Edwards tells Wales to stick to the basics

Shaun Edwards has warned Wales against the dangers of “self-destruct” mode if they become too concerned with points difference against Six Nations wooden-spoon favourites Italy.

Defending champions Wales may have seen their hopes of a second straight Grand Slam disappear with defeat by France but they could yet retain their title and deprive Ireland of the Championship.

In order for that to have a chance of happening they first need to beat Italy in Rome on Saturday, ideally by a wide margin, and then defeat Ireland in Cardiff the following week.

Ireland, currently two points clear at the top of the table, also have a points difference advantage of 23 over second-placed Wales, helped greatly by a 38-9 victory over Italy last month at the Stadio Flaminio.

But Wales defence coach Edwards said Tuesday: “What the team has got to concentrate on is the process.

“If we start going in thinking we’ve got to win by so many points, it is going to make us self-destruct.

“We’ve just got to make sure we get good lineout ball, we deliver it well to the backs and they get over the advantage line – all the basics of rugby,” Edwards, deputy to Wales boss Warren Gatand, added.

“We feel if we do that – and keep our turnover-rate to a minimum and kick well – we can put ourselves in a position to maybe score some tries, explained the former Great Britain rugby league international, who works alongside British and Irish Lions supremo Ian McGeechan at English champions Wasps.

However, Edwards readily conceded just how important points difference could be to the final standings now that shared Championships are very much a thing of the past.

“This is a massive fixture,” he said. “More often than not, the championship is decided by points difference.

“The less number of points we concede is vital – we don’t want to be chasing a big score against Ireland.” Italy have been well beaten in all three of their Six Nations matches so far this season and they’ve conceded 100 points in the process.

However, Wales’s record in Rome is mixed with their four previous visits to the Italian capital for Six Nations matches yielding two wins and two defeats.

And Edwards added that anyone just looking at the Azzurri’s raw results this season would be misled.

“Two interception tries that Italy conceded against Ireland made the scoreline look as though they’d had a hammering, but 14 points came directly from interceptions.

“Personally, I think they are a bit better than what the scorelines have suggested so far.”

Sapa-AFP SixNationsweb.co.uk

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