Ireland Under-18 Schools coach Terry McMaster was content that his players could not have given one more ounce of energy in their 41-17 defeat to England in the U-18 Five Nations Festival at Llandovery RFC on Tuesday.
Speaking to IrishRugby.ie afterwards, Terry McMaster said: “We were really proud of the performance. The scoreline did not reflect the game.”
For sure, it was a step up from the Wales match, even though they get a lot closer to the hosts than they did to England. The basics were immeasurably better.
“I felt our lineout functioned a lot better. Our commitment at the breakdown was immense,” admitted the Irish coach.
“We turned them over on a number of occasions against what was a seriously big side. Our guys never gave up. I can’t praise their effort enough.”
It was apt, therefore, that their only try should come in the last minute. It echoed the commitment and bravery of a side that kept working the hard yards against an England side that is now unbeaten at this level in 18 matches.
In advance of the competition, Ireland would have earmarked Wales and Scotland as two prospective scalps in three matches over the congested space of eight days.
As it stands, McMaster will look to salvage one win out of three against the Scots at Llandovery on Saturday.
“Having seen the way Scotland played against England and how they did against Italy, it is going to be another battle for us,” he said.
“It will probably provide a better benchmark for Allen Clarke in the Elite Player Development Programme against a Scottish side that is closer to the same level as our players.”
There should be a pep in the step of the Irish players on Saturday, despite their second loss in five days. There was a definite improvement in standards.
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