Bowe refuses to panic after South Africa defeat
Ireland and Ulster winger Tommy Bowe insists confidence in the Irish camp is high despite yesterday’s disappointing loss to the Springboks.
The 16-12 defeat in the Aviva Stadium took Ireland’s losing streak to five consecutive games, marking the side’s worst run of form for 14 years.
Pressure is building on the Irish players and head coach Declan Kidney, whose contract expires in June 2013, but according to Bowe the squad are not fretting over their recent results.
"There really isn't a feeling that the team is going through a difficult period at the moment,” he said.
"There's been a lot of confidence in the squad over the last couple of weeks, certainly with the work we've been doing in training."
Yesterday’s showdown was Ireland’s first competitive outing since the humiliating 60-0 defeat to All Blacks in June.
Eager to atone for the heaviest ever defeat, Kidney’s charges set the tempo in the first half against the Sprinboks and took a deserved 12-3 into the break with Jonathan Sexton missing his first kick of the evening just before halftime.
But South Africa came flying out for the second half and targeted the Irish lineout which functioned poorly on hooker Richardt Strauss’s international debut against his home nation.
The visitors went for the jugular when stand-in Irish skipper Jamie Heaslip was sin binned, racking up ten points in ten minutes with Ulster scrum-half Ruan Pienaar crossing for the game’s only try.
From there Heinke Meyer’s team kept their noses in front as Ireland failed to really threaten the South African try line.
After such a positive start, Bowe admits it was disappointing to allow their opponents take control of the match in the second half.
"Everyone was upbeat and was looking forward to South Africa.
"I felt that we'd go after them and win - we'd targeted this match. Having lost it we'll have to reassess that.
"It was a disappointing defeat because we had set ourselves up perfectly in the first half.
"We've worked so hard as a team to build a bond, get the intensity and accuracy up.
"It showed at times against South Africa, but when it counted in the second half we weren't able to pull it out."
Injuries to captain Brian O’Driscoll and other senior players such as Paul O’Connell Rory Best, Sean O’Brien, Stephen Ferris and Rob Kearney forced Kidney to pick an experimental side.
Despite the result, Bowe believes the unfamiliar faces in the team made an impression, singling out Connacht lock Mike McCarthy and Ulster teammate Chris Henry as particularly impressive performers on the day.
"The likes of Chris Henry and Mike McCarthy stepped up to the plate, they were outstanding," said the winger.
"It didn't feel as though there was any real drop around the pitch because of the guys we were missing. No one looked out of place.
"There's been a lot of talk about the guys who are missing, but that will happen and there must be a new breed of player coming through.
"A lot of the guys really put their hand up yesterday and it's disappointing we didn't get the win to show for it.”
Argentina’s victory over Wales in the Millennium Stadium means the Pumas are breathing down Ireland’s neck in terms of IRB World Rankings where Ireland currently sit in 7th, one place ahead of the South American side.
Aware of the importance of the World Rankings ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool allocation draw on December 3, Bowe admits the meeting with Argentina in two weeks will be a huge encounter.
"We're looking forward to Fiji next week and then obviously we have a massive match against Argentina. It's a case of getting the job done."