Farrell praises true Irish grit
– Andy Farrell praised the grit the Ireland team showed securing his first win as head coach in the 19-12 Six Nations clash with Scotland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday.
The Irish rode their luck against an incisive Scottish side that spurned several chances, the most glaring when captain Stuart Hogg dropped the ball as he crossed the try-line with the Irish leading 16-9.
In the end, 19 points from captain Johnny Sexton (right) edged Ireland to the win in Farrell’s first Test since stepping up from assistant to Joe Schmidt following the World Cup last year.
“It was a decent start,” said the 44-year-old Englishman. “Our performance was summed up in the last five minutes. We asked the lads to stand for something this week and you could easily see the true Irish grit.
“There were guys out there not used to playing for so long but due to injuries were still tracking back in the final five minutes. The pack was magnificent.”
Sexton praised the courage of the players declaring their performance in defence as “unbelievable”.
The 34-year-old had not played competitive rugby since early December because of a knee injury.
“I felt good but obviously rusty,” he said. “It is tough when you are in a brace for three weeks and then getting fit for the next three weeks.
“It is not about me, it is about the team and winning. If I can help with that, then great.”
Farrell, father of England captain Owen, praised the 2018 World Player-of-theYear’s performance.
“For him not to fight in anger till Thursday says it all about the man and his passion to lead his country for the first time (in the Six Nations).
“To deal with that and lead the side like that is truly magnificent.”
Farrell acknowledged there were things to improve next week leading up to Saturday’s home game with Grand Slam holders
Wales, who opened with a 42-0 thrashing of Italy.
“We got carried away at times,” he said. “Some of the decision-making was good but some was wayward, we are a work in progress.
“We asked them to stand for something and again they showed true Irish grit.
“There is plenty to work on, but some good.”
Sexton, who had a poor year in 2019 as fitness problems affected his form, said it had been hard for the team to express themselves without being more than a converted try ahead.
“The first game of the tournament is all about winning,” he said.
“Last year in England we lost and that was immediately the Triple Crown gone.” – AFP
MORE TO COME. Welsh flyhalf Dan Biggar (left) congratulates wing Josh Adams after scoring his second try during their Six Nations match against Italy at Principality Stadium on Saturday.