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"They looked like they hated the Irish players" | England's hate highlighted Irish sluggishness

Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

10:23 24 Feb 2020

While Sunday's loss to England at Twickenham was notable for a litany of individual mistakes, Alan Quinlan believes that England simply brought more determination and anger to their performance than Andy Farrell's men.

A superior English pack size and a stuttering showing from two of Ireland's most experienced players – Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray – also played their part in what Quinlan described as a "shellshocked" production from Ireland.

Breaking down where it went wrong on Monday's OTB AM, Quinlan highlighted Ireland's shortage in basic principles of intensity and aggression.

"The worrying thing from the Irish point-of-view is, obviously mistakes will happen and your gameplan will breakdown at times, but Ireland just lacked energy from the word go," Quinlan explained.

"They were on the backfoot, soaking up tackles. And England were good to be fair, very good the way that they held on to the ball and they were really, really aggressive.

"We just couldn't get the ball back off them, lineouts we won we were just getting smashed, it was messy coming back to the half-backs.

"Their defensive line was really really quick. they numbered up really well and they didn't hover in around the break-line they actually numbered out and showed the aggression off the line."

With Johnny Sexton's mistake leading to George Ford's opening try after nine minutes, it didn't take long for Ireland to look rattled. A missed penalty from the captain added to that minutes later, followed by Jacob Stockdale's hesitation behind his own try line to gift England a two-try lead after 25 minutes.

That sluggishness was all in stark contrast to Eddie Jones' side who were baying to batter Ireland at every opportunity, Quinlan pointed out.

"England just changed gears yesterday and got to another level. They looked like they hated the Irish players, they were niggling them all the time and they were really unsettling them – we just couldn't cope with it and that makes me more angry.

"We allowed them to niggle us all the time and just get in our faces. We couldn't get our maul going, we couldn't get over the gain line and it's so difficult to try and play off that."

Asked how Ireland make up the shortcoming compared to England's power and physicality, Quinlan admitted it was hard to know when or how Ireland will next get the better of their Six Nations rivals.

Warning that there is a danger in talking too much about the physicality factor, Quinlan warned that when you are repeatedly losing in the collisions like Ireland were then you are in trouble.

"We need to figure that out, because people obviously they say, if you talk too much about physicality and power there are so many more aspects to the game, but the reality is in rugby if you lose those collisions [you struggle].

"England had 32 impact tackles, dominant impact tackles, so they are knocking Ireland backward. It's really hard to reset from those breakdowns."

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Alan Quinlan Eddie Jones England IRFU Ireland Six Nations

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