Andy Farrell: ‘The interpretation of the breakdown over here – we need some answers'

Ireland’s bid to become the first team to beat New Zealand at Eden Park since 1994 ended in defeat tonight.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

ANDY FARRELL WAS hoping for history. But after a chastening defeat in Eden Park, the Ireland coach is now searching for parity when these teams reunite in Dunedin next Saturday for a test Ireland cannot afford to lose if they are to keep this series alive.

With 28 years passing since the All Blacks last lost in this stadium, Ireland planned an ambush but in the end they were outdone by a series of New Zealand counter-attacks, as the All Blacks capitalised on turnovers to ruthlessly punish Ireland, scoring six tries en route to a 42-19 win. Three of those scores came in an eight-minute period just before half-time.

“We are gutted to lose,” said Farrell afterwards. “You don’t get many opportunities to break a record and it’s an outstanding record (to stay unbeaten in 47 games on this ground).

“You can see why they hold that (aura) here (in Auckland). Having said that, the players know what they did well and they know how the game flowed and the things that we need to fix to stay in a series next week.

“It isn’t a dejected changing room. It’s one that will dust itself off, learn the lessons and attack next week.”

Life hasn’t been made any easier with an extension of Ireland’s injury list. Johnny Sexton went off with a head injury although he has not yet been ruled out of the second test next Saturday.

Then there is Cian Healy, who didn’t get any gametime this evening, the after effects of an ankle injury evidently lingering on. In addition Jeremy Loughman is unavailable for next Saturday’s test with fellow prop, Ed Byrne, due into Auckland later this evening.

Centre James Hume is out of the tour with a groin injury; Stuart McCloskey is en route to replace him. Dave Heffernan, the replacement hooker, was concussed this evening so he is unlikely to be available again until the third test.

“That’s the game,” Farrell said. “Injuries are part of it. We are here to find out about ourselves and there is no better place to do that than New Zealand.

“It is not easy here but do we want it to be easy?

“I don’t know. We are here to test ourselves in all different types of manner, here to test ourselves as staff to see how we cope with five matches in three weeks, here to see whether our players have got excuses or not in regards to backing up, different ways of training etc.

“Doing it that way, to me, makes us stronger as a group, it makes our culture stronger, our environment stronger, makes us ready for obstacles that are going to get in our way over the next 18 months.”

One of the obstacles they had this evening was officialdom, Ireland having two tries disallowed after lengthy consultations between ref Karl Dickson and his TMO while Dickson’s application of the laws at the breakdown felt perplexing.

karl-dickson Referee Karl Dickson. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

On this, Farrell said he would seek clarification on certain issues ahead of next Saturday: “The interpretation of the breakdown over here, whether it be over here or the refereeing – we need some answers as far as that’s concerned, so we can put our own stuff right, because (pause) there was a few things going on there that will need to be clarified…..”

He continued: “There is a depth to a ruck and there is an entry to a ruck that we need confirming, let’s say it that way. Once it’s confirmed, we will get our own act in order.

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“It’s something that we will need to fix up and be ready for next time. Let’s face it, the All Blacks are clinical at the best of times and hard to beat at home.”

We saw that this evening. This was a game Ireland had actually started well in; they led 5-0 at one point and were camped in the All Blacks 22 approaching the half-hour mark when a loose pass led to a Sevu Reece counter-attack. Two further tries followed within six minutes and all of a sudden a 7-5 deficit had turned into a 28-5 scoreline.

ardie-savea-scores-their-fifth-try Ardie Savea celebrates another All Black try. Source: Photosport/Marty Melville/INPHO

Farrell said: “That’s what they do to you, isn’t it? You can be attacking lovely and think that you’re flowing pretty well and all of a sudden, you take your eye off the ball for one second and there’s an intercept if you’re not quite accurate enough or quick enough or aggressive enough at the wide breakdown. Before you know it you’re under your
posts again.

“Some of the tries that they scored they didn’t have to work too hard for them and on the back of that, there was some decent rugby from us but you switch off for a second and you pay for it. The scoreline was obviously too big at half-time.”

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Garry Doyle  / reports from Auckland

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