Gatland left to rue ‘inconsistent’ Six Nations campaign

Wales have made six changes to their starting line-up for the Six Nations clash against Scotland in Cardiff this Saturday.

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Gatland: Wales players have had 'tough' 18 months

Wales head coach Warren Gatland pointed to how a busy last 18 months of rugby may have had an effect on his players, after their hopes of a third consecutive Six Nations title were ended by England yesterday.

"It has been tough on these players in retrospect - a Grand Slam (2012), a championship (2013) and a Lions tour. It has been a long 18 months for those players," Gatland said.

Wales were beaten 29-18 by an impressive England team yesterday. Credit: PA

"But this is professional sport and you've got to get yourselves up, and unfortunately we weren't as good as we can be. That is disappointing", Gatland admitted.

"Teams are pretty close in this competition. I think the four top teams are all capable of beating each other on their day if they get their performance right, and England got their performance right."

Full back Leigh Halfpenny dislocated a shoulder at Twickenham, while scrum half Rhys Webb is also likely to miss Wales' final game of the championship against Scotland on Saturday.

A number of other players are facing real competition for their places.

Wales captain Sam Warburton admitted "England deserved the win."

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Injury puts an end to Leigh Halfpenny's season

Halfpenny leaving the pitch at Twickenham Credit: PA

Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny will miss the rest of this season after dislocating his right shoulder during the 29-18 RBS 6 Nations defeat against England at Twickenham.

Halfpenny, who kicked all Wales' points with six penalties, was comfortably his team's best player.

But Wales head coach Warren Gatland revealed the extent of Halfpenny's injury in his post-match press conference.

Scarlets back Liam Williams will be favourite to replace him in next Saturday's final Six Nations game against Scotland in Cardiff.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb also went off injured, suffering what appeared to be an ankle injury, but there was no immediate fitness update on him.

Gatland is due to announce his team to face Scotland on Tuesday.

Six Nations: England 29 - 18 Wales

Wales Jonathan Davies is tackled by England's Jack Nowell Credit: PA

Wales' Six Nations hopes have been dashed after a 29-18 defeat at Twickenham this afternoon.

England's Danny Care scored a try after just four minutes, with centre Luther Burrell crossing in the first half, as England went in at half time 20-15 to the good.

Wales were grateful to fullback Leigh Halfpenny who kicked six penalties in the game, but England, for whom Owen Farrell kicked 19 points, kept their noses ahead to seal the 29-18 victory. It's their first triple crown since 2003.

It leaves England, Ireland and France fighting it out for the Six Nations title next weekend.

Wales' host Scotland in Cardiff.

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Robin Mcbryde: 'We have to embrace this occasion'

Robin McBryde (centre) in his playing days Credit: PA

Forwards coach Robin McBryde insists Wales will embrace tomorrow's match at Twickenham, after declaring, 'the hottest fires forge the toughest steel'.

England, presumably still reeling from their 30-3 defeat in Cardiff last year, have been revealed as the favourites to win against Wales, in the all-important 6 Nations showdown.

McBryde says he fears the backlash of beating Stuart Lancaster's men at the Millennium Stadium, but knows the psychological impact victory would have, ahead of their meeting in the group stage of the 2015 World Cup.

He said,

"England are a better team than last year and any bad experience, as long as you learn from it, can be turned into a big positive. That result in Cardiff could work against us.

We have to embrace this occasion because it won't get any easier at the World Cup.

It's a game of rugby and a game we all love because of the attritional side of it. It's not touch it's not football.

When the whistle goes it's 15 versus 15. We have experience and hopefully we can bring that to bear. Hopefully it will be a good advert for the Six Nations."

Charteris injury blow as Wales prepare for England

by Nick Hartley

Wales lock Luke Charteris has been forced out of Sunday's clash with England.

In his place is Scarlets forward Jake Ball for his second Six Nations start.

He comes into a side who have recovered well from their defeat to Ireland earlier in the championship, a turn around which means that with two games left to play Wales' hopes of a third consecutive Six Nations title are very much alive.

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