Rugby round-up: Coach Kidney bemoans Ireland's inability to keep the ball


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The Independent Online

Ireland coach Declan Kidney insisted his team needs to improve after a 19-12 defeat to France on Saturday. The first-half of the World Cup warm-up in Bordeaux was dominated by the hosts, and despite an improved second-half from his team, Kidney refused to be too cheered.

"In the first half we did a bit of damage to ourselves because we didn't hang on to the ball too well," said Kidney afterwards. "At the start France played well and we didn't play like we're capable of – when you put those together you'll end up doing a lot of defence."

France were 13-3 ahead at the interval, thanks to Vincent Clerc's try and two penalties from Biarritz's Dimitri Yachvili.

Ireland improved in the second half, and three Ronan O'Gara penalties brought them within one point of the French. But Kidney refused to be too heartened by their fight-back. "I'd hate to go back into the past and say that I'm glad we had a really good second half," he said. "That's the sort of thing we would have said in the past. We lost the game and that's what we need to look at it."

South Africa's preparations for the World Cup continued to disappoint on Saturday as they lost their third consecutive Tri-Nations game. Hosting Australia at King's Park in Durban, they lost 9-14.

The Springboks were 6-3 ahead at half-time, thanks to penalties from Francois Steyn and Butch James, with James O'Connor's scoring the visitors' points. But the Wallabies moved into the lead in the second half with Pat McCabe's try, and, after another James penalty put the Boks back ahead, two O'Connor penalties won the match for the visitors. The world champions have one more game before they start the defence of their crown, against New Zealand on 20 August. The All Blacks travel to Australia one week afterwards for their final match.