October 31, 2018 / 12:58 AM / 18 days ago

Rugby-Maintaining intensity the key against Irish, say Pumas

BUENOS AIRES, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Argentina head to Ireland for the first match of their European tour hoping that a renewed focus on defence and eliminating mental errors will help them avoid any repeats of the second-half collapses that have cost them this year.

The Pumas lost two of their six Rugby Championship games after leading at half-time, most spectacularly in their final match against Australia on Oct. 6.

Ahead 31-7 at the break, the home side suffered the second-biggest collapse in test match history to lose 45-34.

Coach Mario Ledesma has focused on defence, stamina and concentration during their preparations in Buenos Aires and his players are aware they have work to do if they want to hold their own against Six Nations champions Ireland.

“With respect to the Championship, we have to improve our set formations, especially the scrum, and we have to maintain our intensity throughout the entire 80 minutes,” hooker Julian Montoya told reporters.

“The last game was the best example of us not doing that and we have the bad taste in our mouths of having the lost the match to Australia.

“It was something mental because physically we were good. It was a tough game but we have to get over it and focus on this tour and that’s what we are doing.”

After facing Ireland in Dublin on Nov. 10, Argentina also play tests against France in Lille on Nov. 17 and Scotland at Murrayfield on Nov. 24, before playing the Barbarians at Twickenham on Dec. 1.

“We are working on our defence because they have a very dynamic attacking game and we will have to be alert in order to stop them,” winger Matias Moroni said of the Irish, who are ranked second in the world.

“We need to try and be a bit more consistent during the 80 minutes in every game and get more comfortable defending.”

Argentina beat an injury-depleted Ireland in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup but lost 28–19 in Dublin last year. (Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford )

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