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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 9 July, 2020

'It was just me not knowing the rules and obviously we suffered as a result'

Robbie Henshaw put his hand up after being penalised in a promising Irish maul against Wales.

ROBBIE HENSHAW SAYS Ireland suffered on account of his poor knowledge of mauling laws, after a penalty against the inside centre late in Friday night’s defeat to Wales cost Ireland what looked like a certain try.

Robbie Henshaw dejected Henshaw after Ireland's defeat in Cardiff. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Leinster man joined the maul ahead of ball carrier Rory Best with Ireland moving over the tryline and referee Wayne Barnes correctly gave a crucial penalty to Wales.

“My entry wasn’t the best, instead of coming in from the side I should have come from behind and I got that wrong,” said Henshaw on Friday night. “It was just me not knowing the rules and obviously we suffered as a result.

“I thought it was turning, so I thought he [Best] was going to break out and I was potentially going to latch on to him and help him drive over.

“It was just one of those calls where I came it quite fast as well, so I didn’t really have time to re-adjust. I’ve put my hand up anyway, it was a mistake.”

In fairness, it would have been easier for Henshaw to decline to speak to the media on Friday night following his error – which contrasted so sharply with a performance that had been high-quality.

The midfielder was penalised again shortly after when he picked up an Irish knock-on in an offside position, but he also provided many superb moments for Joe Schmidt’s side.

Asked what he will learn from his high-profile error late in the game, Henshaw pointed again to his entry into the maul.

“Come square, more at Besty’s backside area rather than his side. You have to come from behind.

“It’s technical stuff, I’m not a forward. I thought it was going to slow down and if we stick one more body in and we’d get over. I’ve seen them given before.”

Robbie Henshaw with George North Henshaw competes with George North in the air. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Henshaw was involved in the first Welsh try, which came directly from a set-piece and saw Scott Williams break the Irish line on his inside shoulder.

That linebreak came instantly after Ireland had lost Johnny Sexton for a HIA, with Wales taking advantage of the disorganisation of Ireland’s defence after Paddy Jackson was sent on in his place.

“It was pretty tough because we were being kind of pulled and dragged,” said Henshaw of that try. “Johnny was down, there was a stoppage and then Paddy was in and we were slow to get set and that didn’t help our shape in defence.

“We kind of had a bit of a dog leg coming up in defence and Scott Williams got through on the inside of me. It was difficult at the time because we were out of shape and not in sync.”

Sexton did return from the HIA but also spent 10 minutes in the sin bin, while Ireland lost influential scrum-half Conor Murray to injury in the second half.

Murray had attempted to play on with the shoulder issue, but eventually Schmidt opted to replace him. Kieran Marmion impressed off the bench, but Henshaw felt Ireland did lose some control with the comings and goings in the halfbacks.

“Kieran Marmion did exceptionally well in the loose and through the phase play, but Conor was a massive loss,” said Henshaw. “That was a big moment when they turned us over, Conor had to chase back and they got their try off that maul.

“Having Johnny in the bin didn’t help our shape. We obviously lost a bit of shape in the second half without our main ball players, we lost a bit of direction as well.”

Henshaw feels himself and centre partner Garry Ringrose could have stepped up better in this area.

Robbie Henshaw Henshaw carries for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

While the halfbacks are the key playmakers, Henshaw says they need support from wider out too.

“It’s frustrating at times, we’re trying to get to the width a lot and we did that a lot in areas of first phase and there’s opportunities there for us,” said Henshaw.

“A few handling errors let us down, particularly one in the first half when we got a turnover in defence and if we had gotten it wide there was acres of space in the left corner.

“Little things like that let us down and it’s kind of the bounce as well, if we’d gotten that to hand and if we’d held it we could have scored a try. There’s areas we need to clean up in our game and in our attack we need to work harder to get back into shape.

“Especially in the backs, myself included, we need to work harder to get our shape and work the forwards.”

The result of Ireland’s defeat is that they are not playing England for a title this coming Saturday in Dublin, and will instead be attempting to prevent Eddie Jones’ men from claiming a second Grand Slam in two years.

“No, we’re playing for pride now and we’re playing to finish in the top half,” said Henshaw.

“Second or third place is on the line and we want to finish second if we can. We’re going to be massively motivated and there’s no better challenge than to have the English at home.”

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Murray Kinsella

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