Scotland: Jamie Ritchie eyes strong Six Nations finish against Italy that would wrap up third spot
Jamie Ritchie believes victory over Italy, which would secure a third-place finish, would constitute a positive Six Nations campaign for Scotland.
Scotland kicked off the Championship in impressive style with wins over England and Wales before their title charge was derailed by France and Ireland.
Despite the chance of Six Nations glory now having gone, skipper Ritchie insists there is still plenty at stake as they prepare to tackle Italy at Murrayfield.
Hoping for a strong finish
“I outlined our goal of five good performances, and I think we’re at three and a half just now,” said the flanker. “To get it up to four and a half would be good, so we’re looking for a strong performance. To secure that third place outright would be a positive.
“We shouldn’t change our application based on the opposition. For us, it’s about maintaining the same standards and trying to put out our best performance, which I don’t think we’ve done yet.
“I don’t think we’ve put out that complete 80-minute performance, so tomorrow’s the day, hopefully.”
Three wins out of five would be a solid return for Scotland, and Ritchie feels that would create strong foundations ahead of the Rugby World Cup this year.
“Arguably against France, for the majority of the game, we were the team in the ascendancy,” he stressed, gaining confidence from his side’s performance. “We put ourselves under pressure with a slow start, but for huge parts of that game, I certainly believed we could go on and win it.
“There will be a huge amount of positives to take out of the tournament.”
No wins thus far for Italy
Their opponents on Saturday have had a difficult campaign in terms of results, but their showings have impressed Ritchie, who is wary of the Azzurri.
“They’ll be frustrated that they’ve played a lot of really good rugby and run a couple of good teams close but not converted that into results,” he said.
“They come here with nothing to lose. They’re always a passionate team, but there might be a little bit more passion because they enjoy playing against us; they target this game.
“We know there will be a challenge coming against potentially the best Italy team we’ve ever played, so we need to be ready.”
READ MORE: Scotland v Italy: Six Nations preview as hosts to hold on against the Azzurri in frenetic battle
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