ANDREW Coombs was happy with his international debut on Saturday – and so he should be after an excellent display saw him emerge as Wales’ man of the match.
The superb Newport Gwent Dragons lock took his big opportunity with both hands and it would be a scandal should he not keep his place for Saturday’s showdown with France.
There are lies, damn lies and statistics, as Benjamin Disraeli once famously quipped.
But the numbers from the weekend’s 30-22 defeat to Ireland in Cardiff do stack up.
Because workaholic Coombs’ stats make for very impressive reading.
He was second to Dragons’ team-mate Toby Faletau in the amount of ball carries from either side by 19 to 17 and the second row won the most lineouts for Wales with five.
On making his debut, in which the hosts trailed 23-3 at the interval after a horrific start, Coombs, 28, said: “It was exciting, it was an emotional one, but it was disappointing, because we came here to get the win.
“We didn’t start particularly well and I think in any game if you start like that it is going to be a tough slog to bring it back.
“In fairness to the boys we worked the Irish defence out a little, we started carrying the ball lower and harder and we started to get a little bit of joy from that.
“It was a good one for me personally, but I’m just disappointed with the result.”
The former Newport captain and Pontypool converted back-rower added: “I felt like I got through quite a lot of work, I made one or two errors which I was disappointed with but overall I think I went really well and I’ve had positive feedback from the coaches.”
But Coombs isn’t going to rest on his laurels and is focused for Wales’ visit to Paris’ Stade de France on Saturday evening.
“We have got to work hard now this week, work out where we went wrong, and then turn up in France and make sure we start early,” he said.
“I think we can take a lot of positives from that second half and if we can go and play like that then I’m confident we can get a win out there.”
Wales were as impressive in the second half as they were staggeringly incompetent in the opening 40 minutes.
Coombs struggled to explain his side’s painfully slow start.
“I can’t really put my finger on it, I think it’s for the coaches to identify, but one thing I would say is that from being on the field, I think we needed a little bit more territory early on, and basically to cut out little mistakes,” he said.
“I think we got turned over twice which resulted in Ireland attacking down the field, so if we can hold on to the ball and not make as many mistakes and get a little bit more territory I think we will be firing on all cylinders.”