10:03pm Tuesday 4th February 2014
By Chris Kirwan
WALES boss Warren Gatland wants his charges to follow Northampton's lead when they take on Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Saints produced a Heineken Cup shock when they triumphed 18-9 in Dublin just a week after being battered 40-7 by Leinster on their own patch.
They did it with brute force and bloody mindedness.
Wales' style could be described in a similar fashion – they have won back to back Six Nations crowns by overpowering their opponents and by being rock solid in defence.
That won't change on Saturday when two title hopefuls slug it out with Grand Slam and Triple Crown hopes on the line.
"Ireland are a tough team and we just have to be very direct against them," said Gatland.
"A good example is Northampton's performance at Leinster, they were embarrassed at home then turned it around in a week.
"It's a pretty good blueprint about how to play against Ireland. They ran hard, there wasn't anything flash about it, they just fronted up physically after being blown away.
"They had two good midfielders on that day in Luther Burrell and George North and we've got some physicality in our back line, so expect us to be fairly direct."
While Wales spluttered to success against Italy on opening weekend, Ireland impressively hammered Scotland 28-6 in Dublin.
"By all accounts, they Ireland have spent the last two weeks preparing for this game," said the New Zealander.
"We are aware of that, and they are two teams that won their opening game going head to head. It is a massive game for both teams.
"We haven't lost an away match in the Six Nations since 2011, and we have to have the belief and confidence that we can do it again this weekend.
"We feel in most tournaments that we get stronger as it goes on, and that will need to be the case."
Gatland makes three changes to the side that beat Italy 23-15 at the Millennium Stadium on opening weekend.
Captain Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric swap places, the former starting at openside and the latter having to settle for a spot on the bench, while Gethin Jenkins is fit to start at loosehead at the expense of Paul James.
Newport Gwent Dragons captain Andrew Coombs steps up from the replacements after former Rodney Parade favourite Luke Charteris suffered a hamstring injury.
Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints), Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro), Gethin Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Newport Gwent Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues, capt), Taulupe Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons). Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Paul James (Bath Rugby), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Jake Ball (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets).
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