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Dublin: 2°C Friday 16 April 2021

'We haven’t got ahead of ourselves; we haven’t looked down the line' - POM

The Ireland back row says he and his teammates must look after the ball.

IRELAND CAN TAKE solace from their set-piece performance at Twickenham, says Peter O’Mahony.

Peter O'Mahony with George Ford O'Mahony had a strong individual performance at Twickenham. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While their attacking game stuttered throughout the 21-13 defeat, allied to an alarming defensive performance with Tommy Bowe and Devin Toner missing crucial tackles during a harrowing opening 25 minutes, the lineout and scrum operated efficiently throughout.

The Irish scrum won two feeds against the head, while a superbly-executed lineout move delivered Paul O’Connell’s try in the 53rd minute.

O’Mahony was crucial to Ireland’s lineout efficiency and played a subtle role in O’Connell’s try as he delivered a deft pass to the onrushing Jamie Heaslip in the lead-up.

Geoff Parling did get up in front of Devin Toner to spoil a prime Irish attacking lineout in the 32nd minute. A rare moment of inaccuracy which cost the visitors.

The lineout went well,” said O’Mahony.

“I think we lost two and one of them was certainly very important down towards their goal-line but it was probably a positive of our game alright.”

Back-to-back Six Nations titles were secured with a simple game-plan based on creating pressure, controlling territory and possession while keeping errors and penalties to a minimum.

Peter O'Mahony O'Mahony and Sean O'Brien pre-match in London. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

But that accuracy has been missing in recent weeks with Ireland committing a host of unforced errors at the weekend, as Mike Ross, Tommy Bowe and Sean O’Brien were guilty of spilling the ball during attacking spells in the first half.

Certainly, the English back row provided a preview of the kind of intensity Ireland will come up against at the forthcoming tournament. Chris Robshaw and man of the match Tom Wood were everywhere, with the England captain in particular catching the eye in open play with his offloading game.

By the 50th minute on Saturday, the pair had made 25 tackles between them; a sign of things to come when Thierry Dusautoir and Bernard Le Roux rock up at the Millennium Stadium next month.

Ireland’s ball retention and breakdown efficiency simply has to improve during the World Cup as that tournament-defining Pool D clash with France on October 11th lurks ominously on the horizon.

We just have to mind the ball,” said the Munster flanker. “Against good teams like this, when you do have possession you want to hold onto the ball; you want to be effective.

“We were effective at times, but when it got to about six or seven phases it broke down which, normally, is uncharacteristic, so it’s something we want to cut that out as well as our defensive errors. But look, you’re learning all the time and we’ll review it and move on.

IrelandÕs Peter O'Mahony Ireland's lineout was excellent apart from one first-half miss close to the English line.

“We were under pressure against a good side who were attacking very well, retaining the ball very well. We were put under huge pressure at times. They scored some quality tries, but I was impressed by some of the defensive resilience we showed.

“We were certainly under the pump, but there was a lot of good character that came out of it. Look, we’ve got plenty to work on, but there’s plenty of positives to take out of it. Guys are a bit further down the line now. That’s pre-season put to bed and we’ll be looking forward from now on.”

Before that seismic clash with les Bleus in Cardiff, there is the little matter of encounters with Canada, Romania and Italy to negotiate.

Ireland will regroup in the coming weeks and O’Mahony is positive that Joe Schmidt and the squad will remedy the problems that have plagued them in recent weeks.

Something that’s stood to us over the last 18 months is we’ve taken it game by game. We haven’t got ahead of ourselves; we haven’t looked down the line.

“We kind of go from training session to training session… rather than game to game so we’ll be focused on Canada for the next couple of weeks and we won’t be looking past that.”

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