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Easterby backs Ireland to respond after England defeat

Easterby backs Ireland to respond after England defeat

Easterby backs Ireland to respond after England defeat

Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby stands by his team’s decisions made in the 18-7 defeat to England last weekend, and believes the squad will have learned a great deal going into this Sunday’s clash with Georgia at the Aviva Stadium.

The Men in Green failed to convert their chances when opting to kick to touch instead of going for goal in London, leaving them pointless until the closing stages when Jacob Stockdale eventually crossed late on.

Jonny May’s two first-half tries was enough for the hosts to seal the deal at Rugby HQ, as Ireland fell to defeat for the second time in three matches, following their loss to France in the final round of the Guinness Six Nations and Round 1 victory over Wales.

But Easterby believes the 15 players on the field will always be better placed to make the pivotal decisions during the match, and backs his players to continue to make the right calls in the future, starting with the visit of the Lelos on Sunday.

“I think you’ve got to allow the leadership group to make those decisions,” he said. “I think if the players are always looking up at the stands and wondering what to do, then we’re not doing our job as a coaching group to try and build their decision making under pressure.

“100%, we’d back those decisions that they made. Is there a call sometimes to take three points to try and build a score, like we did against Wales? That certainly can keep momentum going and not take away the momentum from a missed opportunity to take points.

“You’ve also got a feel out there in the game. The players, they may feel there’s an opportunity to get more out of a strike play or a maul or a scrum, than it is to take three points.

“Because they feel that the opposition are under pressure. We don’t always get those decisions right, but more often than not it’s a decision made on the pitch and it’s certainly not one that we’re screaming down the microphone.

“We’ve got to allow the players to build experience and understanding in the moment what decision they make.”

Part of Ireland’s failure to convert their chances from their 61 percent of the possession at Twickenham was their under-performing lineout, which would halt any momentum gained in its tracks.

With four of the visitors’ throw-ins going against the head on Saturday afternoon, England were gifted easy ball on a number of occasions, which their defensive line was all too happy to lap up.

And Easterby believes the fact that with several inexperienced players at international level being blooded into Andy Farrell’s starting XV in recent matches, it is no surprise that the set-piece will take some time to gel.

Six of the starting line-up in London had started less than 10 matches for Ireland before Saturday, including hooker Ronan Kelleher, who was pulling on the green jersey for only the fifth time.

Sunday’s match with Georgia at the Aviva Stadium will give Ireland another chance to test out some of their new partnerships as they look to end the group stage with a victory against the Lelos, who are yet to trouble the scorers in their opening two matches of the competition.

And despite the urge to rotate a number of players for the match in Dublin, Easterby believes the players have to earn the right to represent their country, whoever the opposition.

“We’re continually trying to grow some experience and some leadership in that group. We had a couple of young players in there,” the former Scarlets man said.

“We had a number of challenges in there from the opposition, as well as making sure that we get our own drills in order. I think there’s probably a combination of things throughout the week.

“We’ve got a couple of inexperienced younger guys in there, who we feel are learning every week and they’re growing in their roles. It takes time to build combinations and get those things right.

“There’ll be some experience in the team as well as some inexperience in the team for the weekend. We don’t want to be just handing out caps as well. We want to make sure that guys earn the right to get selected.”

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