FORMER WALES AND Lions star Ieuan Evans fears that Ireland may hold the advantage in the scrum and line-out when Wales visit Dublin tomorrow.
Wales go into the clash brimming with confidence and targeting a potential third consecutive Six Nations title.
Threatening that dominance are the law changes to the scrum. The legendary wing feels the new engagements have been ill-suited to tight-heads of Adam Jones’ ilk as they allow dynamic looseheads like Cian Healy to thrive.
“Wales have to get their set-piece right, it’s been creaking,” Evans told TheScore.ie yesterday.
“You think back to the last few years as a success for Wales, the scrum has been a key element, a dominant scrum – and now it’s not been a particularly strong aspect.”
“It used to be the big brutes at tight-head could dominate a scrum, now it’s flipped a little bit.
“It used to be you went into a scrum, hit hard and used that big weight advantage. Now you have to wait, then it’s all about acceleration. It will be interesting to see how it works out, because Cian Healy is having a sensational season.”
Thorn in the side
Though Wales lost just one of 17 line-outs in the win over Italy, the loss of Ian Evans to suspension after his stamp on Mike McCarthy means the red locks are down a Lion. And having watched the Irish line-out steal ball from Scotland and efficiently drive forward in the maul, Evans is concerned that the addition of captain Paul O’Connell will add to Ireland’s precision up front.
“Paul O’Connell back in and he is always a thorn in the Welsh side. I don’t know how fit he is after a chest infection, but generally he will look to frustrate Wales and stop them trying to get good first phase ball. that to me is the key areas Wales have to get right.”
In open play, assuming Wales claim at least parity at the set-pieces – Evans feels the game will be won and lost on how Ireland stand up the the straightforward, robust Welsh attack.
“Both sides will try to get on the front foot in different ways, but the battle of the gainline will the where Wales really want to put pressure on Ireland,” Evans adds.
!We saw last week that Jamie Roberts carried the ball 17-18 times and made yards every time. To get into the game we need him to carry and get on the front foot.
“It’s always about that front foot and yards after the tackle. Those important moments whether a back row has to run forwards into the breakdown or backwards.”
Ieuan Evans today announced the Guinness Plus App is giving rugby fans the opportunity to win an exclusive VIP trip for four to Twickenham to see Ireland take on England.
The VIP trip to Twickenham includes 5* accommodation, tickets and a special post match ‘meet and greet’ with a rugby legend. For a chance to win fans simply need to ‘check-in’ to their local participating pub before 11.00pm on match day for Ireland v Wales this Saturday.
The Guinness Plus App is available to download for iPhone and Android Smartphones from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store now.