Wales boss Warren Gatland backs Ireland for Grand Slam glory

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Wales boss Warren Gatland backed Ireland to clinch back-to-back Grand Slam titles after his side suffered a 31-7 Guinness Six Nations defeat in Dublin.

Tries from Dan Sheehan, James Lowe, Ciaran Frawley and Tadhg Beirne kept Andy Farrell’s reigning champions on course to become the first team to achieve the feat in the Six Nations era.

Ireland travel to Twickenham to take on England on March 9 before hosting Scotland on the final weekend of the tournament.

Gatland, who led Wales to three Grand Slams during his first spell in charge, believes Ireland’s ominous march towards another clean sweep will be difficult to stop.

“I think they’re definitely capable of doing it,” he said. “They’ve got the experience and the composure and players who can carry and get them on the front foot.

“I think they will be a hard team to knock over.”

Wales finished the opening period scoreless for the third match on the bounce at 17-0 down.

An improved second-half showing, which brought the consolation of a penalty try followed by a yellow card for Ireland lock Beirne, sparked brief hope of a fightback before the visitors slipped to a third successive loss following narrow defeats to Scotland and England.

Gatland felt his inexperienced team showed “huge heart and character” at the Aviva Stadium and thought the margin of victory flattered the hosts.

“The scoreline at the end probably didn’t reflect the effort we put in,” he said.

“At 17-7, attacking their 22, we didn’t come away with anything.

“We just didn’t get a foothold in the game in the first half. I thought there were a couple of tough calls against us so it was difficult to get momentum.

“I can’t question the effort of the players and how hard they worked.

“We showed some huge heart and character today.

“The scoreline’s probably not right. But it does reflect the difference between the two sides at the moment, where we are and where they are in terms of experience.”

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