WARREN Gatland may have seen his new-look side fall to a third successive defeat in the Guinness Six Nations, but he remains convinced there is light at the end of the tunnel.

As Ireland took another step towards becoming the first team to win back-to-back Grand Slams in the Six Nations era with their 18th straight win at the Aviva Stadium, and a record equalling 11th consecutive championship victory, the Wales head coach still had some positives to ponder after a 31-7 loss in Dublin.

“I think the scoreline probably didn’t reflect the effort we put in. At 17-7, attacking in their 22, we didn’t come away with anything,” said Gatland, who is appearing at Monmouth’s Blake Theatre after the Six Nations tournament to talk about all things rugby on Sunday, April 28.

“If we’d come away with something, maybe things might have been closer. We just didn’t get any foothold in the game in that first-half.

“But I have no doubt where we’re going. This team is going to be an excellent team going forward, when we get some more experience.

“We’ve said all along that it’s about the development of this team and learning. They’ve played against one of the best teams in the world.Eight or nine of them are over 30 and have been around for a while. So, it’s just making sure we keep working hard, doing what we’re doing and looking forward to the next game.

“Just about the pace, the intensity and the physicality. The accuracy and the decision-making. Those are the big learnings for a number of players out there.”“We showed some great heart and character, but the scoreline probably reflects where the two sides are in terms of their experience,” he said.

“I was disappointed with that first-half, it was difficult to get momentum. I think it was only 13 minutes ball in play time, although I’m not sure the players of both teams were responsible for the amount of stoppages in that first-half.”

It was the third time this campaign that Wales had gone a whole half without scoring any points. They were 20-0 down at the interval against Scotland, failed to add to their 14-point first half tally in the second half at Twickenham, and found themselves trailing 17-0 in the Irish capital.

“There were a couple of tough calls against us in that first-half, so it was difficult to get some momentum. Between the two 22s they won more collisions and got more go-forward,” added Gatland.

“I can’t question the ability of the players and how hard they worked, but we probably weren’t as clinical as we wanted to be. There were a few turnovers in a few areas.

“That didn’t give us the opportunity to shift the ball and play. But they’re a good side both on defence and attack, so we didn’t create a huge amount of space.

“We’ve got to take it on the chin. Even for that first-half, we came out and stayed in the game and showed some real character and fight up to the 70-minute point.”

Wales next host France in Cardiff on Sunday, March 10.

Grassroots rugby returns this Saturday (March 2) with fixtures including Bedlinog v Monmouth, Risca v Abergavenny, Usk v Abertillery BG, Chepstow v Fleur De Lys.