By Steffan Thomas
Warren Abrahams insists Wales Women will learn the lessons from their thumping 45-0 defeat to Ireland and become a better side in the long run.
South African Abrahams has quickly joined the long line of beaten Welsh coaches who talk about absorbing lessons, learning, progress, better days ahead, jam tomorrow, etc.
That is after just two matches – both one-sided, heavy defeats in which Wales’ most encouraging moments came when they did no more than simply stem the flow of tries being conceded.
The 53-0 defeat away to France last week was expected – given the gulf in domestic opportunities and resources between the countries – but the Ireland game was meant to present a more level playing field.
Instead, it was uphill most of the way for Wales who were “nilled’ for the second week running and conceded seven tries.
Abrahams is bitterly disappointed with the results, but is confident Wales have the players to turn it around.
“There’s some incredible lessons in there and hopefully it will make us better as a team going forward,” said Abrahams.
“We all need to go and critically review ourselves both as a collective and individually. I need to do that myself and my coaching team, management, and players, all of us.
“It just wasn’t good enough, but I believe in this squad. I’ve seen how they train, and I’ve seen the potential we have in this squad.
“We just need to keep believing. These tough moments will definitely bring us closer together as a group and the key thing is if we learn from these tough lessons, keep developing, and keep progressing then hopefully we can turn this around.”
Wales conceded five tries in what was an outstanding first half performance from Ireland who never let up.
To their credit Wales showed character in the second half, rolling up their sleeves to make life more difficult for the Irish.
Full-back Eimear Considine and wing Beibhinn Parsons scored two tries each to help secure a bonus point inside the opening 20 minutes, with Sene Naoupu running in a fifth before the interval.
Wales, outclassed away to France in their opening Pool B fixture, at least managed to stem the flow during the second half.
It was not until the 72nd minute that Dorothy Wall added a sixth try for Ireland, with Hannah Tyrrell scoring late on to wrap up a comprehensive victory.
Abrahams insists he won’t be afraid to make big changes ahead of their Six Nations play-off clash in two weeks’ time, with a number of young players having impressed him.
“We’ve got to go and look at every bit of detail from our preparation, from our practice design, our tactical approach to the game and each individual,” said Abrahams.
“We’ve got to go and look at it and we’ve got to figure out if it needs to be a different blend or not.
“It’s my responsibility as head coach to look at where we got it wrong and turn it around as quickly as possible. If it means we’ve got to make some changes then so be it.
“There’s some good young players in this squad we are excited about for the future.”
Wales captain Siwan Lillicrap admitted: “We didn’t start with the right intent and that set the tone for the game.
“We were a little better in the second half, but we just weren’t good enough overall and that’s the reality.
“We’ve got to make our one-on-one shots – that’s non-negotiable. We weren’t good enough at the scrum and line-out either and that’s something we’ve got to look at.
“But there’s no finger pointing. We’ve all got to reflect on our performances – maybe I didn’t bring enough to the table. The main thing is that we learn lessons.
“We’ve got to try and make sure our heads don’t drop. It’s emotional now but it’s important we reflect, put in the hard work and finish on a high on finals day.”
Wales: Robyn Wilkins (Gloucester-Hartpury); Lisa Neumann (Sale Sharks), Hannah Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), Kerin Lake (Gloucester-Hartpury), Courtney Keight (Bristol Bears); Elinor Snowsill (Bristol Bears), Jess Roberts (Sale Sharks); Cara Hope (Gloucester-Hartpury), Kelsey Jones (Gloucester-Hartpury), Cerys Hale (Gloucester-Hartpury), Natalia John (Bristol Bears), Gwen Crabb (Gloucester-Hartpury), Georgia Evans (Saracens), Manon Johnes (Bristol Bears), Siwan Lillicrap (capt, Bristol Bears).
Replacements: Molly Kelly (Sale Sharks), Caryl Thomas (Worcester Warriors), Donna Rose (Saracens), Teleri Wyn Davies (Sale Sharks), Bethan Dainton (Harlequins), Megan Davies (Exeter Chiefs), Niamh Terry (Exeter Chiefs), Caitlin Lewis (Cardiff Met).
Ireland: Eimear Considine (Munster); Lauren Delany (Sale Sharks), Eve Higgins (Leinster), Sene Naoupu (Leinster), Beibhinn Parsons (Connacht); Hannah Tyrrell (Leinster), Kathryn Dane (Ulster); Lindsay Peat (Leinster), Cliodhna Moloney (Wasps), Linda Djougang (Leinster), Aoife McDermott (Leinster), Nichola Fryday (Connacht), Dorothy Wall (Munster), Claire Molloy (Wasps), Ciara Griffin (Munster).
Replacements: Neve Jones (Ulster), Katie O’Dwyer (Leinster), Laura Feely (Connacht), Brittany Hogan (Ulster), Hannah O’Connor (Leinster), Emily Lane (Munster), Stacey Flood (Leinster), Enya Breen (Munster).
Referee: Hollie Davidson (SRU).