Joey Carbery's game-ending kick to touch is the moment that encapsulated this damaging Ireland defeat in Shizuoka. Camped on their own try-line, the gong having sounded to signal the 80 minutes was played and Carbery, faced by a wall of Brave Blossoms, secured what may prove a valuable bonus point now the predictable nature of Pool A has been torn asunder.
“We were under pressure and there wasn’t too much happening at the time,” conceded the 23-year-old. “The ball kind of came quickly to me. I knew we were still in with a losing bonus point and I didn’t see too many other options on, so I just put it out.”
Did you know time was up?
Not think the pack could march 100 metres down field and secure a draw?
“I definitely thought we could have but when the ball came to me they were up in my face. I didn’t want to risk it with a short kick or anything like that and concede [possession].
“I haven’t looked back at it yet but at the time I thought it was the right option.”
Carbery, having undergone ankle surgery after suffering a ligament injury on August 10th against Italy, admitted to not being match-fit, yet on 60 minutes he replaced Jack Carty with Japan leading 16-12.
“I wouldn’t consider myself too match-fit yet but I would like to have started. But I thought Jack [Carty] did a really, really good job. His kicking was outstanding and he controlled the game really well.”
That indicates that Johnny Sexton was not ready to make the bench behind a player lacking match fitness. The world player of the year was conspicuous by his brief appearance on the big screen applauding Carty's impressive first-half performance.
“I think it wasn’t just [the absence of ]Johnny. As a collective, we let ourselves down. When the going got tough, we should have come together but we didn’t and lost a few moments.
“It was pretty tough [to get into the game]. I felt they suffocated us in attack. Their defence were coming up high on the outside and we just weren’t able to adapt to that.
“Our discipline let us down as well. We were in a good part of the pitch and a dropped ball or penalty kind of screwed us over.
“It’s pretty disappointing now but all we can do is take the learnings and get the most out of it.”
Carbery is asked to elaborate on these ‘learnings’?
“I suppose discipline killed us today,” he said of a 9-6 penalty count against Ireland. “We let them impose their attacking game on us. We didn’t go after them and in attack we weren’t able to adapt to what they were showing us.”
This is a golden moment for Japanese sport and Carbery conceded as much when paying tribute to the victors.
“100 per cent. All credit goes to Japan, they were outstanding. The pressure they put on us. We couldn’t adapt to it. They suffocated us.We had no place to go. They hugely deserve it.”
The concern now is whether Ireland can recover from mounting injury concerns – Jack Conan is heading home and is set to be replaced by Jordi Murphy – before facing Russia next Thursday in Kobe.
“Yeah definitely we can. We just need to focus on our recovery now. It’s a five-day turnaround so we need to regroup and get as much as we can out of Russia.”