Bowe proud of Ireland displays
Tommy Bowe insists Ireland can reflect on a punishing autumn with pride despite winning just two of their matches.
A record 29-9 victory over old foes Argentina at Aviva Stadium yesterday ensured the Irish end the year in fifth place in the world rankings.
But the 50% return from four Tests, combined with some mixed performances, is disappointing for a team of such ambition and ability.
Only nine games remain until the World Cup, leaving Declan Kidney and his coaching lieutenants little time to continue shaping the style and look of the team.
Ireland are seeking to capitalise on their strengths by playing attacking rugby and Bowe insists they succeeded when conditions were favourable.
"We can hold our heads up," said Bowe, who started all four games.
"To finish with our highest winning margin against Argentina in the last game of the year is a great positive for us going through to the Six Nations.
"Whenever we've had dry ball, we've shown that we're able to throw it about. That's the type of rugby that we want to play.
"We have plenty of players who are willing to play good rugby.
"When we get the chance, we're able to cut teams open and we'll be looking to do more of that."
The fact Ireland's best display was also their heaviest defeat - a 38-18 loss to New Zealand - sums up their perplexing autumn.
Beyond trouble at the set-pieces, it is hard to explain exactly why they have struggled, though it is no coincidence the All Blacks match was contested in dry conditions suited to an open game.
Even when subjecting Argentina, feared rivals who have traditionally been horrid opposition, to a record defeat it felt as though something was missing.
The Pumas were poor and never got going amid sub-zero temperatures in Dublin until well into the second half, by which point Ireland were already out of sight.
Some of the decision making from Ireland was questionable after the interval, but Bowe was satisfied with the progress made.
"We're delighted with the win. Argentina have always been a difficult team to come up against, especially for us," he said.
"I think we did well. We held onto the ball, which was good considering Argentina are very good at low tackles
"The ball was relatively slippy with the snow, but we improved on the areas of the game that we wanted to from last week.
"New Zealand were a totally different challenge to yesterday, but we're delighted with the win."
Leinster centre Brian O'Driscoll sustained a suspected broken jaw yesterday and could be out for up to two months if Ireland's worst fears are realised.
Meanwhile, the Irish Rugby Football Union have announced a new tiered pricing structure for next year's Six Nations matches against France and England.
Lansdowne Road failed to sell out at any time during the autumn with the 46,302 attendance for New Zealand the best crowd by some margin.
The IRFU were condemned for their pricing strategy and have responded by introducing five categories for 30,000 seats, ranging in cost from €15 Euros to €125 Euros.