Best fo­cused on the present

The Herald - Herald Sport - - Rbs 6 Nations - DUN­CAN BECH

SER­GIO PARISSE is ea­ger to end the RBS 6 Na­tions on a high with vic­tory over Scot­land to re­ward coach Jac­ques Brunel and the Rome faith­ful.

Italy, who are with­out a win in Brunel’s first tour­na­ment in charge since he suc­ceeded Nick Mal­lett, came close to de­feat­ing Eng­land in their only home match in the tour­na­ment, los­ing 19-15 in no small part dis­ci­pline not to be off­side and not give away penal­ties at the break­down.

“We need to be re­ally sharp there and on our line, de­fend for our lives. Do that, and the game can be won against a good Ital­ian side, who de­fend their ter­ri­tory pas­sion­ately.”

Hav­ing gone into the tour­na­ment with high hopes the Scots know they have let them­selves down as cham­pi­onship new­comer Dave Den­ton ac­knowl­edged. “It’s very tough,” he said. “We’re a proud bunch of guys and it’s tough to lose the first four games. It’s been hard to keep the heads up, but this week­end’s a great chance for us to start win­ning ways again.

“You could def­i­nitely see the dis­ap­point­ment af­ter the Ire­land game in our­selves be­cause we know we’ve been ca­pa­ble of beat­ing any team to Char­lie Hodg­son’s charge­down try.

Parisse, the cap­tain, said: “It’s a fun­da­men­tal match. There’s not just the de­sire to play a great match but there’s also the pres­sure to get a pos­i­tive re­sult. The re­al­ity is that both Scot­land and our­selves have played good matches in this Six Na­tions.

“We’ve both been close to get­ting good re­sults but at the end we find our­selves in this last match play­ing [to avoid] last place. we’ve played against in this Six Na­tions.

“We’ve shown that with ball in hand we’re very dan­ger­ous and when we de­fend well teams strug­gle to get on the front foot against us. I sup­pose the night af­ter Ire­land was pretty tough but it’s a quick six-day turn­around and we didn’t have time to dwell on it, the boys got up again pretty quickly. You don’t re­ally need any ex­tra mo­ti­va­tion.

“In ev­ery game you know what’s at stake, you know you have the hopes of the na­tion be­hind you, so me per­son­ally I haven’t changed but it does put a bit of ex­tra spice in to the per­for­mance.

“You can see a lot of the se­nior play­ers who have been around the block a bit – you can see them step­ping up and mak­ing sure ev­ery­one is push­ing on,” Den­ton added.

“It’s not dis­ap­point­ing to play them for last place, it’s a match like all the oth­ers, and even more so be­cause it’s at home and we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to play well in front of our fans.

“It’s very im­por­tant for our group and for Jac­ques be­cause it’s not easy to start with a tour­na­ment like this. A win could help him con­tinue his work with more seren­ity. It’s very im­por­tant for us to be more con­sis­tent as a team,” he added. RORY BEST, the Ire­land cap­tain, yes­ter­day sought to dif­fuse any hos­til­ity with Eng­land ahead of to­day’s match at Twick­en­ham.

Flanker Stephen Fer­ris ac­cused the English of be­ing “bad losers” ear­lier in the week, while full-back Rob Kear­ney stated Ire­land’s re­cent dom­i­nance of the fix­ture is be­cause they are the su­pe­rior team. But Best re­fused to pour more fuel on the fire.

“We know that in the past we’ve had some very tough games against Eng­land and we ex­pect noth­ing dif­fer­ent to­mor­row,” the Ul­ster hooker said. “At this level, no­body par­tic­u­larly likes los­ing be­cause we are com­pet­i­tive play­ers. You only get to the top by be­ing com­pet­i­tive.

“I’ve al­ways found that if it’s been a tough, hard game, you have that re­spect for each other. His­tor­i­cally, Eng­land have al­ways been there or there­abouts as Grand Slam cham­pi­ons.

“When I was grow­ing up, Eng­land dom­i­nated this tour­na­ment. Once you’re lucky enough to play for Ire­land you want to beat the best and that’s what Eng­land have been.”

Ire­land have won seven of their last eight Six Na­tions meet­ings with Eng­land, in­clud­ing three of the last four at Twick­en­ham, but Best in­sisted that record is ir­rel­e­vant.

“Un­for­tu­nately, our record won’t have any im­pact – those games are in the past. It’s all about what hap­pens at 5pm to­mor­row evening,” added Best.

“As far as we’re con­cerned, we’re play­ing the reign­ing Six Na­tions cham­pi­ons in their own back yard. They’ve won three of their four out­ings so we know they’re a very tough team.

“We’re look­ing for­ward to it but we’re un­der no il­lu­sions over the size of the chal­lenge.”

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