'I think we tried too hard'
REACTION: Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones said Sunday’s 21-16 Six Nations victory over an Ireland side down to 14 men for more than an hour showed “character”.
The 35-year-old’s own performance in Cardiff was labelled “superb” by a relieved coach Wayne Pivac as the lock was playing his first match in nine weeks after suffering a knee injury.
The hosts desperately needed the win but they will be asking themselves questions about how the visitors were still chasing victory into time added on.
Away flank Peter O’Mahony had been shown a straight red by referee Wayne Barnes for elbowing Tomas Francis in the head.
Jones admitted it was far from perfect and his men had been on the back foot for longer than they would have expected against 14 men.
“I think we tried too hard when we went a man to the good, but we showed character late on,” he said at his post match press conference.
“We came through in the end.”
Jones said they had played safety first rugby against an side that did not let their heads drop and kept sniping away leading 13-6 at one point.
“We probably defended for longer than we would have liked,” said Jones.
“Elements of that came from the red card and we didn’t want to give them too many opportunities.”
Jones sporting a black eye due to an elbow by Jake Ball in a feisty training session said they would need to improve to beat Scotland next weekend.
Gregor Townsend’s side have a pep in their step after beating champions England at Twickenham on Saturday for the first time in 38 years.
“They’re a team in the ascendency. They’ve kicked on from beating us in the autumn.”
Pivac would not go overboard about the victory even if pressure had been building on him after just three wins in 10 Tests in his first year in charge.
Two of those had been over Italy and the other against Georgia.
“We’re looking at it as a competition. It was important we got a win in Round One,” said the New Zealander.
“We’ve got a six-day turnaround and a very strong and confident Scotland squad.”
Pivac said he knew there was work to be done especially in the lineout where his outfit had an off day.
“Some things we did well. Scrum went well. Line-out needs tidying up,” he said.
“Discipline is what nearly cost us today [Sunday]. We need to have a look at that part of the game.”
Pivac had selected the most experienced Wales side ever with 784 caps with a serious knee injury but he was full of praise for his skipper and others who lacked gametime.
“We know about their engines and Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi and Ken Owens played longer than we’d have expected because they were still putting in big performances,” said Pivac.
“All three of them were superb.”