Noel McNamara believes there is still room for improvement in his talented Ireland Under-20s team, who took control of the Under-20s Six Nations with a superb 39-21 victory over England on Friday night.
Ireland were Under-20s Grand Slam champions in 2019 but with England having an impressive record at home, many thought this match would be a bridge too far.
Speaking to the IRFU’s Irish Rugby TV, McNamara said: “26 out of 29 games they’ve won at home, two of those losses did come to Irish teams. The boys knew that if they performed, they would be right in it and that was something that was referenced a number of times over the course of the week.”
The Irish coach is targeting further improvement in Rounds 4 and 5, which will see Ireland face Italy and then France.
He added: “Lots of positives for us in terms of our performances equally a few areas where we will need to develop, and we will need to grow over the course of the next couple of weeks before we play Italy.
“There’s a lot of ambition in terms of how we played they’re prepared to take risks and they were certainly rewarded for that in the first half. We could have navigated and managed the game a little better during certain periods.”
For McNamara, Ireland’s wins to date are even more valuable due to the performances of the teams they beat in previous rounds.
He explained: “I thought Scotland and Wales were very good and I think that’s evidenced by their results, Wales beating France at home and Scotland going to Italy against a very good Italian side and getting the result, so there is probably an element of underestimating the opposition in those first two games”
McNamara also mentioned the significance of winning the Triple Crown.
He said: “For us it’s a huge positive, it’s another step in the Championship and there is obviously the Triple Crown which we have only achieved twice before at this level.”
Ireland’s attention must turn to the task ahead with Italy at home in their new fortress at Irish Independent Park in Cork and then France away to come in the final two rounds.
McNamara continued: “Sights will firmly focus pretty quickly on the challenge that awaits us and the last home game at the Irish Independent Park, which has been a tremendous home for us this season again, so we are really hoping for a big crowd to get out behind the boys and really put on a performance there in two weeks’ time.”