Ledesma hands out warning to Ireland ahead of New Zealand game
‘They were bad and it’s difficult for them to be bad two games in a row’
A win dug out by Ireland and the thoughts leaving the Aviva stadium were that in a different environment and eight or 10 months on where would were this match have gone?
Argentina, rebuilding and with just six players from the team Ireland beat last time out, seemed stoic in defeat. Mario Ledesma, the charismatic figure who took over as national coach during the summer, seemed at ease with his team’s progress, not overly impressed with Ireland, nor too down on his own side. Like with Joe Schmidt his is also a long-range game after a long Rugby Championship.
“One of the goals we set before the game is when we get into that arm wrestle that Ireland love was let’s dig in and stick to it,” said the Argentine coach.
“I thought scrum and one lineout wasn’t good enough but generally in defence, phases and structure we dug deep.
“I felt that in the first half we were really in the game. In the second half we were in the game but they were coming and coming and coming but we weren’t clinical enough and lost ball from first phase, and in the first pass lost it and just couldn’t score.
“We were hanging in there but we couldn’t score. I don’t know if we were really in the game. In the developments of the second half they were clearly dominating.”
Familiar with the All Blacks from playing them in the Rugby Championship, Lesdema knows that next week Ireland face a different proposition. There are two All Blacks teams that turn up, one that is often seen and the other rarely encountered. England played against the rare species of New Zealander in Twickenham.
While Lesdema didn’t see the match he knows the broad strokes of it. What piece of it he saw and what he was told by others speaks of an All Blacks team out of sorts. Ireland beware seemed to be his good natured vibe.
“They were bad and it’s difficult for them to be bad two games in a row,” said Lesdema as a sort of warning. “That’s the only thing I would say as I haven’t watched the game.”
But does that mean they need to be bad for Ireland to beat them. Or, can Ireland beat them even if they bring something resembling their A game?
“That’s a very good question,” says the coach. “I don’t know. I don’t think so. They [Ireland] already beat them in the US and they did it again against England.
“For us to beat them, yeah, they have to be bad and we have to be very good. For Ireland maybe a little bit less. They have to be average and Ireland good, very good and you beat them.”
In an otherwise accepted defeat Argentina were not too pleased about the penalty count of 11-6 against them. The former hooker thought that seemed too harsh on them and in Ireland’s favour.
“I thought tackling off the ball and staying in the tackle for a while, they [Ireland] are really good at that,” he said sarcastically. “I’m not saying we didn’t do those 11 penalties. I’m just saying they did too . . . yeah.”
But it was on Argentina’s head he put most of the blame. More penalties against Ireland might have helped but their gameplan fell asunder. Execution let them down.
“Our kicking wasn’t very clinical. We had a plan there and execution let us down a little bit. Whenever we contested the ball there were many times we got that ball back. So a little bit disappointed about execution of the kicking game but . . . ”
Jordan Larmour was one of the objects of the kicking game. The Irish fullback and all of his seven previous caps was both a target and concern for Lesdema, who clearly rated the former St Andrew’s player.
“Obviously you don’t want to give him time,” he said. “Our back three are pretty elusive too and when they have time they can play footy. Same thing with Larmour. I think that whenever you give him time he can play footy.”
In the end the collective from the Argentine camp was as much philosophical and let’s move on as visceral disappointment.
“The tighthead that came on the second have is only 20 and the other one is only 22,” he explained. “You need to keep in mind this is a process. We only got the team two weeks before the Rugby Championship. We have in mind the World Cup and were are still developing players.”
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