Where Scotland need to improve for Wales game and options to replace Jamie Ritchie

Gregor Townsend’s side ignited their campaign with a dramatic 20-17 home win over England on Saturday but the head coach described the performance as “far from perfect”.

Graham, the Scotland winger, agreed and knows he and his team-mates will face a searching test of their title credentials in front of a noisy Welsh crowd in Cardiff this weekend.

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The Principality Stadium has been a graveyard for Scottish Six Nations hopes in recent years, with their last victory there coming in 2007. Townsend’s team did win in Wales in the delayed 2020 match but that was played at an empty Parc and Scarlets in Llanelli due to Covid.

“We know the challenge ahead,” Graham said. “Cardiff is a tough place to go. Especially if they have the roof shut as the Welsh fans are so passionate but it will be straight back onto it on Monday. It is going to be a big week for us.”

Wales, missing a host of experienced players through injury, lost their opener 29-7 to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday. Scotland, meanwhile, notched back-to-back victories over England for the first time since 1983-84.

England had the lion’s share of territory and possession at Murrayfield but Scotland emerged victorious after visiting hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie was yellow-carded and the hosts were awarded a penalty try.

Darcy Graham, with natty headwear, celebrates with Ali Price at full-time. (Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group)

Asked what Scotland needed to work on for Cardiff, Graham said: “Everything. It is hard coming off the back of the game to say straight away but we will review the game and watch how Wales played in their defeat to Ireland.”

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Team-mate Hamish Watson expressed concern that England had the bulk of possession on Saturday, forcing Scotland into making 124 tackles.

“In the first half particularly we didn’t really touch the ball,” said Watson. “But it is a good sign that we turned up and didn’t really fire that many shots and still managed to win the game – I think we can take confidence from the fact that when we had the ball, we looked dangerous.

Scotland lost Jamie Ritchie to injury in the second half against England. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group)

“But it is something that we are going to have to look at, that they were on top for large periods of that game and we had to make a lot of tackles.”

Magnus Bradbury replaced him and will come into Townsend’s thinking for Wales, possibly as part of a reshuffled back-row which could see Matt Fagerson moved to blindside flanker and Bradbury slotting in at No 8.

Other back-row options include Nick Haining and the uncapped Saracens forward Andy Christie. Josh Bayliss is also in the squad but the Bath man is recovering from concussion.

Rory Darge has been in excellent form for Glasgow Warriors but is a specialist openside and Townsend would have to weigh up the pros and cons of including both Darge and Hamish Watson in the same side.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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