IT WAS A CASE of ‘job done’ for Ireland today. The 28-6 home win was a good start to their campaign and they did well having lost out on experienced players like Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Connell and Gordon D’Arcy in the recent days and weeks.
The 10 minute periods before and after half-time effectively killed Scotland off. Jamie Heaslip, as captain, made some gutsy calls to go for the corners and it paid off with scores. Ireland have obviously been doing a lot of work at the lineout and with their mauls. That tactic may not work as well next weekend as Wales are renowned for stopping mauls, legally and illegally.
It is good to see that the defensive systems Ireland have in place are serving them well. Under [defence coach] Les Kiss they play with a huge intensity and flood the breakdown. At times today it was like watching several car crashes. There was no quarter given and none taken. I was watching Chris Henry at certain stages and saying ‘How are you getting away with that?’
Peter O’Mahony had his best game for Ireland in a long time, in attack and defence. It may well have been his best yet. The crucial thing about the turnovers he secured where the fact that they were in the Irish 22 with the Scots on the attack. Those steals do wonders for your team.
Rob Kearney was solid and Jonny Sexton’s break and pass, for Heaslip’s close call, were class. That is a glimpse of what Sexton can do. He is a very dangerous broken field runner. I thought Andrew Trimble did well, was physical, strong in the tackle, put himself about in attack and took his try well. I don’t see many changes for next week; I would expect Gordon D’Arcy to come into the midfield and Paul O’Connell to come back in for Dan Tuohy.
I’d go for Martin Moore at tight-head against Wales. He would be up against Paul James, with Richard Hibbard beside him, and I think he would fare quite well. James was penalised a lot at the scrum against Italy and I didn’t understand a couple. He was pinged for his shoulders being below his hips but, on the other side, Martin Castrogiovanni had lost his feet and fallen flat on his face. If James was getting done for his shoulder positions, surely it is a penalty if you are lying horizontally, on your face, on the ground.
Martin Moore made his Ireland debut, off the bench, today. INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Moore has proved himself in the Heineken Cup and, I feel, if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. The fact that next week’s game will be at home may go in his favour. No disrespect to Mike Ross but Moore offers Ireland more in attack and defence. I’m pretty sure he would be able for the challenge.
I was quite disappointed with Scotland. They kept hold of the ball for long periods but you don’t win any prizes for how many rucks in a row you can go through. You win by scoring and they rarely looked like doing that. Stuart Hogg is a class act and Greig Laidlaw is a little general but when you select three back-rows who are 6′ 4″ and 16 and a half stone you will get blood and thunder and little else.
From what I have heard about [in-coming coach] Vern Cotter, he is ruthless beyond question. The players will have to realise that although he is not arriving until his contract at Clermont is up, he will be watching these games closely. I wouldn’t have thought any Scottish player would be safe after today’s effort.
The step up from today to next week against the Welsh is almost inconceivable. Wales have so many massive, big game players they can call on and, of course, there will be that whole Warren Gatland versus Ireland subplot. While Ireland will be hoping for O’Connell’s return, Wales should be able to slot Sam Warburton into their back row. The breakdown today was the most ferocious I’ve seen in a long time but expect that to be surpassed next Saturday.
@adrianflavin played 159 times for Connacht between 2006 and 2013 and earned two Ireland Wolfhounds caps.
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