Ken Owens laments Wales' poor discipline after Ireland Six Nation's defeat

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Ken Owens has lamented poor discipline from Wales that effectively saw the whistle blown on their Six Nations title hopes.

A 37-27 defeat against championship favourites and leaders Ireland in Dublin means Wales’ wait for a first Six Nations crown since 2013 is set to continue.

Ireland’s bonus-point victory mirrored overwhelming domination of possession and territory, while Wales’ nine penalties conceded equaled the total in their previous two games – against Scotland and England – combined.

“There are plenty of positives, but we need to tidy up that discipline issue we probably had out there,” Wales hooker Owens said.

“We conceded nine penalties, and it does frustrate your game. It stops your momentum, and we have just got to be a little more accurate.

“In the first half, probably our discipline cost us, giving them some easy outs and giving them territory in our half, which they took full advantage of.

“We can’t have had more than 20 per cent possession and territory in that first half.

Ireland v Wales

“It is frustrating that we put ourselves under pressure at times.”

Despite tries from Gareth Davies, Aaron Shingler and Steff Evans, Wales slipped to a second successive loss on the road, leaving next month’s Cardiff appointments with Italy and France very much a case of after the Lord Mayor’s Show.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland looks set to make changes for the Azzurri’s visit on March 11 – wing George North moving to centre could be one of them – and Owens says there must be no let-up.

“We’ve got two games left and we have just got to go into them positively,” Owens added.

“There are 10 points up for grabs, and we’ve just got to try and get them and keep playing positive Rugby.

“I think we’ve been pretty good this campaign. Everyone has written us off, and we’ve turned some heads.

“When we keep hold of the ball, we create chances. We had three opportunities to score, and we took three chances.

“Italy have been dangerous, to be fair to them. They’ve scored tries, so they are not going to be a walkover.

“We are going to have to be at the top of our game. We can’t turn up and just think we are going to roll over them and get five points.

“We need to really work hard and play smart Rugby.

“We are going in the right direction, we are still blooding new players and we had some boys back from injury (against Ireland), which is great.

“Ireland are a great side, and if you are indisciplined against them, they punish you, and that’s what they did.”

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Huw Jones urges Scotland to improve their away form ahead of Ireland clash

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Huw Jones has been one of the leading lights for Scotland.

Scotland’s match-winner Huw Jones has called for an improvement in away form if they are to mount a serious bid for the Six Nations.

A gripping 25-13 win over England on Saturday saw Scotland lift the Calcutta Cup for the first time in a decade but more importantly kept them alive in this year’s tournament.

A lot was expected of Scotland in the lead-up to the Six Nations, with many tipping them as potential dark horses before an opening-round defeat in Wales tempered the optimism that had been around the camp following a superb autumn.

They showed character to come back and beat France at Murrayfield, and backed that up against England thanks to two tries from the in-form Jones, whose record in a Scotland shirt is now an impressive 10 tries in 14 games.

However, they face a daunting trip to play Ireland in Dublin in two weeks when they have to win to maintain their outside hope of lifting the title.

“This game is obviously a massive confidence booster,” Jones said. “We’re under no illusions, we’ve got a really tough away game.

“We’ve turned Murrayfield into a bit of a fortress now. I think in our last nine games we’ve lost one and that was a real close one (against New Zealand).

“If we’re going to become a really great team we’re going to have to start winning away, which we haven’t really done for a while.

Scotland 1

“That next game is a massive test and that’s what we’re thinking about now.”

Despite the hugely impressive showing against England, Jones admitted Scotland need to improve again if they are to claim points in Ireland.

He said: “A lot of people will say England maybe didn’t have their best game and if Ireland have their best game it will be a much tougher game.

“They’ll have the home crowd, they’ll have the sort of lift that we got today from our supporters.

“Going over there, whatever we did today we’ll have to up that performance.”

Aside from keeping Scotland’s hopes alive in this season’s tournament, the win against England will also provide peace of mind to several members of the squad who suffered humiliation at Twickenham last year.

An in-form side suffered a 61-21 thrashing last March, and there were emotional celebrations on the pitch as the Scots gained revenge with their first win over England since 2008.

Jones said: “You could see before the game how much it meant to the guys that have been around for a while, Barcs (John Barclay) and Greig (Laidlaw).

“You could see the motivation they were trying to instil in everyone else and it paid off.

“To see their faces after the game and how much it meant to them… it means the world to all of us, but those guys that have been around for a while and had some not so good times in a Scotland shirt, it’s massive for them.”

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England wait for decision on whether Owen Farrell will be investigated for tunnel fiasco

Duncan Bech 25/02/2018
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England lynchpin Owen Farrell will start for Saracens against Leinster.

England will discover by Monday evening whether the tunnel fracas at Murrayfield involving Owen Farrell is to be investigated by Six Nations organisers.

Television footage of the incident that took place shortly before kick-off of Scotland’s 25-13 victory on Saturday appears to show a scuffle between Farrell and Ryan Wilson that ended when they were pulled apart by team-mates.

It falls to the matchday citing officer to examine within the next 48 hours what happened as the players left the pitch upon completion of their warm-ups and to decide whether to launch an official inquiry.

When the clash was highlighted by broadcasters during the interval, Martin Johnson quipped in his role as pundit that it was “England’s highlight so far I think”, summarising a dismal first half in Edinburgh.

Eddie Jones repeatedly denied knowledge of what had taken place, as did every player from both teams when asked for their account.

Scotland captain John Barclay said he was in the toilet at the time.

“I’ve been coaching a game. I’ve been pretty busy. Are you aware of it? You can show it to me after the press conference, then we can have a chat about it,” Jones said at the post-match press conference.

“In all seriousness, I don’t know about it. If there was, we shouldn’t let that detract from a great Scotland victory.

“Don’t get distracted by other things. Have you got an Iphone 10? The vision’s better on an Iphone 10.”

When asked about the scuffle and whether it was evidence that England had lost their heads, Jones replied: “Look I don’t know, I don’t think so. These things happen.”

Eddie Jones of England

England trailed 22-6 at half-time as Finn Russell orchestrated a blistering series of tries that saw Huw Jones cross twice before Sean Maitland finished a dazzling third that swept from touchline to touchline before concluding in the left corner.

Jones pointed out that his champions had won the second-half 7-3, mainly thanks to Farrell’s well-taken try, but Scotland were already out of sight having dominated the breakdown.

“There is a lot of disappointment around. We thought we were ready and had plenty of time to prepare for what is always a very emotion-packed and passionate game for both sides,” lock Joe Launchbury said.

“We started poorly and gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

“We can be proud of ourselves to come out for the second half and show some fight but it wasn’t enough.

“We got behind and it was hard to reverse the momentum. Things seem to start going against you when you try so hard to catch up.

“We came into the tournament aiming to win as many games as we can. We lost but this is a journey and we have a lot of growth left in us.

“We just need to use this as a harsh lesson for what can happen if you don’t play at your very best.

“It’s a huge loss but we have to look at what went wrong and put things right. It’s about how you react to these losses and learn from them.

“We have a massive two weeks now leading up to the game in France and we need to get that preparation right.”

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