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Dublin: 2°C Friday 26 February 2021

Farrell hails 'dominant' Irish win but injuries a concern for Twickenham trip

The Ireland head coach knows his team will need to improve on ‘everything’ to beat England.

AS A MAN who made his name in rugby league and then as a defence coach in union, Andy Farrell certainly appreciates the value of the physical side of the game.

So he was very pleased to watch his Ireland team get the better of Wales in the collisions, scrum, lineout, and maul in their 32-9 win to start the Autumn Nations Cup.

“Dominant,” said Farrell when asked to sum up his sense of Ireland’s performance. 

“I thought in the first half, we some really good dominant stuff, I thought it was better than a 10-point lead at half-time.

“In the second half, it was a little bit disjointed at times, but Wales did a good job on our speed of ball at the breakdown.

“Overall, it was a dominant performance. The scoreline is a reflective one, I think.”

Farrell was happy to see players taking their chances against Wales after making seven changes to his starting XV as he handed James Lowe a Test debut and gave Jamison Gibson-Park and Ronan Kelleher their first Ireland starts.

“You can look across the side really, people got their chances and it was about the group this week,” said the Ireland boss.

“We’re a new group trying to get as cohesive as possible as soon as possible. That’s what international rugby is all about.”

However, there were injury issues for Ireland as captain Johnny Sexton departed with a hamstring injury in the first half, while his replacement Billy Burns suffered a head injury on his debut, meaning Conor Murray finished the game at out-half.

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Sexton will undergo a scan and is an obvious doubt for next weekend’s visit to Twickenham to play England.

“He thought it was just a bad dose of cramp coming off, I suppose we’ll have to assess that tomorrow and see how it goes,” said Farrell of Sexton.

Ireland had ruled out lock Iain Henderson and fullback Jacob Stockdale before kick-off this evening, with Quinn Roux and Andrew Conway starting instead.

But Farrell suggested that Ulstermen Henderson and Stockdale could be in the mix for the England game.

“They won’t be long-term. Jacob flagged a sore calf during the week. We thought it would settle and it didn’t. He had a scan and there was little bit of something there. We think he could be available next week.

“Iain Henderson had a medical issue, he’s been speaking to the medics we expect them to be OK next week.” 

Whether or not those men are fit, Farrell knows Ireland will need to produce something special to win on the road in London.

“We need to be better at everything,” said Farrell. “We need to be clinical. Territory and possession were a fair reflection of where we were at.

“We had some really good attacks but after linebreaks, we got cluttered and we weren’t calm enough. We could have converted a few more opportunities in that first-half.

“We need to be more clinical when we create try-scoring opportunities, I think we left three or four out there tonight.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from the Aviva Stadium

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