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Howley calls for Wales response

Wales are determined to bounce back from their Millennium Stadium misery last weekend when they tackle France in Paris on Saturday.

Wales' hopes of landing a second successive RBS 6 Nations title are hanging by a thread following Ireland's 30-22 victory, although an impressive second-half fightback from 27 points adrift has increased optimism levels heading to Stade de France. Interim head coach Rob Howley has made three changes, with Justin Tipuric, Ryan Jones and Richard Hibbard all starting.

Wales, though, have only beaten Les Bleus three times in the French capital since 1975, and fourth place has been their highest Six Nations finishing position after suffering an opening weekend defeat. "Whether you are head coach, part of the coaching team or a player you feel the same. That is part of Welsh rugby," Howley said.

"Everyone is passionate, and you feel the hurt. There are three million selectors out there who have a huge opinion about this game. I was frustrated and disappointed last Saturday night. I know this side is much better than what they showed in the first half, and the players know that.

"When we lost at home to England (two years ago) we won in Scotland and Italy, but France in Paris will be a different challenge. You want to see a reaction from players, and that came in the early part of this week. Now, we have to get our mindset right for the kick-off on Saturday."

Topping Wales' agenda is avoiding a repeat of their first-half horror show against Ireland. Trailing 23-3 at the break - and then 30-3 after 43 minutes - there was no realistic way back into a contest billed as a genuine 50-50 encounter before kick-off.

"Looking back at the (Ireland) game, from a coaches' and players' perspective the first-half performance wasn't good enough. It will not be replicated," Howley added. "Our discipline let us down. You need to have field position and possession, and we gave Ireland a lot of field position.

"But when you look at that first half, it is all fixable. It is about us being accurate, executing and being disciplined. It has been discussed with the players, and I know we will start better this weekend.

"We've talked about the plan we want to play and how we implement it. You can't give any side a foothold in a game through your own lack of discipline and unforced errors.

"We've lost eight games in a row, but the wonderful thing about the Six Nations is every game is taken in isolation, but you make sure you learn from the previous week. We feel that the intensity and our mindset in training this week has been a little bit sharper. When you lose, or play like we did in the first half last week, it certainly focuses the mind."


From Belfast Telegraph