Ireland head coach Greg McWilliams said that "everything that could have gone wrong went wrong" in the first half of their 31-5 defeat to Wales in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff.

The hosts had effectively wrapped up the game by half-time, captain Hannah Jones running in for their fourth try shortly after the half hour mark to leave the scoreline at 26-0 at the break, Ireland already reduced to a hopeless cause.

The scrum, in particular, was a disastrous source of weakness for the visitors in the first half, the powerful Welsh pack asserting an astonishing level of superiority over the comparatively light Irish tight-five.

Reflecting afterwards, McWilliams, who assumed the role in late 2021 after the failure to qualify for last year's World Cup, admitted that the game highlighted how Ireland had lagged behind Wales in their development.

"I'm not going to pretend that we're not disappointed. We have to own that performance," McWilliams told reporters.

"We know where we are. Wales are a little bit further ahead of us. You can see that in their development.

"They overpowered us in the first half and we learned some really valuable lessons. Like anything, you've just got to learn the lessons, create a plan and make sure you aim to be better the next time you play."

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Asked to pinpoint the areas of weakness in the first half, McWilliams instanced the breakdown and the physical battle as areas where Ireland needed to improve.

He did, however, insist that Ireland were a better team than they showed in the Welsh capital.

"I thought it was 31-0 (at half-time) so I was happy that it was better than I thought it was. It's really hard.

"In that first half, everything that could go wrong went wrong. That's not to make excuses. Wales were very clinical, they were very powerful. Their set-piece was outstanding. They just didn't let us get the ball.

"We've got to look at our performance, particularly around the breakdown. And the attack, making sure we have a bit more energy in what we do.

"It's a tough time. There's no doubt about it. It's important now we rally around the players. And we get ready for a big week in our prep ahead of France in Cork."

"The physicality was very strong in Wales. It's something we're improving all the time. I think we're better than how we played today, for sure. It was just one of those days when things went against us. We own that and we've got to move on.

"We have to make sure that the next time we're in those situations, we're going to be better, particularly around the physicality that Wales brought, that's something we're going to have to work hard on to close the gap and be more competitive."