Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says he was “frustrated” after watching his side’s Six Nations hopes ended by a 21-10 defeat by England at Twickenham.
Robbie Henshaw and Josh van der Flier came close to scoring late tries against an English side who were down to 14 men for the last nine minutes.
“The ball just slipped out of Robbie’s hand and Josh’s was a pretty tough call but we didn’t get it,” said Schmidt.
“If we had managed one of those we would have been in it to the end.”
Centre Henshaw was thwarted by a fine cover tackle by Jack Nowell as he prepared to touch down in the corner.
While referee Romain Poite ruled that there was no clear evidence that debutant flanker Van der Flier had grounded the ball after consulting with TMO Shaun Veldsman.
“There was a bit of darkness in the patch where they were looking to see if the try was scored – sometimes it goes like that,” said Schmidt, whose side were champions in 2014 and 2015.
“We are frustrated not to be in the mix for the title – this defeat ended our opportunity – but the players responded well to being written off prior to the game.
“The 11-point margin probably doesn’t reflect the game given the try-scoring opportunities we had. Once you get in front, you have to hold on to your lead.”
The Ireland coach praised the efforts of both sides’ defences but added that his team’s efforts were “a bit fragmented at times”.
“We hung in really well in the first half and did well defensively, keeping them off the line.
“At 6-3 down at half-time, there was a bit of fatigue among our lads but we charged into the second half. We needed to build on that but they came back at us and didn’t need any invitation to take their chances.
“They are hard to stop with the athletes they have got and Billy Vunipola gave them great go-forward.
“We managed a few line breaks but needed support bang on the button to capitalise and get that ball away.”