‘We enjoyed ourselves. I thought there was some lovely rugby played, particularly by our guys in the first half. It was a good result for us, a good performance.’ The thoughts of interim head coach Michael Bradley after Ireland’s 39-14 triumph over the Barbarians at Kingsholm on Tuesday.
In their one and only warm-up game before the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia, Ireland put in a good night’s work at Kingsholm as they accounted for the Barbarians on a 39-14 score-line.
Tries from Tommy Bowe, stand-in captain Shane Horgan (2) and Jamie Heaslip (2) saw the Irish shoot ahead of the Baa Baas and they never looked like losing their lead, with a number of players putting their hands up for Test selection.
“We enjoyed ourselves. I thought there was some lovely rugby played, particularly by our guys in the first half,” Bradley said after the final whistle.
“We put a lot of pressure on the Baa Baas. We were probably that bit more organised in defence, which gave us the advantage throughout the whole game. It was a good result for us, a good performance.”
Although debutant prop Mike Ross picked up a knee strain, all 22 players got a run-out at the home of Gloucester Rugby, including the four uncapped players on the replacements bench (Tom Court, Ryan Caldwell, Frank Murphy and Jonathan Sexton).
Bradley was pleased to see the work on the training pitch pay off, adding: “We set out our stall in terms of defence and a couple of related objectives, and we had worked on our phase play as well.
“I thought all 22 players did well. There were some very good players in that Barbarians side. The point was made at half-time about going out and finishing the job, which is what we did.”
Acknowledging that it was a game that Ireland needed – albeit against a Barbarians side that largely disappointed – the former Ireland scrum half also expressed his satisfaction with his side’s ability to maintain possession and patiently pick off their scores.
“They had a very strong side on paper but in the true traditions of the Baa Baas, they were bonding and maybe that caught up with them before this game.
“I’d expect that they’d perform at a higher level against England in their next game. Look, we can only deal with what we have in front of us.
“We’re very happy with how the lads played. We kept the ball in play a lot so we’re happy with that.”