Ireland captain Rory Best retains Six Nations belief

Ireland winger Andrew Trimble tackles Wales' Liam Williams
Ireland winger Andrew Trimble tackles Wales' Liam Williams

Captain Rory Best insists Ireland are still in the hunt for the Six Nations title in spite of being unable to topple Wales in Dublin yesterday.

The defending champions opened their campaign with a 16-16 draw against Wales at the Aviva Stadium in a hugely physical contest.

Ireland had led 13-0 after two early Jonathan Sexton penalties and Conor Murray’s try which Sexton converted on 26 minutes.

By the break, Wales had reduced the advantage to three points with a try from number eight Taulupe Faletau and a conversion and earlier penalty from replacement outhalf Rhys Priestland who had come on for Dan Biggar.

Eight minutes from the end of an absorbing contest Priestland kicked Wales into the lead for the first time, but two minutes later Sexton ensured a draw for the champions.

Best admitted it was a “strange result” but insisted Ireland were still firmly in the hunt to retain their Six Nations crown.

“But at 16-13 and you look at the Welsh defence we are probably reasonably happy with the draw,” Best said.

“A draw still keeps us in the championship and it’s a lot better than a loss.”

Ireland now have a short turnaround ahead of going to Paris for another physical contest against France.

Best added: “I think we have to concentrate on the bits of the performance we’re very happy with and there are bits we know we can do a lot better with.”