Josh van der Flier felt Ireland were in control during their vital 24-14 Six Nations victory over Wales on Saturday.

Ireland's performance in a narrow win over Scotland last week prompted questions over their championship credentials, but they ran in four tries in an impressive home triumph in Dublin.

They have now won 17 of their last 18 Tests at the Aviva Stadium after ending Wales' hopes of winning back-to-back Grand Slams.

Van der Flier and Andrew Conway scored tries in the second half as Ireland built on a 12-7 half-time lead given to them by Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong, with Andy Farrell's men claiming a bonus point.

"We did a lot of things we said we wanted to do and I thought we controlled the game," flanker Van der Flier told RTE.

"In defence we slipped off a lot of tackles last week and were probably a bit soft in the contact area. It gave Scotland easy yards and we knew we couldn't do that against Wales.

"I thought our attack looked pretty fluid and our backs were exceptional. It was great to get the win over last year's Grand Slam champions, they are an incredible team and we saw last week how good they are."

Ireland were inspired by number eight CJ Stander, the man of the match for a second consecutive week, and they now have a break before travelling to Twickenham for a clash with England on February 23.

Van der Flier added: "The break will do us good, but we are building up a nice momentum. In the dressing room we focused afterwards on the good things we did.

"We know we have much to work on for the England game, but we will look at those learnings when we get back into camp." 

Wing Jacob Stockdale, meanwhile, believes Ireland will only get better as they continue to adapt to new head coach Farrell.

"It's going to take a few weeks to get into the new coaching structure and new ideas but I thought we did it really well," he said.

"Our physicality was brought to the next level but in all fairness to Wales they came and pushed us hard. They fired a few shots early on.

"It's great to get the win. We are always looking for the kicks in behind and we know the 15s like to get quite high early. It worked out really well.

"We know how good we can be when we are on it with our carrying and at the breakdown. Once we started to do that, the tries started to come."

There were winds of change in Dublin on Saturday as ferocious Ireland denied Wales a record-equalling ninth consecutive Six Nations victory with Storm Ciara fast approaching.

Wales crossed the Irish Sea braced for an almighty arm wrestle after an emphatic defeat of Italy on the opening weekend of their first tournament since Wayne Pivac replaced Warren Gatland.

The defending champions were second best in the battle of the 2018 and 2019 Grand Slam winners, failing to match their best winning run in the tournament at the Aviva Stadium – such a fortress for the men in green.

A highly anticipated showdown was expected to be badly affected by high winds and torrential rain, yet it was Ireland doing the damage in the first half to lay the platform for a magnificent 24-14 win.

Unconvincing in a win over Scotland at the start of the Andy Farrell era last weekend, this was much more like the Ireland side that was crowned champions under Joe Schmidt two years ago and topped the world rankings.

So uncompromising up front, with CJ Stander outstanding at number eight to claim a second successive man-of-the-match award, Ireland were magnificent in defence and clinical in attack.

The pressure finally told midway through the first half when the nimble-footed Jordan Larmour pierced a hole in the Wales defence, Nick Tomkins unable to haul the full-back to the ground before he touched down.

Johnny Sexton made a mess of the conversion attempt and Wales were in front against the run of play after Tomos Williams rounded off a slick move following great work from Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones.

Tadhg Furlong ploughed his way over at the other end as Ireland continued to batter away at the Wales pack and Josh van der Flier gave them breathing space when the holders were unable to halt a driving maul.

Hadleigh Parkes had a try ruled out before huge roars echoed around the ground when Wales were penalised at a scrum close to the Ireland line, prompting Farrell to leap up and punch the air. 

With the wind gusting at an increasing speed, Wales were much more of a force in the second half but Andrew Conway's try gave ruthless Ireland the bonus point.

Justin Tipuric crossed right at the end, but the damage had already been done as Ireland, led so well by Sexton, made it two wins out of two.

Wales also lost in-form wing Josh Adams and Biggar to injury as the Rugby World Cup semi-finalists suffered a first Six Nations defeat since losing to Ireland in Dublin two years ago.

Ireland handed Wales a first Six Nations defeat in nine matches as they ran in four tries for an impressive 24-14 bonus-point victory in Dublin on Saturday.

Andy Farrell's side were laboured in their win over Scotland on the opening week, but this time tries from Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway secured a morale-boosting triumph.

Ireland have now won 17 of their last 18 Tests at the Aviva Stadium and will travel to play England – the only team to beat them in that marvellous run - on matchday three with a 100 per cent record in this year's tournament.

Wales' hopes of winning back-to-back Grand Slams and equalling their best-ever run in the competition, a run of nine victories that ended in 1973, were ended as new head coach Wayne Pivac suffered his first defeat.

Tomos Williams and Justin Tipuric scored a try in each half for the defending champions, but Wales have still not enjoyed a Six Nations win in Ireland since 2012.

Ireland made the early running and while a gutsy decision to go for the corner with a penalty did not pay off, the hosts did get a 19th-minute breakthrough.

After the forwards made impressive ground, Larmour seized an opening as he cut inside and fought his way past Nick Tompkins before powering over, although Johnny Sexton shanked a dreadful conversion wide.

A frustrating start for Wales got worse when in-form wing Josh Adams was lost to injury, though they struck out of the blue after 27 minutes when Williams went over after capitalising on a superb exchange between Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones.

But Williams made a costly knock-on just four minutes later to present Ireland with an attacking scrum and Furlong forced his way across the line, with Sexton this time adding the extras to give his side a 12-7 half-time lead.

A stolen lineout gave Ireland momentum just after the restart and, after they kicked a penalty into touch, Van der Flier rolled over the line as part of a driving maul, with Sexton extending the advantage to 12 points.

Hadleigh Parkes was inches away from getting Wales back into it, but the TMO ruled he had just lost control of the ball with a powerful reach forward to the try-line.

Another big chance went begging when Ireland forced a scrum collapse under their own goalposts, a pivotal moment the home forwards celebrated like a match-winning try.

Conway made sure of the victory and a bonus point five minutes from time as he charged in down the right after being released by Larmour, with Tipuric's late stretch over the line at the other end only proving a consolation.

France and Italy both make just one change to their starting line-ups for the Six Nations clash at the Stade de France on Sunday.

Former Les Bleus Under-20 captain Arthur Vincent replaces powerhouse centre Virimi Vakatawa, who suffered a triceps injury in the victory over England last Sunday, to make his first Test start.

Romain Taofifenua replaces Vincent in the matchday squad, so Fabien Galthie has six forwards to call upon among the replacements in Paris.

Italy were thumped 42-0 by Wales in their opener, but Jayden Hayward's inclusion at full-back is the only alteration made by Franco Smith.

Matteo Minozzi shifts from number 15 to the left wing, with Leonardo Sarto overlooked for the Azzurri's second match of the tournament.

France have triumphed in 18 of their 20 clashes with Italy in the Six Nations, including winning all 10 of their home games.

 

France: Anthony Bouthier, Teddy Thomas, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou, Vincent Rattez, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont; Cyril Baille, Julien Marchand, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon (captain), Gregory Alldritt.

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Jefferson Poirot, Demba Bamba, Romain Taofifenua, Boris Palu, Cameron Woki, Baptiste Serin, Matthieu Jalibert.

Italy: Jayden Hayward, Mattia Bellini, Luca Morisi, Carlo Canna, Matteo Minozzi, Tommaso Allan, Callum Braley; Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi (captain), Giosue Zilocchi, Alessandro Zanni, Niccolo Cannone, Sebastian Negri, Jake Polledri, Abraham Steyn.

Replacements: Federico Zani, Danilo Fischetti, Marco Riccioni, Dean Budd, Federico Ruzza, Giovanni Licata, Guglielmo Palazzani, Giulio Bisegni.

The opening round of fixtures in this year's Six Nations did not disappoint.

Wales served up a feast of tries to kick things off, the defending champions showing a cutting edge as they thrashed poor Italy 42-0 in Cardiff.

The score was far closer at the Aviva Stadium, though, as Ireland edged out Scotland. New captain Johnny Sexton was the hero for the hosts, scoring all their points in a hard-fought 19-12 triumph. Next up: Wales.

England, meanwhile, got their just deserts following a shocking start against France. Failing to score a point in the opening half of a game in the tournament for the first time since 1988 left Eddie Jones' side with too much to do in Paris, Les Bleus delighting the home crowd by holding on for a 24-17 win on Sunday.

So, what will be on the menu for the second week? With help from Opta, we whet your appetite for the upcoming games.

 

Ireland v Wales

- Wales have lost just one of their last five Six Nations games against Ireland (W3, D1). However, their solitary defeat in that spell came the last time they travelled to Dublin in the tournament (2018).

- As for Ireland, they have an outstanding home record, losing just two of the last 22 Tests they have played in front of their own fans (W19, D1). Those defeats? Against New Zealand (November 2016) and England (February 2019).

- Wales gained the most metres (563) of any side in last weekend's opening round, ahead of Ireland (413). Wales also topped the charts for clean breaks (12) and defenders beaten (26, level with Scotland and France).

- Ireland's Jordan Larmour made the most carries (19) and metres (138) of any player last weekend, while Wales' Leigh Halfpenny ranked second in both categories (17 carries, 107 metres).

- Josh Adams crossed for a hat-trick against Italy, taking him to 13 tries in Test rugby since the beginning of 2019. That tally is two more than any other player has managed over that same period of time.


Scotland v England

- Scotland are unbeaten in their last two Six Nations matches against England (W1, D1), this after losing seven in a row before that. Not since 1982-1984 have Scotland gone unbeaten in three straight Calcutta Cup fixtures (W2, D1).

- Only once since 2000 have England suffered successive defeats to open a campaign (2005), but they have lost five of their last seven away outings, including the last two.

- England won 17 of their 18 lineouts in the defeat to France, their 94 per cent success rate the best of any side. In contrast, Scotland's 78 per cent success rate was the worst out of the nations.

- Stuart Hogg beat eight defenders against Ireland, more than any other player in week one. Team-mate Jonny Gray excelled in defence, ending as the joint-top tackler (22, level with Bernard Le Roux).

- Owen Farrell is 20 points away from reaching 900 for England in Test rugby. His highest haul in an international match came against Scotland in 2017, as he landed seven conversions and four penalties to finish with 26.


France v Italy

- France have won 18 of their 20 clashes with Italy in the Six Nations (L2) – scoring victories in each of their 10 home games in that run. They have averaged four tries per game against the Azzurri in the Championship, too.

- Italy hold an unwanted record, having now lost their last 23 Six Nations games. No other side has lost more than 17 consecutive games in Five or Six Nations history.

- France were not flush with possession in the match against England, yet they conceded the fewest metres (224) and clean breaks (6), as well as making the most tackles (182).

- Only England's Maro Itoje (44) hit more rucks in the opening round of this year's Six Nations than France duo Gregory Alldritt (43) and Charles Ollivon (37, level with Peter O'Mahony). Alldritt hit the most defensive rucks of any player (25) and slowed the opposition ball down on 16 occasions at the breakdown.

- France are beginning a Six Nations campaign with two successive home games for the first time since 2016, which also happens to be the last time they began with back-to-back victories.

Gregor Townsend has spoken to Finn Russell and informed the player he will reassess his place in Scotland's squad after the Calcutta Cup clash against England.

Fly-half Russell was omitted for Scotland's Six Nations opener against Ireland, which they lost 19-12, after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol". He was also not considered for the clash with Eddie Jones' men, which takes place on Saturday.

Adam Hastings will start at 10 in Edinburgh in place of Russell, who had a disagreement with head coach Townsend after last year's dramatic 38-38 draw with England at Twickenham.

Scotland have a two-week break coming up before facing Italy in Rome and Russell's place in the squad will be discussed before that fixture.

"I spoke to [Russell] on Sunday night to let him know we wouldn't be making any changes to the squad and that I would reassess after this weekend's game," Townsend told a news conference.

When asked if the chat was positive, Townsend replied: "It was a conversation. It was to tell him he wasn't in the squad for this week and we would look at things next week."

Townsend was reluctant to discuss what Russell will have to do to be considered but says there is a chance he will be involved in the remaining rounds of the tournament.

"I'd rather not discuss that here. We've got a big game at the weekend and I want to be talking about the 23 that will be involved in that game," Townsend said.

"Of course [he could feature in the tournament], just as there's a chance Sam Skinner, Matt Fagerson, guys that have been injured, are back available to us in the next couple of weeks."

 

 

 

 

Gregor Townsend has spoken to Finn Russell and informed the player he will reassess his place in Scotland's squad after the Calcutta Cup clash against England.

Fly-half Russell was omitted for Scotland's Six Nations opener against Ireland, which they lost 19-12, after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol". He was also not considered for the clash with Eddie Jones' men, which takes place on Saturday.

Adam Hastings will start at 10 in Edinburgh in place of Russell, who had a disagreement with head coach Townsend after last year's dramatic 38-38 draw with England at Twickenham.

Scotland have a two-week break coming up before facing Italy in Rome and Russell's place in the squad will be discussed before that fixture.

"I spoke to [Russell] on Sunday night to let him know we wouldn't be making any changes to the squad and that I would reassess after this weekend's game," Townsend told a news conference.

When asked if the chat was positive, Townsend replied: "It was a conversation. It was to tell him he wasn't in the squad for this week and we would look at things next week."

Townsend was reluctant to discuss what Russell will have to do to be considered but says there is a chance he will be involved in the remaining rounds of the tournament.

"I'd rather not discuss that here. We've got a big game at the weekend and I want to be talking about the 23 that will be involved in that game," Townsend said.

"Of course [he could feature in the tournament], just as there's a chance Sam Skinner, Matt Fagerson, guys that have been injured, are back available to us in the next couple of weeks."

 

 

 

 

Magnus Bradbury returns from injury in Scotland's solitary change for their Edinburgh Six Nations showdown with England.

Edinburgh number eight Bradbury replaces club-mate Nick Haining, who impressed in the narrow 19-12 loss to Ireland last weekend, after overcoming a thigh strain.

Haining drops to the replacements for the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield, while Cornell du Preez misses out on the matchday squad.

Scotland were victorious the last time they faced England on home soil two years ago and retained the trophy in a barnstorming 38-38 draw at Twickenham 12 months ago.

Finn Russell is once again omitted having been overlooked for the Ireland game due to a "breach of team protocol".

Head coach Gregor Townsend was encouraged by his side's performance against Ireland but warned of a response from an England side smarting from an opening defeat to France.

"We were proud of parts of our performance in Dublin at a very difficult venue," Townsend told Scotland Rugby's official website.

"The challenge for the squad is to replicate that level and take our chances when they come, in order to win tight games.

"England are an excellent team whose run to the Rugby World Cup final was no fluke.

"They will be smarting from their opener in Paris and Eddie [Jones] will have them primed to come to Edinburgh and put in an improved performance."

Scotland team to face England:

Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland, Huw Jones, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings, Jonny Gray, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury

 

Replacements:

Stuart McInally, Allan Dell, Simon Berghan, Ben Toolis, Nick Haining, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Chris Harris

 

Nick Tompkins will make his first Wales start against Ireland in the only change from their opening Six Nations victory over Italy.

Wayne Pivac saw his reign as head coach begin in style with a dominant 42-0 win at the Principality Stadium and has opted to keep the majority of the same line-up for the tricky trip to Dublin.

Tompkins scored a fine solo try on his Wales debut last week and is set to partner Hadleigh Parkes in midfield, while George North moves from centre to a more familiar role on the wing.

Johnny McNicholl drops to the replacements to accommodate that alteration, but Wales are otherwise unchanged in the starting XV.

Gareth Davies, back from a groin injury, Rhys Carre, Owen Williams and Adam Beard come into the matchday squad at the expense of Rhys Webb, Jarrod Evans, Rob Evans and Cory Hill – the latter missing out with a leg complaint.

"We've made just one change after a winning start last weekend," Pivac told the Welsh Rugby Union's official website.

"Nick comes into the side, I thought he played exceptionally well when he came on last week so he deserves the start. George, who played really well last weekend at centre, moves back out to the wing.

"On the bench we have a few players back available. Rhys Carre impressed at the Rugby World Cup and he comes back in. Adam Beard comes in for Cory Hill who picked up a leg injury earlier this week, Gareth is fully fit and Owen Williams comes onto the bench and gives us a bit more cover.

"Momentum is important in the championship. It was nice to get a good winning start under our belts and hopefully we can build on that through the tournament."


Wales team to face Ireland: 

Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (c), Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Replacements: 

Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Adam Beard, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Owen Williams, Johnny McNicholl.

Wales can approach Saturday's crunch clash against Ireland with confidence and the result will go a long way to determining their hopes of winning the Six Nations, according to James Hook.

There was plenty of encouragement for Wayne Pivac in his first match as head coach as Josh Adams' hat-trick inspired Wales to a dominant 42-0 win over Italy at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.

A trip to Dublin to face Ireland, who themselves have a new man at the helm in the form of Andy Farrell, is sure to provide an altogether sterner challenge for the defending champions.

Ireland started their own campaign with a tense 19-12 beating of Scotland and Wales great Hook, who earned 81 caps and played in three Rugby World Cups for his country, is backing Pivac's men to flourish.

Speaking to Omnisport, the versatile Ospreys back said: "It's obviously going to be a much bigger test. 

"Ireland at home are always strong anyway. They've got some experience there, we know they're powerful, especially at the 22 line so they'll test Wales there. 

"But I think Wales will be full of confidence, they're enjoying playing under the new coaches, it seems to be quite a relaxed environment so I think the boys will thrive and give it a good go."

Hook, who won the Six Nations three times with Wales including Grand Slam triumphs in 2008 and 2012, says the result will provide a strong indicator of where the team is at in terms of their championship aspirations.

"I think they've obviously had a great start," he added. "But this is going to be a big Test out in Dublin and it will go a long way to seeing how we go in the championship.

"We've got plenty of confidence. It's going to be a much bigger test and after the weekend we'll know where we are."

Last month, Hook announced he will end a professional career that started in 2004 playing for Neath at the end of the Pro14 season.

Hook has played top-tier rugby in Wales, England and France – having also represented Perpignan and Gloucester in a distinguished career – and plans to continue working in the game.

The 34-year-old also has a new career venture, though, with the release of a series of children's books based around a young player's dreams to forge a top-level rugby career.

Hook was inspired by a visit to a book fair with his son Harrison and the opening title of the series, 'Chasing a Rugby Dream: Kick Off', will be released at the start of July.  

"I've got a few things going on. I'm hoping to do a bit of coaching, I'm just trying to sort a few things out with that," he said. 

"Obviously, I've got the books stuff going on, the children's books, which I'm enjoying doing at the moment. 

"I'm just trying to finish the season strong personally, then looking forward to the next chapter and going into post-rugby."

Expanding further on the books, Hook said: "It was a couple of years ago in Gloucester, my eldest boy Harrison wanted a children's book and there was a book fair at his school and he couldn't find a good rugby book, there wasn't any sort of children's rugby books there. 

"So, I just came up with a few ideas based on my rugby career and just my life basically and put that into a story through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy. 

"I got in touch with an author from Swansea who I know has written children's books and it went from there. 

"It was an idea that came from there, then we wrote the book together, got in touch with a publisher, he liked what he saw, and he gave us a series."

Willi Heinz is set to start in place of Ben Youngs in one of five England changes for Saturday's Calcutta Cup clash with Scotland.

Eddie Jones has opted to make several alterations after the Rugby World Cup runners-up were beaten 24-17 by France in their Six Nations opener last week.

Heinz comes in at scrum-half for just his fourth international start with Youngs dropping to the bench, while Jonathan Joseph will start at outside centre in place of the injured Manu Tuilagi at Murrayfield.

Mako Vunipola and George Kruis return at prop and lock respectively, and Lewis Ludlam is in at flanker in place of Courtney Lawes.

Joe Marler is omitted from the squad altogether, with Ellis Genge among the replacements.

Saracens back-rower Ben Earl is in line to make his England debut after being named among the substitutes.

 

England team to face Scotland:

George Furbank; Jonny May, Jonathan Joseph, Owen Farrell, Elliot Daly; George Ford, Willi Heinz; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler; Maro Itoje, George Kruis; Lewis Ludlam, Sam Underhill, Tom Curry.

Replacements:

Tom Dunn, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs, Ollie Devoto.

Joe Launchbury and Mako Vunipola have been named in a 25-man England squad ahead of Saturday's Calcutta Cup showdown with Scotland. 

The duo could return from injury, having been sidelined for the chastening loss to France in England's Six Nations opener.

Eddie Jones, who will name his 23-man matchday selection on Thursday, has cut Charlie Ewels and will be without injured duo Manu Tuilagi (groin) and Anthony Watson (calf).

Lock Launchbury is on the mend following a knee problem, while Vunipola missed the clash in Paris after suffering an issue with his eye.

Bath second row Ewels was substituted in the second half against France, when England were 24-0 down. They went on to claim a losing bonus point in a 24-17 defeat.

England squad

Forwards: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Ben Earl, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Lewis Ludlam, Joe Marler, Kyle Sinckler, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Mako Vunipola 

Backs: Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto, Owen Farrell, George Ford, George Furbank, Willi Heinz, Jonathan Joseph, Jonny May, Ollie Thorley, Ben Youngs

Blair Kinghorn believes Scotland have the creativity and confidence to defeat England and retain the Calcutta Cup on Saturday, despite the absence of Finn Russell.

Russell has been left out of Scotland's squad for the Six Nations clash with Eddie Jones' side at Murrayfield.

The mercurial fly-half was axed for the 19-12 defeat to Ireland last weekend after being disciplined for a "breach of team protocol".

Pre-tournament favourites England fell to a shock 24-17 loss to France in their opener, so both teams go into the match with a point to prove.

And Kinghorn reckons Scotland, who drew 38-38 at Twickenham last year, can replicate their home victory over England from 2018, even without Racing 92 star Russell.

"Finn is a great player but I have full belief in everyone in the team," said Edinburgh full-back Kinghorn.

"I fully believe we have all the creativity we need. Adam Hastings played really well against Ireland and it is great to see boys like Huw Jones coming back into some form – he's a devastating player.

"Even though we didn't get the result last week, we showed some really positive things away to Ireland. The review after the game was good.

"We've not had the results we've wanted in the last year, we all know that, so Saturday is a massive game for us. I fully believe we can get a result and that can kickstart a really successful year.

"Everyone in the team is really positive and we have full belief in ourselves that we can put in a winning performance.

"It would mean everything. It's a massive game at home, we want to retain the Calcutta Cup and get the points for the table."

Kinghorn conceded there was huge frustration at the missed opportunity in Dublin, where captain Stuart Hogg dropped the ball when he looked certain to score a try in what he admitted was a "schoolboy error".

"Losing is not fun at all," added Kinghorn. "We had chances to win but we gave away too many penalties and turnover ball at crucial points.

"It's something we've looked pretty hard at but it's never nice to lose, especially when we had not won over there for 10 years, so it was a big opportunity. 

"It's a quick turnaround so we've only got time to look at the things we can improve and then move on. Everyone is looking to get stuck in.

"Every time you come back from a loss you come in, look at the footage and try to bounce onto the next game – and there is no better one than England at home."

Hogg, meanwhile, took to Twitter to thank fans for their backing.

"It was a tough weekend but I'm very grateful for the support from everyone involved in the group," he wrote. "Can't wait to get back out there this weekend with the boys and put things right."

Courtney Lawes believes Saturday's clash with Scotland at Murrayfield offers the England team the perfect platform to prove their maturity.

England slumped to a 24-17 defeat to France in their opening Six Nations encounter in Paris on Sunday, with Eddie Jones' side failing to score a point in the opening half.

Jonny May scored two tries for the visitors to set up the chance of a grandstand finish, but Les Bleus ultimately held firm.

Scotland, meanwhile, were defeated by Ireland in their opener, and Lawes – who is the second-most capped player in Jones' squad – is relishing the trip to Edinburgh, with the Calcutta Cup at stake.

"It's the perfect place to go for us, because there is going to be some adversity without a shadow of a doubt," he told BBC Radio 5Live.

"It will be great for the maturity of our squad, and the players in it and the leadership group to show what we can learn from the weekend to take into this game.

"They don't really like us there but it's something we kind of like to embrace and get out there and play some fiery rugby."

Lawes also insisted it is on England's leaders to take responsibility on the pitch, as they aim to work out a way to prosper when not necessarily on top in a game.

"We have a leadership group in place and they are responsible for making decisions on the field. You don't want too many people talking, especially when you are under pressure," he said.

"Owen [Farrell] has got his role as skipper, and then we as lieutenants – or whatever you want to call it – have our role trying to figure out how he can do his role best.

"We know we are good when we get the game plan right and we are executing. But now we need to work on when things aren't going to plan, where we go to next.

"We need to be better at identifying where we are struggling and adapting to that situation to get momentum back where you are struggling to get anything from the referee, or a bounce of a ball, how can you gain back that control.

"We have some serious experience. [Head coach] Eddie [Jones] has given us the opportunity to be a part of that, and it is something we need to step up and do."

Wales have added two uncapped forwards to their squad to face Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday.

The defending champions have drafted in Ospreys hooker Dewi Lake to provide cover for Elliot Dee, who has been dealing with a rib injury ahead of the key contest in Dublin.

Coach Wayne Pivac also added Dragons flanker Taine Basham to his pool on Wednesday, as Wales look to build on their emphatic 42-0 home win over Italy that opened their campaign.

Youngster Lake captained Wales at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship last year, while fellow 20-year-old Basham had been part of Pivac's first squad for the match against the Barbarians in November.

Both players have been training with the squad over recent weeks, but they are now available for selection. 

Dee, Owen Watkin and Gareth Davies are in contention to face Ireland having returned to training, though Josh Navidi (hamstring), Owen Lane (hamstring) and Liam Williams (ankle) are among Wales' injured players.

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