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Henshaw and Kearney frustrated after defensive errors prove costly

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Rob Kearney may have just gotten his breath back after a furious Test match, but he was in philosophical mood all the same as he picked through the bones of Ireland's first loss since March last year.

"Fatigue makes cowards of us all sometimes," he said as he considered his own uncharacteristic lapse in concentration before half-time - one of several moments where key players switched off and cost the team.

There was nothing cowardly about the way the Irish players fronted up in the aftermath of their first defeat in 13, but there was a firm sense of frustration and a willingness to get to Melbourne to begin putting things right ahead of game two.

They know they didn't do themselves justice in the first Test, with Kearney and Robbie Henshaw just two of a host of senior players guilty of atypical errors.

Henshaw, who was one of the players who came in slightly under-cooked after an injury-hit end to the season, was guilty of two defensive misreads that led to Australian line-breaks, the second of which resulted in Bernard Foley's try.

The scenario only came about after Kearney's drop had put Ireland on the back foot.

All of the Irish players who spoke to the media in the aftermath of the loss spoke of the speed of the game, their own accuracy with ball in hand and their need to improve at the ruck.

"Defensively we need to be better," Henshaw said.

"Missed tackles, myself included… early on, they got some good ball in the air and they beat us in the air a few times which led to them getting in behind us. We need to be more clinical.

"We're frustrated, it was a tough night at the office.

The experience was not enjoyable, but Kearney believes it will stand to the touring team.

"They played good rugby," he said. "They played with good width, they were creative, strong in contact. They had a few opportunities where we probably slipped off a little, in terms of our intensity.

"We were back in the game when it was 9-8 to us and just a few key moments went against us. They had that tap and go for that last try and that was it.

"It shows how difficult it is to go 12 games unbeaten.

"We are back to zero now. We have got to go again, some guys won't have experienced a Test match like that, that is for sure.

"That is what these summer tours are about, playing these great teams; ultimately the World Cup is our goal and you have got to get the very best out of yourself when you play the best from around the world."

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