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'It's like having an extra centre out there with some of the work he gets through'

Garry Ringrose was full of praise for his midfield partner, Robbie Henshaw, after another all-action performance against Scotland.

Robbie Henshaw had another strong outing in Edinburgh.
Robbie Henshaw had another strong outing in Edinburgh.

THE STATS TELL only half the story. Ten carries – bettered only by CJ Stander (18) – 25 meters gained – only Hugo Keenan (31) made more – and two turnovers won. 

Another game, another all-action performance from Robbie Henshaw, who is fast becoming one of Andy Farrell’s most important players.

As well as featuring prominently at the right end of the stats charts Henshaw also led by example with some huge moments at crucial stages in Murrayfield as Ireland recorded a nervy, error-strewn win over Scotland

In the first half, he displayed great awareness to follow-up a Johnny Sexton cross-field kick, aimed at Keith Earls, and pounce on the loose ball for Ireland’s opening try. In the second half he put his shoulder to the wheel with an impressive defensive effort, including a big hit to push Duhan van der Merwe out of touch as the hosts applied some pressure.

It’s the type of graft that is much appreciated by Henshaw’s midfield partner, Garry Ringrose. 

“Sometimes when you are playing with him it’s like having an extra centre out there with some of the work he gets through,” Ringrose said.

“He’s been unbelievable during the games, but it doesn’t happen by accident with how hard he trains and prepares. I consider myself lucky to play alongside him with the quality he brings on and off the pitch.”

Ringrose has often been on the receiving end of those kind of plaudits, but enjoyed a rare off-day in Edinburgh.

While he had some bright moments in attack, the Leinster centre was guilty of some uncharacteristic handling errors and it was his attempted clearance, blocked down by Stuart Hogg, which led to Finn Russell crossing for Scotland’s first try.

Ringrose admitted it was a costly error, but explained his thinking at the time. 

“I think it’s execution and decision making,” he said.

“It was a cracking turnover (from CJ Stander), and then when it was popped to me I could see the space that was in behind, and in my head it was an opportunity to put pressure back on them. But it’s just execution. I’ve got to try and move the ball a bit so it’s not as easy a blockdown as it was for Hogg.

“For me, it’s just to be better on the execution front in that instance.

“In terms of the decision, obviously it’s much easier in hindsight but if it is crowded, the right decision could maybe have been to just tuck and carry and then build our attack off that.

“So I’ll definitely learn from that instance.”

Ringrose was struggling with an ankle injury in the latter stages of the game but said the problem should not be one that keeps him out of Saturday’s final round fixture with England.

Eddie Jones’s side come to Dublin on the back of a morale-boosting win over France, and Ringrose accepts Ireland will need to build on their performance at Murrayfield if they are to end their campaign on a winning note.

“I think being aware of their threats is definitely something that we will have to do, and that starts in our preparation from now because of the six-day turnaround, but equally we need to work hard to keep growing and bring the best version of ourselves. 

“It’s a balancing act between the two of being really ready for their threats and what they can bring, as well as doing the same ourselves, because obviously we’ll have to bring the best version of ourselves to beat them.”

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Cian Healy, who put in a 54-minute shift in Ireland’s front row, was happy to get out on the right side of what was often a scrappy encounter.

“Happy with the win. Bit of a dogfight, and that’s going to happen over here,” Healy said.

“It’s a tough place to come and get a win but we stuck to our guns and we held them out, so pretty happy with that.

“There is another place we can go to (in terms of performance). I think the first 20 minutes, we definitely got through a lot of what we wanted to get through and we put some good stuff together.

“After that it was probably starting to get a bit messy and we had to just play it as it was instead of, I suppose, going off the script, and being able to do that is a good thing.”

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