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Rees demands improvement

Wales captain Matthew Rees has no doubts his team will need to prove they are far more than 20-minute wonders in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations appointment with Ireland.

A blistering opening quarter against Scotland a month ago proved enough to keep Wales ahead, then another performance in short bursts against Italy last time out saw them post their second successive away win. But fellow title contenders Ireland promise a much sterner examination for Rees and company at the Millennium Stadium.

Rees said: "The message for us against Ireland is that we need to perform well for more than just 20 minutes. That is our biggest challenge, and if we can do that then I am sure the result will take care of itself."

He added: "The pressure is on us, and the biggest issue for us is our own mistakes. We have to make sure we are accurate, disciplined and not make mistakes. The one thing that has frustrated me about us in the Six Nations is ourselves.

"We had two yellow cards against Scotland, which is unacceptable, and we gifted Italy two tries and we kept them in the game with ill-discipline."

Experienced South African referee Jonathan Kaplan will be in charge of Saturday's encounter, which promises to be a high-octane affair given that both teams still have title aspirations.

Wales have reported a clean bill of health with the starting XV - number eight Ryan Jones has shrugged off a calf muscle niggle to win his 50th cap - although they have still to finalise their bench composition.

Two from Rob McCusker, Andy Powell and Jonathan Thomas will provide back-five cover, with Thomas facing a fitness test on a dead leg suffered last weekend.

After beating Scotland and Italy, Wales assistant coach Rob Howley has underlined the game's magnitude, adding: "Winning the last two games away from home has been so important.

"Confidence goes cap in hand with winning games, and the last two weeks there has been a spring in the players' step."


From Belfast Telegraph