Rob Kearney has urged Ireland’s supporters to stick with the team as they strive to finally click into top gear for the last two games of this season’s RBS 6 Nations.
Ireland go into their remaining fixtures at the Aviva Stadium against Italy on March 12 and Scotland a week later still seeking their first win of the championship, the defending champions having drawn with Wales in Dublin and then lost in Paris and London.
Saturday’s 21-10 defeat by England at Twickenham has left Ireland struggling in fifth place in the Six Nations standings, but the full-back believes he and his team-mates came agonisingly close to making they came agonisingly close to making the breakthrough. Debutant Josh van der Flier was denied a try by the TMO that he thought he had grounded, while a last-ditch Jack Nowell tackle on Robbie Henshaw stopped another score as Ireland once again failed to convert the chances they created.
Now Kearney believes a bit of luck is all that’s required.
“We’ve been saying that for the last couple of weeks and I suppose maybe people have been getting a little bit frustrated that we haven’t been close to positions of taking opportunities,” Kearney said.
“I think today we showed a little bit more, that we were very close, on another day Josh’s would have been given and Robbie was just six inches out from getting that score.
“So yeah, big time, stick with us. We’re working unbelievably hard behind the scenes and we’ll reflect and analyse this game massively and we’ll continue to strive to keep improving and keep going forward.”
The presence of debutants van der Flier, Stuart McCloskey, and Ultan Dillane in the matchday squad with CJ Stander earning just his third cap pointed to an injury-hit team in the midst of transition, Kearney agreed.
“We probably are. It happens to every team and you go through periods of transition. When there’s a lot of injuries and guys unavailable, it sort of forces you through a little transition too.
“In saying that, it’s important that we don’t use that as an excuse either, we have to be very rational about it.
“The guys who do take the field have to make sure they’re doing a job... I do think our performance today was a lot better than over the last couple of weeks, but just those couple of opportunities, if we can take them at the outset of that game I think it would be very different.
Van der Flier thought he had taken his opportunity when he charged over the line with England’s Elliot Daly in close attendance only for the TMO to rule there was no clear evidence the Leinster 22-year-old had grounded the ball. “I thought I scored it,” said van der Flier.
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