Wales must ‘tidy up’ discipline after Ireland defeat, says Ken Owens

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 equalled 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.

“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 without much importance.

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 undisciplined against them, they punish you, and that’s what they did.”