Neil Jenkins accepts Wales need to stop conceding “soft points” as their Guinness Six Nations campaign nears its conclusion. Wales go into Saturday’s Principality Stadium clash against Scotland on the back of three successive Six Nations defeats.
That has not happened to them in one campaign since 2007, although it is 18 years since they last lost a home game to the Scots. “We are trying to be a bit more clinical,” said Wales assistant coach Jenkins. “We scored 30 points (against England), which is out there for us.
“But conversely, we are conceding soft points. That has been an area for us in the last three games, and it is something we have to clear up. You can’t afford to give away 14 points a Test match. We are making silly errors in our game, some poor decisions at key points. That has to be cleared up.
“We are trying to be better and evolve our game. We had a good chat after the France game (27-23 loss on February 22) that a few errors cost us. Saturday (33-30 loss against England) was probably the same. We have to minimise that. It’s Test match football.
“You can’t afford to give away seven or 14 points at this level. You won’t get back in the game. There were periods in that second half where we didn’t control the game. That is what cost us.”
Wales have shipped 84 points and ten tries during the run of losses, with a poor performance in a 24-14 loss in Ireland being followed by narrow reversals against France and England. And life will not get any easier for the remainder of this year, with three of Wales’ scheduled seven Tests after Saturday being against New Zealand, plus an appointment with world champions South Africa.
Jenkins added: “It’s understanding when to play or not to, when to play territory or go for it. “It’s not down to one person – it’s a team thing. When it’s on, it’s on, but it is finding balance. We are certainly trying to evolve our game and play rugby. We have some talented players, and that is showing.
“There comes a certain point where if you are not getting front-foot ball, you make decisions not to play there when the defensive line is set. It’s about understanding that better and getting that back in our game, as it has been there before. We’re drilling that to the players.
“There has only been two or three per game, and we have to get rid of those two or three and play on the front foot in the right areas.”
Wales head coach Wayne Pivac will name his team on to face Scotland on Thursday. Lock Jake Ball is sidelined after suffering a shoulder injury in the England game, which might open the door for Wasps forward Will Rowlands to make a first Test start, with Adam Beard and Aaron Shingler also likely contenders.
Scrum-half Rhys Webb, meanwhile, could be in line to make the starting XV after two Six Nations runs off the bench as Wales target a successful Six Nations finale.
– Press Association
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