Gregor Townsend targets a sharper Scotland when New Zealand come to town

Gregor Townsend admitted Scotland will need a significant improvement in performance levels if they are to shock New Zealand next Sunday.

The Scots laboured to an unconvincing 28-12 win over Fiji on Saturday after trailing 12-7 towards the end of the first half.

Head coach Townsend knows his team will have to be far sharper at both ends of the pitch if they are to have any chance of pulling off a first ever victory over the All Blacks.

Scotland v Fiji – Autumn International – BT Murrayfield Stadium
Richie Gray and Scotland beat Fiji on Saturday (PA)

Asked what they will have to do better if they want to compete with New Zealand, he said: “We can’t give away as many penalties and we’ve got to convert when we have opportunities, which we didn’t do enough against Fiji.

“We won’t get as many opportunities to score tries next week, so we’ve got to make sure we take them.

“The All Blacks have brought a very strong team – we saw the depth they have with the performance of their second team against Ireland A on Friday.

“They know they’ll have a tough tour coming to the northern hemisphere with the travel and the different styles of rugby they’ll face up here.

“They’re still clearly one of the best teams in the world and we’ve never beaten them so it’s going to take our best performance to win next week.”

Scotland gave away a flurry of penalties in the first half and had Stuart Hogg sin-binned, allowing Fiji to seize the upper hand for a sustained period before the break. Captain Jamie Ritchie acknowledged his team must “tidy up” their discipline.

“We can’t be giving teams as many opportunities, we know that, and we’ll be looking to rectify it,” he said.

“We were frustrated with our discipline in the first half. We knew they would be in the game early doors but we felt we were fitter than them and we knew that if they were in the game, we could get them in the last 20 minutes.

“I think you started to see towards the end of the first half that we had started to tire them out.

“We probably gave them too much territory but we found a way to win.”