Carolan: Bid for fifth place won't get any easier
Ireland U-20 coach Nigel Carolan said he was proud of the effort made by his men and that they would learn from the chastening experience of trying to beat New Zealand.
Carolan's side held their own for about half an hour in Wednesday's World Rugby U-20 Championship pool decider but the Baby Blacks pulled away from there.
Now Carolan must get his charges to regroup for Monday's clash with Wales as they battle it out with Australia and Scotland for fifth place.
Seedings for next year's competition, which is expected to be hosted by Manchester, will be decided on placings this year so Ireland still have a lot to place for.
"We came into this knowing that we are in a very difficult group and that is exactly what it was. All three games were extremely difficult and I think we are in a group now with Australia, Wales, Scotland and ourselves.
"So it is not going to get any easier but that is why we are here. We are here to challenge ourselves and we will look forward to Wales next week," he said.
Carolan said that Ireland needed to make possession count when they enjoyed dominance in the opening quarter against the four-time champions and ultimately paid the price.
"The dream didn't quite become a nightmare but I thought we had a good start to the game. Maybe we didn't represent it on the scoreboard but we had a couple of opportunities earlier on to get a foothold in the game.
"I thought we let New Zealand back into it with a couple of penalties and one chance which we didn't maybe execute very well. I thought at half-time we were pretty disappointed because there was three penalties that got them back into the game and certainly we had to score first after half-time. And when they extended their lead it was an uphill challenge from there," he added.
Captain Nick McCarthy is a doubt for Monday's clash in Viadana as they bid to gain revenge for a 19-12 away loss in the Six Nations, with the scrum-half having to come off with a shoulder injury before the break.
"I need to get it assessed but hopefully I can make a quick recovery with five days between the games but at the moment I am not sure and will just have to wait and see.
"We are all very disappointed after those two good wins at the start. We played some pretty good rugby at times but their points came pretty easy.
"Some stupid penalties from us gave them some pretty easy pitch position and they capitalised and took their chances pretty well.
"I think to be fair to our boys we fought hard to the end and we are really looking forward to playing Wales now in a few days' time and look to rebound from that," added McCarthy.