Saturday 16 December 2017

Hosts vow to step up aggression for second Test

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

'OPERATION AGGRESSION' will be a vital part of Australia's attempt to plot a way out of the embarrassing mess they have left for themselves.

After variously describing Ireland's performance as 'fantastic', 'sensational' and 'extraordinary,' Australian coach Rodney Eade acknowledged that his side had lost the physical battle, but hinted at a different approach in the second Test in Gold Coast next Friday.

"I thought we worried about being too nice and making sure the spirit of the game was upheld. I don't think there'll be fireworks but we'll certainly be playing our way next week," said Eade.

When asked to elaborate on what he meant by "playing our way", he mentioned more aggression.

"I think every time we marked the ball, we were driven into the ground. A few times there weren't any penalties either, which was disappointing," said Eade.

When informed of the comments, Irish manager Anthony Tohill said that he would have no problem with aggression, provided it was legal. "It's a hard physical game. We've no problem with it being hard and physical as long as it's within the rules," he said.

After the disappointment of losing both Tests at home last year, Tohill was delighted by the way Ireland expressed themselves.

However, it didn't come as a surprise to him, as there had been signs for weeks that they were ready to deliver a big performance.

"You just get that sense from the group that the lads mean business and they showed how much they meant it," he said.

However, while enjoying the special moment was important, Tohill wasted no time in warning his players that the series was still to be won. "We've got our work to do. It would be ridiculous to think the series is over. We've got ourselves into a strong position, but it's no more than that. We won't be getting carried away," he said.

Despite Tohill's caution, the Cormac McAnallen Cup will be on its way back to Ireland next weekend, although the second Test will be a lot more competitive simply because the Australians are under enormous pressure to vindicate their reputations.

"We really do have to make a stand and win the game. There will be no problem motivating the players," said Eade.

Irish vice-captain Ciaran McKeever said his side's better work-rate was a key factor.

"Also, we used the football a lot better. We knew too that we had to engage the tackle rather than standing off the way we do back home," he said.

While Eade clearly has plans for a more confrontational approach next week, he accepted that Ireland were much the better side.

"Their kicking skills were sensational," he said.

Now the big questions are how Eade will set his side up for next week and how the Gold Coast public will respond to the first ever Test in their area.

A 44-point defeat wasn't exactly the marketing ploy the AFL would have adopted but they now have to live with the fact that a side which had only four of last year's squad, were asked to undertake a mission for which they simply weren't good enough.

Irish Independent

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