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Irish fairytale becomes a nightmare


FRUSTRATED: Ireland captain Rory Best. Pic: Sportsfile

FRUSTRATED: Ireland captain Rory Best. Pic: Sportsfile

FRUSTRATED: Ireland captain Rory Best. Pic: Sportsfile

Rory Best cited the set-piece and discipline as the reasons behind Ireland's failure to fire a shot against Wales in Cardiff.

"There are a couple of big areas that we really pride ourselves on to get us into the game.

"That's usually our set-piece and our discipline and both of those let us down," said the captain.

The decision of Joe Schmidt to opt for an open roof immediately backfired when Hadleigh Parkes' try for a dream start after just two minutes t urned into an 80-minute nightmare for the Irish.

"Obviously, with the conditions being what they were, to go so quickly into a 10-0 margin behind is incredibly frustrating.

"It just puts pressure on you and pressure can do very strange things to you," stated Best.

"You have to force it then a little bit and they've got their tails up and there was a little bit of a release of pressure for them because there was a vast amount of pressure and expectation going into a Grand Slam game."

Best knew what he was talking about given the same oval ball was in the other hand twelve months ago when Ireland did exactly that to England in Twickenham on St Patrick's weekend.

"We know what it was like from 12 months ago," he said.

"All you want is to get into the game and be able to fire the first shot and they did that and never looked back.

"We'll take a look at why those bits that are normally so strong for us let us down.

"We were incredibly disappointed by that."

Of course, it wasn't all about what Ireland didn't do. It had a hell of a lot to do with what Wales did to them.

"You have to give them credit," admitted Best.

"They came out very, very hard and very, very fast and they were able to then go really hard at the defence and put us under pressure."

The 36-year-old hooker will carry this loss as one of the lowest points of his super-successful captaincy.

"On your last Six Nations game, you want it to be a fairytale," he rued.

"You want to win and to win in a place like this would have been a massive statement for the team.

"It would have involved us having a massive performance and that's what you want to go out on.

"You don't want to go out on a performance that, individually and collectively, you're not happy with."

The Banbridge man will return home with little time to dwell on what might have been for the Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster is less than two weeks away.