Wales v Scotland: Gregor Townsend says Scotland pack came of age in Llanelli

Gregor Townsend hailed his youthful pack of forwards for helping deliver a long-awaited victory in Wales.

Scotland scrum-half Ali Price tackles Wales' wing Josh Adams as Jamie Ritchie, right, gets ready to move in.
Scotland scrum-half Ali Price tackles Wales' wing Josh Adams as Jamie Ritchie, right, gets ready to move in.

The coach was in the No.10 jersey the last time Scotland tasted victory in the Principality way back in 2002.

That win was achieved in harum-scarum fashion, with the lead changing hands seven times. This one in Llanelli was far more controlled, largely down to the performances of the big men up front in dark blue.

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“It was a big step forward for our pack,” said Townsend after the 14-10 triumph at Parc y Scarlets. “We’re a relatively young pack with guys like Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings and Jamie Ritchie and they really stepped up. The lineout performance in the second half was outstanding. It was tricky in the first half with that wind.

“We had a lot of possession, we had that edge in the scrum and a lot of forward carries to try and tire that Welsh defence and potentially win penalties because the breakdown was fiercely contested.”

Townsend added: “To get an away win is something we have been waiting for against Wales for a while. It is great for this group to have some sort of confirmation that the hard work and progress that they are making is paying off.

“We had to work hard for that win which was good to see in a difficult situation with no crowds, with the wind and with injuries. So to see that character and power in the second half was encouraging.”

Ritchie in particular shone on a day when Scotland won three matches in a row in the Five/Six Nations for the first time since 1996. The Edinburgh flanker won key turnovers and was a worthy recipient of the man of the match award.

“He showed his all-round game,” said Townsend. “He took a brilliant line in attack, had at least one jackal, some strong carries and tackles and was a good lineout option.

“He and Hamish Watson were like having two opensides on the field. Hamish has been outstanding in training in the last few weeks. He’s got real focus in his game and some of his carries were excellent.”

The result means Scotland end the Six Nations with three wins from five but the coach refused to get carried away when asked if this made them contenders for the title next year.

“We’ll see,” said Townsend. “We’ve been in every game this year. We had chances to beat Ireland and picked up a losing bonus point over there. At three-all against England, I believe we had a clear penalty which would have taken us to 6-3, and obviously we lost that game.

“But the last three games we won, and we know there is a lot more to come. If it wasn’t such a special victory, with the character on show, I’d be thinking that there is so much still to improve, but you need wins like this to build confidence as a group. Come the next Six Nations we’ll have to be better because the teams we are playing against are all very good, but this is a step in the right direction.”

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