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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Tierney: We Have To Take It On The Chin And Look Forward

Tierney: We Have To Take It On The Chin And Look Forward

Tom Tierney admitted that the Ireland dressing room was ‘heartbroken’ in UCD last night after the home side saw their Women’s Rugby World Cup title dreams dashed by a 21-5 defeat to France.

Ireland will face Australia – for the second time at this World Cup – in a 5th-8th place play-off at Kingspan Stadium next Tuesday (kick-off 2pm), but it was a frustrating finish to the pool stages for Tom Tierney’s charges who leaked three first half tries to the French.

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Tierney said that the squad, led superbly well again by all-action flanker Claire Molloy, will have to move on quickly from last night’s disappointing result, acknowledging that they ‘have to take it on the chin and look forward’.

“Obviously we’re heartbroken. The girls gave it absolutely everything. It wasn’t meant to be tonight for whatever reason. We’ll have to have a look at that, and we’ve got the play-offs to get ready for up in Belfast,” he said at the post-match press conference in Belfield.

“We didn’t want to be in (the 5th-8th play-offs), but that’s unfortunately the way things are. We have to accept that now, we have to move on. The girls, they’re heartbroken inside. The whole management were heartbroken inside, but we have to take it on the chin tonight, we have to take it on the chin tomorrow, and then we have to look forward. I suppose that’s the beauty of sport, but it’s not going to be easy for the next couple of days.”

France had put a combined 20 tries and 120 points on Japan and Australia in the opening two rounds, and they really hit the ground running against Ireland with early seven-pointers from Romane Ménager and Caroline Ladagnous – two of the real stars of the Dublin pool stages with nine tries between them.

Tierney was not surprised that the buoyant French side enjoyed such an explosive start to the winner-takes-tall encounter – they were 14 points up by the end of the first quarter – and praised his players from holding les Bleues to 21 points during the Pool C decider.

“We knew they were going to come at us in the first 20 minutes. I think I flagged it yesterday in the media briefing. It was a typical way France come at you. We tried our best. Unfortunately in that first half, we just didn’t have the ball, and France were very, very clinical. They showed what a good team they are.

“We were under pressure in that first half. To keep it to 21 points over the course of the 80 minutes is a great credit due to the girls – how they stuck together and how they kept going. Those 21 points in that first half, and the way that first 20 minutes went, obviously defined the game.”

Ireland had come from two tries down against Japan last Sunday and they had an even bigger challenge to overcome when they kicked off the second half against the French. Tierney felt the opening 10 minutes after the restart were always going to be crucial. Admittedly, he was frustrated that his charges could not get an early score to turn the game around.

“At half-time we said that we needed to have a big first 10 minutes in that second half. With a yellow card (to France’s Lénaig Corson), when we did get territory, when we did put them under pressure in their 22, we did have a chance in that first 10 minutes. It’s very, very frustrating.

“We don’t plan these things, we don’t plan to go out and make mistakes, we don’t plan to go out and have knock-ons or have poor discipline at the breakdown. Unfortunately that’s the way it goes sometimes, but we did have a couple of opportunities in that first 10 minutes of that second half. We had all the territory, but unfortunately we just couldn’t get over the line.

“We’ll try and rectify those areas again, but we had a couple of opportunities, critical moments in a match. The flow of pressure was gone back to us, but we couldn’t capitalise. Once that happened, then the second half just kind of petered out a small bit, and France were on top defensively,” added the Limerick man.