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Steve Haag/INPHO Ireland were eight-try winners in Bloemfontein.
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'Doaky and Jack did really well' - Emerging Ireland happy with first outing
Simon Easterby was pleased with his side’s performance in Bloemfontein.

EMERGING IRELAND HEAD coach Simon Easterby praised young halfbacks Nathan Doak and Jack Crowley for their tactical leadership during an eight-try 54-7 win over the Griquas in Bloemfontein.

The Irish side were far too good for their South African opponents in the first of their three games on this tour, with 20-year-old Doak and 22-year-old Crowley pulling the strings from the number nine and 10 shirts.

“That was a big part of the preparation, making sure that we managed the game well in different conditions,” said Easterby post-match.

“Playing at altitude and also it was quite warm, we knew we wanted to make sure the players played in the right areas and I think Doaky and Jack did really well in that respect.

“That was one of the main reasons we were on the front foot for a lot of the first half. There was one dodgy exit in the second half and they put us under pressure but on the whole, we managed the game well, played in the right areas.

“We played with ball in hand at the right times and also made good decisions when to kick. Both sets of halfbacks did really well. Michael McDonald came on a bit later and added zip, and Jake Flannery did really well when he came on for 10 minutes. We’re really pleased with the way those guys managed the game.”

Having watched his side score eight tries, Easterby was a happy man overall.

nathan-doak-makes-a-pass Steve Haag / INPHO Nathan Doak passes for Emerging Ireland. Steve Haag / INPHO / INPHO

“The amount of work the players have put in to give a good performance today has been incredible,” said Easterby. “They’ve all bought into the way we’re trying to play the game, the way we prepare.

“This team had a chance to go out and play were really well prepared by the other boys. The coming together of the 34 players has been really impressive and that showed in our performance. There are plenty of things we’d like to tidy up on but as a first hit out, we’re pretty pleased with the way the players did.”

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Emerging Ireland captain Max Deegan said he was proud of his team’s performance at Toyota Stadium just a week after first coming together.

“It’s definitely something new for a lot of lads playing here,” said Deegan. “The altitude really has an effect on your lungs. With the heat and physicality of the teams, there’s a lot of elements that a lot of lads hadn’t faced before. 

“We’d done a good bit of work but we probably haven’t had as much time on the pitch as we would have liked because of travel and things like that. The lads have done their work off the pitch as well, watching clips and doing those bits of homework and meetings.

“It added up to a really good, pleasing performance that everyone put out there.”

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