Billy Stickland/INPHO

'We had to take our medicine tonight but I know we can come back'

Gavin Coombes and Ciaran Frawley are backing Ireland to bounce back from tonight’s 32-17 defeat to the Maori All Blacks.

GAVIN COOMBES AND CIARAN Frawley have expressed the view that if Andy Farrell’s experimental Ireland side can improve their discipline then they could avenge today’s defeat when they return for a second meeting with the Maori All Blacks in two-weeks-time.

Ireland lost by 15 points in what was effectively a contest between two second-string XVs, although Coombes’ performance was one of the better ones from an Irish perspective, the No8 scoring a second-half try.

By then it was too late. The Maoris scored 24 successive points in a second quarter when they counter-attacked Ireland at will, profiting from some loose kicking and poor kick-chase to go into the break with a 32-10 lead.

“Our discipline really let us down in the first-half,” said Coombes. “We were very disappointed to come in at half-time with that margin between us because it felt like we were not far off them. We gave them opportunities to score tries and they took them. I don’t think we did ourselves many favours at the breakdown and that is definitely something we will look at.

“But I also have to say we gave a much better account of ourselves in the second-half (when they held the Maori All Blacks scoreless). We were probably the better team in that period and it was disappointing that we did not start the game like that. There are a lot of new lads here; lads who don’t have many caps. It is a learning experience and it will do a huge amount for this group.”

Frawley, starting his first game for Ireland at out-half, added: “Our indiscipline gave them access and territory and it was our defence that let us down at times. We just need to get those connections in our ‘D’ right and we’ll be sweet.”

ciaran-frawley-kicks-a-penalty Ciaran Frawley kicks a penalty. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

In a personal capacity, both players had mixed views of their contributions, each feeling they could have done better.

First here are Coombes’ thoughts: “I was happy with certain aspects but then there were parts where I could have done a bit better. Like, there was a time when I threw an offload and it ended up at Nick Timoney’s feet; I threw a pass to Jordy (Larmour) and he had to reach to get it. There were also a few tackles that I could have stuck in for a bit longer.

“There are always bits you can look at.”

Frawley added: “My first-half display was not great. I kicked my goals but just that management around our own half (could have been better) in terms of getting the ball out and putting pressure on them.

“I felt I did grow into the game. I was happy enough with the second-half performance but you don’t win these games by performing just for 40 minutes; you have to do it for 80.”

The next step for Coombes is to break into the Test XV for a key game against a Tier 1 nation. For Frawley, this tour is about seeing what the show is all about, knowing his appearance in it is probably a little away. In reality, the second Maori game will be his next chance to shine.

Frawley said: “We have to take our medicine from tonight but I know the squad can definitely come back and put in a very positive performance in Wellington (in their second game of this tour against the Maori All Blacks.)

“We had a period there in the second half when we were camped on their line for a 15-minute block; we needed to come away with points.”

zarn-sullivan-celebrates-scoring-their-first-try-with-teammates-as-joe-mccarthy-looks-on-dejected Zarn Sullivan scores the Maori All Blacks' first try. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Their failure to do so cost them the game as much as their second quarter disappearing act. “We just gave them ins in that first half,” said Coombes. “Our discipline, our breakdown was not good enough when we had the ball ourselves; they were able to get it back off us. Defensively we were not setting quick enough and they were able to get around us. We gave them opportunities and in fairness to them, they took them.

“Then, after half time, had we scored in that ten minute period then we would have got ourselves back into the game and had a real chance of winning it. What, was it three held-up tries?

“We need to learn about the intensity, the level we need to get to, to play international rugby. For five lads it was their first experience of international rugby and for other lads who have only two or three caps, there will be a lot of learning to know what is needed to play at this level.

“Think back to the first half; we gave them a penalty, a loose kick, or a loose kick chase and they made a step, a half-line break, and if we were not switched on, then they were getting in under the sticks. It is those small moments that we need to get better at.”

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