Ireland edge out Wales in Dublin
By Mark Stevens
Wales head coach Warren Gatland remained upbeat despite his side’s 19-10 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Facing each other for the second time in as many weeks, Ireland once again prospered, winning a cagey affair in Dublin with tries from Tadhg Furlong, Rob Kearney and James Ryan being enough to propel them back to the top of the world rankings.
However, Gatland - who included Exeter Chiefs prop Tomas Francis in his side’s starting line-up - was able to take positives from what he believed was a more promising first-half performance.
“It’s disappointing but we’re pleased with that first-half,” he said.“It was a decent first-half and we tried to play some rugby, so there were some positives from us from that sort of view.But we’re disappointed that we conceded so many penalties in that second-half and allowed Ireland to have territory and possession.
“We spoke about keeping our discipline and that penalty count really killed us in the second-half – you’re always going to struggle if you have a ten-one penalty count.
“Ireland did what they do well – off nine, using Bundee Aki. You have to be collision dominant and disciplined.Those were two areas that we weren’t up to scratch, but I was pleased with the set-piece and scrum.”
Despite Gatland’s side successfully disrupting the Irish line-out during the opening exchanges, it was the hosts who took the lead when Kearney went over on 22 minutes.
And it was the second period when Ireland eventually made their sustained pressure pay, as Furlong and Ryan – who was named man of the match on the eve of his first World Cup – scored to deliver a blow to Welsh optimism going into the tournament.
Wales face Georgia in their opening group game in Toyota, but Gatland remained unfazed by the challenge after what was another disappointing afternoon in the warm-up campaign for his side.
“I’m not at all concerned, really – that’s what these games are all about,” he added.“We tried some things – the turnover rate was disappointing, but we showed some great character.
“Teams could have capitulated there, and we spoke at half-time about discipline.I felt there were a few times where we were pulled up for high tackles and Ireland had been high too, but we’ll learn from that.
“These are warm-up games, not a Six Nations game where it matters about winning, so we’ve got these under our belts and tried some combinations.Georgia will be tough up front. They’re big, physical men. We’ll look at the two Scotland games but everyone is working on things.”