See below for post-match reaction to Tuesday’s IRB Under-19 World Championship match between Ireland and Japan at Shaw’s Bridge. Included are the opinions of Ireland coach Charlie McAleese and centre Jamie Smith.
IRELAND COACH CHARLIE MCALEESE:
– ON HIS TEAM’S PERFORMANCE AGAINST JAPAN –
“We went up and down a bit in that game. We started off well but having got a couple of scores on the board, I thought we started to play across the field a bit and lost our directness.
“We tried to force scores, I think, when they weren’t really on. We played into the hands of the Japanese a fair bit. We talked about it at half-time and to be fair, with some of our replacements coming off the back of the lineout and so on, the likes of Jason Harris-Wright, we got a bit of directness back into our game.
“It was a very stop-start second half. The Japanese nearly had more of the ball than we had. Their pace and directness troubled us at times. I’m just pleased to have got some points on the board – delighted for the boys.
“They’ve had a troublesome three days since our last game (against South Africa) and I’m delighted they’ve been able to post a result and we’re looking forward to the next game.”
– ON THIS YEAR’S TOURNAMENT COMPARED TO 2006 –
“It’s been very different. The ranking of fifth last year came about from playing some of the home nations. Indeed, home nations who had beaten us heavily before the tournament.
“But I think the significant difference this time is that we were pitched with two Southern Hemisphere teams in the pool matches. And a Scottish team that we’ve already found out, and no doubt we will again now, that are a decent side – we beat them narrowly – and they could well have been up in the top four or middle four section.
“The draw was particularly difficult, but I remain very pleased with what the boys have done. We got twenty minutes tonight when we played sideways and wanted to enjoy ourselves too much. We got a bit of directness into it after half-time – consolidated it.
“It was very important that we won this game and got an opportunity to play for ninth against Scotland on Saturday.”
– ON THE SECOND HALF DISPLAY –
“Going into half-time, I had two approaches to take – congratulate the boys on what they’d done and ask them to push on or give them a rollicking and say it was time to play a wee bit direct here. I chose the latter.
“I’m still pleased they responded to that because I just thought we were playing into the Japanese hands for the last ten or fifteen minutes of the first half. They were just one score away from putting pressure back on us at that stage. I think we consolidated the game.
“I realised their danger in the three-quarters. They were very, very quick in the wide channels and were quite unfortunate not to put a try on us at the end.
“We were always conscious that they could come back into it, and that’s the perilous nature of this competition.”
IRELAND CENTRE JAMIE SMITH:
– ON THE PLAYING UNDER PRESSURE –
“There was a bit of pressure on us after the defeat (to South Africa). I suppose we were playing for ninth and tenth when we could have been playing Australia tonight in the semi-finals.
“There’s more fans watching and I suppose there’s a bit more pressure because of the crowd.
“But we’ve just got to go out the next day and give it our all for ninth place. That’s where we are at the moment.”
– ON THE NEXT GAME AGAINST SCOTLAND –
“I’m expecting Scotland to come out as hard as they did in the last game. We’ll just have to match them and play better and make sure we get ninth place.”