Scotland flanker Jamie Ritchie admits they must find a way to ensure tough periods in games are not so damaging. Scotland have followed their opening Guinness Six Nations win against England with narrow home defeats by Wales and Ireland in topsy-turvy encounters.

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They fought back from 14 points down against the Irish on Sunday before conceding a late penalty which handed the visitors a 27-24 win. A review of the game focused on a number of areas which cost Scotland, notably the lineout and the breakdown, but Ritchie feels they must recognise what is going wrong during matches and rectify it quicker.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “A lot of the stuff we speak about as a group didn’t really go to plan. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a bit. It was a bit of a tough one but we will move on. You are always going to have a bad day every so often and it’s just about how you react. For us it’s about learning to react better and quicker in games.

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“There are always going to be periods in matches when you are under the pump or under pressure. It’s how you bounce back and how you regain control and that is something for us to work on. It’s not the first time it has happened and I’m sure it won’t be the last but it’s a work in progress.

“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.”

The Edinburgh forward admits cutting out the errors would be a simple way of achieving that aim. “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,” he added.

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Scotland have the chance to bounce back at home to Italy on Saturday before taking on France in a rearranged game which might take place the following weekend. “This game is a huge opportunity for us to show what we are about and concentrate on ourselves,” Ritchie said.

“Italy always target the game against us as a big one for them so I think they will come out all guns blazing and they are always a threat. It’s a massive opportunity for us to show we can get out early and hopefully lead on to a win.”

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