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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 28 March, 2020

Cardiff wash-out still stings for Sexton

‘Anytime you lose for Ireland, it never leaves you.’.

Sexton in March in Cardiff.
Sexton in March in Cardiff.
Image: Alex Davidson/INPHO

AMID ALL THE bruising experiences endured by Ireland through their tough 2019, the wash-out on Wales’ coronation day almost gets, well, lost in the wash a bit.

The open roof allowed the heavens to pour through and Joe Schmidt’s side had to face into the fact that the opening round dip against England was a symptom of greater ills rather than merely a 24-hour bug.

“We were going for a Championship,” points out Jonathan Sexton when he’s asked if the outcome still stung. True, but on that 80 minutes of evidence, there was a chasm between 2019 victors and the deposed winners from 2018, who were held to 25-0 until Jordan Larmour’s injury-time try.

“We got well beaten out the gate,” adds the out-half, “it was a very disappointing day, and one that… anytime you lose for Ireland, it never leaves you. You think about it a lot and that was one of those days.”

A post-Warren Gatland Wales, without Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams, do not look quite as potent a threat as the Grand Slam-winning outfit and come in search of their first Six Nations win in Dublin since 2012.Having struggled to knit their complete game together on their first run-out under Andy Farrell last weekend, Sexton will demand that his squad are ready to fly out of the traps to meet always-physical foes now under the guidance of Wayne Pivac.

“Last week we were ready to go, but we have to realise: when we soak the first two colisions we’re chasing shadows for 7, 8, 9 phases. Scotland are always a side who play with good shape, good width in their team.

jonathan-sexton Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

“It’s about those first phases, making sure we’ve good contacts there. I don’t think we were too nervous, just a little bit inaccurate. We settled in then, but throughout the game we weren’t clinical or accurate and that allowed the game to go how it did.”

That said, the skipper was still willing to stand his ground and defend the side’s performance when it was suggested that Ireland too often passed to static runners.

“I disagree. When you get slow ball off bad set-piece, you can’t run onto the ball into a brick wall.

“So we did some really good things at times when we were moving onto the ball. We hope to get more front foot ball this week. We might not. We won’t try and force things if we’re not, because we know what we’re meant to do against slow ball. When you’ve got a full defence against you, it’s not as easy as that.”

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Sean Farrell

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