George North: Wales coach Rob Howley pleased with two-try wing

Wales coach Rob Howley praised two-try wing George North and said he was proud of his team after their 22-9 Six Nations win over Ireland.

North's defending was criticised by defence coach Shaun Edwards in the build-up to the game after a lacklustre display against Scotland.

But the Northampton Saints back touched down in each half against Ireland in an eye-catching performance.

"George is a world-class international player," said Howley.

"Look, we all have bad games and George was the first to put his hand up after the Scotland game and say he needed to do better.

"And he certainly did that, he had a number of touches and when he gets five metres from the try-line he's very difficult to stop.

"His ambition and intent was impressive and his try in the second half down the short-side was very smart play.

George North
George North scored a try against Italy but missed the England game with a bruised thigh

"We want him on ball as much as possible and Liam Williams did very well and made important tackles."

Wales' win followed defeats by England and Scotland and they face France in Paris in their final match on Saturday, 18 March.

Howley said he was impressed by the way his team bounced back from the 29-13 defeat by Scotland.

"I'm delighted and just so proud of the players. They deserve all the praise they get," she said.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, meanwhile, said the yellow card handed to fly-half Johnny Sexton by referee Wayne Barnes just before half time was crucial as Wales scored 10 points while he was off the field.

"I thought that was a key turning point and Wales were very smart," he said.

Schmidt said he was "incredibly frustrated" by Ireland's failure to score during a period of second-half dominance, and singled out an incident when centre Robbie Henshaw was penalised at a maul when Ireland seemed certain to score and potentially take a 17-16 lead with six minutes left.

"It's hugely frustrating when you get over the line and get the ball down and a player who has no material effect gets sanctioned - correctly - for making a mistake," he said.

"But we can't wallow in pity with what we've got coming up next week. We want to finish in the top half of the Six Nations, that's important to us."

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