Scotland beat France 28-17 at Murrayfield last weekend

Head coach Gregor Townsend is taking a “lot of positives” from Scotland’s Six Nations campaign.

Scotland rallied to beat Italy and France after narrow defeats to Ireland and England before Saturday’s visit to Wales was postponed.

A new-found defensive resilience has been key to the improvement following a disappointing World Cup last year.

“We can get momentum through our defence and that’s been pleasing,” Townsend told BBC Scotland.

“The players are now more confident when the opposition go through a number of phases that we will get the ball back.

“We’ve been able to adapt to different tactics. The effort with and without the ball has been very good, with the kick-chase, scramble in defence, putting our bodies on the line. Those are great qualities to see.

“We have shown that attitude prior to the Six Nations but what we didn’t have last season was consistency from game to game, whether that was game management, execution of skills, defensive alignment – we dropped down a couple of times and that cost us.

“In these four games those were all at a high level and it kept us in every game and gave us opportunities to win every game. I suppose the frustration is not taking those chances early on in the competition.”

Scotland have conceded just four tries in their four outings, while 15 tries were given up to the same opposition in last year’s tournament.

“It’s been an interesting season in challenging circumstances but I see a lot of positives when I look back,” added Townsend, who had to do without star fly-half Finn Russell after a high-profile fall-out before the coronavirus outbreak hit the fixture list.

“I see a group that really came together off the field, in particular during the two-week build up to the Ireland game. I really saw the connections grow between the players at our training camp in Spain.

“We had new players standing up, speaking in meetings, driving the team.

“Dublin was encouraging in terms of how we played with and without the ball, how we imposed our physicality on a team that is noted for playing with real physicality.”

Hastings ‘stepped up as a leader’

Russell is likely to return to the fold if Scotland’s July tour goes ahead but Townsend would not be drawn on any plans to talk further with the Racing 92 fly-half.

“I’ll be speaking to everyone in the squad over the next few weeks, trying to motivate them and see where they are and talk about what they need to do to get on the tour,” he said before heaping praise on Adam Hastings, who started all four Six Nations games.

“He’s been really good and there’s a number of aspects fans and the media don’t get to see of what he’s been like in our camp, how he’s driven meetings and how he has presented, at times, better than us as coaches,” he said of the Glasgow Warrior.

“Him and Ali Price have really stepped up as leaders of the team’s attack.

“Like any young player and like any 10, you’re never going to have a perfect game. You’re always thinking about things you could have done better.

“It’s how you react to that and improve that’s key and we saw that with Adam. He’s learning the whole time and he has a great attitude.”

Watson & Ritchie future Lions? – analysis

Johnnie Beattie, former Scotland international on BBC Sportsound

Hamish Watson and Jamie Ritchie are two thirds of a world class back-row. They’ve both got it all.

You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself but there’s a British & Irish Lions tour coming up next year and they are in that bracket now, with other back-rows aging.

The big thing is for them both to get through a couple of seasons of international rugby and dominate games.