Bad memories of Houston 2018 on Townsend's mind

Gregor Townsend says that Scotland’s defeat to USA during their 2018 summer tour was mentioned straight after their victory over Canada in Ottawa on Saturday night.

The ghosts of Houston, where they lost 30-29, were perhaps part of the reason why Townsend has chosen a far more experienced starting line-up than he did against Canada a week ago.

There are some survivors from the shock in Houston, but not many. The half-backs are the same. Adam Hastings only had one cap back then, and George Horne made his debut. So too did Matt Fagerson, who also starts on Friday night.

In the wake of the Houston debacle, Lewis Carmichael, the starting lock, and Luke Hamilton, the starting openside, never won another cap. Dougie Fife, Tim Swinson and Murray McCallum were all on the bench that day. Fife and Swinson won one more cap each.

"It’s a more experienced team than the team that played Canada last week," Townsend said.

"It was 10 new caps at the weekend and they put a really good marker down in what we are expecting around the detail of our game. It’s up to these players now to take it to another level."

Townsend spoke about handling the pressure of being favourites in all of their games on tour. "One challenge is keeping our focus, our togetherness and our accuracy when we are favourites for games.

"One of the learnings of the Six Nations when we were favourites for a game was how disciplined we are in our focus and the Italy game (a crushing defeat) was one where we didn’t do that well."

A repeat of Houston is unthinkable. More likely, it’ll be another big score and another comprehensive victory against a team that lost to Romania last weekend before they move on to South America and games against Chile and Uruguay.