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Thursday 8 December 2016

Dev' sets Tone for third test

Ireland must maintain intensity from start to finish to make history

Devin Toner knows what is required if Ireland are to defeat South Africa in the final Test. Photo: Sportsfile
Devin Toner knows what is required if Ireland are to defeat South Africa in the final Test. Photo: Sportsfile

Devin Toner will work on preparing for the best version of the Springboks in the third and deciding Test.

It is the only way to beat them.

That means coming to terms with the notion that Ireland's hosts will grow week-on-week, be better in Port Elizabeth than they were in Johannesburg.

"I suppose we're expecting them to play as they played in that last quarter.

"I think they'll have a lot of confidence from those last 20 minutes," said the second row.

Storming

The foundation for South Africa's storming comeback was built on the far side of the gain line.

Once their carriers began to make inroads, Ireland's defence collapsed in and was blown back.

The momentum generated by locks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etsebeth, centre Damian de Allende and replacements Warren Whiteley and Ruan Combrinck, combined with the influence of altitude, wore Ireland down.

"We can't let them do that again," stated Toner.

"We can't let them run at us. We can't let them get over the gain line as easily as they did."

The 'in your face' attitude has to be there right from the first minute and carry on to the last.

This is where the renowned motivation of defence coach Andy Farrell will come into play.

The easiest way to stop a runaway train is to get there before it starts getting up a head of steam.

The Irish coaches and players have gone to great lengths to discount the fatigue factor in the second Test.

Inside the bubble, they will know deep down what exact effect the altitude had on their clarity of thought, the accuracy and intensity of their work.

The 'A' word may not be shouted as an excuse to the outside world.

But it can be used as proof beyond a reasonable doubt for the reason South Africa rebounded as long as the scientific measurements, administered by the strength and conditioning team, back up what appeared, to the naked eye, to be happening.

This will provide the Irish with the knowledge that, at sea level and for the first hour at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, they have been better than the Springboks.

"We're going to have to take confidence from our performance in the first game and the first half (of the second game)," continued the Moynalvey man.

There is also the return of CJ Stander, Ultan Dillane, Jordi Murphy, Sean Cronin, Luke Marshall and Keith Earls to replenish their resources.

"We fell off some tackles. Basically, it comes down to physicality, getting the shoulder in and getting that first-up contact.

Tackles

"Once you start falling off tackles and once you start letting them get over the gain line, that's what happens.

"I don't know whether it was a lapse in concentration or lads were tired, but I think it was just that last 15/20 minutes kind of killed us."

For the moment, Ireland have been on a go-slow in terms of physical preparation.

The 'Three Rs' of rest, recovery and rehabilitation are in place to revive the bodies.

The expert opinion of Joe Schmidt and his assistants are there to build their men up to the mental and physical edge that enabled them to build a 16-point lead 62 minutes into the second Test.

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