‘The scoreline’s not right’: Gatland proud of Wales despite defeat to Ireland

<span>Dafydd Jenkins leads his <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Wales;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Wales</a> team off past <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Ireland;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Ireland</a> after the game.</span><span>Photograph: Chris Fairweather/Huw Evans/Shutterstock</span>

When is a scoreline a fair reflection of a match? Andy Farrell and Warren Gatland had different ideas, the latter adamant that the 31-7 victory to Ireland was not representative of his young Wales team’s efforts. When that suggestion was put to Farrell, he countered as confidently as his team play these days.

“I thought we should have had 40,” he replied with a glint in his eye. “We got what we deserved in the end. I thought Wales defended really well at times, but I thought we should have been further ahead in the first half. There was all sorts going on. Some of it was our own doing, but most of it was because we were playing a tenacious Welsh side. So congratulations to them.

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“We wanted to be better today, but the opposition always has a say in that. For the dominance we had at the scrum in the first half I felt we could have had a better lead going into half-time. I thought we were in the right place coming out in the second half, but there were penalties all over the place. But we found our way again to get the result.”

Wales’s only points came from a penalty try early in the second half, Tadhg Beirne, who would score the bonus-point fourth try at the death, deemed to have changed his binding at the side of the maul and shown a yellow card. “I’m a bit confused by the penalty try,” said Farrell. “You can’t see whether the ball’s down or not. I don’t see how that can be a penalty try, but obviously it was. So we take that.”

Ireland were on the receiving end of a lopsided penalty count in the second half, but it was the other way round in the first. “We couldn’t get any foothold in the first half,” said Gatland. “There were a couple of calls against us. It was difficult to get any momentum.”

With France next up in Cardiff, Gatland is confident Wales will take much from this performance. “We showed great heart and character. The scoreline’s probably not right, but it does reflect the difference between the two sides – where we are and where they are in terms of experience.”

Gatland believes Ireland have the wherewithal to become the first team to win back-to-back grand slams in the Six Nations era. “They are definitely capable of doing that. They’ve got the experience and composure. I think they’ll be a hard team to knock over.”