Bok comeback still haunts Irish

Wed, 16 Nov 2016 13:33
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ireland still vividly remember how they let a first-ever series win over South Africa slip out of their hands.

Now, on in the build-up to their return encounter with the All Blacks, the Irish are determined to take that lesson to heart.

After beating the Springboks 26-20 in the opening Test of the three-match June series, Ireland twice held a 16-point lead (19-3 at half-time and 26-10 after 60 minutes), only for the Boks to rally and record a 32-26 win.

The Boks also came from behind (3-10) in the third Test to win 19-13.

After their historic first-ever win over the All Blacks in Chicago a fortnight ago, the men from the Emerald Isle are wary of letting another chance of a first series win over an opponent slip out of their grasp.

Veteran prop Jack McGrath said they "learned a lot" from their trip to South Africa.

"We had them [the Springboks] and we let them back in," the prop told the Irish Times.

"It was 26-10 with [just under] 20 minutes to go. You can't, at international level, let a team come back and win with 20 minutes to go when you are that far up - it is blasphemy.

"In that regard we probably learned a lot from that tour alone.

"I thought we finished off the game against New Zealand in Chicago, when it was pretty tight, we went and we attacked them," McGrath added.

"We can't rest on our laurels, we are at home, we are in front of our families and it is going to be an emotional day.

"We know how dangerous they are and they are going to have their guys - Brodie Retallick, Sam Whitelock and Jerome Kaino - back in the back row and second row.

For them alone in the line-out they make it so much more solid and that's an area they faltered against us in Chicago.

"For us it is not patting ourselves on the back; there is plenty of things we could improve on from Chicago," the prop said.

"We know they weren't at their best; we will definitely [have to] be at our best on the weekend.

"It was a really confidence-boosting thing [to win in Chicago], especially with the amount of young guys on the team.

"You'd have to feel great for the guys who have been there for 10 to 12 years plugging away; the likes of Rory [Best] being the first to captain a winning team against the All Blacks is a huge thing.

"Personally, I just want more and more of that."

* Meanwhile Conor Murray trained fully on Tuesday and is set to be cleared to play against New Zealand on Saturday.

The scrumhalf, Ireland's outstanding performer in their historic win over the All Blacks in Chicago, is struggling with a muscle injury and did not train on Monday.

He carried the problem into the Soldier Field victory, according to Richie Murphy, who explained that he hadn't practised his kicking before landing a penalty during the second half.

Murray sat out last weekend's win over Canada along with 14 of the other starters and is expected to go straight back into the starting XV this week.

Source: Irish Times