Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan could not hide his disappointment at the post-match performance in Bordeaux after watching his team turn in their second successive below par performance of the World Cup.
Ireland were left shell-shocked and scrapping for their World Cup lives as Georgia threatened to overhaul a 14-10 Irish lead in the dying moments at Stade Chaban Delmas.
Despite his side’s failure to fire against both Namibia and Georgia, two of the weakest teams in the tournament, O’Sullivan felt that his men had “played better than last week” and that they will benefit from having to slug it out against the Georgians in the long run.
“I’m not dismayed but I’m disappointed by the performance. I’m worried about why we aren’t clicking. We’ve had two tough games and we’ve benefited from them but we know we’ll have to turn it up a notch against France (next Friday),” O’Sullivan said.
“We know what France will bring to the party. The big ask is if we can improve enough to beat France. I’m an optimist so I think we can.
“We had one chance tonight in the second half and took it thankfully (with Girvan Dempsey’s try), and then kept Georgia out. It was very tough but at least we were better than last week.”
With only five days to prepare for the must-win clash with France in Paris, O’Sullivan knows the heat will be on his side to rediscover their form of the recent past and send the hosts crashing out of the competition. The belief is there that Ireland can do just that, according to the coach.
“If I didn’t believe that (we can beat France) then I wouldn’t be going to Paris. How much we will benefit and how much we will get right between now and next Friday night at Stade de France remains to be seen, but we’ll have to come up a notch. I suppose the good thing about France is that we’re not going into unchartered territory.
“That wasn’t the performance we wanted against Georgia but I’m certainly not going to make any rash statements about selection for the French match,” added the Corkman, who announces his team for the France game on Monday afternoon.
Whilst commending Georgia for “an excellent performance”, O’Sullivan also praised his players’ mental strength as they held out for the 14-10 win over the eastern Europeans despite being put under the cosh for much of the final quarter.
“I’ll tell you one thing that we showed tonight was that if we were a weaker team mentally with 10 minutes on the clock with Georgia pounding our line, we would have thrown in the towel and probably lost the game. So what it does show is that we’re willing to dig in and fight for what we get.
“I suppose that’s where Irish rugby is – we very rarely get anything for free so we’ve got to work for everything and we had to do that tonight. And I suppose Georgia won’t get the credit they deserve tonight. I can’t imagine they will but that Georgian performance tonight was an excellent performance.”
Worryingly, Ireland’s game was once again riddled with errors and they did themselves no favours by allowing Georgia to hit back at them during a ten-minute spell either side of half-time when they scored their 10 points.
“We didn’t help ourselves with mistakes and we brought them into the game. The line break they got from a ruck which led to the yellow card (for David Wallace) was a huge turnover. That brought them upfield, they got three points on the board and it put us back to 14 men,” O’Sullivan added.
“Then five minutes into the second half they had seven more points and it was game on. That’s the kind of thing you can’t do against these teams. We weren’t as bad this week at it but we did enough in the game to make life hard for ourselves.”
– Click here to listen to a short snippet from Eddie O’Sullivan from the post-match press conference –