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Thursday 14 December 2017

Kidney: We can hit back and win title

Coach Declan Kidney refuses to give up on the Six Nations title despite Ireland's controversial 23-21 defeat by Wales.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny landed a final-minute penalty to snatch victory in a nerve-jangling contest at the Aviva Stadium.

Stephen Ferris emerged as the fall guy after he was harshly sin-binned by referee Wayne Barnes for a spear tackle on Ian Evans, offering Halfpenny his chance to seal the win.

But Wales lock Bradley Davies was extremely lucky to have escaped a red card 15 minutes earlier for a far more dangerous example of the same offence.

Ireland's Six Nations resumes next Saturday in Paris, where they have won just once since 1972, but Kidney insists the title is within their grasp.

"Three teams have had their Grand Slams ended this weekend and three teams are still in it," said the coach.



Improve

"That is the nature of it, but there is a championship still to be won.

"We will take a good look at what we can solve ourselves. There are different aspects of the game we can improve on.

Lansdowne Road was treated to an engrossing final 15 minutes that appeared to be heading Ireland's way when slick passing sent Tommy Bowe over in the right corner.

But the imposing figure of Welsh winger George North proved the difference as he powered through three Irish backs to offer Halfpenny a tricky conversion to win. The Cardiff Blues man missed on that occasion, but kept his nerve when it mattered most.

North had earlier battered his way through Ireland's midfield to set up one of Jonathan Davies' two tries, and Irish captain Paul O'Connell accepted the hosts had blown a good position when they led 21-15 with 12 minutes to go.

"We gave Wales a lot of ball earlier in the game that we shouldn't have done," he said. "We put ourselves in a position to win the game but we conceded eight points in the last five minutes."

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