DUBLIN, Feb 1 (Reuters) - New coach Andy Farrell saw glimpses of the kind of attacking play he wants his Ireland side to adopt but it was their customary grit that pleased him most in Saturday’s 19-12 Six Nations victory over Scotland.
Ireland appeared to jettison some of the precisely rehearsed power plays that were a trademark of Farrell’s predecessor Joe Schmidt in favour of running the ball a lot more from deep.
Farrell, a former dual-code English international, conceded the shift drew mixed results at the Aviva Stadium.
Flyhalf Johnny Sexton scored all 19 points in a scrappy performance that will need to be improved upon if Ireland are to be serious contenders in this year’s championship.
“I thought there were some glimpses, I thought we got too carried away at times. Some of the decision making was good, some of it was a bit wayward. Those type of things are going to be a work in progress,” Farrell told a news conference.
“But we asked the boys to stand for something and it was true Irish grit out there and the rest of it we’ll keep building on... We had to fight and dig deep plenty of times. Our performance, you can sum it up in the last five minutes really.”
Unable to put the inefficient visitors away, Ireland defended ferociously on their line at the end of the game to stop the Scots from grabbing a draw and spoiling the day for Farrell, who served as defence coach under Schmidt.
After last season began to go off the rails with an opening home Six Nations defeat by England, culminating in World Cup disappointment, Sexton was just pleased to get up and running.
“The first game of this tournament is all about winning,” said the Leinster number 10, who was appointed captain by Farrell last month.
“Last year, we talk about the England game here. Triple Crown gone, Grand Slam gone, battling to try and even win a championship. We’re alive in everything and that’s where we want to be.
“It’s always difficult to come together and have a perfect game but I thought we saw glimpses of what we can do and some of the ideas that we had.” (Reporting by Padraic Halpin Editing by Christian Radnedge)