Ireland captain Reuben Crothers bemoaned his side’s poor start in their Six Nations Under-20s Summer Series opener as they went down 42-21 to France in Verona.
With the score at 17-0 inside 20 minutes, Ireland had conceded more points in the opening quarter than they did in the entirety of their last meeting with Les Bleulets.
They responded valiantly in the second half but Crothers felt they were perhaps guilty of trying a little too hard to force their way back into the game.
“There was no shortage of hard work from us lads, but it’s tough when you go 17-0 down to try and climb back into it,” he said.
“From our point of view we just had a slow start which sort of forced us to maybe try a few things that we normally wouldn’t.
“France had a very good game, they kept the ball alive out of the tackle and they played well, so credit to them.”
It was an uncharacteristically poor start from Ireland, who have become so accustomed to dictating contests against their northern hemisphere rivals.
Crothers played down the impact of the searing Verona heat, and says the blame lies solely with the team.
“It’s a variety of things,” said Crothers, when asked to identify the reasons behind the lacklustre opening.
“I think in some moments we switched off and when France got in the ascendancy, sloppy mistakes from us sort of allowed them to build a scoreline. That was the main thing for us.
“There’s aspects of our phase play that we can get better at too.
“If you look at our Six Nations campaign, there were certain things we were very good at.
“Out there today we weren’t able to hit those targets, so we’ve just got to go back, analyse and try and get better."
Ireland did later work their way back into the contest and produced some pleasing moments.
Aitzol King and Fionn Gibbons starred, and scored, once more, having played key roles in Ireland’s Six Nations Grand Slam success, while substitute flyer George Coomber also impressed.
Next on the agenda are South Africa, who had earlier edged past England 30-22 in a pulsating encounter at the Payanini Centre. That clash gets underway at 7pm on Wednesday.
“The lads put a lot of effort out there just to stay with the French,” said Crothers.
“At the end of the day it wasn’t enough, and we just look forward to South Africa now."