Fridy night’s interpro between Ulster and Munster was a thriller; one of the best, most intense games we’ve seen in the Pro12 in some time. Both sides had much to commend them, not least two great performances from full-backs Jared Payne and Denis Hurley, as well as their up-and-coming fly-halves. This was surely both Keatley’s and Jackson’s best performances in their respective shirts.
In the end it came down to Munster looking to set up a winning drop goal, but not quite managing it. They looked to have got themselves into position, but kept going through the forwards, presumably to get a little closer. Then, driven backwards, the opportunity appeared to be fading, but they did, twice, get the ball into ROG’s hands but he couldn’t get his kick away on either occasion.
It made us wonder: should Keatley not have been the one in position to drop the goal? Sure, ROG has form when it comes to last-minute drop goals, so his credentials are not in doubt. But it was his first fifteen minutes of the season, and his general performance was showing plenty of rust, with two passes thrown to nobody particularly conspicuous. Keatley, on the other hand, was playing well and kicking the ball sweetly. He has now made his last 12 consecutive penalties and had already dropped two goals on the night. He had his eye in. Surely he was the man to drop the winning goal?
It reminded WoC of an incident at the end of the 17-17 draw between Ireland and France in Paris. Late in the game with the scores level, Jamie Heaslip won a ruck penalty deep in his own half. Ireland’s only chance of snatching the win was to boom the ball downfield far enough to get within drop-goal distance. Sexton and Kearney have the biggest boots in the Irish team, but Paul O’Connell hit the default button, the one marked ‘Give the ball to ROG’, who gained about fifteen metres on the kick.
ROG is not a man to shy away from responsibility. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the best man for the job in hand either. It’s something he, and the leaders in the Irish and Munster teams, have to get used to.