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”.
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 y Scarlets in Llanelli due to Covid.
“We know the challenge ahead,” said Graham. “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.
“That is one part of the puzzle, winning that game,” cautioned Graham. “We just need to back it up going down to Wales. It is a tough away fixture. We have won the Calcutta Cup game in the past and not backed it up. This is a huge opportunity. We have started very well so let's go on and do something very special.”
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.
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.”
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.
“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.”
Scotland will almost certainly be without Jamie Ritchie for Cardiff after the flanker sustained a groin/hamstring injury against England.
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.
Don't miss out on a 30 per cent discount on an annual sports subscription. We have a special offer throughout January where you can get a reduced package. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions/sports for more details
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.