Wales need a 'sharp edge'
PRE-MATCH BUILD-UP: Alun Wyn Jones wants to see a sharper cutting edge from Wales when they face Scotland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The Welsh travel to Edinburgh after launching their 2021 campaign with a 21-16 win at home to Ireland.
But despite having a man advantage for more than an hour after Ireland flank Peter O’Mahony was sent off, Wales might still have lost had not Billy Burns’ last-ditch kick gone dead instead of finding touch for a close-range attacking line-out.
As well as a raft of injuries, Wales must contend with a resurgent Scotland buoyed by an 11-6 Calcutta Cup win over reigning champions England – their first victory at Twickenham since 1983.
“Our scrum was improved and we were pleased with the line-out defence,” Wales captain Jones told a conference call on Friday.
“We probably let a couple [of scores] go in attack.
“Generally, our defence had improved and our territory was there, but when we have that possession, particularly on entries into the 22, we have got to capitalise.
“We have got to come away with something,” added veteran lock Jones, whose tally of 153 Test appearances is an ongoing world record.
Wales will be without the injured Jonathan Davies, George North, Dan Lydiate and Josh Navidi this weekend, while wing Josh Adams has been suspended for a breach of COVID-19 regulations, as they target a first away win under coach Wayne Pivac.
All of the four victories overseen by the New Zealander since he succeeded compatriot Warren Gatland have been on Welsh soil against Italy (twice), Georgia and Ireland.
“It is obviously disappointing for the guys that have been injured in the game and in training, but it’s a test of the squad and we have to move on,” said Jones.
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Russell’s ‘box of tricks’
October saw Scotland end their 18-year wait for a win in Wales with a 14-10 success in Llanelli during a virus-delayed finish to the 2020 Six Nations.
And although Scotland’s final margin of victory over England was no reflection of their overall dominance, Jones has seen enough to beware of the attacking threats posed by Dark Blues skipper Stuart Hogg and playmaker Finn Russell.
“They were due probably a win like that, and to do it in a Calcutta Cup match was obviously very special for them and the competition,” he said.
“Their set-piece has been a staple throughout, and with the spine of the team with Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg, they haven’t deviated from maintaining that appetite for attack, and to see them continue to do that, particularly in those conditions, was a credit to them.”
The 35-year-old Ospreys second row added: “We are well aware of the threats that they have – we know the box of tricks that Finn has, and the ability he has to play – but we have got to focus on the fifteen, not solely on an individual.”