Ritchie wants Scotland to learn how to limit the damage

Edinburgh (AFP) –


Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie believes they need to make "fine edges" count in their favour after narrow defeats that threaten to scupper an impressive start to the 2021 Six Nations.

The Scots began the Championship with an 11-6 win away to England -- a first victory over their arch-rivals at Twickenham in 38 years.

But since then they've lost 25-24 at home to Wales and last week they came from 14 points down to get to 24-24 against Ireland only to concede a late penalty in a 27-24 loss.

And while Scotland will be huge favourites to beat Italy, who've lost their last 31 Six Nations matches, at Murrayfield on Saturday, even a win over the Azzurri would still leave the Scots frustrated this tournament if they were also defeated by France in a fixture postponed by a coronavirus outbreak in the French camp.

Self-inflicted wounds have been a feature of Scotland's recent reverses, with Zander Fagerson sent off against Wales while the line-out failed to function in the defeat by Ireland.

"You are always going to have a bad day every so often and it's just about how you react," Ritchie said. "For us it's about learning to react better and quicker in games ... It's how you bounce back and how you regain control and that's something for us to work on."

He added: "In the past we have had games where we have put ourselves under pressure and let them get away from us, whereas that one and the Wales game, we showed we can fight back and be in a position to win the game come 80 minutes.

"But to be 14 points down in a Test match is a hard thing to do. We did really well to come back but those fine margins in the end cost us."

Some of those "fine margins" include Scotland's error count, with Ritchie saying: "There are things we can control like not giving away penalties that we don't need to give away, and learning sometimes to take our medicine and deal with what is in front of us."