Argentina v Ireland: O’Connell disappointed with performance
Argentina v Ireland: Paul O'Connell demands more for Joe Schmidt's men ahead of the next Test
Paul O’Connell admitted Ireland made tough work of a weakened Argentina side as they came through 29-17 to win their first Test in South America.
The Munster lock and Ireland captain revealed that they were lucky to escape with a win after making too many mistakes in Resistencia, despite looking comfortable for large parts of the contest with three tries from Chris Henry, Johnny Sexton and Andrew Trimble.
They put us under a lot of pressure, I think the result is great but the performance is disappointing
“They had some very big men, some really good footwork and they put us under a lot of pressure and it kind of thrived off our mistakes,” O’Connell said.
“We were unlucky not to score a try early in the first-half. And 30 seconds later we were lucky not to concede a try.
“It was very hard going, we knew it was going to be physical which it was. We didn’t know we were going to be as inaccurate as we were. We put a lot of balls down and missed some tackles.”
“So that’s kind of the way they play and we knew that but I suppose we were intent on trying to stop that and we didn’t do that.
“They put us under a lot of pressure, I think the result is great but the performance is disappointing.”
Ireland’s last outing in March saw them wrap up a first Six Nations title since 2009 with a win over France in Paris—another place they have struggled to win.
And O’Connell highlighted the importance of putting down a marker in a series, especially with so many unfamiliar partnerships as head coach Joe Schmidt had to make do without many of his Leinster stars.
“I think it’s important to be able to try and play well without having a reference point,” he added. “Our last reference point was France—a lot of the boys wouldn’t have played in that game.
“You look at what England did: going down to New Zealand putting in a big performance against them. That’s what we needed to do and we didn’t do that.
“This gives us something to work on now and something to review over the next few days and— knowing Joe Schmidt—it will be a very tough review and hopefully our performance will improve next week.”
Defensive frailty and turnovers aside, there were some positives for Schmidt and his fellow coaches with the set-piece continuing to produce try-scoring opportunities and the discipline helping to deny the Pumas any cheap shots at goal.
The Ireland camp can also take heart from the debut performances of flanker Robbie Diack, scrum-half Kieran Marmion and prop Rodney Ah You as well as fringe players showing what they can do on the international stage, with Munster wing Simon Zebo among the standout performers.
And O’Connell, winning his 100th Test cap in his 93rd appearance for Ireland, was pleased with how his team-mates came through a ‘slog’ in difficult conditions.
“For a few of the young guys and a few of the guys who got their first cap and who maybe aren’t regulars in the side it is good to come down to a place like this and get a real tough test and come through it,” he said.
“When you see the likes of Felix Jones struggling with five minutes to go from a fitness point of view—he is one of the fittest guys I’ve ever played with— it just shows how physical a game it was and how draining it was fitness-wise. It was a real slog throughout, a real tough physical game.”