Robbie Henshaw rues Ireland’s missed chances

‘I suppose we just need to be more clinical and take the chances’

Robbie Henshaw eludes the challenge of France’s Antoine Dupont at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Robbie Henshaw eludes the challenge of France’s Antoine Dupont at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Robbie Henshaw spoke as though he believed Ireland were closer to France than some of the questions he was fielding suggested. Within a score in the dying minutes with possession of the ball and twice in two weeks the Irish team were unable to convert.

“It’s something we have addressed in being behind in that position,” said Henshaw. “But we are 100 per cent confident we can go and score wherever we are in that position with the clock ticking down.

“We’ve done it before against France a couple of years ago. We back ourselves in the position. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. They got a turnover at the breakdown. Not sure how they got it. Going through the phases we were making good dents in their defence.”

The problem is Ireland didn’t bridge the gap and the hint of fine margins, a common theme in defeat, weighs heavily on Henshaw’s voice. Missed opportunity. A few decisions here and there. And he’s not wrong about that.

The Irish centre and the rest of the team will look at the bald statistics and see Ireland’s better possession, better territory, fewer penalties conceded and better lineouts. But still they were outscored in tries 2-1 and beaten.

“Yeah, it’s a tough one when you look back on the stats,” he says. “It shows how dominant we were. I suppose we just need to be more clinical and take the chances when they come. [James] Lowie’s foot was in touch, possibly could have been a different game if he’d got the try so...

“We’ve seen in the last couple of weeks you really need to take your chances when they come. I think that’s what’s standing out. We’ll have a good look at it over the next few days. It just shows what France have, a few miracle offloads with ball in hand. It shows how dangerous they can be if you give them a sniff.”

It’s the first time Ireland have lost their opening two matches in the Six Nations Championship and a lot of escaping air has deflated at least the public ambition. The challenge now is to reset, redraw new challenges and bring a freshness to a new script.

“We need to be honest with each other about what the standard is at international level and what little things . . .you always need to be the best in your position and always need to bring the best and win those small little battles against your opposition number,” says Henshaw.

“It just shows any lapse in concentration we will be punished. That’s what we have to do next week.”

That seems a good track to take as ‘if onlys’ do not work at international level. Had Lowe scored France would have played differently. It’s the way it is.

“Listen,” he says. “We have two weeks now to turn the page and make sure we attack the last block. We need to go out and attack every game, play rugby and have a go every time.”

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