Andy Farrell believes Ireland are ‘100%’ in Six Nations contention

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Brian Adam
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Andy Farrell is convinced Ireland remain in contention for Guinness Six Nations glory and praised his players for not collapsing to a “cricket score” during the chastening loss to England.

Ireland must quickly regroup after dreams of a Grand Slam were abruptly destroyed by an emphatic 24-12 defeat at Twickenham.

England head coach Eddie Jones claimed his side could have declared at half-time of Sunday’s one-sided contest after powering into a deserved 17-0 lead.

Ireland improved in the second period but were flattered by the final scoreline, with their overall performance raising serious questions about their title credentials.

Head coach Farrell remains defiant following the maiden defeat of his short reign and, asked if Ireland can reclaim the championship they last won in 2018, he replied: “100 per cent.

“We will take the learnings and the hurt as well. We will take the disappointment and again we need to make sure we get it to the last weekend.

“We are in it, you know, we are in a competition. We are in the same position as a few other teams and we need to be disappointed with this.”

Eddie Jones’ England dominated Sunday’s match (Adam Davy/PA)

Calamitous individual errors mixed with the hosts’ relentless aggression left the Irish with an insurmountable task in south-west London.

Ahead of the game, the spotlight had been firmly fixed on home coach Jones following England’s unconvincing start to the tournament and a bold team selection, coupled with some controversial remarks to the media.

The Australian’s game-plan was more than vindicated by a dominant success, prompting his smug cricket analogy.

“We played with a lot of control. We read the conditions well, read the referee well, and at half-time if it was a cricket game, we could have declared,” he said.

At half-time if it was a cricket game, we could have declared

Questioned on those provocative comments from his opposite number, Farrell replied: “Is that what he said?

“There are plenty of teams who would have been here – us included in the past – that when a (England) side have been brimming at half-time, they probably would have felt they could get to a cricket score.

“You know, we can give ourselves credit for that.

“We started the second half pretty well with a bit of intent and a good side like they are they came back, but we finished the game off strong.

<figcaption class='imgFCap lazyload'>Ireland’s Triple Crown hopes came to an end at Twickenham</figcaption>
Ireland’s Triple Crown hopes came to an end at Twickenham

“Some might say the scoreline flattered us but, at the end of the day, it is a 12-point margin, we could have rolled over against a side that were desperate today in England.

“But we didn’t and we gave ourselves as good a chance as any.”

Second-half scores from centre Robbie Henshaw and replacement prop Andrew Porter left the scoreboard looking respectable but, with a Triple Crown at stake, Ireland never threatened to build on wins over Scotland and Wales.

<figcaption class='imgFCap lazyload'>Fabien Galthie’s unbeaten France await Ireland on the final weekend of the competition (Adam Davy/PA)</figcaption>
Fabien Galthie’s unbeaten France await Ireland on the final weekend of the competition (Adam Davy/PA)

The Irish host pointless Italy on March 7 before travelling to Paris the following week for a potential title-decider against table-topping France.

Fabien Galthie’s new-look French side have so far swept aside all before them but Farrell insists they are not immune to setbacks and their easy-on-the-eye style can be disrupted.

“There will be ups and downs in their competition as well, we just have to make sure that when we go we try and not allow France to play the game they want to play,” said Farrell

“But first things first, let’s make sure we have got the right attitude, right intent to get the result we need against Italy.”

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