Rob Herring tells Ireland to turn pressure into points against Australia
Ulster hooker Rob Herring insists Ireland will not lose faith after suffering their first defeat in 13 Test matches, but admits they need to do better at taking their opportunities.
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Joe Schmidt's side were beaten 18-9 by Australia in Brisbane on Saturday and now face an uphill battle to rescue the three-game series as they move to Melbourne ahead of the second Test.
The Grand Slam winners were unable to muster a try during a bruising encounter at Suncorp Stadium and Herring believes they left plenty of points behind.
Ireland were twice denied by the television match official, while out-half Joey Carbery missed a second-half penalty and their handling let them down under pressure at key moments.
The Ireland squad flew to Melbourne yesterday ahead of next weekend's second Test at AAMI Park and a frustrated Herring said he is confident the Six Nations champions can turn things around as they pick apart their performance in the coming days.
"There was a fair bit of disappointment in the changing room, Joe came in and said we have some good things to work on now," the South African-born Ulsterman said.
"That's the beauty of it, it's a three-Test series and we've just got to get better now.
"We've got to improve on what we let ourselves down on in this game and move on.
"We need to convert pressure into points, we had a couple of good opportunities in their 22 and just coughed the ball up for one reason or another."
Herring continued: “I think that’s the key thing for us, converting those opportunities.
“We have to be confident, we’ve been building for a long time.”
Michael Cheika’s Australia were the more clinical team in attack, but it was their defensive effort and brutish physicality that drew most comment from the Irish camp after the game.
“Defensively, they put us under a lot of pressure,” Herring said.
“They came out firing with a good defensive line, some good hits and I guess we just coughed up the ball a few times which was what they were trying to do with that defensive pressure.
“We struggled to get our way into the game from there, we did hang on for a bit but I felt like Australia were always in the ascendancy.
“We knew coming into the game that any sort of loose ball, they thrive on that. They’ve very dangerous players in the backs, it showed. They took their opportunities better than we did.”
After playing a leading role in establishing the 1-0 lead in the series, Wallaby centre Kurtley Beale is expecting an Irish backlash in Melbourne.
“The Irish will be coming back hungry, keen to get the result. We understand the job’s not over yet,” he said.
“It’s time to recover and make sure we’re in the best position to get the win next week. The series isn’t over yet, the group’s fully aware of that.
“Will Genia got us together after the game and made sure that we enjoyed the win, but the focus quickly switched to Melbourne next week.”
Ireland skipper Peter O’Mahony meanwhile described the game in Brisbane as one of the quickest games of his career.
From the start of the game, the hosts were determined to lay down a physical marker and it took its toll on an Ireland team known for being able to dominate opponents.
“That first half was one of the quickest I’ve played” he said. Every time I come up against Australia the intensity and physicality is second to none.
“There wasn’t a lot of people talking about the Australian physicality before the game, but you saw how physical they were in the first 10, 15 minutes and they carried it through the game.
“Certainly, the intensity and physicality is always up there with a team of the quality that the Wallabies have.”
Ireland moved to Melbourne yesterday to begin preparations for next Saturday’s do-or-die second Test.
And O’Mahony says all is not lost. “We’ll have a look and there are things for us to work on, but it’s not all just thrown out the window,” he said.
“We stick to our process, our plan. We’re hugely disappointed, but that’s the beauty of a three-match tour that you get back on the horse, whoever is selected, and get another shot.
“We’ll be the ones putting pressure on ourselves to get ahead of where we need to be.
“A week down the line is a long time for a Test match and there’s a lot of areas we have to work on, so we’ll go and have a look at it.
“But we need to get ahead of where we’re at and I suppose we’re there at the moment as well.”