Kidney calls in cover for O'Connell

 

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has called 10 players up to the squad ahead of the third and final autumn test against Argentina. Among them are three locks, suggesting that the injury sustained by Paul O'Connell in the 22-3 defeat to the All Blacks may prevent the Munster captain from facing the Pumas on Saturday.

Malcolm O'Kelly, Ryan Caldwell and Bob Casey will all be vying to replace O'Connell should he not recover, while Kidney may also opt for secondrow cover on the bench after being left in a bind against the All Blacks when his pack leader pulled up.

Backs Shane Horgan, Gavin Duffy, Geordan Murphy and Andrew Trimble have been included, while hooker Bernard Jackman and props Mike Ross and Tom Court will train with the squad ahead of the team announcement that is expected on Tuesday afternoon.

In his post-mortem of the defeat to New Zealand last night, captain Brian O'Driscoll picked out the penalty try as a key moment for the opposition but was pleased with Ireland's refusal to back down in the face of a furious second half onslaught.

With the scores locked at three points apiece in the closing seconds of the first half, a penalty-try conceded by Tommy Bowe for deliberately palming the ball out of play with Richie McCaw racing in to touch down proved costly.

Bowe had little choice, but referee Mark Lawrence described his action as cynical and when Carter converted from in front of the posts Ireland were suddenly 10-3 down at the interval.

"Obviously it would have been considerably better if we'd gone in at half-time level pegging. The penalty try was a kick in the teeth," said O'Driscoll. "But we did play the majority of the first half in our own half and eventually the All Blacks will make you pay for that.

"I didn't see what happened with regards to the try but there were a few times when we scrambled well and managed to hold them out.

"I wouldn't say it was deflating at half-time but there would have been more of a step in us had we been level pegging.

"On another day we could have been the ones to get a breakaway score just before half-time. It's all about momentum.

"New Zealand are a smart team who have clever players in key positions like Dan Carter."

Ma'a Nonu and Brad Thorn crossed for New Zealand in the second half to move the visitors out of sight but O'Driscoll insists the hosts gave everything in their bid to keep the score respectable.

"When they scored the third try there was potential for us to capitulate and allow them to cross the whitewash time and time again," he said. "But we stood under the posts and said we wouldn't let that happen, not at Croke Park. We battled hard for the full 80 (minutes) and contained them."

Kidney refused to pass judgement on the decision that spelt the beginning of the end for the hosts.

"I didn't see the penalty try but there were enough people looking at it," he said. "New Zealand played very well and won the field position battles by a big way.

"Most of the game was played inside our half. You can only defend for so long and they took their opportunities. There were two or three more they might have scored."

New Zealand coach Graham Henry was satisfied Lawrence had made the correct decision in awarding the penalty try.

"That's the law — the referee just applied the rule. It was good for us at the time," he said. "Any try just before half-time has an influence on the game.

 "We're pleased with the result. The guys played well and we dominated the game most of the time.

"We played with tempo but were frustrated that we created chances that we didn't finish. A couple of tries went begging.

"Our defence was excellent, the best of the tour so far. We got a lot of turnover ball.

"Ireland played as well as they were allowed to. I imagine they went out with a more expansive gameplan.

"Brian O'Driscoll and Luke Fitzgerald played well, they cut us up in midfield a couple of times, but our cover defence was good."