Andy Farrell bracing for ‘cock-a-hoop’ Welsh outfit

Andy Farrell warned his Ireland players they will need to sharpen up if they are going to keep “cock-a-hoop” Wales at bay in Dublin on Saturday.

Andy Farrell bracing for ‘cock-a-hoop’ Welsh outfit

Andy Farrell warned his Ireland players they will need to sharpen up if they are going to keep “cock-a-hoop” Wales at bay in Dublin on Saturday.

The Welsh, under new boss and former Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac, unleashed a new-look, expansive approach as they trounced Italy 42-0 in Cardiff in the opening game of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations to begin life after Warren Gatland.

It was a performance that has put Ireland on notice to raise their own levels when the defending champions visit Aviva Stadium in five days, after Farrell’s new charges ground out a 19-12 home win over Scotland later in the day.

The Scots posed plenty of problems for the new Irish head coach in his first game at the helm since succeeding Joe Schmidt after the World Cup last November, and the former defence coach was unhappy with the opportunities were handed to attack, through the concession of penalties.

That only two of Scotland’s four penalty kicks at goals came from inside the Irish 22 represents a poor return of six points from their 11 incursions and Farrell acknowledged Wales are likely to be more clinical.

“They’re obviously playing a wider, more expansive game, and we know how the Scarlets have played over the years, for them to be defending like they did as well today,” the Ireland boss said on Saturday night.

“I haven’t seen the game but I presume they defended very well. I saw the (Wales) game against the Baa-Baas (in November) and if you get a glimpse of that, they are dangerous. They have got some great players and I am sure they will be cock-a-hoop coming into this week.”

Farrell knows his team cannot afford to be as welcoming as they were to the Scots, and he added: “There were a couple of decisions that, rightly or wrongly, we need to be better at, at not letting them get some field position on us.

“Scotland started really well. And that type of attacking when they were flowing … I thought we lost a few collisions early doors. But we just hung on in there having conceded probably 30 metres, but we hung on in there, which was fantastic. But they came at us again and again and again.

“That period would have lasted about 10 minutes. It happens.

You have to understand teams are going to have purple patches but I thought we stayed mentally calm in those situations.

The head coach discounted the notion that Ireland would be motivated this weekend but their poor performance in Cardiff last March, when Wales sealed the Grand Slam with a dominant performance and only a converted 82nd-minute Jordan Larmour try saved the visitors from a whitewash in a 25-7 defeat.

He did, though, make an oblique reference to Joe Schmidt’s decision before that game to demand the Principality Stadium’s roof remained open, which backfired when Wales fared far better than Ireland in the heavy rain that fell during the match.

“Not really,” Farrell said about the motivation for this Saturday. “I don’t think so. Completely different circumstances unless the heavens open again next weekend, we might need to learn a lesson there.”

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