Lancaster delighted with composure in heat of battle
If Declan Kidney was looking for any crumbs of comfort from yesterday he might have sat in and listened to the after match comments of the England management.
There was little doubt that coaches Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell had come to Dublin knowing that this young side were going to be tested by a respected and canny Irish team. History has seen to that. It was always thus.
England arrived hoping their maturing side would stand up to the Irish fire fight. But before a word was spoken after the match, the smile on Lancaster’s face lighting the room as he walked up from the English changing room told its own story.
From a callow team the aspect of play that drew his attention was their composure and discipline. The sin binning of James Haskell in the second half only highlighted that and with 14 players they held their grip on the match. “To come here with a young side and show that kind of maturity to close the game out was hugely pleasing,” said Lancaster. “Ireland were in the ascendancy and then we lost James to the bin. The way we managed that period and to end up 12-6 at the end of it was great.
“I thought our technical discipline was good. We really pride ourselves on our discipline. We were pleased how we managed that but I guess it was composure in the heat of battle really.
“It’s a very difficult place to come and play rugby against a side as good as Ireland with so many experienced players. We’ve got lads who are in single figures in terms of caps. It’s great testament to them.”
Lancaster sidestepped the issue of a possible citing of Cian Healy for coming into a ruck aggressively with his feet in the second half. But it wasn’t any day to press home what he saw as a side issue, or in victory appear to be petty.
“No I was too busy concentrating on the game,” said the England coach. “There are processes in place for that so I won’t be . . . ”
Farrell, whose son Owen belied his 21-years, played a breathless game of pressure football and not once showed the stress. The former Rugby League great, not known for his emotional outbursts, was even more puffed up than Lancaster at the maturity of the England game and the fact they didn’t buckle or lose shape.
“I was more pleased with the way they handled the whole situation. I put that up there as an absolutely massive win,” he said. “A huge win simply because we come to Ireland and we’re playing against a hell of a good side. These days are made for players like Ronan O’Gara and Brian O’Driscoll, their experience and they know how to get through these games.
“The way we composed ourselves and finished the game stronger, the way we were able to put the ball into the corner in the last 20 minutes was a master class really, to go on and win the game.”