Centre Gordon D’Arcy has stated that if Ireland do not use the narrow defeat to New Zealand as a stepping stone towards success, they will have achieved little.
Ryan Crotty’s converted try in the final play of the game saw a five-point Irish lead evaporate as Aaron Cruden’s conversion gave the All Blacks a dramatic 24-22 victory at the Aviva Stadium.
“If we don’t build on that performance and that becomes the base for us going into the Six Nations, what did we achieve here today? Nothing!,” insisted Gordon D’Arcy following the bruising GUINNESS Series battle.
“This has to be (a benchmark). We talk a lot of wanting to move forward but sometimes we get in our own way and we pull out a ‘one performance’ team and are perceived as not consistent enough.
“There is definitely a level of progression from these three games. But this is only a positive after our five games in the Six Nations that we walk away from that, hopefully with a trophy, but putting in consistent performances and going five out of five.”
D’Arcy said he was left ‘broken’ after an incredible display saw Ireland fall for the 27th time against New Zealand. 1973’s 10-all draw at the old Lansdowne Road remains Ireland’s best ever result against the All Blacks.
“This is probably the low point, for me, in my rugby career,” admitted the Wexford man who was part of a defensive effort that made 183 tackles and conceded five penalties throughout the game to the visitors’ eight.
While Jonathan Sexton had the chance to convert a penalty with six minutes remaining to put the margin out to eight points, D’Arcy believes the issue went beyond Sexton’s kick.
“I think you look at it more that we didn’t score in the second half. You gotta have the ambition and we did have the ambition to go after our scores but we didn’t get them.
“It was one kick but there were other opportunities where we could have been a bit more accurate and maybe force another penalty. But to only get one kickable penalty or not to get a try…
“We had a great maul, and suddenly collapsed very close to the line. There was another solid base of an attack in their 22 that resulted in nothing.
“We probably had three or four times where we could have attacked and could have got something out of it but we didn’t. You are not going to put it on one kick. It is just generally not scoring in 40 minutes isn’t good enough.”
D’Arcy, who missed Ireland’s 60-0 defeat to New Zealand in June of last year, reckons the performance put in by Joe Schmidt’s men today was second to none, having scored three tries in the opening 18 minutes.
“That’s a 10 out of 10. That is one of the toughest games I have ever played in. They are not walking away from that saying that was an easy game,” he said of the All Blacks.
“We talked a lot about the body language. I’d say over 50% of the game we won the body language battle that was going on. They had the hands on hips. They were blowing out their ass and we were winning those battles. You just have to be a little more clinical maybe.”
Despite the heartbreaking loss and not having the opportunity to bounce back from it until February’s Six Nations opener against Scotland, D’Arcy feels the Irish players will take a lot from their final autumn outing.
“As players, everybody can see that definitely we are growing into the new template and the new way things are done.
“I’ve no doubt the players here are so hungry to succeed that we will look back post-Six Nations definitely and build on from these three games.”