Sexton demands further improvement
June 17, 2012
Jonathan Sexton has demanded further improvements from Ireland © Getty Images
Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton is keen to kick on again after running New Zealand close in Christchurch on Saturday.
Declan Kidney's side pushed the world champions to the limit before Dan Carter snatched a 22-19 victory with a drop-goal at the death.
Ireland were a different side to the one humbled in Auckland a week earlier and Sexton has called for further improvement in next weekend's final Test clash in Hamilton.
"We're pretty disappointed with the result," he said. "It is a tough one to take but we've got one more Test against them so we need to bounce back one more time.
"We saw a big improvement from the first to the second Test but I still think we made a lot of mistakes out there. We can improve again and we need to come back stronger next week."
Ireland led 10-9 at the break but were pegged back right after half-time, by Aaron Smith's debut try as an All Black, with the officials also drawing scorn from many for their handling of the second period.
"We gave them a very soft try straight after half-time, which was the worst thing we possibly could have done," Sexton said. "We went six points behind but I was proud of the way we bounced back from that.
"The referee was awarding the team with the ball a lot and it was hard to get the ball back. He wasn't rewarding the team in defence, it was more penalising them. When we began to hold the ball again in the second-half we looked good and we got a few penalties."
Following the late sin-binning of New Zealand fullback Israel Dagg - for a late hit on his opposite number, Rob Kearney - Sexton had the chance to push his side ahead from long-range, but just missed out.
"I probably needed to strike it 100% for it to go over in those conditions," he said. "It was a cold night and a 50-metre kick, even longer on the angle, so I knew I had to hit it absolutely perfectly for it to go over. They are the type of kicks that you have to step up and take but I didn't catch it perfectly. It wasn't the worst strike I've ever made; it was on target but just a metre and a bit short."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal
Laurie Fisher talks about the Brumbies and Gloucester, and provides revealing thoughts on the player involvement during the glory days in Canberra