Tuesday February 12, 2013
Kidney says all to play for despite England defeat
DUBLIN: Ireland coach Declan Kidney refused to give up on his side’s Six Nations Championship title chances after a 12-6 defeat by England at Dublin’s Lansdowne Road on Sunday ended their dream of a Grand Slam.
Ireland and England were the only two sides prior to Sunday’s kick-off still in with a shot of a Grand Slam following first round victories over champions Wales and Scotland respectively.
But it was England alone, who haven’t enjoyed a Grand Slam since their World Cup-winning year of 2003, that emerged with a chance of a clean sweep after fly-half Owen Farrell kicked four penalties to two from Ireland replacement Ronan O’Gara for the visitors’ first Championship success in Dublin in a decade.
“This gives England a bit of daylight with the other five side on two points each with three matches to play,” Kidney said.
However, having coached Ireland to Grand Slam glory three years ago, Kidney warned England still had plenty of steep obstacles to overcome if Red Rose coach Stuart Lancaster was to enjoy a similar success this season.
“We’re extremely disappointed because that wasn’t the result we wanted,” said Kidney. “Let’s see what France come up with at Twickenham. England have to go to Cardiff too.
“There’s still a hell of a lot to play for. What we have now are three more opportunities to get three wins. Let’s get to eight points and see where we are at the end of it.
“The Grand Slam is a wonderful thing to win, but first and foremost you play for the Championship and we’re still well in for that.”
Ireland found themselves on the back foot early on but rallied on a rainy day in Dublin that made it tough to play the running game favoured by both sides.
In a brutal forward contest it was England, with captain and openside flanker Chris Robshaw outstanding at the breakdown in a performance that won him the man-of-the-match award, who had the edge.
Significantly, Ireland conceded more kickable penalties than England and, even allowing for the wet weather, the hosts made too many handling errors.
“I don’t want to blame the conditions because both teams played in them,” said Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip.
“There were a lot of knock-ons and unforced errors,” the No. 8 added. “I don’t know what caused all the errors.
“It was frustrating and we constantly tried to regroup and go again. England played a good pressure game.
“There were a lot of sore guys in the changing room, particularly because of the hits they took but also because they lost in a green jersey at home.”
Ireland’s defeat was compounded by a tournament-ending foot injury suffered by full-back Simon Zebo, the worst of several knocks for Kidney’s men in a bruising encounter.
And prop Cian Healy ran the risk of being cited for what appeared to be a stamp on England front row Dan Cole. — AFP