Wales head coach Warren Gatland believes there were many positives to take away despite his side falling to defeat to Ireland in Cardiff.
Tries from Owen Lane and Rhys Patchell proved in vein as Wales lost 22-17 at Principality Stadium.
The visitors were dominant in the first half and built a 22-3 lead with two tries from Jacob Stockdale alongside a penalty try.
However, Wales staged a second-half comeback thanks to tries from Lane and the impressive replacement Patchell to make it a tense finish but ultimately Ireland held on to defeat the Grand Slam champions.
Despite the defeat, Gatland was pleased with what he saw from his team in his final home game in charge.
“A few [questions were answered today],” said Gatland who must now make some tough choices when he names Wales’ 31-man World Cup squad on Sunday.
“It was a good exercise. Some people put up their hand. It was good from that point of view. A lot of players getting their first start and it was tough for them.
“But I’m happy with a lot that we got out of today. This group of players never give up. We were creators of our own downfall at times.”
The hosts made 14 changes coming into the game after their 13-6 victory over England a fortnight ago but struggled to live with an impressive Ireland side in the first hour.
Joe Schmidt’s team looked a more cohesive unit in both attack and defence and Gatland admits he was surprised at how Wales coped for large parts of the contest.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) August 31, 2019
He added: “I wasn’t expecting that. We trained really well during the week.
“We’ve missed a tackle and they’ve scored. We’re encouraging players to offload, and we told [Aaron] Shingler he made the right decision but the execution was poor.
“We’re not disappointed with the decision-making. We just need to keep improving the execution. We’ve given away nine set-piece penalties and that’s disappointing.
“We got back into it and, with another four or five minutes, we’d have had a good chance of winning. It’s disappointing but it’s not the end of the world.”
Simmering in the backdrop for Wales was the fight to be second fly-half for the World Cup behind Dan Biggar and both Jarrod Evans and Patchell got time to impress, but it was the latter who shone brighter.
“There’s no doubt that Rhys [Patchell] came on and did a good job,” Gatland added.
“But it’s a hell of a lot easier coming off the bench when there’s no pressure on you. It was hard for Jarrod in the first half when the team isn’t going as well as it could.”