Andy Farrell believes Ireland have taken another important step on their upward curve under new management.
Saturday’s bonus-point 24-12 home defeat of 2019 Grand Slam winners Wales was Farrell’s second win in as many weeks as he embarks on his career as a head coach having succeeded Joe Schmidt after last autumn’s World Cup quarter-final exit.
While the previous Saturday’s 19-12 win over Scotland in the opening round of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations had hung in the balance until the final minute thanks to a less than fluent Ireland performance, the victory over Wales was much improved.
Farrell’s side upped its aggression levels from the first game, tightened up its set-piece and were able to showcase more width in a multi-faceted attacking gameplan that yielded four tries to the delight of the sell-out 51,700 crowd at the Aviva Stadium.
There was plenty to like about the performance and having praised Ireland’s grit and character in defeating the Scots, Farrell gave credit to other aspects this time around.
“This week we discussed our consistent performances, as far as our physicality was concerned, I think we got that,” the Ireland boss said.
“We also spoke about making sure we are in control of our emotions because you can get too ramped up.
“You know, the boys want to do well at the Aviva in front of home fans, they want to show that fight in the shirt first and foremost but I thought our calm heads allowed us to play the game we wanted to play.”
Two wins from two will send Ireland to Twickenham in 12 days in search of the Triple Crown but while accepting that those victories were important in terms of bolstering belief, Farrell insisted the improvements had to continue apace.
It is important but I suppose at this stage for us it just about learning the lessons and getting better and understanding what we are trying to achieve and keep getting better and if you can do that on the back of a win all the better really.
“I just said to the lads in the changing room that it is a great place to be, you have got two from two and there is still plenty to fix.
“In the first half we should probably have come away with not the type of scoreboard that we would have expected with the possession we had down there.
“but what it did was it created a good buzz and a good belief in the changing room to go and attack the second half into a strong wind like we did.
“We want to keep the pressure on. The review last week was a joint review from all concerned, it was honest and it was open and there was no finger pointing and we just got on with fixing what we needed to do.
“Did we fix it all? We certainly didn’t.
“No, I suppose everyone is looking for the perfect performance.
“We were never going to get it today because there is still plenty to do
“But that’s why I am looking forward to (Ireland’s training camp) next week.
“I am looking forwards to a few lads going back and playing for the provinces and I look forward to getting them back up as a squad of 36 to join up together on the Monday before the England week, it is a good place to be.”