Barclay determined to stop the rot
March 17, 2011
John Barclay is determined to end the Six Nations on a high © Getty Images
Scotland flanker John Barclay is determined to end the Six Nations on a high with victory over Italy at Murrayfield on Saturday, when the dreaded wooden spoon will again be at stake.
The Scots entered the tournament on a run of five wins in six Tests but go into the final weekend at the wrong end of the table after four defeats from four games.
The Azzurri travel to Edinburgh - the scene for their one previous Six Nations away win, in 2007, when they were three tries up inside six minutes - one week after the most famous result in their history, the 22-21 defeat of France in Rome.
The Azzurri have won three of their last four Six Nations matches with Scotland, losing a Rugby World Cup Pool contest in 2007, and Barclay is acutely aware the visitors will be seeking another success.
"Every year they target this game," he said. "We played them at the World Cup and that was a huge game. Before then and after then, every year, for one reason and another, this is a big game for both teams.
"It's a game we have to win - it's as simple as that. Unfortunately for the situation as it is right now, a lot of it is about restoring some pride, looking forward towards what's coming later in the year for us.
"We're hugely disappointed about what's gone before in the championship, but that's gone now and the only thing we can do now is push forward and put in a huge performance this weekend."
Barclay chose to focus on the positive after last weekend's 22-16 loss to England left them staring down the barrel of a last-place finish.
"If we defend like that in every game we'll be a very hard team to beat," he said. "That's been one of our trademarks over the past year - our defence has put us in really strong positions. For one reason or another in the early stage of the Championship we weren't doing that."
A key moment in the loss to England was Barclay's sin-binning, with the flanker adjudged to have infringed at the breakdown. While Scotland were reduced to 14 men Tom Croft crossed for a converted try and seven points which ultimately proved the difference.
"I was really disappointed to get sin-binned but I think my all-round play in the game was pretty good," Barclay said. "That was my best game of the Championship so far. I haven't been quite at that standard leading up to that game."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor