Gatland: ‘We gifted Ireland a lot of soft points. They didn’t play a huge amount of rugby’

WALES HAVE a habit of beginning big campaigns sluggishly, but Warren Gatland could not hide his concern following his side’s 35-21 defeat by Ireland.

Gatland fielded an inexperienced side for the first hit-out of the season including a number of promising young backs including the Dragons pair of full-back Hallam Amos and centre Tyler Morgan as well as Ospreys speedster Eli Walker.

But the experimental Welsh outfit, which included four new caps among their ranks, suffered a hellish first half as they trailed 25-0 before Richard Hibbard’s 37th-minute try provided some respite.

Gatland’s young troops rallied in the second period posting well-worked tries through Justin Tipuric and Alex Cuthbert, but the damage had already been done.

“I think we gifted them quite a lot of soft points really,” said the Kiwi.

“In fairness to the players, they did come back and play a lot better in that second half. We just didn’t play well enough in that opening half. We made it quite easy for Ireland in the end.

“I think we’ll go back and have a look at the tape. I’m disappointed with the way we played particularly the amount of turnovers we gave way in that first half.

“We played a lot better in the second half. We scored a couple of nice tries. You can’t go out and commit that many turnovers in a game particularly against Ireland.”

Ireland seemed to carve open Wales at will during the first half while some of the forward play had their young pack in all sorts of trouble, but Gatland failed to see any signs of development in the Irish game-plan

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“They’re a team that retain possession well,” he added.

“They’ve got a template that works well for them. They get into your 22 and then it’s pretty much one-pass rugby.

“They keep possession and then they look to pressurise you for turnovers so… it wasn’t anything different then what we expected.

“They played territory, played it well, and they just use a template that they’ve been using for a while and it’s been successful for them.”

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