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Dublin: 6°C Sunday 28 February 2021

Farrell laments lack of first-half grit as Ireland are left 'feeling sorry for ourselves'

The head coach’s first defeat was a painful one.

Farrell with attack coach Mike Catt in Twickenham.
Farrell with attack coach Mike Catt in Twickenham.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ANDY FARRELL LOOKED severely chastened by his first defeat as a head coach, a 24-12 defeat to England that never looked like going his way.

Having been defence coach when Ireland suffered heavy home and away defeats to Eddie Jones’ side last year, Farrell began his tenure with back-to-back home wins in the Six Nations. The boost in confidence, coupled with the new boss’s push for ‘grit’ from Ireland led to expectation of a riposte to those two toothless performances.

Instead, Ireland went into the half-time interval 17-0. Asked on Virgin Media if he felt his side were shocked by England’s early intensity, Farrell said:

“It looked like that and I’ll take responsibility for that. That’s to do with preparation,” said Farrell. 

“We’ve wanted a bit of grit, like we talked about in the last couple of weeks, but it was lacking a bit in the first half.”

While captain Jonathan Sexton nodded individual errors that gifted England a 14-0 head start, Farrell charts a few steps back from those moments to find reasons for the loss. Ireland were second best in almost every facet.

You can look at the first two tries, bounces of balls et cetera, but it comes from somewhere doesn’t it. It comes from the pressure and their intent.

“They were ferocious at the breakdown, they hit hard, carried hard as well. It’s the basics of rugby and they were on top in that regard.”

He adds: “I suppose we fired a few shots towards the end of the game when it was over. I suppose the scoreline flatters us in the end.”

the-ireland-team-huddle-after-the-game Ireland players gathered in a huddle at full-time. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While the head coach signals there was an issue with preparation, given how Ireland started the contest, he does not pinpoint a specific issue to blame.

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Instead, he was left to lament how his side reacted to well-forecasted pressure from the World Cup finalists.

“It’s easy to look back, but you’ve got to deal with international rugby as the moments roll within the game. 

“We compounded a few errors and didn’t know how to get ourselves back.

“Feeling sorry for ourselves a bit in the first half — compounding errors, then you start playing at 70% and that’s not good enough at this level.”

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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