Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony has urged supporters not to place too much store in their side’s below-par performance at Twickenham, ahead of the upcoming World Cup.
Back-to-back Six Nations champions Ireland kick off their Pool D campaign in 12 days time against Canada at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff but will do so having lost their last two pre-tournament Tests over successive weekends, going down at home to Wales in Dublin on August 29 and then slumping to a 21-13 loss against World Cup hosts England Saturday.
Yet the Munster captain suggested there would be no pressing of panic buttons just yet in the Ireland camp.
“Look, I wouldn’t get carried away with one game. We’ve had a big 18 months and it’s something we will take a lot of confidence from,” O’Mahony said. “There were positives today. When we did have the ball we felt we looked quite dangerous.
“We lacked a bit of accuracy, dropped a few balls in good positions which is uncharacteristic. But we are certainly building nicely what we want to build. We have a huge amount to work on but we have two weeks now to get it right, rest the bodies, get back to the drawing board and train well before we kick it off.”
Asked to specify which areas they may need to work on back at training camp in Kildare, O’Mahony added: “I think you saw the things today, we’ve got to mind the ball. Against good teams like this you want to hold onto the ball. If you do you are going to be effective.
“When we got to six, seven, eight phases we broke down, which is uncharacteristic. It’s something we want to cut out and the defensive errors. We’ll review it and move on.”
The Corkman echoed head coach Joe Schmidt’s praise for the way Ireland fought back from 15-3 down just after half-time to 15-13 just eight minutes after the break, still in the game until two late penalties from England’s sub fly-half Owen Farrell took the game conclusively away from the visitors.
“We regrouped at half-time,” O’Mahony said. “We knew we were under pressure but we knew if we relaxed, stuck to our systems, we were not that far off. If we could just hold onto the ball. It’s little things at that level. We didn’t do the little things well today.
“Coming here, against a team of that quality, they are going to come at you where you are weak, where you are strong. I think we could have dealt with it a bit better. These are things we have to work on.”
While O’Mahony pinpointed the hard work that lies ahead for him and his fellow squad members, the Munster flanker was also prepared to give his team-mates credit for the manner in which they improved as the game progressed having withstood a lot of early pressure from a strong England side.
“We were under pressure from a very good side who were attacking well, retaining ball well. They scored some quality tries but I was impressed with the defensive resilience we showed. We were certainly under the pump but a lot of character came out. I’d say our defensive scores are impressive.
“Plenty of positives to be taken out of it. Guys are a bit further down the line now. Pre-season put to bed now. Looking forward now.”
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