Scotland are confident in their own game and their ability to switch strategies on the pitch going into the second Guinness Six Nations game at home to Wales, says scrum-half Ali Price.
A case in point was an issue Price and his team-mates solved themselves during the historic victory at Twickenham on Saturday – when his clearance kicks kept getting charged down by England’s star lock, Maro Itoje.
‘It was a simple fix’
“To be fair, he’s very good at that anyway,” said Price. “But two in the first 10 minutes, a couple of years ago that might have rattled me a bit.
“Luckily there’s the big screens at Twickenham replaying it. One of them had a great camera angle from behind so I could see exactly what was happening.
“It showed what our set up was and how Itoje was getting through. It’s a simple fix, one that the forwards know and a simple set-up for us.”
‘Very chilled and composed’
And the consultation with playmakers Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell showed the Scots were “very chilled and composed”, he continued.
“We fixed that ourselves on the field,” said Price. “When it happened the second time, me, Hoggy and Finn were talking: `Right, he’s got the better of us on a couple of occasions now, what options have we got?
“I think you saw us adapt on the field, shifting the ball a little wider. Plan A wasn’t working but we had other things in the locker.”
Similarly, the Scots had a plan when Finn Russell was yellow carded just before half-time, and they executed it superbly.
“It came a minute and half before half-time and we managed to hold out,” he said. “In a way it was very similar to the end of the Wales game in the autumn when Hoggy had to move to 10.
“I’m very happy to take on the role of getting boys running off me and play a slightly tighter game whilst we’re a man down and just kill some time.
‘We always felt in control’
“We always felt in control and our speed to contact was excellent stopping their jackallers.
“I couldn’t tell you the exact stats but we probably killed six or seven minutes at the start of the second half by tightening things up, and it was all in their half as well.”
Scotland now move on to Wales and that was brought up in the post-match huddle out on the field.
“We spoke about enjoying this moment because it is so rare – 38 years,” add Price. “But at the same time it is game one of five, and there is another massive challenge right in front of us we have to prepare for.
“The team are very aware of that. We’ve got off to the best possible start so it is about using that momentum back at home. We have to back up what we did on the weekend, because if we don’t then as great as Saturday was, it means nothing.”
‘They’re a challenging side’
And although they enjoyed the victory in Llanelli in October, Price reckons Wales are getting back on track.
“They’re a challenging side and they pose different challenges to other teams,” he added. “They’re looking to play a more attacking game and Liam Williams coming back is certainly an attacking threat for them.
“It was a physical game for them against Ireland and there were a few casualties. But they’ve got good depth and they’ve still got world-class players.
“You’ve got guys like George North potentially winning a hundred caps. Alun Wyn Jones has a hundred-odd caps, Ken Owens is right up there, Jonathan Davies, Dan Biggar.
“They just needed time to adjust to certain subtle changes a new coach can bring into a team. In the autumn you could see they were trying to change their game – and that’s going to take time.”