Saturday 18 November 2017

'Knackered' Trimble calls for Ireland to find one last push for series win in South Africa

Andrew Trimble of Ireland during squad training at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Andrew Trimble of Ireland during squad training at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ruaidhri O'Connor in Port Elizabeth

Andrew Trimble believes Ireland will go into their series decider against South Africa with their eyes wide open after enduring a torrid final 20 minutes in last Saturday’s second Test.

The tourists gave up a 16 point lead in the face of a powerful onslaught from the World Cup semi-finalists as they let the history slip from their grasp.

They are back at sea level this weekend, but momentum is firmly behind the Springboks in Port Elizabeth.

And, while the Ulster winger has conceded that he and his team-mates are feeling the effects of a long season and a gruelling Test at Ellis Park, he wants his team-mates to relish the chance to follow in the Lions and the All Blacks’ foot-steps by claiming a three-Test series on South African soil.

Consistency, he says, is the key.

“It’s important that we get some perspective back and just remember that we still have a great opportunity to create a bit of history,” Trimble said.

“We’re probably more aware now than we ever have been with how tough it’s going to be, how physical they are, how fast South Africa are.

“Whenever they click, they’re very, very difficult to stop. We’ll have to look at a few things to figure out how to stop that.

“We’re aware that we can be a quality side and win Test matches.

“We can come to the southern hemisphere and win games, but there’s no point in us talking about that, we need to prove that and back that talk up.

“We did that in Newlands (in the first-Test), we showed an awful lot of character and dug in. We played some really good rugby that we’re really proud of, but to be taken seriously, you need to back that up and we didn’t do that at the weekend.

“We want to become is a side that backs it up and we haven’t back it up yet.”

Saturday’s game will be the 17th international of Ireland’s season and they began training for the 2015 World Cup on June 29.

South Africa, meanwhile, have enjoyed a break and are beginning to hit their straps as they become accustomed to the rarified air of the Test arena once again.

“We’re pretty knackered alight. It was a tough battle out there (last week), very physical and very first. The first half especially, a lot of running down my side,” Trimble admitted.

“In the second half, we were just taking a lot of heat and a lot of punishment.

“Physically, we were by a long way, second best during that second half, we didn’t win any collisions and a few boys are still feeling a few of those hits today so we’re licking our wounds a little bit but we’re looking forward to getting back out there and putting a few of those wrongs right.”

Ireland found themselves off the pace in the final quarter last weekend as the South Africans went through the gears and played their power-game and Trimble wants to see his team match their hosts in the collisions at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“There’s a lot of things we need to take on board,” he said.

“Really, we’ve got to start winning the collisions, we’ve got to start getting our spacing right and getting into position earlier so we can get more organised.

“We were taught a lesson in the last 20 minutes and it’s important that we take that on board and hopefully learn a few things for the weekend.”

This week, players have spoken of the harsh lessons that Joe Schmidt has raised in the post-game review.

For Trimble, the key thing is to continue to dominate in contact for 80 minutes and to do so Ireland need to match the Springboks’ bench impact.

“We’d be here all day if we talked through everything we should have learned or we could learn from the last 20 minutes of the game, it’s important that we get an impact from the bench as well,” he said.

“It’s important to put pressure on our ourselves to get to that level of performance that we were at for 55/60 minutes last week.

“Despite their being a lot of negatives looking back at the game thinking ‘how did we lose that game, how did we let it slip away’, we put ourselves into a great position and it’s important that we do that again.

“As much as there’s a lot we need to learn, there’s a lot credit to take from putting ourselves in that position in the first place and whenever we do that again, we just need to be more clinical and continue to do what we were doing for the first 50 minutes.

“Potentially, we maybe thought about winning the game rather than winning what was in front of us, that next phase, that next play or that next set-piece.”

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