MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Ireland will work on their tactical kicking game ahead of Saturday’s second test against Australia in Melbourne as they seek to keep the three-match series alive, assistant coach Andy Farrell has said.
The Wallabies delivered something of a surprise in the series opener in Brisbane last weekend when they ended the Six Nations’ champions 12-game winning streak with a 18-9 victory.
One factor in Ireland’s defeat was the tactical kicking of scrumhalf Conor Murray, whose pinpoint accuracy usually gives chasers the time to contest the ball or put pressure on the counter-attack but fell below his typical world-class standards in Brisbane.
Farrell said fullback Israel Folau, a former AFL player, was vital to Australia nullifying that threat as he was able to take the ball virtually uncontested and return it.
“Obviously, they had a plan and they backed themselves with it,” Farrell said. “Is it a 50-50 when the balls in the air with him? Probably not, he’s so good at it.
“But sometimes we let him dominate the space more than he should and he had it a little bit too much his own way.”
Farrell, a former England assistant coach whose speciality is defence, was pleased with some aspects of Ireland’s tackling but said they had allowed Australia too much space.
“It was decent, at times,” Farrell said. “But that’s not good enough at this level in the sense that they are a very, very good attacking outfit.
“We knew that before the test, we knew that they would be very hard to contain.
“It felt like we did that by and large, but you’ve got to be consistent with it.”
Ireland have been a model of consistency under coach Joe Schmidt over the past two years and Farrell said they were determined to avenge the first-test defeat.
“We’ve had a couple of meetings and they understand the reasons why, as individuals and collectives, certain things happened,” he said.
“They’re pretty angry, grumbly, walking around like bears with sore heads.”
Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford