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Decent start but it gets tougher says Farrell

REACTION: Ireland head coach Andy Farrell is not getting carried away by his side having a maximum 10 points after impressive Six Nations wins over France and Italy saying “it gets tougher from here on in”.

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Farrell was speaking after Ireland, showing six changes from the one that brushed aside France 38-17, eased to an embarrassingly one-sided 36-0 victory over Italy at Lansdowne Road.

It was the first time they had prevented an opponent from scoring in the northern hemisphere rugby championship since beating England 17-0 in the then Five Nations in 1987.

However, any talk about becoming the first team to win successive Six Nations Grand Slams means little to Farrell with home matches against Wales and Scotland to come.

In between those is a trip to Twickenham to play England, who also have Grand Slam aspirations having beaten Italy and Wales.

“Obviously with two from two and maximum points etc. 36-0 is a nice scoreline for us,” Farrell told reporters.

“It’s a decent start. It gets tougher from here on in.”

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Farrell – who will sit out next year’s Six Nations as he has been named head coach of the British & Irish Lions for the tour of Australia – said parts of the performance had been “clunky and patchy”.

“Sometimes you get a little bit too desperate instead of just boxing away with the stuff that we were doing and doing so well,” said the 48-year-old Englishman.

“But the pleasing thing and it’s pleasing for quite some time now is we’re able to get over those type of setbacks and get on with the job in hand.”

For Caelan Doris captaining his country for the first time sparked more pre-match “nerves than usual” but added it had been a special day.

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The outstanding Doris said the Irish had gone off the boil for “20-30 minutes” but overall he was pretty happy.

“They’ve got threats throughout so I don’t think it’s a mean feat keeping them to zero and we’re happy with that, definitely,” said the 25-year-old.

Hard on ourselves

Jack Crowley once again impressed at flyhalf – he scored his first try for his country and was at the heart of another – but less so according to Farrell at fullback when he moved there after Hugo Keenan limped off in the second-half.

Keenan would be a huge loss to the Irish if he were to be ruled out for a long time but Farrell had been encouraged by his demeanour in the dressing room afterwards.

“He seems in good spirits but you saw him and he was limping so we’ll see how he turns up tomorrow morning whether he needs someone to have a look at that or not,” said Farrell.

His Italy counterpart Gonzalo Quesada had promised on becoming head coach that the side would play with more Latin style flair.

However, the Argentine was left shaking his head in despair at a performance that was riddled with errors.

It was a pale shadow of the one they produced in giving England an almighty scare last Saturday in a 27-24 defeat.

Whilst Quesada said his side “were a better team than they showed today” Italy captain Michele Lamaro said he and the players took full responsibility for the lacklustre display.

“It’s definitely down to us (the manner of defeat), without taking away anything from Ireland,” he said.

“We know that they’re an incredible team, but we have to find solutions because otherwise we won’t be able to play our own rugby, play how we want to play.

“It’s hard but we have to realise that this is the standard that we’re going to be up against, that’s how it is.

“Maybe some people haven’t realised that yet but we need to be hard on ourselves, above all myself.”

As well as man of the match Ireland wing James Lowe played it is likely the performance that will be remembered is eight-year-old Stevie Mulrooney belting out the oft-derided Irish anthem ‘Ireland’s Call’ before kick-off in front of over 50,000 spectators.

“His confidence was amazing and I actually thought I wish our lads are going to be like that,” said an awe-struck Farrell.

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