Friday 20 April 2018

Kidney takes positives from courageous effort

Daragh Conchir

Declan Kidney's response was typically droll and betrayed his feelings, despite the fact that Ireland had just produced their best performance of the Guinness Series.

Asked by a New Zealand journalist if he had any words to describe the feat of All Blacks coach, Graham Henry, in winning his 100th Test, the Irish boss answered that "I'd like to congratulate him . . . but I can't".

It drew a laugh, but Kidney does not like losing games and definitely not by such a margin, even if it is against the best team on the planet.

"We'd always judge ourselves by results so we're extremely disappointed that we lost by 20 points, but give credit to New Zealand for that."

Ireland had to play smart more often, Kidney argued, but much of what went on was within their control such as taking the wrong options at lineouts, the persistent issue of kick-off receipts and turning over possession.

It was a display that left Jamie Heaslip feeling extremely frustrated, as New Zealand scored three tries in eight minutes to kill the game.

"We made some mistakes in that 10-15 minute period where they showed how efficient they are," Heaslip bemoaned. "It's a bit frustrating as we created a lot of chances and put them under a lot of pressure when we had the ball."

There were numerous positives, of course. While much has been made of the experience in the Irish squad, Kidney pointed out that the front five that performed so well in this outing had around 150 caps between them, whereas two years ago, that figure would have been closer to 300. It's still a learning experience.

"Sometimes we're trying too hard, going for things, having the courage to go for them and we'll continue to do that. We're not going to seize up, we're going to keep pushing at what we're doing and get better at it," said Kidney.

It said much for how well Ireland had played that Henry derived so much satisfaction from the victory.

"It was a highly competitive game," said the former Wales and Lions coach. "The Irish put a lot of pressure on us and played exceptionally well and I was really pleased with how our guys responded to the pressure and came through at the finish.

"It's always a difficult game for us. They take us on, they played with a lot of physicality and opened us up on a number of occasions, so we're pleased that we won."

Sunday Independent

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