Saturday 23 March 2019

Paul O'Connell: The Welsh result didn't change our game plan

Declan Whooley

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell says that the Welsh demolition of Italy in Rome in the day's opening game didn't alter the Irish strategy against Scotland.

Warren Gatland's side put themselves to the top of the Six Nations table with a 61-20 victory over the Azzurri with a blitzing second half at the Stadio Olimpico.

21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
21 March 2015; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell goes over to score his side's first try, his seventh career try, in the fifth minute of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Scotland v Ireland. BT Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

The result meant Ireland had to defeat the Scots by at least 21 points, a feat they managed with two tries in either half in what was a highly impressive performance from the reigning champions.

While Ireland won out 40-10 winners at the end of the 80 minutes, O'Connell was asked post-match if the Welsh scoreline altered the mindset of his team.

"We knew before we went out but I don't think it changed how we are going to play or what we plan to do," he said.

"A lot of the guys are experienced from playing in the Heineken Cup and the Champions Cup when you come to the last weekends and you might need a bonus point to qualify but you know it's the most dangerous thing to, to start playing like you're trying to win it in the first minute."

"We knew we had certain things to do and certain things we thought we could do that would produce results for us. It was all about focusing on that."

The skipper, who may be appearing in his final Six Nations game, admitted that there were many learnings taken from the disappointing defeat in Cardiff last time out.

"We brought a lot of the good things from last week, we probably brought a few of the bad things from last week as well, but it was great."

The Munster lock hasn't allowed himself to imagine picking up the championship trophy for the second successive year with England set to do battle with France and O'Connell is expecting a titanic tussle in London.

"I think England are a great side and France are potentially a great side, it will be a great game. It's hard to know what will happen."

Man-of-the-match Sean O'Brien also paid tribute to the determination of his team-mates to stick to the plan.

"I think we executed very well and did all we could do - and hopefully it goes our way," he said.

"It was important we came out and expressed ourselves. Driving into the ground and seeing all the Irish support put a chill up our backs.

"We had to go out and stick to our process, try and win the game first and foremost and let the scoreboard look after itself."

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