Ross bemoans crucial two-minute spell that cost Ireland dearly
Ireland winger Simon Zebo shows his disappointment as he leaves the field injured early on during yesterday's Six Nations encounter against England at the Aviva Stadium. photograph: james crombie/inpho
Consolation offers a flimsy crutch in defeat. Ireland tighthead prop Mike Ross didn’t look for mitigation or any personal fillips as he sifted through an afternoon of frustration at the Aviva stadium. The nature of Ireland’s defeat, traceable in its DNA, and the narrow margin on the scoreboard merely niggled further in terms of a general disappointment at the outcome.
The home side had momentum and a man advantage but in a two-minute spell between the 63rd and 65th minutes watched their hopes implode on foot of conceding a brace of penalties, both of which were landed by 21-year-old England outhalf Owen Farrell. It handed the visitors a buffer that sustained them to the final whistle.
Ross admitted: “We probably weren’t clinical enough. We had our opportunities; we were thrown a lifeline when James Haskell got sin-binned but we didn’t take it. Instead of pushing forward and getting ahead we ended behind when he came back on which is not ideal, it gives a momentum change the other way.”
You must have thought that you were set fair at 6-6?
“Yeah, that would be fair. But for whatever reason we just didn’t press that advantage home and England lifted their game another 10 per cent as they had to do with a man in the bin. That resulted in the winning and losing of the game.”
The inclement weather was going to be a useful ally to the much-touted England scrum.
Things didn’t pan out that way. The official statistics stated that Ireland were foot perfect in not losing a ball on their own put-in – a penalty awarded against them notwithstanding or included . The visitors lost three of their seven scrums. They also finished on the debit side of the ledger in terms of the penalty count at scrum time.
It was an inconsequential silver lining beneath the leaden skies. Ireland coped well enough in the scrum for the opening 40 minutes but on the resumption they forced a couple of quick penalties.
Ross explained: “We were comfortable enough in the first half and we had a little look and a little chat among ourselves at half-time that we’d focus more on different aspects; it paid dividends.”
“I think we’re pretty frustrated. It’s an accurate summation because we had opportunities and didn’t take them; it’s six points at the end of the day. Scoring opportunities were hard for both teams but when you get into the opposition 22 you have to make it count otherwise it could be a long time before you’re back there again.
“Obviously it wasn’t perfect conditions for running rugby but at the same time we’ve trained in that for the past two weeks. So it was something we were expecting, it had been flagged up for the last couple of days that the weather was going to be like that.
“It was difficult enough to try and run the ball back but at the same time both teams played in the same conditions. We seemed to cough the ball up than they did.”
England denied their hosts the quick ball they craved and last week enjoyed at the breakdown. French referee Jerome Garces allowed a contest for possession. He was consistent in his interpretation and in penalising any player who lingered in the contact area.
Ross added: “Every referee has all their own little tendencies and idiosyncrasies. We had done our homework on Mr Garces, were expecting a competition at the breakdown and we weren’t disappointed. We’ll spend the next couple of days feeling sorry for ourselves but then we’ve got a big test in two weeks against Scotland.”