underwhelming | 

Andy Farrell voices his annoyance as Ireland beat Fiji

Ireland were uncharacteristically sloppy and inaccurate against Fiji.

Ireland's Nick Timoney is pulled back by Fiji's Sam Matavesi (right) as he runs with the ball during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Picture date: Saturday November 12, 2022.© PA

Cian TraceyIndependent.ie

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell cut a frustrated figure, as he tried to put his finger on why his side made such hard work of their 35-17 win over Fiji.

Although they ran out comfortable winners in the end, Ireland were uncharacteristically sloppy and inaccurate against a Fiji side, who had a man sent off and another two sent to the bin.

Even with a two-man numerical advantage for a 10-minute period, Ireland struggled to make their dominance count on the scoreboard, as they repeatedly fluffed their lines inside the Fiji 22.

“Like always, as we should be, any Test match win should be celebrated, especially when you've got three lads making their debut and Tadhg (Furlong) captaining the side for the first time," Farrell said.

“So, delighted that they are able to celebrate in the proper way with their families etc. It's such a momentous occasion for them.

“But for us, as far as the performance is concerned, (it was) pretty underwhelming. I suppose when you look back and you analyse a performance like that, you'll get plenty of learnings out of it.

“But for Fiji, being down to 13 men, obviously with the red card and a couple of yellow cards, and the penalty count being 14-10 in our favour, we should have been a lot more clinical than we was.

“And I think that's the moral of the story. We got into their 22 time and time again, and yes because of illegalities or the stop/start nature, we lost our flow but we weren't clinical enough by any stretch of the imagination.”

Even allowing for the fact that Farrell made the appropriate changes to his team, and given it was an early kick-off, the Ireland boss refused to look for excuses.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell during the Autumn International match between Ireland and Fiji. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)© Getty Images

“No excuse whatsoever because we are a squad and we have all been in camp the same length of time, and we are all learning together and yeah, no, there are no excuses there in that regard,” Farrell insisted.

“We have been pretty good of late starting well and our start obviously wasn't the best. You fast forward to the last play of the game, us kicking the ball out against 14 men with the scrum ready to play when the game is already won probably sums the game up.”

Robbie Henshaw was forced off after four minutes, as the hamstring injury that kept him out of last weekend's win over South Africa flared up again.

Henshaw is now in a race to be fit in time for the last game of the year against Australia next weekend, while Joey Carbery and Jimmy O'Brien will follow the return-to-play-protocols having suffered head injuries.

If Henshaw was to miss the clash with a wounded Wallabies side, who lost to Italy today for the first time in their history, Bundee Aki's return would help offset his loss, as the Connacht centre's suspension is now over. That said, Stuart McCloskey has deservedly put himself right in the mix.

“He felt his hamstring, he doesn't feel like anything was too serious,” Farrell said of Henshaw.

“He felt like he precautionary came off in time to make sure that he's not done any more damage. We will just see how it is tomorrow.

“Joey and Jimmy will obviously go through the protocols but they seem in themselves in the dressing room.

“Bundee is good to play, he has been in camp the whole time.”

Farrell is also sweating over the fitness of key men Johnny Sexton, Josh van der Flier, Andrew Porter, James Ryan and Hugo Keenan due to the knocks they picked up in the Springboks win.

“I'm as curious as you are to get back into work on Sunday night and see how that is,” Farrell added.

“The reality is that the bodies that were missing this week haven't trained with us at all because they're nursing different injuries coming back into camp on Sunday night and how things flow from Monday morning is going to be interesting for us all this week.”

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