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D'Arcy find room for improvement

Gordon D'Arcy insists Ireland only have themselves to blame for their ruinous indiscipline against Scotland.

For the third successive match the Irish endured a hair-raising finish after clinging on to a 21-18 victory at Murrayfield.

Hammered 13-4 on the penalty count by referee Nigel Owens, they almost threw away a mess of a contest they should have won comfortably.

Post-match inquisitions have now become the norm as Ireland lurch from one calamity to another, though indiscipline has replaced the error-count as the source of their angst.

They repeatedly offended at the breakdown and D'Arcy is uncertain why they were unable to retain self-control.

"It's a little bit disappointing the game turned out the way it did because we scored three tries to nil, but penalties kept them in it," said the Lions centre.

"You have six minutes of build-up play progressing nicely into their 22, then one penalty undoes all that positive play.

"You get angry with yourself because you're undoing all your good work in a moment with silly penalties.

"We can't make excuses for giving away penalties, we've got to be harder on ourselves.

"It's been hard to get the flow of the breakdown because Scotland went completely differently to the previous two games.

"You like to have consistency, but we won't hide behind that because you must be able to adapt to referees on the day.

"The best teams do that and nobody in the Irish camp will be complaining too much about the decisions. We're the architects of our own penalties.

"We do research on the referees and know what he likes and doesn't like.

"Everyone playing against Scotland has had Nigel Owens before. We know what his pet peeves are, what he likes and what he doesn't like.

"It's nothing new, it's not rocket science. In previous years we were the most disciplined team in the world but scored just one try, yet won by the same margin.

"Without a shadow of a doubt it's rectifiable. Composure was a big thing against Scotland because nobody panicked.

"When it mattered there were no penalties, no infringements, so that begs the question why did we didn't do that for the other 70 minutes?"

A last-gasp victory over Italy, agonising late defeat by France and suicidal display in Scotland must have shredded the nerves of coach Declan Kidney.

Yet much can be salvaged with a strong finish to the Six Nations with success in Cardiff on Saturday week, a match they will start as favourites, setting up an intriguing showdown against England.

But for a little more composure against France, they could have been locked on course for a March 19 Grand Slam decider against Martin Johnson's side at Aviva Stadium.

A poor points difference effectively ends Ireland's own title hopes, but D'Arcy insists there is plenty left to play for.

"For us it's about winning two more games and whatever happens, happens. We can't control what other teams do," he said.

"Look how dangerous Wales were at times against Italy, but also look how fragile they were when they were attacked.

"Knowing what happens when you attack them will give us impetus. We've shown we can attack.

"It will all come down to the English game. There's nothing we can do about the championship, but there's a Triple Crown on the cards. There's also a home record to be reinstated."

PA Media