Saturday 24 February 2018

Gatland warns troops to toe line against Scots

James Corrigan

See a silly yellow card, see a serious month's wages disappear down the toilet. That is the threat Warren Gatland has made to his Welsh squad as they try to build on their fortuitous victory in Dublin.

Scotland are this week's Sunday dish and yesterday the Kiwi was keen to point out the dangers posed by Andy Robinson's wounded team. "We expect a challenge of desperation," said Gatland. "I think it'll be a lot tighter than people think it might be."

It could even come down to one moment of madness. The confrontation with Ireland so almost did, as Wales somehow pulled back a six-point deficit in the last five minutes despite seeing Bradley Davies sent to the sin bin for a brainless spear-tackle. In the past, Wales have paid for such indiscipline and Gatland is plainly sick of it.

"At the moment, nothing the coaches are saying (about conceding yellows) is working with some individuals," he said. "I suggested a fine of £20,000-£30,000 could be relevant, but none of them were very keen on that. So I asked them to come back with a suggestion."

Captain Sam Warburton agreed with the coach's punishment, saying "it's a lot of money, but you wouldn't do it again." But everyone recognised the necessity to eradicate the red-mist instants, but then after this week's seven-week ban for Davies it was hard to disagree.

Ryan Jones, who performed so admirably at blindside against Ireland, has been shifted to cover for Davies and it will be an intriguing battle up front.

The Scottish forwards more than held their own against England and in David Denton unearthed a potential superstar. Warburton has played against the No 8 for his region, so already knew about his strengths. "I remember telling Gethin (Jenkins, the prop) that Denton is a hell of a player," he said. "We'll have to watch him."

But Wales are more than confident of stopping the Edinburgh bulldozer. Dan Lydiate returns from injury to reform the back-row trio that impressed at the World Cup. The one worry is Warburton, who, courtesy of ruptured blood vessels in his leg, has not taken part in any contact training all week. Back-up Justin Tipuric is out with an ankle injury, so a lot rests on the young captain.

The 23-year-old has been icing his thigh every two hours, although he admitted he won't know how successful his recovery has been until he takes the first hit. "That's the risk we have to take," he said. (© Independent News Service)

Wales -- L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, G North; R Priestland, M Phillips; G Jenkins, H Bennett, A Jones, R Jones, I Evans, D Lydiate, S Warburton, T Faletau. Reps: K Owens, P James, L Reed, A Powell, L Williams, J Hook, S Williams.

Scotland -- R Lamont; L Jones, N De Luca, S Lamont, M Evans; G Laidlaw, C Cusiter; A Jacobsen, R Ford, G Cross, R Gray, J Hamilton, A Strokosch, R Rennie, D Denton. Reps: S Lawson, E Kalman, A Kellock, J Barclay, M Blair, D Weir, S Hogg.

REF -- R Poite (France).

Wales v Scotland,

Live, tomorrow, BBC 1, 3.0

Irish Independent

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