Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell says some players have had to endure a difficult few days poring over last weekend’s defeat to Australia, but he expects a big reaction for Saturday’s second Test in Melbourne.
Joe Schmidt’s side need to overcome the Wallabies to keep the series alive after the 18-9 defeat at the Suncorp Stadium.
While the men in green held a slender lead going into the final quarter, the home side capitalised on some uncharacteristically charitable Irish defending to outscore the visitors by two tries to nil, while the attack struggled to make any inroads on the day.
Questions were raised from the Irish camp over a number of the decisions by the match officials, but Farrell says Michael Cheika’s side simply won too many of the battles.
"Fair play to Australia, they won the aerial battle," he told RTÉ Sport.
"I think everyone could see that. There was a lot of talk about their defensive breakdown. There are other areas we need to tidy up, but all in all, we have had a few good meetings and dusted ourselves off."
Those team meetings and the video analysis of where it went wrong in Brisbane has not been an easy watch for the tourists.
Johnny Sexton, who is expected to come back into the 10 jersey this weekend after coming on as a second-half substitute, is among those looking for an improved performance.
"There are a few pictures that people don’t want to see of themselves"
"We had a long, hard look at the game. We came up short by a bit and we have got to figure out ways to get that back up this week. We need to be a hell of a lot better," said the Leinster outhalf.
Farrell gave a further insight into the personal accountability expected by the management.
He said: "There are a few pictures that people don’t want to see of themselves, but they are open and honest enough to say that the group can learn from those pictures as a collective.
"I think we will see a reaction from those individuals as well."
For the home side, Saturday represents an opportunity to wrap up the series and lay down a World Cup marker against a team one place above them in the world rankings.
Farrell is all too aware that a buoyant Australia, with attacking riches in the backline, will be looking to build on their momentum.
"We know we can be better," he said. "We have to be better. I’m sure they will gain confidence from that.
"Australia playing confidently is a dangerous beast to come up against. It’s a little bit of do-or-die for us this weekend."
"We win a Grand Slam and everyone thinks that everything is hunky dory...things always need fixing and to be addressed so that we do them better"
Despite Ireland’s 12-game unbeaten run coming to an end, Farrell doesn’t believe the loss will have a significant impact on a squad constantly striving to improve.
He added: "We go through a Six Nations campaign, we win a Grand Slam and everyone thinks that everything is hunky dory, but we’re honest enough that through that winning sequence, things always need fixing and to be addressed so that we do them better. This isn’t any different."
From an attacking perspective, there is particular scope for improvement. Whether the backline can punch holes and get in behind the Australian line remains to be seen, though Sexton says the margins are incredibly fine between the teams.
"We were slightly off at key parts of the game, when we had chances, we didn’t take them," he said.
"We normally pride ourselves on being clinical. Other parts of our game were decent, but not consistent through the 80 minutes.
"They are small margins."
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