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'You don't really get second chances at this level' - Henshaw says Ireland need to be more clinical

Andy Farrell’s side failed to make the most of their possession for a second week running.

Ireland's Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Anthony Jelonch of France.
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw is tackled by Anthony Jelonch of France.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ROBBIE HENSHAW SAYS Ireland need to become more clinical after they were left wondering what could have been for a second week running.

Ireland enjoyed the bulk of the possession but struggled to create scoring opportunities as they slumped to back-to-back Six Nations defeats with a 15-13 loss to France at the Aviva Stadium, their sole try coming courtesy of substitute Ronan Kelleher, who made the most of a spilled lineout to gobble up the loose ball and sprint clear.

James Lowe saw a first-half try ruled out by the slightest of margins when Ireland were leading 3-0, his trailing foot just scraping onto the touchline, but otherwise the hosts struggled to get their attacking game going against a French side who themselves will feel they should have killed the game earlier.

“It’s a tough one,” said Henshaw.

“When you look back at the stats it shows how dominant we were. I suppose we need to be a bit more clinical and take the chances when they come. Unfortunately, Lowe’s foot hit touch and it’s possibly a different game if that’s a try. 

“I think those fine margins, you don’t really get second chances at this level and we’re seeing that now over the last couple of weeks, that we really need to take our chances when they come. I think that’s probably what is standing out. We’ll have a good look at it in detail over the next few days.

“It will be hard to look at, we’re all very disappointed, particularly because the effort was so positive from everyone. We really went after it and it just shows what France have when they do pull together, they put together a good few miracle offloads and when they keep the ball in hand, they showed how dangerous they can be if you give them a sniff.”

With just two rounds of fixtures played, Ireland already know their chances of winning this Six Nations are gone. However Henshaw feels there have been signs of encouragement in both the performance away to Wales last weekend and today’s defeat in Dublin.

“There was definitely some really good parts of our set-piece, we definitely showed dominance in our scrum today, good dominance in our maul when it got going, and we were definitely unlucky to not get James Lowe in the corner in the first half. So there’s loads of positives to take.

“We’ll just have to analyse it in detail. Last week it was tough to go a man down in the first half, so that’s hard to take, but there’s a positive in that, in staying in the game for so long.”

Another trend carried over from the Wales game saw Ireland hold possession with the clock in the red as they chased the game. While Billy Burns’ misplaced kick ended their chances in Cardiff, this time Ireland managed to force their way into the French half only to cough up possession with a turnover.

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“We’re 100% confident that we can go and score from wherever we are in that position (chasing the game) with the clock ticking down,” Henshaw said. “We’ve done it before obviously against France a couple of years ago. 

“I think we back ourselves in those positions, unfortunately it wasn’t to be today, they got a turnover at the breakdown, which I’m not sure how they got it or if the ruck was formed. I think it was on the line. 

“But definitely we found as we were rolling through the phases, we were making good dents in their defence as we held the ball.”

Ireland now have a two week break before their campaign resumes with a trip to play Italy in Rome on 27 February. They then travel to Edinburgh to face Scotland before hosting England on the final weekend.

“For us, we need to go out and attack every game and just play rugby and have a go every time,” Henshaw added.

“It’s a massive challenge for us so we’ll talk about it in detail next week, but there will be a plan there in place. We’ll have to dust ourselves off, attack what’s coming next and make sure we better our performance.”

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