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Boss happy to go back to school to right wrongs

By Gavin Mairs

Ireland returned to the training pitch at St Gerard's School in Bray yesterday and scrum-half Isaac Boss admitted it was a relief to get the chance to right the wrongs of the last few weeks.

Eddie O'Sullivan's side failed to put together anything like an 80-minute performance during their three World Cup warm-up games against Scotland, Bayonne and Italy at Ravenhill on Friday night.

The 30-man squad depart for Bordeaux next week and now have little time to get things right before their Pool D campaign opens against Namibia on September 9.

Having had the weekend to themselves, the players know there is much work to do and Boss was in philosophical mood.

"Friday night was disappointing and today was our first chance to improve a few things and try to get moving in the right direction," said Boss, who watched most of the unconvincing 23-20 victory over the Azzurri from the substitutes' bench.

"We've got two more games in a couple of weeks before the big two matches and we've a lot of work to do.

"What we'll pick on from Friday is our ball retention and little things like that, going through phases so we can take more chances and capitalise on them."

Munster flanker Alan Quinlan admitted the side had deserved their criticism for their botched Italian job, but insisted their was no panic in the squad.

"The mood is good, everyone is pretty positive after Friday night, obviously we were disappointed with the performance, as a group we've been working really hard and I know there was a lot of criticisms about the performance, and rightly so," said Quinlan.

"But I think we've all been around long enough as players to realise that it's early days yet. Granted it was a poor performance, but it was a good result for us, even if we were probably lucky in the end.

"Everyone is disappointed in the performance and there's no hiding form that. We'll just work hard this week and try to work out what happened, why we didn't play well as a team.

"I don't think we need to change much. To be honest we've trained very well, steadily improved and we thought the Italian game was where we'd get a much-better performance and seeing better progress, because our training sessions have steadily improved and people are beginning to gel more.

"There was a big emphasis on weights and fitness over the summer and it took a while to get back into the rugby side of things. We were all hopeful Friday was going to be a good performance."

If Ireland had been flat, their below par display was also a consequence of the ever-improving Italian side's physical directness.

"Italy are definitely improving, they came to Belfast pumped up - a physical, aggressive, proud team," added Quinlan.

"Their coach had them well-pumped up to stop Ireland playing and be really physical to upset the ruck situation, put pressure on our half-backs and stop us playing effectively and force us into a kicking game.

" We tried to run a bit too much and maybe we should have gone back to basics and kicked to corners a bit more."

The victory gained Ireland 0.46 rating points as they leapfrogged their World Cup Pool D rivals Argentina into fifth in the latest international ratings.

The Pumas took part in a non-ranking match on Saturday, beating a Belgium team reinforced by French players 36-8 in Brussels.

France gained ground on second-placed Australia with their 34-7 victory over Wales in Cardiff yesterday. Thanks to their four-try triumph, Les Bleus moved from 86.35 to 86.90 rating points.

Having lost out at Ravenhill, Italy have dropped from 75.53 to 75.07 rating points but remain in ninth place, behind Wales.

South Africa's comfortable 27-3 success over Scotland on Saturday steadies their position in fourth (85.40). The Scots drop out of the world's top ten, swapping places with Samoa.

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