Scotland 27-22 Ireland: Scots 'finding ways to win' - Vern Cotter

Scotland coach Vern Cotter says his players are shaking off their habit of defeats in close games after the "best win" of his tenure against Ireland.

The Scots suffered heartbreaking single-point losses to Australia at the 2015 World Cup and again in November, but beat Argentina in the last minute.

And two late Greig Laidlaw penalties saw them overcome Ireland in their Six Nations opener after trailing 22-21.

"The players are finding ways to win games," Cotter told BBC Sport.

"When there was one point in it towards the end, I imagine everyone thought it was going to be a similar scenario.

"But they have obviously learned and improved and we managed to claw our way back into it.

"It is a great win for the players. It will validate a lot of the work they have been doing. I am just really happy and it is quite a nice feeling to be honest.

"I thought for a while we had managed to get ourselves in trouble again.

"We dominated the first half, and Ireland dominated large parts of the second half. But there was composure in the end and they managed to get out of it.

Jonny Gray tackles Rob Kearney with help from Allan Dell
Lock Jonny Gray led Scotland's tackle count with 28. Ryan Wilson made 18, Richie Gray 17 & Hamish Watson 16

"It has been a while since we won the first game of the Six Nations so that will change the dynamic. I think the players will decide what they want to do from here."

It was Scotland's first opening-round win since they beat France in 2006, and only their second since the Six Nations started in 2000.

"We know we haven't won the first game here for 10 years but Vern sat us down this week and told us we were going to win," said captain Greig Laidlaw.

"We were just bloody-minded. This team is coming on leaps and bounds with every week and we are over the moon with this win."

A brace of tries from Stuart Hogg, who became his country's leading Six Nations try-scorer with nine, and a third from Alex Dunbar after barely half-an-hour put them 21-5 up.

But Paddy Jackson's penalty, and tries from Iain Henderson and Jackson - adding to Keith Earls' earlier effort - put one of the title favourites 22-21 ahead inside the final quarter before Scotland came again.

Stuart Hogg celebrates scoring for Scotland
Hogg became Scotland's highest Six Nations try-scorer with his brace of tries

"We're a changed group," Laidlaw added. "We want to drive this whole thing forward, especially when we pull those jerseys on at home, we don't want to be getting beaten anymore. It's so pleasing to see.

"The messages were pretty simple - hold onto the ball, that was the game plan, it really worked in the first half, and that's how we were able to score 21 points.

"We maybe never adjusted as well just after half-time when Ireland came up a bit harder and we coughed up a couple of balls. But to pull ourselves out of that hole and hold onto the ball and get some penalties was the winning of the game."

Hogg, who was named man-of-the-match, cemented his status as favourite for the British and Irish Lions number 15 jersey on this summer's New Zealand tour with two dazzling early tries.

"I was put in some good positions by the team and I just had to finish it off," Hogg told BBC Sport.

"The boys gave us a good platform and we have some excellent backs. I was just in the right place at the right time thankfully.

"Credit to Ireland, they were outstanding in that second half. Defensively we had to be on the money the whole time and the boys are absolutely delighted to come away with a win."

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