AFTER another close away defeat in the Six Nations, Wales have two weeks to recoup and recover before their next match against the Italians.
A first defeat against Ireland in four championships was bruising for the Welsh team, who are now fourth in the table after a stunning Scottish victory at Murrayfield.
Trailing by three points in the last few minutes of a hard-fought game, it looked as if Wales might be the ones with the potential to cause an upset, until an interception by Ulster player Jacob Stockdale put the hosts out of reach.
Wales struggled with only 31% possession. They can expect to have considerably more at home to an Italy side who are fast becoming the championship whipping boys.
However, the focus must remain on keeping possession in their final two games. Constantly defending against an outstanding Irish attacking performance inevitably meant conceded tries and penalties.
Wales conceded nine penalties in their 37-27 loss in Dublin, as many as in their first two games combined. They must look to keep their penalty count low against Italy and France.
Wales came into this tournament plagued by injuries to key players, wanting to perform well but with no expectations and nothing to lose. They still have nothing to lose.
Ireland and England were the favourites to take the title, and still are.
The Welsh bench has always had depth, but after star performances from players like late international bloomer Aaron Shingler, it means that future injury woes need not worry Warren Gatland as much as they did coming into this competition.
Wales were brilliant against Scotland. The flashes of brilliance against England and Ireland must go the whole 80 minutes in their upcoming matches.
They have home advantage against Italy and France, and arguably their two easiest games of the championship to come.
A rejuvenated Scotland’s electrifying win over England has stirred up the Six Nations table.
Final positions may well come down to bonus points. Wales have two from their first three games.
Depending on the result of Scotland’s away match at the Aviva Stadium on March 11, a third place result for Wales in this Six Nations is a realistic aim, and one that they can be proud of.
Wales’s final Six Nations games
- March 11 – Wales v Italy
- March 17 – Wales v France