Jamie Heaslip faces a tough week trying to motivate his battle weary troops ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations finale in Rome following the “frustration” of playing out a 13-13 draw with France at the Aviva.
A disappointed skipper bemoaned the fact Ireland again left scoring opportunities slip and allowed their opponents back into a game there for the taking at half time.
It’s the third time this season Ireland’s energy levels have dropped so dramatically on the restart.
Heaslip agreed: “We would be disappointed because we dominated a large portion of the game; we worked well even in the second-half, got into their 22 and unfortunately didn’t get the scores. When they had the chance they got something from it. It’s hard to say how I feel after a draw. You’re not completely happy, but you’re not completely devastated either. We didn’t lose but we didn’t win either. There are going to be some positives and some negatives, but right now it’s a bit of a shocked dressing room.”
Head coach Declan Kidney was equally frustrated: “I’m disappointed for the players and supporters, we’re putting ourselves in good positions but not quite closing it out. We didn’t lose but we didn’t win and they probably squandered the same amount of chances as we did. On tiny margins such things exist, there was a decision against us when the scrum came up, they took a touch and go and scored.”
Kidney referred to the “little things” that went against Ireland, one of them a well aimed kick from substitute Eoin Reddan which hit the corner flag instead of bouncing into touch, and of the view from the officials that an elbow/shoulder charge by French replacement Vincent Debaty on Keith Earls was legal as the crowd called for a penalty.
His reading of that incident? “What I had from the ref’s mike was “try or no try” and “could you (Television Match Official) check for foul play”. Then it seemed to be re-run on the big screen and then there was a case of I’m (referee Steve Walsh) quite happy with the shoulder, so that seemed to take it out of the TMO’S hands and the focus was simply on whether it was a try or not.”
With more possession and more territory, Ireland still failed to win. Kidney’s frustration is that his injury hit and partly inexperienced team aren’t nailing more chances.
“Frustration is the word,” he admitted. “We’re knocking on the door, but haven’t closed one (door) off, we have a lot of new guys coming into the team and it is a question of exploiting that a bit better. One or two things go your way and all of a sudden it’s a completely different picture.
“But we did give France three easy outs in the first-half, a couple of infringements and that meant then we didn’t squeeze the pressure on them. We need to learn that we have to squeeze the pressure on them. The second half, we were camped on their line once, they were camped on our line once, they scored and we didn’t score, they came away with a try and we didn’t have any points so that is the thing we need to address.”
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