Leaky defence worries Ireland fullback
CHIEF RUGBY WRITER
Nobody will be more pleased than fullback Rob Kearney if Ireland can firm up their leaky defence in Christchurch tonight.
The Leinster custodian must have felt like the finger in the dam last week as the All Blacks backs streamed through at regular intervals during the 42-10 first-test loss.
"Nine tackles I think my stat was," he said this week. "I think that's more than I made in the whole Six Nations."
In fairness, in between getting a "nice little smack" in a big Julian Savea tackle and being powerless to stop waves of attackers, Kearney made several try-saving tackles in Auckland. But it's no wonder he emanates a hint of jealousy at the amount of ball the All Blacks outside backs received.
"We gave him [Savea] a lot of space, he exploited that space really well, but his tries he didn't have to work overly hard for," Kearney said. "Israel [Dagg] put him in for two nice ones and Dan Carter put him in for another. Of course as a wing you have to be in the right place at the right time, but if we can stop that supply of ball closer to the heart hopefully he won't get as much time and space as he did."
Kearney, and Ireland know the key to stopping a repeat scoreline is better defence and have spent the week reviewing their tactics with Australian defence coach Les Kiss.
The squad watched Wednesday night's State of Origin rugby league match together and Kiss, a former Kangaroos' wing, said it was a valuable reminder of the defensive intensity required in big games. Actually missing one-on-one tackles was less the issue than line speed, communication, and getting the correct number of players to commit to the breakdown, he said.
Second five-eighth Gordon D'Arcy agreed saying Ireland had overcommitted to players such as Sonny Bill Williams, freeing up the All Blacks to offload, or quickly move the ball to the overlap on the outside.
"One thing we learned on the weekend is we can't be putting two or three guys into our breakdown. We have to have that ruthlessness in one on one tackles and turn the tables a little bit.
"What they do to us, they put one guy in, next guy in tries to mess up the breakdown as much as possible. We know how to do it and do it week in week out but we just didn't do it justice on the weekend."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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