Tommy Bowe wants wins to top off his tries
Tommy Bowe admits Ireland's objective in their remaining RBS 6 Nations matches against Scotland and England is to salvage some pride.
The title hopes, damaged by their opening-weekend defeat to Wales, faded with Sunday's draw in France and the best they can hope for is a third-placed finish.
It is a disappointing performance from a team that Bowe insists should be challenging for the Grand Slam, but the 28-year-old winger accepts they only have themselves to blame for their position.
“We're not far off, but we should be up there competing for a Grand Slam,” he said.
“We had a good lead against Wales and France, but let them go. We should have put them away and the fact we didn't is down to us.
“We went to sleep at times during the second half against both of them. We haven't put in a full 80-minute performance.
“We're disappointed about that, but we have two huge matches coming up now. There are world ranking points to play for, but in the players' minds it's about producing two big performances.
“It's frustrating because we've put ourselves in good positions, but didn't really finish it off. We have nothing to complain about.
“We have the potential. If we were with our provinces it would not be good enough, so we must put our hands up and do better.”
Ireland will be hoping to register back-to-back wins at the Aviva Stadium for the first time since returning to Lansdowne Road in November 2010 when they collide with Scotland today.
The winless Scots must prevail to relieve the pressure on coach Andy Robinson and they boast a good recent record against Ireland, who they have beaten in two of the last three meetings.
“We've had trouble with Scotland over the last couple of years,” Bowe said.
“Just look at the way they're playing in the championship so far — they have the highest number of offloads and line breaks. They have a couple of really exciting players who can cut us open.”
Bowe crossed twice in the first half at the Stade de France to help Ireland into a 17-6 lead and strengthen his position as the Six Nations' leading try scorer with five, but the Lions back insists personal accolades count for little in a team that is failing to deliver.
“It's nice to get a pat on the back, but I want to be part of a winning team,” he said.
“I'd prefer to be a cog in a winning team than scoring a few tries in a losing team.
“I was delighted to score two tries against France, but if it doesn't result in our first win in Paris for 12 years then it doesn't mean too much.”
Meanwhile, flanker Sean O'Brien has been ruled out of Saturday's clash with Scotland due to a foot problem.
Munster's Peter O'Mahony will replace the reigning European Player of the Year with Shane Jennings drafted onto the bench.
“Sean has a skin infection on his foot which has failed to recover as quickly as expected,” read an Irish Rugby Football Union statement.
The attrition rate from the draw with France has been high with O'Brien the third player to be made unavailable for Scotland.
On Monday captain Paul O'Connell and scrum-half Conor Murray were ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations because of knee injuries.
Ireland's schedule of four games in four weeks — due to the weather-enforced postponement of their match against France — is stretching their playing resources.
O'Mahony is highly-rated and is a more natural openside than O'Brien.