Six Nations 2019: Scotland win 'a big step forward' says Ireland captain Rory Best
A repeat Grand Slam may no longer be possible but Ireland's defence of their Six Nations title took a step in the right direction against Scotland.
Following a chastening loss to England, Ireland captain Rory Best says it was vital that his side won at Murrayfield.
A second straight defeat would have ended Irish hopes of a fourth title in six years and would have severely dented confidence in a World Cup year.
"Mentally and emotionally we took a big step forward this week," said Best.
The Ireland skipper added: "Last week was a very strange week. We felt we'd done alright in some areas, and were pretty poor in others with some silly mistakes.
"But we don't strive for alright, we want to be the best we can be and last week wasn't that."
Ireland 'relying on others' to retain title
Ireland's title defence got off to a disastrous start with a heavy opening-round defeat by England in Dublin in what was only their second loss in 20 matches.
The nature of the reversal at Lansdowne Road had raised questions about the team's style of play for the first time since Joe Schmidt's team climbed up to second place in the world rankings and also left them playing catch-up in the battle for this year's Six Nations title.
"If you lose two games you're dead and buried," Best acknowledged after his side returned to winning ways.
"We'll have to rely on other people which isn't where you want to be but if we hadn't won this game, we were definitely out of it.
"It was important to get the result. Obviously we wanted to improve in certain areas, physically, and we wanted to play a lot more like ourselves.
Tries by Conor Murray, Jacob Stockdale and Keith Earls secured an Irish win in Edinburgh but the Grand Slam champions were still well below their best and required a dogged defensive stand - particularly during the closing minutes of the first half - to deny Scotland.
The second-half try by Earls raised the prospect of a bonus-point for the visitors, which they failed to achieve, and 36-year-old Best accepts that there is still room for his side to improve: "We can be better, we can play more rugby, and I'm sure Joe will touch on that when we meet up again.
"With 15 minutes to go there was an opportunity there to maybe go and get a fourth try but we just couldn't really get enough sustained pressure down there."