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Monday 11 December 2017

D'Arcy may be fit for 'final' with Scotland

Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy could be available for Saturday's Six Nations clash with Scotland.

D'Arcy limped off midway through the first half of yesterday's 27-12 victory over Wales, but a medical update confirmed he had suffered only a dead leg.

A statement released by Ireland said D'Arcy received deep bruising above the left knee during the game but is not ruled out of selection for the Scotland game.

Winger Keith Earls, who scored two tries against the Welsh, and flanker David Wallace are on course to overcome calf and eye problems and face the Scots.

Meanwhile, Declan Kidney has urged his Ireland players to view the Scotland clash as a final.

The Irish bring down the curtain on their four-year temporary residency at Croke Park when they host Andy Robinson's side next Saturday.

A fifth Triple Crown in seven years is on the line against the Scots and Kidney insists that is all the motivation needed to end the championship on a triumphant note.

"We're playing Scotland next week in a one-off Test match which we see as a final.

"The GAA have been hugely supportive of us while we've been at Croke Park and maybe we can pay them due respect by playing our last match here as if it's a final," he said.

"The Scots are known for ruining Irish parties and they'll want to do that once more."

Kidney was delighted by Ireland's scrummaging early in the second half of the 27-12 defeat of Wales when they appeared close to buckling.

Wales, rejecting kicks at goal in favour of the set-piece, won three consecutive scrums only to be shoved off their own ball on the fourth when a penalty try appeared imminent.

The dramatic reversal in fortune was a huge motivational boost for Ireland, whose scrummaging is often viewed as their Achilles heel.

"I thought it was huge. There was only 10 points in it at half-time," said Kidney. "Wales started the second half very strongly and were able to retain the ball for several phases.

"Our concentration wasn't great in the first engagement, they probably got a nudge on us.

"It started to get better and then there was that big scrum. I'm delighted because I know how much work the lads are putting into the scrummaging.

"It was a huge lift when it happened and a big turning point."



Wales need to plug leaks, says Williams

Shane Williams says there will be no let-up in Wales' search for a solution to shore up their leaking defence.

Ireland's three-try blast at Croke Park means Wales have conceded 10 touchdowns in this season's Six Nations Championship. Australia also ran in four against them during Wales' final autumn Test, suggesting it is a worry that will not go away.

"Teams are causing us problems, although we are working hard at finding a fix," said the Wales wing.

"Our defence was bad, we made mistakes in key areas and left a few holes which Ireland utilised. Our lack of concentration at times cost us.

"Our discipline and kicking at times was quite poor, and you can't afford to do that, especially when you are up against such a quality outfit."

Wales coach Warren Gatland faces a selection balancing act this week when he contemplates his team to face Italy in Cardiff next Saturday. If Scotland tear up the form book and avoid defeat in Ireland next weekend, then the Millennium Stadium losers will be this season's wooden spoon recipients.

Gatland's hand could be strengthened by the probable availability of British and Irish Lions trio Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins and Ryan Jones after injuries.

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