Ireland to tighten defence for All Blacks
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ireland will be out to avoid giving away soft tries when they face the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The Irish impressed by scoring five tries in their 40-29 win over the All Blacks two weeks ago. However, they also conceded four tries in that match and another three in their win over Canada last week.
"We are not going to be able to give away soft scores like that this weekend," Ireland hooker Sean Cronin told Irish media.
"That's a big area for us, on D [defence], especially when they get into our 22. There is a big focus there. That's a big key area that we can look to up a few percent in the game at the weekend."
"The All Blacks were missing star lock Brodie Retallick and Samuel Whitelock for the first meeting at Soldier Field in Chicago. However, both are in line to start against the Irish in Dublin.
"We know we have world-class players. As long as we get the attitude right, the physicality and the mentality, we know we can match anyone, but it's going to have to go up there, it's going to have to go up a few points to beat them at the weekend," said Cronin.
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt added: "They'd had 18 wins in a row and while they'd spent a lot of time together, a lot of that time had Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock in their second row or, if not those guys, Luke Romano.
"Patrick Tuipulotu hadn't played a lot, so to have that big reshuffle in their second row, getting three line-out balls in the first half helped us.
"Then, even in the back-end of the game, Ryan Crotty has been outstanding for them. He's been the real linchpin. It's been him and Malakai Fekitoa, him and Anton Lienert-Brown, or him and George Moala, so he's been the heart of their midfield attack and defence, organising and striking some really good lines.
"Losing him when we lost Jordi [Murphy] was a blow for them and then losing Moala as well and ending up with Ardie Savea on the wing, it did allow us to manage the end game with a little bit more calmness and a little bit more proactive intent than sitting back," he said.