities count.

“We have to improve our discipline. We gave Ireland penalties when they wanted penalties. That was disappointing. We have to understand discipline is hugely important at this level. That proved costly today.

“They were breathing pretty hard at half time. Maybe in the past that game would have got away from us, but it didn’t today. We were in it until the death.”

They would have been closer at the death but for those expensive mistakes by players such as Huw Jones and Peter Horne, yet Laidlaw, understandably, said there would be no recriminations.

“We win and lose as a team. The team is made up of individuals and nobody goes out there to make mistakes. Sometimes it just happens and you accept it and you move on and do the next job.

“They’re obviously disappointed with the way things have turned out. They’re pretty cut up about it. We're never going to get that game back. We’ll go away and dissect the performance and take positives, because we played some brilliant rugby at times and caused Ireland a lot of problems at times.”