The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Trusty Ford re­mains re­li­able for his coach

- By Rob Robert­son

ROSS FORD may be the vet­eran of the Scot­land team but he is far from fin­ished yet.

In­deed, his two tries against Italy showed the 33-year-old still has a lot to of­fer new head coach Gre­gor Townsend.

The old­est man in the start­ing line-up went over for two touch­downs in five sec­ond-half min­utes as he rolled back the years with a su­perb per­for­mance.

He will draw level with Chris Pater­son on a record 109 Scot­land caps if he plays against Aus­tralia in Syd­ney next week­end and, on this form, he is a cer­tainty to be picked.

If he plays against Fiji the fol­low­ing week, he would break Pater­son’s record.

‘It was great to get two tries that dou­bles my Scot­land to­tal to four in my 108 matches,’ smiled the Scot­land hooker, whose wife is ex­pect­ing twins in Au­gust.

‘Get­ting them made it a very good night for me and it was also a very good night for the team.

‘We wanted to play at a high tempo to make things dif­fi­cult for the op­po­si­tion and I think we did that out there.

‘We fell off the pace that we wanted to keep up at times, es­pe­cially mid­way through the first half, but that high-tempo per­for­mance paid div­i­dends at the end of the game in what were very tough con­di­tions out here.

‘We han­dled the heat well but next up we have Aus­tralia. But that win is a con­fi­dence boost for us go­ing into that match.’

For Italy head coach Conor O’Shea the big prob­lem was his play­ers’ ill-dis­ci­pline, with two yel­low cards and at one stage 15 penal­ties con­ceded with hardly any against.

‘Scot­land are fifth in the world rank­ings for a rea­son,’ he said.

‘They are a good side but the dis­ap­point­ing part was that we gave them the en­ergy.

‘There is no doubt that if you go into half-time still 3-3 then it is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent en­ergy, but we didn’t have that with con­ced­ing two late tries.’

The Ital­ians now pre­pare to face Fiji on Sat­ur­day.

‘We will have to look at our­selves, dust our­selves down and get ready to face Fiji in our next game,’ said O’Shea.

‘We know the chal­lenge is hard but we can­not make it as hard for our­selves as we did.

‘It is hard to play any level of rugby with­out 15 play­ers on the pitch, but you look at the start of the game when we were pe­nalised four times which put pres­sure on our­selves from the start.’

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