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Ireland boss Andy Farrell shrugs off injury concerns in ‘clunky’ win over Italy

By PA
(Source/PA)

Andy Farrell played down the severity of injuries suffered by Jack Conan, Jimmy O’Brien and Craig Casey during Ireland’s “clunky” World Cup warm-up win over Italy.

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Number eight Conan was pictured in a protective boot following his first-half withdrawal in Dublin, while full-back O’Brien and scrum-half Casey were taken off with shoulder and back issues respectively.

Caelan Doris shone for the Guinness Six Nations champions with two tries in a 33-17 victory in which Dave Kilcoyne, Stuart McCloskey and replacement Cian Healy were also on the scoresheet.

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Speaking of the injury concerns, head coach Farrell said: “They seem not too bad.

“Jimmy’s shoulder has shut down a little bit, it’s something he’s had in the past. Jack lost power in his foot, he seems OK.

“Craig had a tight back which was making his hamstring cramp. They were taken off as precautions more than anything.”

An experimental Ireland side recovered from a sluggish start at a subdued Aviva Stadium to take control of the contest but did not fully convince, despite the comfortable scoreline.

“To get up and running with a victory is nice, but I think we all know really that it was a bit clunky, to say the least, at times,” said Farrell.

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“There was some really good stuff as far as possession is concerned and opportunities to convert were there in spades.

“But we weren’t patient enough to be able to convert that, so I think that’s the morale of the story really.”

Back-rower Doris, selected in an unfamiliar role at openside flanker, was the standout performer, while Ciaran Frawley, Calvin Nash and Tom Stewart came off the bench to make Test debuts.

“I’m sick of him getting man of the match,” joked Farrell.

“He just keeps getting better and better. We all know he’s good at jackalling and good over the ball and I don’t know whether he took that through the roof because he had a number seven on his back.

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“He epitomises what we’re trying to do as far as the player being in control of his own mind.

“It doesn’t really matter whether he makes a mistake or two, he just gets on with the next job the whole time.

“He’s playing extremely well but he’s certainly growing as far as his leadership role is concerned as well. He’s coming on leaps and bounds.”

Ireland move on to a training camp in Portugal before taking on England and Samoa later this month.

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley said: “In the first half, we were dominated all over the place.

“Ireland were too good for us in that first half. Second half, we came back but we’ve still got a lot of work to do in our breakdown work and just in general with our management.

“I saw an improvement in that second half – we won the second half, I think, but that’s not winning the game.”

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William 2 hours ago
All Blacks vs England takeaways: Richie Who? Time for Cortez

Correct analysis of Perofeta’s bungling of the try opportunity Ben. Never ‘fixed’ Steward as he came across in defence and passed too early. Steward didn’t have to break his stride and simply moved on to pressure Telea. Never scanned the easier option of passing to the two supporting players on the inside. Beauden Barrett showed how it is done when he put Telea in for his try. Another point from the game is that the rush defence is hard to maintain as the number of phases increases. From scrums the defensive line only contains backs who all have roughly the same pace. Once forwards are involved, the defence has players with variable speeds often leading to a jagged line. It also tends to lose pace overall giving the attack more time and space. Beauden Barrett’s break to set up Telea’s try came because Baxter went in to tackle McKenzie and Steward went out to cover Telea. Barrett has a massive hole to run through, then commits Steward by passing as late as possible and Telea scores untouched. Another comment I would make is that Ben Earl is a good player and generally an excellent defender but he made three significant misses in the series, two of which led to All Black tries. Got stepped by Perofeta in Dunedin for Savea’s try, missed McKenzie in Auckland leading to what should have been a certain try being set up by Perofeta and was one of the tacklers who couldn’t stop Savea in the leadup to Telea’s first try. Perhaps he should contact Owen Farrell to pick up a few tips from ‘tackle school’.

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