Six Nations: Gatland 'not that disappointed' with Ireland defeat

By Sports Desk February 04, 2023

Warren Gatland is "not that disappointed" with Wales' heavy Six Nations loss to Ireland as he believes his side can improve in every area they are currently lacking.

Ireland lived up to their billing as pre-tournament favourites by racing into a 24-point lead by half-time at the Principality Stadium on their way to a 34-10 victory.

While Wales improved after the break, with Liam Williams' try providing some hope, Ireland never looked under any real threat and earned a first win in Cardiff since 2013.

It meant defeat for Gatland in his first game back as head coach since replacing Wayne Pivac in December, but he is trying to remain positive.

"Strangely I'm not that disappointed," he told BBC Sport. "That's because a lot of things that were disappointing are things that we can fix. 

"We spoke at half-time about discipline and line speed in defence and we brought that in the second half. 

"We made a slow start, gave away penalties and Ireland created momentum off that. We created opportunities that we should have taken advantage of. 

"We had as many entries into the 22 as them, but they came away with points and we missed about three or four tries where we put ourselves in position to score.

"We will take a lot from this, especially the younger players. We will focus on the positives of the second half and how we put pressure on them to create chances. 

"Ireland are a very good side. It shows the step up we need to take."

 

The world's top-ranked side Ireland made a lightning start to the contest, with Caelan Doris' try after 119 seconds his side's third-quickest in a Six Nations match.

James Ryan and James Lowe also crossed over before half-time, while Johnny Sexton added 12 points as Ireland scored 27 first-half points away at Wales for the first time.

Williams gave home supporters something to cling onto when finding a breakthrough, but he was later yellow carded and Josh van der Flier killed off the contest soon after.

Sexton appeared to be left dazed by Williams' hard hit, with concerns over a possible concussion, but Ireland coach Andy Farrell provided a positive update after the game.

"He came off with a dead leg," Farrell told reporters. "We've done a HIA test on him as well, and that's all clear so he's fine."

Ireland dropped off in the second period, but Van der Flier's try secured a bonus point for the visitors to lay down a marker ahead of France's trip to Italy on Sunday.

They have now scored four-plus tries in each of their last four Six Nations matches, their longest such run in Five or Six Nations history.

Farrell's side are aiming to go one better than last year when finishing second to France, though Hugo Keenan is not looking too far ahead.

"We are only taking things one game at a time. We won't get caught up with anything," he told BBC Sport.

"We came out and started really well today, which was really important having not won here for 10 years.

"We probably slipped off a bit in the second half so there's still plenty to work on but we're delighted to get a bonus point and start the Six Nations with a win.

"These are the occasions you want to be part of, in this stadium against a tough side. They're in transition but are always a serious team, especially here."

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