Frustrated Iain Henderson admits Ireland’s lack of cutting edge has left them with a Guinness Six Nations mountain to climb after they suffered their second consecutive Championship defeat against France in Dublin.
Andy Farrell’s side went down 15-13 at the Aviva Stadium as tries from Charles Ollivon and Damian Penaud secured Les Bleus’ first win in the Irish capital for a decade.
Ireland lost 21-16 to Wales in Round 1 and Henderson, standing in for the injured Johnny Sexton as captain, says the Men in Green’s failure to take their chances is costing them dear.
The 28-year-old said: “It’s massively frustrating.
“The biggest thing for me personally is that we had the opportunities to go and do it. When you’re not taking those opportunities, especially at home, you’re not where you need to be to be beating teams like France.
“They’re not taking opportunities. They go down to 14 men and you have to capitalise in this game. You’ve got to punish people for having ill-discipline, and we just didn’t do that.
“That was our opportunity to get up in the game – two points we ended up down by, and even a penalty in there or a try in there and that’s a different looking second half.
“It leaves us with our backs against the wall, massively.”
France’s Bernard Le Roux received a yellow card midway through the first half but the 2018 Grand Slam champions were unable to take advantage on home soil.
Replacement hooker Ronan Kelleher crossed for Farrell’s side just short of the hour mark but Fabien Galthie’s visitors, who toppled Italy 50-10 in Round 1 and now lead the Championship standings on points difference, had enough in the tank to get over the line.
Ollivon and Penaud crossed either side of half-time and despite points from the boots of Billy Burns and Ross Byrne, Ireland were downed in Dublin.
Ireland travel to Italy for their Round 3 clash in a fortnight and second row Henderson hopes the two-week lay-off can be a catalyst for a turnaround in Rome.
The Ulster skipper added: “We’ve definitely got to go away and review what we’ve been doing.
“We’ve got a two-week break now and two weeks until our next game – a week to get away, refresh our heads, come back in and make sure we’re really tuned in to fix those mistakes.
“One game at home, two games away from home – this team needs to review what we’ve done this week and make sure we make some pretty quick fix ups”