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Tom Maher/INPHO Tom O'Toole and Cian Healy after Ireland's win.
# Review
'Pretty underwhelming' - Farrell makes no excuses for Ireland display against Fiji
The Ireland boss was happy with a win and three new caps but not too much else.

IF YOU’D WALKED into the press conference having not seen this game, taken a scan of Andy Farrell and Tadhg Furlong’s body language, then listened to the tone of their review, you might have struggled to guess if Ireland had beaten Fiji.

They did. Five tries were the good part, three new caps too. Jeremy Loughman, Jack Crowley, Cian Prendergast, and their families will always remember this day. Their achievement deserves celebration.

For everyone else, though, it was a forgettable afternoon of rugby as Ireland won 35-17. There was attacking talent throughout both team sheets, meaning some excitement beforehand, but it proved to be a scrappy, sloppy dirge of a game. 

Irish rugby has risen to the lofty position of almost taking wins like this for granted and it’s worth remembering that things weren’t always this way. But at the same time, this wasn’t of the standard that Farrell’s side have set for themselves.

“Any Test match win should be celebrated, especially when you’ve got three lads making their debut and Tadhg captaining the side for the first time,” said Farrell.

“So delighted that they are able to celebrate in the proper way with their families, etc. It’s such a momentous occasion for them.

“But for us, as far as the performance is concerned, pretty underwhelming. I suppose when you look back and you analyse a performance like that, you’ll get plenty of learnings out of it.

“But for Fiji, being down to 13 men, obviously with the red card and a couple of yellow cards, and the penalty count being 14-10 in our favour, we should have been a lot more clinical than we was.

“And I think that’s the moral of the story. We got into their 22 time and time again, and yes because of illegalities or the stop-start nature, we lost our flow, but we wasn’t clinical enough by any stretch of the imagination.”

Ireland struggled for cohesion after making nine personnel changes to their team after the win against South Africa, while the 1pm kick-off time was far from ideal for this Test, but Farrell wasn’t in the mood for looking at those kind of reasons.

stuart-mccloskey-tadhg-beirne-and-jack-conan-celebrate-after-the-game Billy Stickland / INPHO Stuart McCloskey, Tadhg Beirne, and Jack Conan. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“No excuse whatsoever because we are a squad and we have all been in camp the same length of time, and we are all learning together and yeah, there are no excuses there in that regard,” said Farrell.

“We have been pretty good of late starting well and our start obviously wasn’t the best. You fast forward to the last play of the game, us kicking the ball out against 14 men with the scrum ready to play when the game is already won probably sums the game up.”

Next up for Ireland is the visit of the Wallabies, who lost to Italy for the first time ever this afternoon.

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The Australians were much better last weekend against France, losing by a point in Paris, and Ireland will expect a stern challenge. Farrell does have a few injury concerns ahead of that final autumn clash, with Johnny Sexton, Hugo Keenan, Andrew Porter, and James Ryan having sat out the majority of Ireland’s training this week. You’d expect that quarter to be OK.

Joey Carbery and Jimmy O’Brien both suffered head injuries against the Fijians and will now undergo the return-to-play protocols, while Robbie Henshaw was forced off after just five minutes with the same hamstring issue that kept him out of the South Africa game last weekend.

“He felt his hamstring,” said Farrell. “He doesn’t feel like it was anything was too serious. He felt like being precautionary, he came off in time to make sure that he’s not done any more damage. We will just see how it is tomorrow.”

On the flip side of that, Ireland will definitely have Bundee Aki available again after his seven-week ban for a dangerous clearout for Connacht.

“He’s good to play,” said Farrell. “He has been in camp the whole time.”

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