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'We're not making any excuses. We didn't play well and we've got a lot of work to do'

All errors made this evening can be rectified, says Ireland head coach Tom Tierney and Hannah Tyrrell.

Emma Duffy reports from the Belfield Bowl, UCD

A WIN IS a win. Those were the same five words rattling around the Belfield Bowl earlier, as Ireland pulled off a nervy second-half comeback to see off Japan in their second World Cup clash.

Tom Tierney talks to his team after the game Tierney speaks to his side after the win. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

It certainly wasn’t pretty, but as the cliché goes a win is indeed a win.

They were the same five words rattling around the post-match press conference, as Tom Tierney and Hannah Tyrrell faced the media.

“It needs to be a bit more,” Tyrrell said as she took her seat.

Tierney’s immediate reaction came first.

“We didn’t play well, and we won,” he said. “We’ll review it tomorrow morning, we’ll preview the French game, and it’s on to the French game. It’s as simple as that.

“We’re not making any excuses about the performance, especially in that first half. But great resilience then by the girls in that second half. They scored 24 points with a lot of pressure on, albeit but still a number of little mistakes [were made] and turnovers and penalties that stopped the flow of game going our way.

“It’s a tough old station when you’re 14-0 down in a World Cup pool match, and to be able to dig it out and get the 24 points, we’re very, very pleased that we won.

“Mightily relieved obviously, a win is a win. But we’ve got a lot of work to do if we’re to be competitive against the French on Thursday night.

As the half-time whistle sounded, the scoreboard read 14-0 in favour of Japan. Shortly into the second half, things went from bad to worse for Tierney’s charges, as Katie Fitzhenry was shown yellow and sent to the bin.

Alison Miller scores her sides first try Alison Miller scored Ireland's first try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A player down, Ireland sprung to life though. Aided with fresh legs and pure hunger from the bench, the host nation’s comeback was ignited by an Alison Miller try, while Nora Stapleton added the extras.

Replacement Paula Fitzpatrick’s double and Stapleton’s kicking made it 24-14 come full-time, ensuring the World Cup dream stays alive, with France lurking on Thursday.

Tierney admits that the plan wasn’t executed, simple errors were made. There are no excuses though. All can be rectified. It’s onto the next one.

“We’re not shying away from the facts. We’ll work hard and put a plan into place to go at the French.

“No, we didn’t perform tonight. We have to dust ourselves off and we have to go again on Thursday. That’s the beauty of this tournament. The quick turnaround, which is brilliant.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves for very long. We just have to get straight back on the horse and go again for Thursday night.”

Saying that he stood by his decision to make seven changes from the side that defeated Australia, Tierney kept coming back to that word ‘rectify’.

What happened this evening is in the past. It’s a win, no matter how it happened. The aim is to fix any mistakes, and it’s all systems go against France for their last Pool C fixture.

Tom Tierney Tom Tierney. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

In terms of the dominant Japanese first-half and their lack of possession, that’s first on the agenda.

“We’ll be looking to rectify that. You can’t give the French 61% possession. It’s going to be a Cup final. That’s going to be our mentality on Thursday night.

“Anything can happen. We’re under no illusions that we have to improve in a number of areas for us to be competitive on Thursday.

“We went into the match against the French in the Six Nations as complete underdogs, we pulled a performance out of the bag there. I think that’s well within our capabilities for Thursday.

“Favourites, or underdogs, it’s not really about that over the next few days. It’s just really about having a mindset that we have to look after our jobs, and look after the basics.

“The basics is the key. You look at any of the core skills — if you do them right, you look a very, very good team. If you don’t do them right or if you turnover the ball, suddenly it becomes a stop-start type game and you’re giving the initiative and flow of pressure back to the opposition.

“That’s what happened tonight, especially in the first half. Thankfully we rectified that somewhat in the second half.

Hannah Tyrrell and Honoka Tsutsumi Hannah Tyrrell in action this evening. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We’ve still won, no one has put a loss beside our names, and we have to take advantage of that and the positivity out of that. We’re going to build it up nicely for a winner takes all against the French.”

Were nerves an issue? The pressure on the host nation, the fact that they had a point to prove after a lucky escape in their opening clash? Tyrrell doesn’t think so.

She echoes her manager’s words. Unforced errors, simple mistakes. But they’ll welcome the chance to rectify things.

“We’re just not clicking at the minute. We just had a lot of unforced errors, and that’s really hampering us from getting going. Once we get into our stride and get through a couple of phases, we’re really breaking teams down and we’re getting the results we need.

“Nerves aren’t really a big problem. Nerves are part and parcel of a game, it’s just how you deal with them.

“I think maybe we didn’t click as a team, there were a lot of handling errors at key moments in the game that gave the ball back to Japan, and put us on the back foot again.

“We kept turning over the ball which is very unlike us and not the way we want to play. But look, that game’s done and dusted. We got the job done. And we’re just looking ahead now to France to rectify things.”

Paula Fitzpatrick celebrates after the game Fitzpatrick came off the bench and landed two tries. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With replacements having made a serious impact from the bench, Tierney knows he has huge decisions ahead of him.

Review, preview, and onto the next one.

“We’ll go through and see who are the best players we feel to do a job, and start the game against France. Who are the best players that we can put on the bench to make impacts if needed.

“That’s the beauty of it. You’ve got 28 players. A lot of players, coming off the bench with the way the last two games have gone, have put their hands up. That’s exactly what we want.

“Obviously, we don’t want to be in those positions in the first place, but sometimes that’s life.

“We’ve just got to dust ourselves off. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good in these group stages, and thankfully we got the rub of the green tonight. but we can’t expect that every night.

“If we get our minds right, get the accuracy right, focus on the basics and play to a game plan in the right areas of the field, we’ll be well able to be competitive against the French.”

With a clean slate, and no injury concerns to note, it’s all about Thursday.

“Ready to rock and roll,” were the last five words uttered.

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Emma Duffy

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