'We’re not over it to be honest' - Ireland still hurting from Joburg

Devin Toner says Ireland expect more of the same from the Boks in the third Test.

Rory Keane reports from Port Elizabeth

THREE DAYS HAVE passed since Ireland’s final-quarter mauling by the Springboks at Ellis Park and Joe Schmidt’s squad are still in recovery mode.

Devin Toner was on the pitch for the final 20 minutes of last Saturday’s 32-26 defeat in Johannesburg.

Devin Toner Toner takes a recovery swim in Port Elizabeth. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The second row’s first-half try had helped the visitors into a commanding 19-3 lead before the break. What followed was a startling second-half resurgence from the Boks, with Ireland leaking 29 points as an historic 2-0 series victory slipped from their grasp.

“I wouldn’t say we’re over it,” said Toner, speaking at Ireland’s team base in Port Elizabeth this afternoon.

“We’re still going through the footage, we’re still looking at the video, we’re still kind of hurting over it but I think training went alright today.

“I think we’re very much still in recovery mode, I think there’s still a lot of sore bodies out there so I think we’re going to try and build our way into the week and try and get back into for Thursday and Friday and try and peak for Saturday because we know that we should have won that.

“We were pretty much ahead and it was just the last 15/20 minutes that we let it slip so we’re not over it to be honest, no.”

It was a tough lesson for a young Irish side containing a host of Test rookies such as Tadhg Furlong, Quinn Roux and Stuart Olding.

Despite the crushing disappointment of last weekend’s encounter, this Ireland squad must move on quickly. The series is still there for the taking this Saturday at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Ireland’s Iain Henderson and Devin Toner after the match Iain Henderson and Toner after last weekend's defeat. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Certainly, Ireland cannot allow the Boks to pick up where they left off last time out.

“I suppose we’re expecting them to play as they played in that last quarter. I think they’ll have a lot of confidence from those last 20 minutes,” the Leinster lock explained.

“We can’t let them do that again – we can’t let them run at us, we can’t let them get over the gainline as easily as we did. So, we’re going to have to take confidence from our performance in the first game and the first half.

“We fell off some tackles so basically it comes down to physicality, getting the shoulder in and getting that first-up contact. Once you start falling off tackles and once you start letting them get over the gainline, that’s what happens.

“So, I don’t know whether it was a lapse in concentration or lads were tired, but I think it was just that last 15/20 minutes kind of killed us.”

One interesting aspect of last weekend’s clash was the lack of Irish attacking lineouts. Toner and his fellow Irish forwards were only called upon for five lineouts throughout a frantic contest.

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Toner played a central role in securing an 80% success rate out of touch in Johannesburg but one crucial late steal from Eben Etzebeth, which eventually lead to Damian de Allende’s match-winning try still rankles with the Meath man.

Devin Toner Ireland trained at the Nelson Mandela University today. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“We do pride ourselves at the set piece,” Toner added.

“If we’re able to get straight ball off the set piece, we’ve got a lot of confidence in our backs to get over the gainline. Our first-up plays and our first-up phases are quite good if we can get that ball.

“Again, when it came down to the crucial time at the weekend, Eben got up and he stole a lineout off us which was one of the crucial parts of the game which I can hold my hand up.

“I made a bad call but, again, it’s a thing we’ll just have to look over on the top and go through again and again.”

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