‘We have to own that performance’: Disappointment after Ireland suffer heavy loss to Wales

Ireland under pressure to regroup quickly ahead of next Saturday’s clash with France at Musgrave Park

Ireland’s Vicky Irwin dejected after the game against Wales. Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Women’s Six Nations: Wales 31 (K Bevan try, 3 cons; A Callender, S Harries, H Jones, S Tuipulotu try each) Ireland 5 (N Fryday try)

Ireland women’s head coach Greg McWilliams did little to hide his disappointment after his side suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Wales in the opening round of the Six Nations Championship at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

Hoping to gain revenge for their reversal to the Welsh at the same stage of last year’s tournament, the concession of four tries in the first half left Ireland staring into a 26-0 deficit at the interval. While it was a much-improved display from the visitors on the resumption, McWilliams acknowledged his charges had left themselves with far too much to do by that point.

“I’m not going to pretend that we’re not disappointed. We have to own that performance. Wales are a little bit further ahead of us. You can see that in their development. They overpowered us in the first half and we learned some really valuable lessons,” McWilliams said.

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“Like anything, you’ve just got to learn the lessons. Create a plan and make sure you aim to be better the next time you play. In that first half, everything that could go wrong went wrong. That’s not to make excuses. Wales were very clinical, they were very powerful. Their set-piece was outstanding. They just didn’t let us get the ball.”

While teenage prop Sadhbh McGrath was the only debutant, eight of Ireland’s starting line-up had 10 caps or fewer coming into the game. Although a number of those within the match day squad are now under full-time contracts with the IRFU, Wales began their own steps into professionalism ahead of last year’s Six Nations and laid down a major marker in the early stages of this contest.

Courtney Keight of Wales is tackled during her team's match against Ireland on Saturday. Photograph: INPHO/Robbie Stephenson

There was just four minutes on the clock when openside flanker Alex Callender bagged a maiden try for the hosts and this was followed by a seven-point salvo from scrumhalf Keira Bevan. Despite losing Gwen Crabb to injury during the early exchanges, her replacement Sioned Harries increased Wales’ advantage by touching down just beyond the first-quarter mark.

Wales secure bonus-point victory over Ireland in Women’s Six Nations openerOpens in new window ]

Ireland were struggling to establish any form of attacking platform and remained under pressure in defence. Team skipper Hannah Jones sealed a bonus point for Wales with a try late on in the opening period as Ireland were faced with an insurmountable deficit at the beginning of the second half.

Nineteen-year-old tight head Sisilia Tuipulotu pounced for yet another try six minutes after the resumption to add further salt to the Irish wounds. This five-pointer came about while Deirbhile Nic a Bháird was in the sinbin, but she – along with Ireland’s remaining replacements – did start to make an impact as the action progressed.

Ireland were struggling to establish any form of attacking platform and remained under pressure in defence. Photograph: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Though it took the intervention of television match official Ian Tempest for the score to be awarded, Ireland captain Nichola Fryday made sure her side finally got up and running with a 67th-minute try.

It was a tough day at the office for the Irish and they will need to regroup quickly ahead of next Saturday’s clash with France at Musgrave Park.

Wales: C Keight; L Neumann, H Jones, K Lake, C Williams-Morris; E Snowsill, K Bevan; G Pyrs, K Jones, S Tuipulotu; A Fleming, G Crabb; G Evans, A Callender, B Lewis. Replacements: S Harries for Crabb (7), K Williams for B Lewis (57), C Hale for Tuipulotu, F Lewis for Bevan, H Bluck for H Jones (all 60), K Evans for K Jones (62), C Thomas for Pyrs (72).

Ireland: M Deely; A Doyle, A Dalton, E Breen, N Behan; N Cronin, M Scuffil-McCabe; S McGrath, N Jones, L Djougang; N Fryday, S Monaghan; D Wall, M Óg O’Leary, B Hogan. Replacements: H O’Connor for Monaghan (20-32), V Irwin for Deely (32), D Nic a Bhaird for O’Leary (h-t), D O’Brien for Doyle (48), C Haney for McGrath, J Brown for Wall, G Moore for Hogan (all 57), O’Connor for Cronin (64), N O’Dowd for Djougang (72).

Referee: A McLachlan (Australia).