Howley frustrated by Wales display
Interim head coach Rob Howley bemoaned a nightmare start to Wales' RBS 6 Nations title defence after his side's comeback effort fell short in a 30-22 defeat to Ireland in Cardiff.
Wales trailed by 30 points to three early in the second half as tries from Simon Zebo, Cian Healy and the magnificent Brian O'Driscoll put Ireland in command. The hosts bravely rallied but they had left themselves far too much to do and tries from Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny and Craig Mitchell were not enough to prevent an eighth successive defeat.
"It is frustrating and disappointing. With the way we started we allowed Ireland a foothold," said Howley. "The key in any international game is territory and possession and we came second by a very long way."
He added: "Ireland's kicking game, combined with our lack of accuracy at the contact area, allowed them field position, the pressure built and built and built and they took their opportunities.
"On the other hand, in the second half we played a lot of good rugby, had a good impact off the bench and scored three tries. But in that first 20 minutes we need to focus - we spoke all week about starting well and we didn't."
While Wales now face the daunting task of a trip to face France in Paris next weekend, Ireland will host England with valuable momentum behind them.
The imperious O'Driscoll was a central figure in their victory, and Ireland coach Declan Kidney hopes he will grace this tournament for at least another year.
"Brian will make up his own mind. I would not like to sway him one way over the other," he said. "The bottom line is you would love to have the guy around forever wouldn't you? But if you look at the performance he put in today, that is not easy on the body.
"Huge credit to him, given the amount of game time he has had, to come out and give such an international-class performance like he did today.
"It is wrong to say it doesn't surprise you, as normally you should not be able to pull out a performance like that with the amount of game time he has under his belt. With Brian it is just a privilege to be working with him."