IMPROVED discipline is vital if Scotland are to shrug off the disappointment of defeat in Paris and bounce back with a victory over Wales, Ross Ford said yesterday.
While there were many positive aspects of last week’s 15-8 loss in Paris, the Scots paid the price for giving away too many penalties, with all the French points coming from place kicks.
“Frustration is the big word,” Ford said. “We created a lot of opportunities and made a lot of line breaks and scored a try, but in the end it was our discipline that let us down. That allowed them to keep the scoreboard ticking over. There was a lot of frustration there.
“We went there to have a real go and we did. There were positives to come out of it and we scored a try and defended well for a lot of the game. We just have to get better and cut the penalty count down.
“You don’t want boys not to have a go. There’s a lot going on around you and people flying in from everywhere. With the best will in the world you can’t be squeaky clean the whole time.
“It just frustrates us when we give away penalties like that. Some of them are cheap ones and some are frustrating. Nobody actively goes out to give away silly penalties. It’s just something we get pinged for. We need to be smarter on how we move about the contact area.”
Serious indiscipline can have severe consequences, as Scotland found out the last time they met Wales, when Stuart Hogg was sent off for a late tackle after little more than 20 minutes and the Welsh ran out 51-3 winners. It was Scott Johnson’s last match in charge of the national team before he gave way as head coach to Vern Cotter, and it was one of Ford’s lowest points in an international career that is now in its 12th year. But the hooker is confident that it was a one-off, and explained that there will be minimal discussion about that match this week – at least not in the Scotland camp.
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“That game last year is certainly up there in terms of my lowest point for Scotland, but I don’t necessarily think this weekend is about revenge. It’s about us moving forward as a group.
“No one likes to be involved in those kind of games. It was embarrassing. As a group we want to forget the past and focus on the future.
“We’ll speak about that game, I know we will. Hoggy going off wasn’t ideal – when you play that amount of time with a man down, boys are going to tire.
“We emptied our bench, but nothing much went wrong for Wales: they were very clinical. They finished well, but like I say that was back then. We’re back at Murrayfield and it’s a great atmosphere to be playing in.”
Wales also lost their opening match, going down 21-16 to England last Friday, but Ford does not believe that result will affect their spirit one way or the other on Sunday. “When you get to this level, teams want to be consistently good. They came up against a very good English outfit.
“But listen, Wales are very good at what they do and I don’t think they’ll be any more up for it had they won last Friday night. The defeat doesn’t make them any more dangerous than normal.
“We just need to be good at what we do. We watched bits of the game and we will go into more detail this week.
“England defended really well and caused Wales problems, we’ll need to try and do the same. We need to try and create the same kind of space we did against France.”