Wales coach Steve Hansen has pledged to ignore the ‘hysteria’ that will surround his side’s comprehensive defeat in Dublin today.
Two late Tom Shanklin tries spared the Welsh acute embarrassment at Lansdowne Road as Ireland romped to a 36-15 RBS 6 Nations victory.
Unlikely hero Shane Byrne bagged a brace for the hosts, as did returning skipper Brian O’Driscoll in a one-sided encounter that left talk of a Wales resurgence looking distinctly optimistic.
However, while Hansen accepted the scoreline was a true reflection of Ireland’s dominance, he insisted his side have moved forward and they will learn the lessons of a disappointing performance.
“I am sure people will get hysterical when they look at the scoreline and say it is another false dawn for Welsh rugby,” said the Kiwi, who will stand down at the end of the tournament to become All Blacks assistant coach.
“The reality is that two years ago we came here on a similar afternoon and lost by 50 points.
“We have not arrived yet and we are still going to have the odd bad day. Today was a reality check, the key is to learn from it.”
Hansen had no problem pin-pointing the reasons for his team’s demise, citing a complete lack of go-forward and a consistent failure to make the first tackle. He also acknowledged that his side were badly outgunned in the forwards.
“Our young lads tried to poke their noses in and got a good slap on the nose,” he said.
Ireland took less than a minute to register the first of their six touchdowns, winning a line-out close to the Welsh line after the visitors had failed to clear the kick-off effectively, to set up the drive which Byrne peeled off virtually unseen for a 10-metre romp to the line.
O’Driscoll added a second before Ronan O’Gara followed up his own charge down to score in the corner.
After collecting just one touchdown in his previous 25 international appearances, Byrne trebled his tally before the break, although as Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan pointed out, the hooker’s new-found scoring exploits owed much to the dominant home pack.
“There was a lot of grunt work in front of him,” said O’Sullivan.
“In the modern game it seems to be the guy at the back of the maul who has the most chance of scoring and for the first one at least, I think Shane was surprised the Red Sea opened up the way it did.”
Playing into a stiff wind, Ireland were expected to be on the back foot at the start of the second half.
Instead they hit the accelerator pedal and Anthony Foley crashed over before O’Driscoll scored his second to take the game well out of Wales’ reach.
“The way we started the game set down a marker,” said O’Sullivan, who revealed impressive centre Gordon D’Arcy should be available to face world champions England in a fortnight’s time despite being forced off with severe bruising to his back.
“Our defence was very tight for the first hour, by when the game was won anyway and we managed to stop their offloads which can be so dangerous.”
While D’Arcy will be fit for the trip to Twickenham, the news was less encouraging of second-row Donncha O’Callaghan.
O’Sullivan believes the Munster lock suffered medial knee ligament damage, which will make him an unlikely starter against Clive Woodward’s men.
There could also be bad news on the injury front for Wales, who lost Sonny Parker with a recurrence of the shoulder problem which has blighted his career.
“As soon as he took the bang we got him off,” said Hansen. “We will wait for the scan results tomorrow but it is the same injury as he has had before.”