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Wales coach hopes for improvement

14/03/2010 01:55:50 PM Comments (0)

Wales coach Warren Gatland will hope his side can maintain their discipline when they finish the Six Nations at home to Italy next week after a fresh self-inflicted wound led to a convincing defeat by Ireland.

Wales were beaten 27-12 at Croke Park but were only 6-3 behind when full-back Lee Byrne was yellow-carded by South African referee Craig Joubert for a professional foul midway through the first half.

In Byrne's absence, Ireland scored two tries and, from then on, the outcome of the match was never in any serious doubt.

What made it worse for Wales was the sense of deja vu after they'd conceded two tries during their defeat by England at Twickenham last month after lock Alun-Wyn Jones was sin-binned.

Wales's third defeat in four Six Nations matches also featured the now familiar sight of their opponents building a substantial early lead, although on this occasion there wasn't even the consolation of a late Welsh rally.

They now find themselves in the mix for the wooden spoon, along with Italy and Scotland, after a match where they conceded three tries - a double from wing Keith Earls separated by one from scrum-half Tomas O'Leary - and didn't score any in reply, all their points coming from four Stephen Jones penalties.

Ireland dominated the lineout and even their much criticised scrum held out when Wales laid siege to the hosts' line early in the second half.

"We are very disappointed," said Wales coach Gatland following a match where Ireland marked captain Brian O'Driscoll's 100th Test for his country in style.

"Ireland were very good and very clinical," added Gatland, who as Ireland coach gave O'Driscoll his debut back in 1999.

"The yellow card was very costly. It appears we haven't learnt our lesson from what happened against England. From a coaching point of view, that is very disappointing."

Wales were still in the game, thanks mainly to several missed goalkicks from Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton, at 16-6 down early in the second half when they opted for a series of attacking scrums.

But the try they craved did not appear with Ireland ultimately shoving the Welsh pack backwards before a long kick downfield cleared the danger.

"If we had scored from that last scrum... but we need to concentrate 100 percent. That was a big moment in the game," Gatland added.

"We came up against a very good Irish defensive display. They are pretty experienced in what they do. Turnovers were costly for us."

He added: "We did create some chances and opportunities, but we tried to force things a little too much. We need to keep our patience and work on accuracy."

Stand-in skipper Martyn Williams said: "We had plenty of ball, but were just not clinical enough at key points in the game."

Wales were without several first-team players, including captain Ryan Jones, through injury as well as axed back-row Andy Powell, dropped after his drink driving escapade on a hotel golf buggy following the victory over Scotland.

"We have struggled a little with regard to our strength in defence - we are missing some key players at the moment - but it is something we are always working on," Gatland said.

But he was optimistic Ryan Jones, scrum-half Mike Phillips and prop Gethin Jenkins would be available to face Italy, who play tournament leaders France in Paris on Sunday.

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