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Gatland has penalty concerns of his own

Welsh coach knows that any silly errors in Cardiff this weekend could cost his side dearly.

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

DECLAN KIDNEY MAY have felt that a furious tongue-lashing was the only way to cure Ireland’s disciplinary problems, but he can take some consolation from the fact that his side are not the worst offenders.

That dubious honour goes to Wales who, after the opening three games of this year’s tournament, have conceded an unenviable 36 penalties, two more than Ireland.

When viewed in terms of the damage done, however, Kidney will have slightly less reason to be cheerful. 39 of the 54 points (72%) which Ireland have conceded in this year’s tournament have come from kicks at goal, while Wales have restricted the impact of their indiscipline to just 24 points out of 48 (50%).

With Ronan O’Gara lining out at ten for Ireland in Cardiff this weekend, Welsh coach Warren Gatland knows that his side may not get off so lightly if they allow the Munster out-half multiple shots at the target.

Speaking yesterday, the former Ireland coach indicated that he would like to discuss the manner in which the breakdown will be policed by Jonathan Kaplan who takes charge of Saturday’s game.

The breakdown is something we will talk to the referee about before the game.

With someone like Jonathan Kaplan, who is a world-class referee, we just hope he allows us the opportunity to get quick ball.

We need to be accurate ourselves at the breakdown in attack.

Gatland also assured reporters that there would be “no hand grenades and no mind games this time,” a reference to his comments ahead of Ireland’s Grand Slam success in 2009.

Then, he attempted to motivate his players by claiming that Ireland were their most-hated opponents in the tournament. Reflecting on the incident, the Welsh coach has admitted that “I probably used the wrong words.”

Ireland: Luke Fitzgerald, Tommy Bowe, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon Darcy, Keith Earls, Ronan O’Gara, Eoin Reddan, Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Sean O’Brien, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip.

Wales: L Byrne; L Halfpenny, J Davies, J Roberts, S Williams; J Hook, M Phillips; P James, M Rees, C Mitchell, B Davies, AW Jones, D Lydiate, S Warburton, R Jones.

Catch up with TheScore.ie’s Six Nations coverage here >

Read more of Warren Gatland’s comments in today’s Irish Independent >Gatland aiming to negate ‘direct’ Ireland (RTE.ie) >

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Niall Kelly

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