Scrum-half Conor Murray praised Ireland’s young bench after a bruising 21-9 defeat by New Zealand in Dublin.
Ireland scrum-half Johnny Sexton was replaced by Paddy Jackson early in the first half and boss Joe Schmidt introduced Garry Ringrose early in the match after Robbie Henshaw was carried off on a stretcher, with flanker Josh van der Flier making an impact in the second half.
When asked about the impact of losing key players so early in the game, Murray said: “It’s a bit raw and it does upset a bit of momentum.
“The lads really stepped up. They fronted up to an All Black defence and a few of the young guys came on and they really helped us.”
New Zealand saw Malakai Fekitoa and Aaron Smith both spend time in the sin-bin during the match, which Murray accepted Ireland should have taken more advantage of.
“Yeah definitely. All credit to New Zealand. With a side losing players like that we hope to take advantage,” the 27-year-old said.
“We tried our best and we were very close to cracking them.
“We tried really hard to come back into the game. We tried to fight our way back but credit to them for holding us out. It was a tough Test match.”
After seeing their winning streak derailed by Ireland two weeks ago in Chicago, lock Brodie Retallick was pleased to get back to winning ways.
“It was good to come out here and beat Ireland after Chicago. It was a tough Test match,” he said.
“It was a bit of a reality check. We got caught out in Chicago and now we will look to try and get another (win) next weekend.”
The forward also admitted New Zealand’s discipline is an area they still need to improve upon.
“We talked about it (discipline) a lot to try and cut down on the penalties and tonight it didn’t help us again. It’s something we need to sort out,” he added.