Energy is the key says Ali Price as Scots aim to spoil Welsh party

That Scotland can beat Wales come Saturday is not in any doubt but the fact that they won’t do so without bringing a lot more energy to bear against Wales than they managed in that insipid performance in against FranceParis, according to Ali Price.

The first 10 to 15 minutes are massive said Ali Price ahead of Scotlands clash with Wales. Picture: SNS.

“The main sort of thing that came out of the French performance was our [lack of] energy throughout the whole game,” conceded the little scrum-half. “Our kick-chase wasn’t good enough. We had a few good kicks within the game, kicks that went infield, it was just that energy on kick-chase that gave them easy outs.

“The whole performance compared to the intensity we brought to the Ireland game – defensively our intensity and energy were way up from where it was against France. We’ve done a lot of work on kick-chase and, going into next week, it’s about building intensity and energy within training so we’re good to go again against Wales.

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“Momentum has a big part to play in these games and the French got off to a good start, got the crowd behind them, they got lifted and that came through our errors which suppressed us slightly. The starts to games are massive, the first ten-15 minutes are massive, and they came out of the blocks well. That dampened the energy we wanted to bring to the start of the game.”

Energy is Price’s calling card. One of Scotland’s problems is an absence of quick breakdown ball which is at least partly down to scrum-half Greig Laidlaw, right, who, for all his excellence elsewhere, has never been the fastest milkman in the west. Antoine Dupont proved how important a busy scrum-half can be for France and Price made a difference off the bench and snatched that late score.

“If we’re chasing the game you’ve got to do what you can to inject a bit of life into the game,” said Price when asked about his role off the bench. Make a difference.

“I thought all the boys who came off the bench provided a bit of impact, whether that was Gary with his carrying or Darcy coming off his wing, Adam had a good game running the ball as well. Again, when we come on it’s a bit looser, we’re chasing the game and need to score and there’s a little more freedom to do that.”

Scotland coach Gregor Townsend has already admitted that he will have one eye on the World Cup when selecting this XV and, even if you deem that a mistake, Price could be in line for a start if Townsend wants to shake things up. Wales are comfortably ahead of the Scots in most areas so Townsend will have to gamble a little if Scotland are going to trouble the men in red.

It was interesting to note that the coach who, as a player, never failed to roll the dice, erred on the conservative side when picking Horne over Hastings to start against France.

Hamish Watson and WP Nel should come back into the frame after a successful run for Edinburgh and it would be nice to see Gary Graham’s aggression directed properly next Saturday. The feeling remains that this forward pack lacks some bite and Graham playing at No 8, either side of Jamie Ritchie and Hamish Watson, could offer some snap and snarl in an attempt to salvage something from this season.

On a more technical level, Price recognises that Wales kicked more than any other team during the November series, when they beat Scotland, and the Scots’ own kicking game is going to have to be pitch perfect to ensure they play in the right areas of the field. Being inside your own red zone brings its own pressure at the elite level.

“Obviously we’re disappointed but you’ve got to park it,” Price says about Paris. “No point on dwelling on what happened, you can’t change that game, you can’t change the result.

“We’ve still got two massive games left and we can have a good crack at finishing high up in the table at the end of the tournament. There would be nothing better than getting back to winning ways, I guess. It’ll be a massive one at home against a team going for a Grand Slam. If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.”