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Roberts promises maximum effort


Jamie Roberts has backed Wales to bounce back against France

Jamie Roberts has backed Wales to bounce back against France

Jamie Roberts has backed Wales to bounce back against France

Jamie Roberts has vowed that Wales will go "hammer and tongs" at France later this month after seeing their RBS 6 Nations title quest assume mission improbable proportions.

Wales departed Dublin on Sunday reeling from the experience of a shattering Six Nations-low under coach Warren Gatland.

The 26-3 Aviva Stadium annihilation was Wales' heaviest loss in 32 Six Nations Tests since Gatland took charge in early 2008 and their biggest for eight years after Ireland crushed them 31-5 at the old Lansdowne Road.

Alarmingly, it could - and probably should - have been even worse from a Welsh perspective, given Ireland's overwhelming dominance up-front and unforgivable technical indiscipline by the visitors.

And a remarkable salvage job is now required if Wales are to have any hope of achieving their often-stated aim of completing an unprecedented Six Nations title hat-trick.

France are next up at the Millennium Stadium in 12 days' time, then Wales face a Twickenham appointment with England before hosting hapless Scotland. Even if they win all three games, they still need other results to work for them.

"We must bounce back," Wales centre Roberts said. "The Six Nations is a tournament you can rectify pretty easily.

"We lost one game last year, but still won the championship. We have to beat France, that's the next big target. Everything will go into that 80 minutes and there is no excuses from there on in.

"Ireland are two (wins) from two and they will be delighted, but it is a long tournament and there will be a lot of twists and turns, which is the beauty of the Six Nations.

"It's back to the drawing board. But don't worry, we will be hammer and tongs against France."

Man-of-the-match Peter O'Mahony said he felt that Ireland had "wanted it more" than Wales, although that suggestion earned a sharp response from Roberts.

"I don't think that is fair," he added. "You always go into a game of rugby wanting it.

"To hear those comments is quite frustrating, but it was not a matter of each of us not wanting it, we were not good enough.

"It's very hard to take, but that is sport. It's very important now that we analyse the game and we bounce back and don't point fingers.

"The great thing about the tournament is that we have a chance to rectify things very quickly."

When Wales begin to pick through the wreckage, much of their analysis will focus on the forwards' collective inefficiency that was reflected by a shambolic lineout, being battered at the breakdown and recklessly conceding penalties. They also failed abysmally to cope with Ireland's renowned driving maul.

"Yes, it's frustrating, but what I won't do is to point fingers at the forwards," Roberts said.

"We've lost many games for Wales because it was the fault of the backs, but you win and lose as a team, so it's important that we share the blame among the team and that we bounce back.

"Look, we were hammering away on their line on 60 minutes, but give Ireland credit, they defended very well when we were on their line.

"Fair play to them. It's moments like that which win Six Nations (titles). We've been there as a team over the last few years, and they will be pleased by that. They kept us at bay, defensively.

"At times in the second-half we got a few line breaks and created problems, but we did not capitalise on them.

"Ireland defended very well and we could not get a platform off lineout or scrum. Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say you got beaten by a better team."