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'It wasn't a mixed bag for me, I'm delighted with the win' - Farrell

The Ireland head coach was satisfied with his team’s 39-31 victory over Japan.

Ireland beat Japan in Dublin.
Ireland beat Japan in Dublin.
Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

IRELAND HEAD COACH Andy Farrell expressed pleasure at how his team stayed calm in the second half to claim victory against Japan in Dublin.

The Brave Blossoms proved difficult for Ireland to shackle and the lead changed hands several times in the first half, while Farrell’s men also conceded early in the second half, but they showed composure to retake the lead, then keep the visitors at bay in the endgame to win 39-31.

Ireland made damaging errors at restarts, the lineout, and in defence throughout the game, but they scored five tries in claiming victory. It could be seen as a mixed bag of a performance from his team, but Farrell didn’t agree with that suggestion.

“It wasn’t a mixed bag for me, I’m delighted with the win,” said Farrell.

“It was always going to be a tough old challenge against what I believe to be a top international side. Any type of W today was always going to be great for us.” 

Farrell said he learned a lot about his squad in Dublin today, particularly given that so many key figures are missing due to Lions duty, injury, or being rested.

“I suppose the most pleasing thing for me is that it was never going to be perfect,” said Farrell. “I think we saw certainly in the first half that Japan were Test match fit, probably through the preparation and the game against the Lions, the opportunities created in that game gave them confidence.

“We were a bit rusty and we compounded that with errors. It made the game difficult for us, it looked like they had more legs than we did.

“In the second half, we controlled the game with the set-piece and field position and we went after Japan, that was the most pleasing thing.

“The hardest thing for a team that has come together is negativity in your own game, especially against a side like Japan who can attack like that. We stayed calm and we stayed next-task-focused, which got us through in the end.”

jacob-stockdale-celebrates-after-scoring-a-try Jacob Stockdale celebrates his second-half try. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Farrell was slow to send on Gavin Coombes for his Test debut, the Munster man getting only 10 minutes, while scrum-half Craig Casey got just 90 seconds off the bench.

The Ireland boss said he had hoped to get Casey on earlier but injuries to Jordan Larmour and Chris Farrell meant that any further injuries in the backline would have left Ireland playing with only 14 men.

“We were a little decimated in the backs,” said Farrell. 

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“Craig has been in that situation before where you only have one sub left and anyone can fall over and you have to hang back there. Hopefully, we’ll assess the situation over the weekend and get the lads more game time.”

Next up for Ireland is a clash with the US in Dublin next weekend in what is their final game of a long season.

Ireland are expected to make sweeping changes to their team, with Larmour and Farrell obvious injury concerns.

“Jordan had a groin problem, that’s the diagnosis,” said Farrell. “He couldn’t sprint and couldn’t be himself.

“Chris failed his HIA [head injury assessment] at the time, so he will be going through the protocols.”

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