x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Roberts: We need to improve

The Wales centre believe they cannot afford a repeat of their first half struggle against Scotland if they are to have any chance of toppling Six Nations title favourites France.

Wales cannot afford a repeat of their first half struggle against Scotland on Saturday if they are to have any chance of toppling Six Nations title favourites France when they meet later this month, believes their centre Jamie Roberts. The French have won both of their games and travel to Cardiff to take on the Welsh on Friday, February 26. Wales' dramatic 31-24 victory over Scotland kept alive hopes of Six Nations silverware for a second time in three seasons.

But they only prevailed after an astonishing finale that produced 17 unanswered points in the last three minutes. "France look like they are going to be the team to beat," said Roberts. "It will be a hell of a game, but if we play like we did in the first half against Scotland there will be no coming back. "We need to be settled in defence and dominate the collisions." Teammate James Hook added that improved defence would be a priority.

"It is something we are going to be working on in the next two weeks, and France are a different kettle of fish again," he added. Wales' preparations have not been helped by the news that back row forward Andy Powell has been dropped from the squad after he was charged with drink driving. The 28-year-old was arrested by police after being found driving a golf buggy near the M4 motorway in Wales on Saturday night following the game with Scotland. He is due to appear in court in Cardiff next month.

Meanwhile, Rob Kearney could miss Ireland's Six Nations clash with England at Twickenham on February 27 after the full-back injured his right knee during their loss to France on Saturday. @Email:gcaygill@thenational.ae