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'Being comfortable isn't good enough in a World Cup'

Keith Earls says Ireland were disappointed with a number of aspects of their performance as they lost 19-12 to Japan.

A dejected Keith Earls after Ireland's loss to Japan.
A dejected Keith Earls after Ireland's loss to Japan.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

KEITH EARLS SAYS Ireland will have to have “a serious look” at themselves following their shock 19-12 defeat to Japan.

Ireland looked to be in control in Shizuoka after taking an early 12-3 lead thanks to tries from Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney.

Yet as the game wore on Ireland looked increasingly disjointed, and Joe Schmidt’s team appeared to struggle with the heat and humidity as Japan grew into the game. 

A converted try from substitute Kenki Fukuoka saw the hosts take a 16-12 lead on the hour mark, while Yu Tamura kicked four penalties in a brilliant team performance.

It could have been worse for Ireland, but Earls saved the losing bonus point with a superb chase and cover tackle to deny Fukuoka a certain try.

And the Ireland wing admitted the defeat was difficult to take.

“It’s a credit to Japan. They played unbelievably well and our discipline let us down,” Earls said.

“All credit to them, we have to take it on the chin. We knew they were a good side, we played against them twice a couple of years ago and I know they are a proud nation. No matter what the scoreline was going to be, they were never going to go away, and yeah, they got us and we have to have a serious look at ourselves.”

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While Japan played some superb rugby, Ireland also played into their hands with a number of unforced errors in a chaotic second half.

“We’ll go back and have a look at the video. I suppose we were quite comfortable in the first 20 minutes but being comfortable isn’t good enough in a World Cup and Japan came back,” Earls said.

“Our discipline let us down. We gave them field position and they beat us up around the breakdown as well.”

While the result throws Pool A wide open, Earls insisted that Ireland’s campaign is not in ruins, poiting to how South Africa recovered from their own shock loss to Japan in England four years ago.

“We’ve seen what Japan did in the last World Cup,” he added.

“They beat South Africa and South Africa went on to the semi-final, and so it’s all about picking ourselves up now and having a good look at ourselves. We have a five-day turnaround so it’s all about recovering and going after Russia.”

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