He may have scored his first World Cup try last weekend, but flanker Simon Easterby was far more concerned about Ireland’s below par performance against Namibia.
Easterby’s touchdown at Stade Chaban Delmas was his second in his last three games for Ireland and should have helped the men in green on their way to a considerable win.
Instead, Ireland were outscored by the Pool D minnows in the second half and were left frustrated by their failure to see out the victory in confident fashion, despite securing the bonus point soon after the interval.
Easterby feels the breakdown was an area in which Ireland struggled against the Namibians, with the supply of ball out of Irish rucks painfully slow at times. By slowing down Irish ball, Namibia kept the attacking threats of Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll and Denis Hickie out of the game.
Georgia will attempt to do something similar this weekend and Easterby admits that stricter refereeing on use of the boot at ruck time can leave teams in two minds about how to deal with defenders lying on the wrong side of a ruck.
“I think so far in this World Cup we have seen the referees have maybe been a bit more lenient on the guys who come in and try to poach the ball. That’s slowing the ball down, there is a fine line between clearing someone out and doing it legally and putting boots on bodies,” said the Llanelli captain.
“Referees have obviously had a word and any foul play will obviously be picked up on so you try to work out how best to clear out the ruck without giving away a penalty or getting carded.
“You could see in the Argentina-France game that it was very physical at the breakdown. The Pumas managed to slow a lot of the French ball down by getting on the wrong side and the French weren’t able to do anything about it.
“Against us, the Namibians were similar. I thought in our warm-up games we hadn’t been particularly good at the breakdown but I thought against Namibia we were better.
“But we still need to be better. Georgia are going to pose a similar threat to Namibia and if you can’t create quick ball then we will struggle against any side.”
Easterby conceded that Ireland were so intent on scoring a flurry of tries and running up a high score against Namibia that they rushed attacks and over complicated things by looking for killer passes.
The 32-year-old knows that by concentrating on getting the basics right, building through the phases and keeping a hold of possession for long periods, Ireland can return to form in Bordeaux tomorrow night and frustrate the life out of the Georgians.
“I think we maybe, at times, put the cart before the horse against Namibia. There was a lot of expectation about the Namibian game about scoring ‘X’ amount of points and wiping them off the park. You still have to do the basics and keep hold of the ball.
“If you keep the ball for seven or eight phases against any team, you are going to do well. Against sides like Georgia or Namibia you should create scoring opportunities,” he added.
“I think you will see us do a lot more of the basics against Georgia, making sure that we win the ball first before we think about offloading it, or trying to put Georgia through phases and maybe not trying to bust them off every phase or every play.”