England 30-9 Ireland, Six Nations
Kidney rues 'painful' defeat
ESPNscrum Staff
March 17, 2012
Ireland re-group after conceding a score, England v Ireland, Six Nations, Twickenham, England, March 17, 2012
Ireland re-group after conceding a score against England at Twickenham © Getty Images

Ireland coach Declan Kidney described his side's 30-9 Six Nations mauling at the hands of England at Twickenham as "extremely painful".

The St Patrick's Day celebrations were muted after the Irish were put to the sword in a dismal display that condemned them to third place in the championship table. "That was extremely painful. You never like losing and you never like losing 30-9, especially on St Patrick's Day against England," Kidney said. "All credit to England, they played well and deserved to win. I know we're better than that, but we were well beaten."

Ireland's downfall owed everything to a scrum that saw them repeatedly driven backwards and concede a penalty try in the second half. It was a demoralising experience that Kidney blamed on a neck injury sustained by tighthead Mike Ross in the opening scrum. "I wasn't surprised by what happened at the scrum because Mike Ross got a crick on his neck at the first scrum and managed to play for half an hour after that," he said.

"Tom Court came on and went valiantly, but our balance was off. That was always on the cards because we have guys who don't have huge tight-head experience playing for Ireland at the moment. It's something we'll have to work on and bring more Irish guys through."

Captain Rory Best refused to make excuses for Ireland's abysmal performance at the scrum and admitted the wounds from today's defeat would take some time to heal. "There's no real hiding from what happened. From the first scrum they were fractionally ahead of us, they took hold of us and didn't let us breathe," he said. "It's bitterly disappointing as a front row and front five. The scrum is something we pride ourselves on. The last 18 months we've talked about it and used it as a strength.

"We're happy to take the pats on the back when it goes well so equally, when it goes wrong, we must stand up and take responsibility. Unfortunately it will be three months before we get to wear an Irish jersey and it will hurt for all that time. The error count was unacceptable."

Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris complained to referee Nigel Owens that he had been bitten during the first half and subsequently received treatment, but Best denied any knowledge of the incident. "I know as much as you guys when Stephen went to Nigel. You heard as much as I did," he said.

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