Cairns praises clinical Scotland
November 23, 2008
Cairns is congratulated by team mate Nikki Walker after scoring a try against Canada on Saturday © Getty Images
Ben Cairns believes Scotland discovered a cutting edge in their 41-0 victory over Canada in the final autumn Test at Pittodrie.
The Scotland centre's first try for his country was one of six which Frank Hadden's side ran in sub-zero conditions in Aberdeen. It was a welcome demonstration of clinical finishing from Scotland after the profligacy which hampered their attempts to defeat New Zealand and South Africa in the first two November Tests.
Aberdeen-born Nikki Walker crossed twice and Cairns, John Barclay, Alasdair Strokosch and Rory Lamont added further tries as Scotland ended their Autumn series in style. It was noticeable throughout the match that whenever a Scotland player made a line break there were plenty of blue jerseys straining to provide support to the strike runner.
This eagerness to convert their openings resulted in a rare Scotland try feast and suggested the lessons had been learned from the back-to-back defeats at Murrayfield. Cairns said: "Not finishing our chances was something we looked at after the New Zealand game because we were really frustrated by that aspect.
"It was something we had to put right. We needed a clinical edge and the ability to convert chances close to the line. We messed up a few chances in the first half but the second half was a lot better and we finished off more of the line breaks we made. My try just before half time and the one just after it probably killed them off and it was about being more clinical for the rest of the game."
Cairns, who was a successful sevens player before making his name at Edinburgh, is now looking forward to the Six Nations - but is well aware of the need to make the most of opportunities in order to edge tight games. He said: "I've learned in these five caps I've had that every game is different and there is a very fine line between getting absolutely trounced and having a close game and indeed winning.
"We competed against New Zealand and especially South Africa so we can take a lot of confidence into the Six Nations."
The Leeds-born centre was pleased that his midfield partnership with Edinburgh team-mate Nick De Luca clicked successfully in Aberdeen. It was De Luca who made the break from which 23-year-old Cairns scored his maiden Test try.
The score was a welcome one after Hadden had publicly asked his centres to "take a step up" in the week leading up to the match with Canada - and put utility back Max Evans on the bench. Cairns said: "It was nice the way my try came too because it was Nick who made the break and I was right on his shoulder as I do for Edinburgh. It was awesome to bring that into an international.
"The pressure (to step up) comes from ourselves. We both wanted to kick on from the previous two games. It was more solid than anything else against New Zealand and South Africa so it was good to get a few breaks in the Canada game. The New Zealand game was just my third game back after injury so it was a massive test but I was very happy how I came through it.
"So I went into the South Africa game with some confidence and it was another tight game in which I was fairly pleased with the work I did do, although it was mostly solid defensive work.
"I was happy to be on the attack a bit more and get the ball in hand against Canada because obviously Max has come onto the bench this week and he has played outside centre for Glasgow."
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship