Six Nations: Andy Farrell pleased with Ireland’s adaptability in Wales win
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was delighted with his players for adapting to a late change in the starting XV in their win over Wales in Cardiff.
It was Ireland’s first victory in Wales since 2013 as Caelan Doris, James, James Lowe and Josh van der Flier all crossed for tries in a solid 34-10 triumph.
Dealing with a late change
Despite the result, Ireland were rocked by the late withdrawal of Jamison Gibson-Park with a hamstring issue hours before kick-off, with seasoned veteran Conor Murray stepping into the starting line-up.
“It showed the strength of the group coming through that,” Farrell said.
“Three or four of them had not played any rugby for a long time, and we’ve had two or three injuries this week as well.
“What happened this morning could have unsettled any side, but there are no excuses.
“We prepare as a group of 37 or 38 and we expect to perform. We trust and back the squad to put in a performance and this reiterates that.”
Ireland were almost out of sight at half-time, scoring three tries and opening up a commanding 27-3 lead at the break.
The world’s top-ranked side were full value for that lead and despite a much-improved second period from Wales, they could not challenge Ireland on the day.
Farrell said: “I’m delighted to get off to a good start because as we all know this is a really difficult place to start the campaign. Our history says exactly that.
“But our preparation has been top drawer and we got what we deserved.
“At the same time there’s plenty to do, to fix and get better. It’s not a bad place to be.”
It is a good start for Ireland, who are searching for a Grand Slam in this year’s edition. Farrell’s side welcome defending champions France to Dublin next weekend for a tough fixture.
“It’s only a start, but if you come away with a bad result the Triple Crown and Grand Slam has gone,” Sexton said.
“It’s all down to next week. That’s the beauty of the competition, all five games are tough – and none tougher than next week; the team that hasn’t been beaten for a year.”
Tough return for Gatland
Returning Wales head coach Warren Gatland did not have the best start to his second stint in a performance that is a reminder of how much work the New Zealander has ahead of him.
“I think the slow start was brought on ourselves by the fact that we conceded some penalties which gave them the momentum to get into our 22,” said Gatland.
“We didn’t have a good enough exit to start the game and we were 14 points down and under the pump.
“But I thought the second half was a huge improvement. At the end of the game I said in my head that I actually wasn’t that disappointed with our performance.
“I think there’s a huge amount of upside in us and in the past we’ve been able to work hard and fix things.”
Gatland believes there is time for his squad to take stock and look for improvements ahead of the challenging trip to Murrayfield next weekend.
“I think so. We’ll continue to work on that and ask the players to have a look at themselves and be pretty hard,” he added.
“There were definitely some good moments. We made some nice breaks and had some really good momentum in the 22, but we just didn’t come away with those points.”
READ MORE: Six Nations: Dominant Ireland begin with bonus-point triumph over wasteful Wales
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