Six Nations: Ireland’s Johnny Sexton: Plenty to improve | Wales’ Dan Biggar: We’re better than that | Rugby Union News

Johnny Sexton says there is 'plenty to brush up on', but admitted how different this year feels to last

Johnny Sexton says there is ‘plenty to brush up on’, but admitted how different this year feels to last

Johnny Sexton says there is plenty for Ireland to brush up on ahead of traveling to France next week despite their dominant win against Wales, while Dan Biggar vowed: ‘We’re better than that.’

Centers Bundee Aki, Garry Ringrose, and wing Andrew Conway (two) scored Ireland’s tries, while skipper Sexton added three conversions and a penalty in an impressive display of free-flowing attack from the hosts.

The victory marked a change from 12 months ago, when Ireland suffered defeat to Wales in Cardiff – with Wayne Pivac’s side going on to claim the title.

Sexton admitted the change this year is palpable.

“I can not tell you how demoralizing it is when you go back to last year, first game sitting in the dressing room with nothing to show for all of your efforts: Triple Crown gone, Grand Slam gone and up against it to win a championship, “he said.

“That’s what we’re pleased with most.

“We feel there was plenty of stuff to brush up on for next week because France away is arguably one of the biggest tests in world rugby, so we need to be at our very best and we need to learn some lessons from today, even in victory.

Sexton celebrates Ireland's bonus-point clinching try in Dublin on Saturday

Sexton celebrates Ireland’s bonus-point clinching try in Dublin on Saturday

“I think we did that well over November and hopefully we continue in that vein.”

Having gone through a transitional phase, 2018 Grand Slam champions Ireland are beginning to look the real deal again after an outstanding autumn, which included glory against New Zealand.

Wales arrived at a sold-out Aviva Stadium without a host of key men due to injury, including captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Wayne Pivac’s visitors – who upset the odds to lift a 28th championship in 2021 – never got going and were outclassed from start to finish on a torrid afternoon played in blustery conditions.

Ireland head coach Farrell was pleased with his side’s professionalism and echoed Sexton’s comments about scope for further development.

“To get a bonus-point win against a side like Wales is no mean feat,” said Farrell.

“Really pleased with certain aspects of our game and, like all first games are going to be, there’s plenty to work on as well.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was delighted with his side's performance at full-time

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell was delighted with his side’s performance at full-time

“The conditions were terrible out there. It was really, really difficult to kick in, to play in, it was slippery, it was blustery, it was tough.

“So, bringing all that together, Wales come here to win and to do a job on us and to be able to get a bonus-point win, we’re delighted with that.

“I thought our discipline and decision-making was great.”

Pivac: We were not able to match Ireland physically | Biggar: We’re better than that

Wayne Pivac paid special attention to the fact his Wales side lost out badly in the physicality stakes, admitting improvements are necessary.

“Collectively, we talked about the start we wanted – we wanted to match them physically,” the Wales coach said post-match.

“You have to do that when you come to Dublin, and our discipline needed to back that up. We were not able to do that – it was evident with the penalty count in the first 20 minutes.

“When you are defending for long periods like that – there were 100-odd tackles made in the first half – it makes it very difficult when we do get our hands on the ball.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac put the defeat down to a failure to match Ireland physically

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac put the defeat down to a failure to match Ireland physically

“It will be the performance you want to improve on. We will go away and work very hard, the players will look at their performance and come back in a positive frame and build on some of the good things that we did in that game.

“As I have alluded to, when you make over 100 tackles in a half, a bit of fatigue does set in. It happens to any side.

“I thought the boys came back very strongly in that last quarter of the game and kept fighting towards the end, which we want.

“We have to make sure [about] the start of both halves, because we gave them too many points in that part of the game. “

Dan Biggar, skipper for the first time from fly-half, summed up Wales’ performance as’ disappointing ‘

“The collisions in rugby, if you do not win them and especially against a team the way Ireland play, it was going to be a hard afternoon, and that is how it turned out. That will be a huge focus for us this week , along with the discipline, “he said.

“We are better than that today, really. We know we are better than that, and we have got to make sure we get a bit more edge to us in training this week.

Wales skipper Dan Biggar said afterwards: 'We're better than that'

Wales skipper Dan Biggar said afterwards: ‘We’re better than that’

“Not overthink things, because there is not a huge amount to fix. Physicality is a huge one, and discipline. I am really proud to lead the team out, but it was a disappointing afternoon, there is no doubt about that.”

What’s next?

Next up for Ireland is perhaps their toughest assignment on paper in this year’s championship, as they travel to face tournament favorites France in Paris next Saturday, February 12 (4.45pm kick off GMT).

Wales will host Scotland at the Principality Stadium, also on Saturday, February 12 (2.15pm kick off GMT), for their Round 2 fixture.

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