Ireland

Kidney left frustrated by Irish flops

Sun, 18 Mar 2012 00:00
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"I know we're better than that," was Ireland coach Declan Kidney's verdict as a Six Nations Championship that promised so much for his side ended with a thumping 30-9 defeat by England at Twickenham.

The loss saw Kidney's men finish in third place behind Grand Slam champions Wales and second-placed England.

Ireland's campaign faltered at the first hurdle where they squandered a lead in the closing stages at home to Wales in a 23-21 defeat and they then let slip an 11-point half-time lead in a 17-17 draw with France.

That match in Paris had to be rescheduled following a postponement minutes before kick-off due to a frozen Stade de France pitch and left Ireland having to play four matches on successive weekends.

They also had to play the whole tournament without Brian O'Driscoll (shoulder injury) while fellow British and Irish Lions captain Paul O'Connell missed the final two weeks of the tournament with a knee injury.

Saturday's match saw England overwhelm Ireland at the scrum, their first of two tries coming as a result of a 57th minute penalty try from the set-piece and the Irish who, saw tighthead prop Mike Ross go off injured in the first half, never got going.

"That was extremely painful. You never like losing and you never like losing 30-9, especially on St Patrick's Day against England," Kidney said.

"All credit to England, they played well and deserved to win. I know we're better than that, we were well beaten."

As for the scrum, Kidney said: "I wasn't surprised by what happened at the scrum because Mike Ross got a crick on his neck at the first scrum and managed to play for half an hour after that.

"Tom Court came on and went valiantly, but our balance was off. That was always on the cards because we have guys who don't have huge tighthead experience playing for Ireland at the moment.

"It's something we'll have to work on and bring more Irish guys through."

Ireland captain Rory Best, who saw the scrum problems first hand from his position at hooker, added: "There's no real hiding from what happened. From the first scrum they took hold of us and didn't let us breathe.

"It's bitterly disappointing as a front row and front five. The scrum is something we pride ourselves on. The last 18 months we've talked about it and used it as a strength.

"We're happy to take the pats on the back when it goes well so equally when it goes wrong we must stand up and take responsibility."

Worryingly for Ireland, their next international matches are away to world champions New Zealand, renowned for their forward power.

"Unfortunately, it will be three months before we get to wear an Irish jersey and it (this defeat) will hurt for all that time," said Best. "The error count was unacceptable."

AFP

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