Six Nations 2013: Rob Howley rues poor Wales start v Ireland

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Six Nations Wales 22-30 Ireland: post-match reaction

Wales interim coach Rob Howley was unhappy with his side for a poor start that let Ireland build a healthy lead in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff.

Ireland were 20-0 ahead within half-an-hour with tries from Simon Zebo and Cian Healy and, despite a better second half from Wales, went on to win 30-22.

"We didn't start well, you need a foothold in the game," Howley said.

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Ireland win a thrilling encounter at the Millennium Stadium as they beat defending champions Wales 30-22 in the opening match of the 2013 Six Nations.

"You can't give any international side the space and time on the ball which we gave in the first 20 minutes."

Wales' lowest point came as they slumped to 30-3 down, but produced a stirring recovery with tries from wing Alex Cuthbert, full-back Leigh Halfpenny and substitute prop Craig Mitchell.

Ireland were under extreme pressure that saw hooker Rory Best and scrum-half Conor Murray sin-binned, but Wales' poor start ultimately left them too much to do.

The defeat was Wales' eighth in a row and the reverse in Cardiff meant that Wales have now lost five successive home games for the first time in their history.

"It was a game of contrasting halves; I thought the first 20 minutes was key in terms of a couple of turnovers, they dominated both territory and possession and obviously they took their chances," Howley added.

"We showed great character and resilience second half to come back into it, but we probably left three or four tries out there as well.

"To score three tries and be on the losing side, you look back and that first 20 minutes was key.

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Biggar 'disappointed and frustrated'

"We were down on possession, down on territory and we kept on giving Ireland the opportunity to come back at us. So that's an area of concern and an area we need to focus on and work on."

Wales, the defending Grand Slam champions, now face the daunting prospect of a trip to the Stade de France next Saturday to take on a buoyant France side.

"This group of players will keep playing and they showed great character, and within the second half we've created some two-on-ones three or four times," Howley said.

"It's just making that right decision under pressure... we talked all week about starting well and we didn't start well and as a result Ireland put points on the scoreboard early."

WALES SQUAD:

Forwards: Scott Andrews (Blues), Craig Mitchell (Exeter Chiefs), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Paul James (Bath), Gethin Jenkins (Toulon), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Matthew Rees (Scarlets), Ryan Jones (Ospreys), Lou Reed (Blues), Ian Evans (Ospreys), James King (Ospreys), Andrew Coombs (Dragons), Olly Kohn (Harlequins), Josh Turnbull (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Blues), Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Sam Warburton (Blues), Toby Faletau (Dragons), Andries Pretorius (Blues)

Backs: Tavis Knoyle (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Bayonne), Lloyd Williams (Blues), Dan Biggar (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Alex Cuthbert (Blues), George North (Scarlets), Eli Walker (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Liam Williams (Scarlets), Lee Byrne (Clermont).

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