Heartbreak Hotel

“It felt like open heart surgery out there, without the anaesthetic”

That was Seamus McEnaney after Monaghan’s heart-breaking All-Ireland football quarter-final loss to Kerry in 2007 – the Ulstermen had victory in sight but could just not get ot the finish line, and they were beaten.

That’s kind of how we feel right now – intensely proud but completely empty. And if we feel gut-wrenched, how must the players feel? Sean O’Brien – dominated the best player of the professional era and the best player currently playing rugby. DJ Church – snarled with coiled spring fury, obliterated opponents. Devin Toner – Devin Toner! – a collosus alongside another collosus, Paul O’Connell – intensity personified.  Jamie Heaslip made 21 tackles (videprinter moment) – twenty-one tackles! Bob seethed with energy and intensity from the anthems to the end – his pumping-up of his teammates going off the field at halftime made us sit up, this was new.

The Irish pack dominated their illustrious opponents, and blew open the game with a 19-point opening salvo (in 19 minutes – Egg remarked to his brother-in-law we were still on pace for 60-0) which saw metres gained in every phase, accuracy in execution, discipline and unrelenting physicality. Barnesy said before the game that Ireland needed to risk getting hammered to win – they threw everything into the breakdown and spent aggressive energy like it was going out of fashion – the alternative was letting BNZ play, and they weren’t letting it happen.

When BNZ edged back into the game, Locky came off the bench to inject even more manic intensity. The entire performance made us so proud to be Irish rugby fans, so glad to be part of it, but so torn up that we couldn’t take that final step to make history. Johnny Sexton missing a routine penalty, Jack McGrath earning Owens’ ire for what would have been the third last ruck of an epic close-out. BNZ got all their out of jail free cards at once.

To make this loss worth it, Ireland need to make it a stepping stone – we simply can’t wait until frustration and emotion builds up enough before we play like this. By all objective measures, this series has been not really any different to any of the previous November vintages – one win, and performance oscillating even more than ever (eight days before BNZ we got pushed around by the Wobblies in an insipid collapse, don’t forget) – but wejust can’t bring yourself to do any more than hold our head in our hands and feel like crying at the rank unfairness of the last acts of yesterday.  There has been some squad development and half an eye on the 2015 World Cup.  Jack McGrath made three appearances, two reserve tightheads got game time, Devin Toner’s credentials are established, Luke Marshall played a first class match and Dave Kearney and Robbie Henshaw got a taste of the action.  Three out-halves and three scrum halves got match-time, even if Madigan and Boss were restricted to brief cameos.

And yet, let us be cold about it – in possession on 79:30 on your opponents 10m line – you simply DO NOT lose. Come Monday morning and Joe Schmidt’s final video session of the year, you can guarantee that he won’t care how close they went. This is a results business, and no matter how proud we are of the team, and how epic the occasion was, we still lost. We still need to build that ruthlessness which BNZ showed from 79:35 onwards – let’s remember the hurt, and unleash it on Gatland and his bunch of f*cking Lions (you probably didn’t hear, but a Welsh-dominated Liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiions team won the Sky Sports Hype Challenge in June), St Boshingtons and the other three for a Grand Slam.

Maybe the team, when they look back, will view this as a springboard – this performance has set a bar, and that’s what they will be judged by. Let’s hope this goup’s goal is to play like that every week, and if they do – they will win nearly all the time.

P.S. the Palindrome finally stepped up to the mark. So the new stadium can heave just like the old model used to, we know that now.  Again, it feels like the setting of a bar. 

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100 Comments

  1. curates_egg

     /  November 25, 2013

    While it is utterly devastating to lose in those circumstances (5 points up, with possession in their half, with 25 seconds on the clock), and I am sick of the plucky losers/result doesn’t matter stuff, that was such a phenomenal Irish performance.

    The biggest positive was that, unlike in the past, this was not a performance built solely on “intensity” or “putting the fear of god into them”. I struggle to think of a better and more professional 40 minutes from an Irish rugby team than the first half. Yes, intensity was important, but equally – if not more so – was a perfect strategy and gameplan, with near clinical execution by every member of the squad. In typical Schmidt manner, we left with a score almost every time we made there 22 (4/5 in the first half).

    These 3 internationals always looked very tough for Schmidt to try and get a new squad playing a totally different way. I never expected we would see them do it as well as they did yesterday. The big challenge will now be ensuring that the new frontline players adapt as quickly as possible. Most of Marshall, Zebo, Ryan, Gilroy, Henderson will be involved in the 6 Nations – I would contend that yesterday’s performance would not have been possible if they had played. Hopefully, the IRFU can get Schmidt as much time with these guys as possible. If so, the future is bright.

    As an aside, Luke Fitz showed that – IF he stays fit – the BOD-shaped hole may also be less of a problem area than it seemed.

    • Bueller

       /  November 25, 2013

      Can only agree with your praise of the overall performance but any of those 5 would only have added to our ability as, as you say yourself, this was built ‘solely on intensity’. All credit to Joe Schmidt, the game plan was spot on, but that was not anywhere near the winning (well not actually winning) of this game. The players did the basics well, had patience and took their (limited) opportunities. This is yet another exceptional performance, from a great group of players, after a week when they were completely written off. If they can bottle that for the future then we will be a force to be reckoned with, but the evidence over the past 10 years may suggest that they can only do it when there is a point to prove. I HOPE I AM WRONG.

      • curates_egg

         /  November 25, 2013

        I don’t think any of those 5 would have been comfortable enough with the gameplan to deliver it so seamlessly at this point. However, will be very much able to given a bit more familiarity. I actually think you misread my comment: I specific said intensity, while important, was not the most important element of the performance. That is what should give us hope that this not a one-off performance. Only time will though.

        • Bueller

           /  November 25, 2013

          Apologies, I did misread and flew off a bit,. Still have to disagree as I do not think there was any genius/incomprehensible strategy in play other than just playing simple rugby very well, constantly being in their face and attacking the fringes. Not to take away from anyone of the 23 who were all fantastic. Ryan starting, Henderson off the bench and either Gilroy of Zebo on the wing would only have strengthened the performance. Can only imagine what Ferris’ contribution would have been in such a scenario. It was fantastci to see some players who have copped a bit of flack (from commenters such as myself) prove that they are up to it too, but I am under no illusions that this was Joe Schmidt’s game-plans doing. This was purely an attitudinal shift. Certainly Schmidts gameplan was spot on but there was no great genius behind it.I saw precious little of the passing game he is famed for.

          • curates_egg

             /  November 25, 2013

            He is “famed” for an offloading game and switching direction through phases, rather than a “passing game”. If you watch the first 20 minutes of the match again, you will see a pretty good example of the Schmidt plan.

          • Bueller

             /  November 25, 2013

            Look I’d love to agree with you but I really think you are the one that needs to re-watch it. There were only 3 Irish offloads in the first half.The first try came from a sniping run after 5/6 quick phases (all in the same direction/openside incidentally) off a scrum. The second came from SOBs 2 quick pick and gos attacking the fringes of the ruck (admittedly there was on off load in the mix there although a dodgey one at that) when the ball actually should have been spread wide (there was a pretty big overlap on the left). And the third was a pretty fortuitous one for a forced knock-on (NZ never get forced into Knock-ons by anyone!). The only bit of innovative play i saw from Ireland was the little Best-Healy-Best interchange before the 2nd try. The game was won by playing everything at pace, smashing rucks and quick ball off the base. These are core skils for a professional rugby player -no great master craftsmanship learnt under Joe Schmidt. If we had our best playerson the pitch allplaying at the same pace and intensity we would have been better simple as that. If you can point to any play that a good u18s player couldn’t adhere to with a weeks squad training then I’ll take my hat off but there just wasn’t any. They played an exceptionally simple game-plan and did it exceptionally well…that was all! Nothing should be taken away from Joe Schmidt as he was faultless but the credit here is all to do with mindset and not tactics. There simply werent many offloads or impromptu changes of direction…there were a huge amount of fellas smashing rucks, quick balls and players attacking the fringes…Then we lost momentum and it faded away, the ‘game-plan’ didnt ever kick in from what I could see!
            As an aside, how good was our malling game off the line-outs? Unreal stuff!

  2. Sound Steve

     /  November 25, 2013

    If anything this proves to me how ignorant so many supposedly knowledgable Irish rugby fans are. The nadir for me being the suggestion that Robin Copeland be parachuted into the team! Jesus Christ…

    • I was going to leave all that (don’t forget James Hart..) as, to be fair, there was a lot of frustration after last week (understandably: we were rank). However, if I keep hearing that O’Brien shouldn’t wear seven it might have to be pistols at dawn!

      • Jimbob

         /  November 25, 2013

        I know… I was shouting at Keith Wood on the BBC pre-game when he was saying SOB wasn’t suited to the 7 role. That chap must not watch much rugby.

      • Worst canard in Irish rugby, propagated by Hook, typically.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 25, 2013

        We still dont have a top class 6, POM was a distant third in our back row triumvirate. Heaslip played like a flanker not an 8, kept Read in check sure, but it was a gritty performance, no carries, after 40 mins we were on the back foot, having a proper 6 to give Heaslip an opportunity to carry as opposed to relying on SOB for everything would be a plus, POM was utterly ordinary again. To say SOB and Healip suddenly would turn up and put on a performance like that was a foregone conclusion is lunacy, we were horrendous last week, dont forget that. And 40 mins against NZ is good, but we had 40 mins against Wales last year too, one swallow does not make a spring.

    • Mike

       /  November 25, 2013

      Yea, ludicrous. I’d say that most of the people that said that didn’t know he was Irish 6 weeks ago…

    • Yeah, I don’t think it’s the day for recriminations, but the Robin Copleand stuff was silly. Hysteria. We all had our folliesthough; we thought the selection of Dorce was a poor one – joke’s on us!

      As for O’Brien he’s looking like the complete back row forward at this stage, one of the global elite. An incredible player.

      • D’Arcy was brilliant yesterday, have to say.

        To be fair, given the circumstances he was under an enormous amount of pressure. You can’t have a beard like that without fronting up.

      • abitofshoepie

         /  November 25, 2013

        A bit harsh on Copeland. He’s a good player, and with the shallow pool of players we have we can’t afford not to consider him as an option. The last 30 mins yesterday showed how tired players can get and the importance of a big squad over a series. I think the players must have had last weeks posts on this blog pinned to their dressing room wall given their reaction!

    • Bueller

       /  November 25, 2013

      Thanks Captain Hind-sight.

  3. Conor

     /  November 25, 2013

    from what i could make out Healey had his eyes closed during the haka. he was pumped and it showed

  4. Agree, that we have to push on from here. Falling off in the second half has been our Achilles Heel for a while now and so it was again against NZ. I would hope Joe Schmidt will remedy this and install the required ruthlessness in the Irish national team. Much as I have been and admirer of Luke Fitz’s through the years and am excited about his return after injury, was it not he who missed the tackle on Crotty, which would have prevented the try at the end?

    • curates_egg

       /  November 25, 2013

      What a rotten comment, you could equally write: was it not Conor Murray’s box-kick, Jack McGrath’s penalty, Jonny Sexton’s missed penalty kick…there were so many single events in the last 5 minutes that could be pointed to as the moment…but there were so many, so why do people need to pick one out to ridicule one player, after a phenomenal collective performance? We didn’t lose because of one error, we lost because our phenomenal collective effort fell 5 minutes short in terms of execution – with fitness and squad depth contributing too.

      As for your pathetic point, I believe Madigan and Murray were defending the wing. Madigan joined in a double-tackle on Coles, which O’Brien executed, leaving Crotty open for the run-in: Murray could do nothing to stop him. So, no, it was not Fitzgerald.

      • Mike

         /  November 25, 2013

        Think he is a troll.

        • curates_egg

           /  November 25, 2013

          Maybe but there are plenty out there engaging in this senseless – pick one moment to fit my agenda – exercise. Of all moments to engage in such petty crap, this performance is not the time.

      • TJ Hooker

         /  November 25, 2013

        Woah there, I don’t think he was trying to villify Fitzgerald, but perhaps he should be more careful about singling a player out if he hasn’t got his facts straight. In fairness, you seemed keen to inflate the Luke Fitz hype bubble with your comment – based on what exactly? Can we please just see him in a run of games before we crown him the new prince of centres…

        • Riocard is a long-time commenter on the site and not a troll – not that I’d agree with his comment on this occasion! The defensive line was ragged in the last phases, and understandably so. Poor Paul O’Connell had his hands on his knees, Jamie Heaslip had made 20 tackles. They were out on their feet. Also, the ability of the BNZers to back their skill levels and play high risk rugby with the game on the line was extraordinary. I would hesitate to criticise any of the players who made mistakes over the course of that match.

      • Put on the brakes there, Curate’s Egg. It is not my intention to pillory anybody. I got Fitzgerald mixed up with Madigan, who was playing 22, the player who it seemed to me could/should – whatever – have stopped Crotty getting across the line. From the replays it is not clear to me, why he didn’t manage to do this. That was the reason for my question. My only interest is in an improved performance collectively as well as from the individual players. It is not my intention to blame anyone. I merely wish to understand, what went wrong in that moment, when the try could have been prevented, in order that it not happen again. We talk about fine margins in games. That was one of them. Identifying the mistake is not the equivalent of wanting to hang the players involved out to dry. I apologise, if my comment caused any annoyance. I can appreciate if people are still a bit cut up after yesterday. I’m in the same boat myself.

        • curates_egg

           /  November 25, 2013

          The try could have first and foremost been prevented if we had kept the ball. Trying to finger one player as being at fault for a try leaked in a scramble defence (our right winger was standing at the ruck), misses the point for me. Ditto those who want to blame Sexton for missing the penalty, or Murray for his box kick. No one player or play cost us that try. I also think that you learn nothing from scapegoating: we had the game won and we lost it as a collective. It is building on the collective how we will improve collectively, not by fingering individuals.

          • I repeat: I wasn’t trying to scapegoat anybody. Of course the team lost as a collective. We are in total agreement on that. Individual errors however were made. You can be sure that Joe and the boys will have identified these, in order to prevent their repetition. I don’t see, therefore, why we can’t talk about them. Pleased and all I was by the brave performance, I was nearly more pleased by the post-match comments by Schmidt, D’Arcy, Rob Kearney and SO’B, that a defeat the like of yesterday’s is totally unacceptable. Mistakes are there to be learnt from. I would hope our squad and the new “regime” will continue on their learning curve.

        • curates_egg

           /  November 25, 2013

          The indefatigable Murray Kinsella has his fine-tooth comb out over the final 25 seconds. If you can bear to read how we lost, this is how: http://thescore.thejournal.ie/analysis-ireland-all-blacks-1191120-Nov2013/?utm_source=twitter_self

  5. osheaf01

     /  November 25, 2013

    Lots and lots of tiny margins. I was inline with Sexton’s penalty and it was over the post – a whisker out. It seemed like the entire stadium inhaled the deepest breath before the plunge, before a Kiwi roared out “get on with it, you ****”, which seemed to put him off. He was injured – perhaps Madigan should have come on to take it? Another key turning point was when Ireland won a brilliant turnover, but Toner’s silly barging of an opponent, as Sexton cleared to touch, cost a penalty and 3 points. (I thought Owens gave NZ most of the breaks, refusing to penalise some obvious NZ infringements.)
    On the sealing-off penalty at the end, the referees are looking out for any excuse to penalise that now. Surely it would be better to grubber to touch inside their 22 when inside the last minute? so that time is up when the lineout is taken, and they have to score from their own line – very, very hard to do as the ball has to be kept in hand, and the defence can press up.
    The manic intensity of the first half was brilliant, but can’t be reproduced regularly. We need to find a way of beating Wales, England and France, 3 times in succession, in the 6 Nations. That performance would beat any of them, but it’s not reproducible every week.

    • Yossarian

       /  November 25, 2013

      watched Toner’s “barge” on replay last night, he stumbles on the turf and collides with him. i don’t think he was deliberately setting out to block. when you are 6’11 and all limbs you are easily spotted though.

      • krustie92

         /  November 25, 2013

        On subject of Owens, watching it on TV I think Ireland got the breaks yesterday which you need against the All-Black. In the first half right hand side as NZ were attacking. Ireland got a penalty for holding on, it easily could of gone against them. That was definitely a kick-able penalty. How often does the penalty Kearney got in our 22 in second half get awarded. He was quite lucky, the cheeky smile on camera showed he knew it. Also there was one penalty against McCaw(I think) down on the NZ line which he’d get away with 9 times out of 10.

        Having said that Ireland could of forced a few penalties, with some proactive thinking. There were at least 3 penalties they could of won for lazy runners by playing the Kiwi on their side of the ruck. It might be slightly underhand but those Kiwis know exactly what they’re doing there.

  6. Aviva was pulsing yesterday, worlds away from last week. Did they play PA music much? Genuine question, as I didn’t notice it apart from a couple of (relatively inoffensive) times. Of course, if the crowd isn’t going to roar during a game like that…

    Heartbreaking defeat but, in terms of what the team has to do from here, there is little – if any difference – between what actually happened yesterday and a situation where we’d got the win.

    My own personal metrics for this new Ireland side – and doubtless MBK will be taking notes – is that I don’t want wild inconsistency, I want the players to do themselves justice, and I want to (consistently) looked forward to and then enjoy watching our matches again; these are all inter-related, fundamentally.

    I’m not going to talk too much about yesterday. Does anyone really want to? Aaaaah… kick in the kidneys.

  7. Simon Farrell (@SFarrell_5)

     /  November 25, 2013

    The key thing to take from yesterday is that that performance must be set as the benchmark for Ireland going forward; there can be no “maybe” about it. Past all the emotions of yesterday (and we pretty much ran the whole gamut of them in 80 minutes) into the cold light of today and no slipping back into the supine listlessness of the OZ game can be tolerated. Only managing one big game per series was a feature of the Kidney era and a rod used to beat the coach and team. Ireland have to move beyond that now; to a space where the passion and emotion used to conjure these games from the depths is married to the consistent ruthlessness that the best team in the world show in every game.

    For forty minutes Ireland looked like the best team on the planet, and I don’t think any side could have lived with them in that half. Yes it took its toll and the levels dropped across the board in the 2nd half but we now know what exactly the team have in their locker. It may seem tough to demand this type of performance every time they take the field, but this is the ambition the needs to be shown if Ireland are to establish a winning culture of the sort New Zealand have owned since 2011.

  8. ruckinhell

     /  November 25, 2013

    Various grief stricken musings-

    We played 40 minutes of great rugby at brilliant pace and intensity but the second 40 was pure hanging in there, regardless of some great tackling. You can’t do that against the All Blacks and expect to win. We panicked in the 2nd half and instead of kicking well and having chasers competing on everything (like the first half) the philosophy was “clear the lines at all costs” and we kicked really loosely to their back 3, which is madness. Savea caused wreck ball in hand, a huge weapon and NZ are brilliant at shifting the point of attack to other side of pitch when ball is kicked poorly to them. It really pushed our system to the limit.

    Re the last 2 minutes of play, gutted that we weren’t able to close it out, all it took was another 2 phases of pick and jam and we’d have seen out the clock. Owens had a great game and to be honest when I watched again the call against McGrath was correct, he went off his feet. The Irish pack were knackered at that stage and the fact that he went off his feet was due to not enough bodies clearing out those drives. At one stage Fitzgerald had to take a short pop instead of a forward!

    The wearing out of the team was linked to the brutal physicality of the All Blacks. I can only imagine what it was like in the stadium but the massive hits that Ireland put in during the first half took their toll. Losing Best and BOD were two big blows, as Best was a massive nuisance at the breakdown (I’ve never seen Aaron Smith under so much pressure) and BOD cut out a number of good AB attacks by shooting out of the line at the perfect moment.

    Guys like Sean O’Brien, Kearney and Healy (huge performance from all three)as well as POC and Murray (a couple of poor kicks aside) looked as if they had no mental blocks against the All Blacks, but I think that the key was the AB bench was much stronger (Barrett was lethal and Messam was a big step up in directness when he came on) and their sheer bloody mindedness in refusing to lose. They aren’t the best team in the world for nothing, and that refusal to lose is engrained in their mentality. Winning is a habit that they do not want to get out of and it gives them an extra couple of percentages of energy in the dying minutes of games.

    To be honest our “this was our best ever chance to beat them” moments are coming more regularly, the 2nd Test in Wellington last year a good example as well. We’re getting there but this was certainly there for the taking more than any other previous moment. It’ll happen, sooner rather than later.

    Sexton looked very unsteady after getting a knock in the first few minutes. He looked really nervous taking that kick and I have no doubt that Madigan would have slotted it had he been off the bench. I wouldn’t be too harsh on him but he will be his own harshest critic. I think he’ll get some more shots at this, he strikes me as the kind of guy who can use misfortune to drive himself to be a better player.

    I was not at all in agreement at the D’Arcy selection and I actually took the piss out of his brother Ian when I was back in Dublin last weekend (we were both playing a match for Lansdowne) but he fronted up massively. That said, this was a once off performance and I think we must keep one eye on the future so I hope Marshall gets the nod for the 6 Nations.

    Anyway, far more ranting than I had thought but despite the gutwrenching nature of the loss we have a lot more positives to work with than we did last Monday after the Wobblies loss which was frankly a gutless and brainless display.

  9. Broken Soul

     /  November 25, 2013

    I hate to be critical of such a majestic effort but I wonder did anyone consider giving a penalty away as we got deeper & deeper into injury time and they got inside our 22 -just to give ourselves a breather and regroup. NZ are forever doing it when an opponent looks like scoring and it struck me that we should have done the same.

  10. Eoghan

     /  November 25, 2013

    Great performance but can I ask a question to all you knowledgables on here please.
    Why would a team 5 points up in the opponents half kick over the top TWICE with barely minutes on the clock ??

    • Did he do it twice or just once? We got the ball back in any case. The reasons are the very outome that happened when we didn’t kick the ball away. Sticking the ball up the jumper isn’t the easy way out it used to be because referees seem to be under instruction to stop teams just shutting down the game in the final minutes, so they’re actively looking to penalise anything that even looks remotely like sealing off. Not saying it was necessarily the best option at that time, but we did get the ball back so it was ultimately a territorial gain.

      • Eoghan

         /  November 25, 2013

        Did it the first time & only for a wonderful tackling the kiwis were gone down the wing. Then we got it back again & he goes and does it again !!!!!!
        I’m just at a complete loss as to what he thought was the benefit. Expecting our runners who were dead on their feet to chase down a lost cause with 100 seconds to go??
        Not closing out a match was the problem and Murray with those 2 kicks is the reason why. Probably his best match in green in fairness to Murray

        • curates_egg

           /  November 25, 2013

          To be fair, while it seemed like madness, we got the ball back. Also, we had kicked to them all day and backed our defence, so it was part of the strategy it seems. Lest it be forgotten, the final turnover was down to a softish penalty at the ruck. We generally made life less difficult for them in the last 5 minutes than we had done and needed to: there were a few mistakes or misjudgements and, finally, New Zealand capitalised. The Irish players were all clearly out on their feet though, so it is very hard to do anything but sympathise.

          • Eoghan

             /  November 25, 2013

            Sympathies all round. Surely keeping possession is the number 1 priority in that situation. Penalty was soft and 30 seconds later kiwis went off their feet & Owens didn’t give it.
            It’s still hard to take in

          • curates_egg

             /  November 25, 2013

            Yup. Owens had a great game and a lot of calls went our way…but his reffing of rucks in that final minute or so was unfortunately selective.

  11. Dave F

     /  November 25, 2013

    I can barely bring myself to analyze the performance but this article pretty much sums up how I feel about the whole thing. Re-watched the highlights just now and am still just gutted.

    Of the close calls vs NZ in 2001, 2006, 2012, this was definitely the worst to accept.

    As fans though, we can only hope for better days. Paulie made a great comment that the kiwis have been winning all year and have the momentum; when we needed the belief that a team gets from a few wins on the trot, we just didn’t have it.

    I’ll continue to hope for what Schmidt is building and also hope that the crowd can get behind this team again like they did yesterday. Amazing stuff – Brian Moore said on twitter that the last 10 minutes at the Aviva was one of the loudest crowds he’s ever heard.

  12. Stevo

     /  November 25, 2013

    I was in the blackest pits of despair yesterday evening. Yes, the team was magnificent but it was all for nought, we lost and there went arguably our best ever opportunity to finally beat BNZ. Sport can be so unbelievably cruel.
    Today everything is different. I feel that rarest of emotions for an Irish rugby support, hope for the future. Yes, the performance was magnificent, but where this performance stands apart from our other recent one-off performances was that we combined the required passion and commitment to that elusive quality that has been the watchword of this new Schmidt era – accuracy. We attacked at pace, every player making yards in contact, every pass going to hand and sticking and we defended furiously, forcing errors and turnovers over and again. There’s not an Irish player who made it onto that pitch who I could say didn’t make a contribution.
    After the Wallabies I could barely bring myself to discuss the game or read any of the coverage. Today I’m lapping it up. We lost the game yesterday and it wasn’t a perfect performance but it was pretty damn good, wasn’t it? I find myself believing that this squad of players can go where Schmidt wants them to. Thinking about adding the likes of Ryan, Zebo. Henderson, Gilroy, Earls etc. into the mix has my mouth watering. Roll on Scotland in February!

  13. Buccaneer

     /  November 25, 2013

    Heartbreaking and mesmerising in equal measure!!! A truly magnificent game of rugby. The best performance from that team since Eden Park. It counts for nothing if we don’t go to twickers with two really convincing wins under our belts. Someone mentioned above that this performance is now the benchmark. While the level of intensity from yesterday may be too high to replicate every match, the accuracy and execution from the first half and defensive effort from the second should not

  14. Leinsterlion

     /  November 25, 2013

    Lack of a bench killed us, NZ brought on heavy hitters(and they have more at home) and we minus a few injuries and long term sicknote(Ferris) had nothing to respond with. Individual errors, Moore, Murray stupid boxkick, Sexton miss and Madigan coming in can be attributed to tiredness, we did not lose the game because of stuff like that, its not a game of inches as Al Pacino would have you believe.
    We were anemic on attack for most of the match, a few well executed drives that resulted in tries aside we looked lost when the ball went out to Drico(who is clearly on his last legs) and he kicked through, we struggled to drive forward in the second half when SOB tired. Great intensity and commitment(a given imo) aside we have major problems. POC looked shot, hobbled between set pieces(where he dominated granted), Cronin is a liability, we lacked punch in the backs, Bowe was poor and Kearnage brothers aside everything was laboured, when you have a dodgy defender like Nonu playing alongside a fullback you should be able to expose him, we didnt and we lost.
    We badly need to find some power at six, a witchdoctor to fix POC(and Ferris for that matter), some new centers(defending is great but NZ won the game with two centers who couldnt, what use is being able to defend if you cant expose the opposition?) and at least one wing who has pace and power.
    Another brave defeat shouldnt be used to mask our failings, we should have beaten this non vintage NZ team, we didnt because you cannot out defend teams and win games the way the rules are, attack wins games and ours died after 22 points.

    • “POC looked shot” – I get it now, you live in a parallel universe and by some weird quirk of physics your posts end up in this spacetimeline.

      From reading the rest of what happened over there, your Ireland sounds shite.

      As for “non-vintage NZ team”…

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 25, 2013

        He was utterly dominant in the first in all facets of the game, but for most of the second half POC was not “Mr Manic aggression” he had a great game but he was out on his feet, particularly in the last twenty, he was going from setpiece to set piece at that stage.

        As for Ireand It was an intense performance, it just wasn’t particularly good outside of the first 20/30 mins. YAY we defended really well and went down in a heroic defeat, I have seen it countless times and played in those games, we dont need backslapping no more than we need the hysterical analysis of George “bring back ROG, we need more kicking to the opposition” Hook.

    • Chogan (@Cillian_Hogan)

       /  November 25, 2013

      Lion. You’re pushing it.

    • Stevo

       /  November 25, 2013

      I’d love to know how many years in a row New Zealand have to win every test to be considered vintage.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 25, 2013

        Look at McCaws stats, supersport did a breakdown of them, he missed more tackles this year, made less meteres with ball in hand, hes not the player he was in ’12. Their scrum with second choice props is ropey, Read is world class granted, Luatua third choice 6? Carter was out, Nonu is missing about 3 tackles a game, no Conrad Smith, a full back at 13, Cory Jane coming back off Knee surgery….yeah I would call that selection non vintage compared to what they have and the stuff they played in the Quad nations this was a non vintage NZ lineup

        • Stevo

           /  November 25, 2013

          I’d call that cherry-picking statistics to suit your argument. Sure we all know you think every NZ team has been non-vintage since Carlos Spencer was replaced by that journeyman Dan Carter!

        • Leinsterlion, I could get into the ins and outs of what you’ve written, but my overriding feeling is just puzzlement at what you actually get from watching rugby. It seems to bring you no joy, or pride, or excitement whatsoever. Everything just seems to be shot through with a dose of puritanical misery. It’s alll one big ‘meh’.

          • To be fair, I think Leinsterlion is on to something, in so much as one cannot be self-critical enough. And lest we forget. Gordon D’Arcy, who had one of his greatest games in a green jersey, himself said all the heroics counted for “nothing”. He did of course add the corollary, that it might count for something if they go out and “bash” England and France in the Six Nations. I second those sentiments!!!!

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 25, 2013

            I went from watching that in utter optimism in the first half, leaping out of my seat, screaming at the TV, to having my stomach twisted in knots barely able to watch as NZ inevitably reeled us in as we crept further and further into our shell, not able to even berate players as I could see how knackered they were.

            I understand the vagries of sport, no one can be 100% all the time, however I dont think “pride, joy etc” at a good half of rugby should overshadow the fact we lost, or the manner in which we did, or analysis of why and how we did.
            Roy Keane said it best, we shouldnt be happy losers, we have lost two in a row and oscillate wildly in levels of performance, I dont think if NZ lost, their rugby public would be praising a “brave defeat” and happy to not analyse why they lose in favour of a “15 liginds” narrative. That is why they are number one and we are not.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 25, 2013

            I went into this game expecting us to be hammered, we turned up and battered them for a half, inexplicably we took our foot off their throats and let them run at us. Im still having trouble processing why we did that, NZ played their own game, Cruden tried in the first and failed, we slacked off pressure wise and the passes stuck, they ran back our kicks. That was a killer defeat, utterly draining to watch, even thinking of it now, I cant quantify what it is that they have over us.
            I dont mean to be a nihlistic bastard, but Irish rugby (out of all the sports played in Ireland) has the potential to be truly great at something, like Spain in Football. But the settling for brave defeats attitude reminds(prepare for use of hyperbole) me of our athletics endeavours and the press treatment of them, our football team in the Euros etc. We could legitimately beat any team on the planet, there are fine margins between all the top teams, yet out of every team we never, not even occasionally, are able to bridge those margins, look at our horrendous WC performances.
            Maybe Im utterly wrong and this is just post Kidney era hangover and Im being unduly negative. Apologies if I am, Im quite hungover and pissed off at the manner of that defeat.

          • Bueller

             /  November 25, 2013

            I have to say, as fanatical and often-times over the top LL generally is, I don’t see why he is being attacked here for speaking complete and utter sense. As great as yesterday was we still lost. There were big flaws and it is perfectly reasonable to say this isn’t vintage NZ—-it isn’t even their best team this season! Ireland were brilliant for 30 mins but we did receed and nearly ask NZ to beat us in the second half. That shouldn’t be brushedover. That was brushed over against Wales in the 6Ns and look how well that turned out for us!

          • moreinhope

             /  November 25, 2013

            I am shit sick of this ‘no time for losers’ attitude that gets pedalled after every game. Roy Keane has a lot to answer for – but the smug ‘pathetic Irish – accepting defeat as usual’ brigade is a pox on the Irish sporting landscape. No Ireland team has ever beaten a New Zealand team, any New Zealand team EVER. This particular vintage is being talked up as the best there ever was. We lost, but jesus, what a battle. What a bloody battle. Are the players happy? No. Is the management happy? No. They are aiming to be the very best. It was heart breaking, we need to close these things out, but posting remarks to the effect of ‘POC – past it, BOD – past it, Irish athletes didn’t win any Olympic medals, why celebrate defeat blah blah blah’ after that is hackneyed, churlish and, as WOC said above, joyless in the extreme. Why watch sport if you can’t appreciate that effort? Save yourself the time, stop watching, and download a spread sheet of results and ‘metres carried’ stats once the season has played itself out.

    • Bullshit. Cronin, McCarthy and Mc Laughlin were all excellent, Mc Grath and Declan Fitzpatrick contributed well, and Luke Fitz was far superior to BOD. We’ve come a long way from our bench being stuffed with the likes of Guy Easterby, Simon Best, Marcus Horan and Girvan Dempsey…..I’ve a lot of strong (negative!) feelings on yesterdays performance but I think the impact (maybe that’s not the best word, as the subs more maintained our intensity than added to it) our subs made is a huge bonus to take from this series. A trademark of the O Sullivan years was for us to push New Zealand for ~ 60 minutes, and then die because we never brought on subs….because they were shite…because he’d failed to develop a squad! For the first time in the professional era we’re actually seeing Ireland build a squad, and seeing players come through to gain exposure (not because their competitor has a broken leg and 2 concussions).

      • curates_egg

         /  November 25, 2013

        Amen and hallelujah

      • Leinsterlion

         /  November 25, 2013

        True, but how to explain our decline in performance as we injected fresh legs while NZ just built through the phases and began to run and pass more as we kicked more and more?
        Obviously our bench was not good enough.

        • curates_egg

           /  November 25, 2013

          I would have no problem stating the obvious: our bench was not as strong as New Zealand’s or “not good enough”, as you put it. No other nation’s is. That said, given we were missing the following from our matchday 23 – Strauss, Ryan, Ferris/Henry, Zebo/Gilroy/Earls/McFadden – it was still pretty bloody good.

    • osheaf01

       /  November 26, 2013

      No criticism of how rubbish Murray is and how Reddan must start ahead of him?
      You’re disappointing me, LeinsterLion…

  15. Stevo

     /  November 25, 2013

    I’d love to know how many years in a row New Zealand have to win every test to be considered vintage.

  16. Ciano

     /  November 25, 2013

    This display reaffirms my belief that we are as good at rugby as anyone in the world except for in the two key areas of decision making and self belief.

    On 30 minutes, we were besieging the All Blacks on their try line for a 4th try. They were on the rack and looking more anxious then I have ever seen them. We were awarded a scrum and then a subsequent penalty for an infringement they made in the tight.

    Every time we put together a maul we made at least 15 meters yet at this crucial time when we had an opportunity to really hammer the last nail in, we elected for the ‘safe’ 3-point option.

    This fear-based decision gave them too much respect and sold ourselves short as our forwards had been bullying them all afternoon up to that point. The possibility of us taking the kick at goal was exactly what the Kiwis had in mind when making their infringement. This was the moment their throats were under our boots but instead we thought that we had done well to have a 19-7 lead on 30 minutes. We didn’t score again. We opened up the game to them and let them breathe.

    Again we have sold ourselves short in a fashion I fear will further fuel our inferiority complex.

    • Excellent point Ciano. Perplexing considering our set piece was nearly 100%. Do you think Ireland should have tried for a dropgoal in the last 90 seconds for an 8 point buffer, as NZ would then have had to kick it back to us??

      Once Sexton unforgivably missed the sitter I knew we had lost it. We can sneer at ‘bottlers’ like New Zealand, Northampton and Clermont all we like but we’ve proven that no one can squander a lead like the Irish

    • As a mate once said to me “Dave, man, I’m not that deep.” And I don’t think that decision was either.

      If they’d converted the third try or not just conceded 7, I think they’d have gone to the corner.

      Kicking the penalty put 3 scores between the teams again. NZ would have done the same.

      • Ciano

         /  November 25, 2013

        Yeah but try 4 was there for us…did we even have one lineout inside their 5 meter in the end?

    • Dave W

       /  November 25, 2013

      No. Taking the three points was absolutely the correct decision. There’s showing the opposition too much respect, and there’s being overconfident/arrogant – or losing the run of ourselves a bit. It clawed back part of the score we had conceeded, and told NZ that if they infringe inside their territory like that, we’ll punish them.

  17. Ciano

     /  November 25, 2013

    I think our lineout mauls are our strongest asset at the moment and something we should be utilising far more, especially against Southern Hemisphere opposition.

    Out of 7 chances we had to set one up against Australia in the second half we only tried for it once, and yeah, it didn’t work, but it’s an area we ARE stronger than most in but we don’t seem to play to that strength.

  18. William Yates

     /  November 25, 2013

    We learned many things yesterday, one of which is that the vast majority of the Irish rugby public don’t really have a clue what they’re talking about. Most just like the sound of their own ‘type’ – one thing though, again Dave Kearney gets demoted to a footnote; the guys comes on for his competitive debut start, against the alleged best team in the world, and all certain people bang on about is how some lad that was hanging out in Krystle the other night would have strengthened the team, or how a guy who wasn’t even making the Ulster squad last year may have been missed. Anyone who doesn’t give this guy the respect he deserves, clearly has little grip of what it’s like out there, or the skills required. Sure, he may not have made a jammy heel flick for everyone to ooh and ahh over – but he produced the goods big time. Serious commentators and coaches alike seem to rate him, Joe included… Fair play to him.

  19. Le sigh, what a game of rugby. Probably the best quality game I’ve watched since, well erm South Africa Vs New Zealand a month or two ago but you get my point!

    If nothing else I think this game restored people’s attachment to the Ireland team – it proved that even the biggest provincial games don’t even come close to Internationals.

    I always record and re-watch games so I can try to analyse and spot where it was won or lost but I honestly can’t face watching it again; it’s too raw, too draining.

    Today I’ve swung between despair at having thrown away such an advantage, to eulogising over the performance and settling on hope and expectation and a realisation that this Irish team have what it takes to compete, and win, against any rugby team when they use the talents, power and skill available to them.

    We have a gaping hole at 13 that needs to be filled, and I’m still not convinced on 6 (although I thought POM had an excellent game doing grunt work at ruck, more of that please) but when you think about who we were missing and who now has shown they can perform to that level we have, whisper it, strength in depth.

    All 23 players were immense and we have another 5-6 who will add further class to that squad. That fills me with optimism…just Ireland, please, please, please back this up now in the 6 nations.

  20. Topsy Turvy

     /  November 25, 2013

    First time poster here and statistical details are not my best attribute.
    So here goes…

    I was absolutely gutted, devastated yesterday after the match. Yes I agree that from all of the Ireland-BNZ matches I have seen that this was our best chance to get a win.

    However, this morning I was not as downbeat as I thought I might be. Yesterdays game proved that we can beat almost any team on the planet. It proved that we have the ability to beat a team that people say may be the best team ever. A team that would be unbeaten in the last two calendar years but for a blip at the end of 2012 where half of their travelling squad were sick as dogs with food poisoning. A team that plays the other top 2 teams in the world twice per year and hasn’t been beaten in those two years. If we had won yesterday it would have been monumental in so many ways, not just because we have never beaten them before.

    And as for that point that we have yet to beat them and we have now missed our chance….In 2 of the last 3 times we have played them we have led the game leading into the last phase of play only to be defeated by that last play on both occasions. I don’t believe for one second that there is any Irish player who was involved in either of those two games that would believe that they don’t have what it takes to beat BNZ. And so then I would say that now, going forward from here, this represents our best chance to beat the mighty All Blacks and when it happens it may come like the 46a.

    As for D’arcys selection over Marshall, I thought it was a bad call beforehand (and I’m as big a D’arcy fan as anyone) but was glad to be proved wrong. I think Marshall would have learned more from watching D’arcy do what he did yesterday than he would have from playing. Had he played and missed another crucial tackle it could have shattered his confidence. Instead he has now seen where the bar is defensively. D’arcy was like a demon at ruck time, at one point out-muscling 2 Kiwi forwards alone to protect our ball. Marshall will learn from that and with his line breaking ability he will possibly become one of the best 12’s in the game.

  21. Kelly Peters

     /  November 25, 2013

    Few thoughts on the back of yesterdays game.

    1) Lots of people having a go at Murray for kicking the ball away twice in the last five minutes. I’d agree if the kicks were bad kicks but they weren’t. Ireland were clearly out on their feet and going backwards in possession. Given the refs now make it nigh on impossible to follow the old gameplan of sticking the ball up the jumper and killing the last five minutes of a game by going from ruck to ruck we were risking turning the ball over inside our own half. His first kick was chased brilliantly by Heaslip and NZ had to play out from their 22. The second found a great touch just outside the 22 giving Ireland a chance to compete at the lineout. In the last five minutes of a close game it’s better to play the game deep in enemy territory than your own, with or without possession.

    2) POM again has a solid game that doesn’t measure on the stat sheet but his role is beginning to bother me. He hits a mountain of rucks but that isn’t really what you want from your No.6. That’s what you want from your tight 5. It may be the role he’s assigned by the coaching staff but it doesn’t do much for his fellow backrowers. SOB and Heaslip put in a mountain of work with SOB visibly tiring at the end. If he could make a few more tackles and a few more carries it might mean our backrow has a little more in the tank come the end of the game. Maybe the inclusion of the NWJMB in the second row might help with the balance. Leave POM to hit the rucks and NWJMB to take some of the load off SOB as a ball carrier.

    3) Lastly it’s becoming a recurring theme in Irish rugby for the national team to go scoreless for large portions of the game. Here’s a breakdown of the last year. South Africa 50 mins, Wales 37 mins, England 44 and 23 mins, Scotland 35 and 37 mins, France 48 mins, Italy 35 mins and now NZ 47 mins. That’s 4 full half of rugby where we haven’t registered a score. Not entirely sure what the cause it but it needs to be addressed.

    • Kelly Peters

       /  November 25, 2013

      Also re Murray a few minutes before he kicked the ball the first time we almost lost the ball on the halfway line before he somehow managed to retain possession despite getting driven back 10 metres so I can see how he came to the decision to kick the ball.

    • Buccaneer

       /  November 27, 2013

      Thanks for toting that up man. Worrying stats to say the least. The French and Springboks are masters at keeping the scoreboard ticking over with drop goals. England with wilko was the archetype team at this. I have seen Sexton land them from the halfway line. Never seems to be on the Irish teams radar. Obvious championship clincher aside

  22. William Yates

     /  November 25, 2013

    also, cant comment under ‘moreinhope’ – but a really good comment, glad someone can see though all that crap. fair play.

  23. mikebrad

     /  November 25, 2013

    Negatives from yesterday
    -The result: these guys play rugby to win regardless of who they are playing. We had the opportunity to win but didn’t take it and crucially we didn’t stop New Zealand from taking their opportunities.
    -The last five minutes: chances and decisions that were missed or didn’t work out.
    -Not scoring in the second half: it’s more difficult to hit a moving target.
    -Injuries: Best and O’Driscoll going off did not help our cause.
    -George Hook: rambling on about the troika and making noises like a drunk pirate.

    Positives from yesterday
    -Only New Zealand: I doubt that any other team in the world could have beaten Ireland yesterday. They should have won but they did get beaten by one heck of a team.
    -Attitude: right from the start Ireland showed they actually wanted to win and were not intimidated.
    -Physicality: Healy was a beast, D’Arcy was scavenging for everything, Murray thriving despite the attention of the All Blacks pack, competing at every breakdown.
    -Carrying: nearly every carry broke the gain line and crucially was followed up by support players either at the breakdown or looking for off loads.
    -Replacements: Was very pleased with how Cronin, McLaughlin and Fitzpatrick played.
    -Horgan and ROG: grounded, accurate analysis. I loved it when Shaggy called out Hook for his comments about luck – a very nice way of saying “You have no idea what you are talking about”

    • Kelly Peters

       /  November 25, 2013

      Agreed on ROG. The more you hear him speak about the game the more you see what made him a great player despite his limited physical prowess; a fantastic rugby brain Not only on the technical parts of the game but the emotional side of it too. How many people scoffed when he said he fancied Ireland’s chances before the game.

  24. Agree also totally on ROG. He would seem to have the makings a future Munster and Ireland coach.

  25. el muckmeister

     /  November 25, 2013

    I’ve often wondered how I might have felt had Stephen jones’ kick went over in 2009. Now I know.

  26. I have been watching Ireland since 1963. Just felt empty since the final whistle. Forget
    the “proud to be” etc. It is a cold professional sport – they lost.
    You expect an international place kicker to nail moderately easy penalty chances.
    That miss was the no 1 reason why BNZ won.

  27. Connachtexile

     /  November 25, 2013

    “Injuries: Best and O’Driscoll going off did not help our cause.” – Agreed and POM went off with an ankle injury to. We lost 3 players at inopportune times which meant that Schmidt had to make at least one or two substitutions before he wanted to. That said ‘if and buts’ – a great performance and I’m just spent emotionally.

  28. Watching in the Palace Bar was a surreal experience: total silence for kicks (to the point of shushing those who didn’t comply) and manic screams and involvement at moments of high drama. A few thoughts to add then:

    1. As good as it was, it wasn’t a perfect performance. There were missed tackles, knock ons, penalties conceded, etc. aplenty. With the possibly exception of Best, who went off too early, every Irish player will be able to look at the replay and say “I could have done better.” This is, to emphasise the point, a good thing. We can build from here.

    2. That said, there was a spirit of competition across this Irish team that we haven’t seen in how long? Several players (D’arcy, Rob Kearney, Heaslip) stepped up their efforts to a level we haven’t seen from them in too long. Others (POC, SOB) took already impressive reputations, shone them up real nice, turned them sideways and … you get the rest. If Schmidt’s reign can tie this spirit to a solid, flexible game plan, the sky’s the limit.

    3. We’re only three games into that reign. One paddling of wobbly opponents, one pallid display against a beatable team who were fired up against us, and one driven display against a team who had that extra few inches on us at the end. Ireland are a long way from being the finished article – they’re barely even the started article in terms of Schmidt. There’s a raft of young, eager players (mostly from Leinster and Ulster) knocking on the door. If (a lot of ifs whenever you talk about the future) their advent can be managed so as to enhance the team we have rather than disrupt it, to add competition for places that will fire incumbents to step up at every appearance in green, it will be the greatest triumph of any Irish coach in a long time.

    4. Yeah, the Aviva. Wasn’t there, but could hear the roar from the pub. Put the Palindrome hoodoo to rest – it’s about the relationship between the crowd and the team, not the concrete.

    5. I, for one, am really looking forward to the Six Nations. This is a team that can compete on at least an equal level with any Northern Hemisphere opposition. The fact that the Heineken Cup looks like it’s going to be sticking around in some form is just the icing on the cake.

    • Kelly Peters

       /  November 25, 2013

      Not sure the raft of young players in confined mostly to Leinster and Ulster. There’s a great mix of talent coming through across the board. Munsters next generation are coming through led by Zebo, Murray and POM. Even Connacht are in the mix now with Henshaw, Marmiom and the likes of McSharry and O’Halloran. Ireland are best served by having 4 strong provinces producing talent and gaining top level experience.

      • jojo

         /  November 26, 2013

        POM made 7 tackles. Cant afford a player like that in a game like this

        • It’s all about balance jojo – POM hit almost every ruck, counterrucked almost every NZ ruck too, put in a serious shift. I wouldn’t be his biggest fan – he’s not a 6 but what he did on Sunday was excellent and, more importantly, complemented SOB and Heaslip in their game plan.

          They tackled & carried but didn’t have to worry about rucking as POM did all that. It changed somewhat when McLaughlin came on who is a genuine 6 & SOB had to sacrifice some of that to do some more rucking.

          I’d prefer McLaughlin in the team than POM as he’s a genuine 6 but can’t agree that POM didn’t turn up on Sunday

      • Kelly, it’s fair to say that Munster and Connacht are bringing through younger players as well, I just feel like Leinster and Ulster have a head-start there. Absolutely, the better all four provinces do in promoting Irish players and giving them game-time experience, the better it will be for Ireland.

  29. Ciano

     /  November 26, 2013

    More á la complex inferieuse:

    It’s very encouraging to see Seán O’ Brien’s reaction.

  30. Ciano

     /  November 26, 2013

    Sorry to keep banging on about this; but I genuinely can’t remember an Ireland test team coming from behind to win a game (especially from a distance behind) can anyone?

    • moreinhope

       /  November 26, 2013

      • moreinhope

         /  November 26, 2013

        not a distance behind but still worth remembering

        • Ciano

           /  November 26, 2013

          As a St. Mary’s, Drogheda boy that’ll always be one of my favorites!

          • Paddy

             /  November 26, 2013

            5 points in front, 1 min to go, and we kick it away twice. But we won! That’s depressing for the week that’s in it, but is 1 of my fav memories too. Could do without the sound of Ryle Nugent climaxing over the conversion…he may have ruined!

      • Buccaneer

         /  November 27, 2013

        Man watching that again was awesome! There have been a lot of good days too!

  31. Yossarian

     /  November 26, 2013

    When the captain debate was ongoing Sean O’Brien’s name popped up but was kind of discounted. does anyone else think in the wake of these three games he looks like he might have been the perfect option?He sounds like Richie McCaw with his drive and belief to be the best, Demanding higher standards of his team mates etc.

  32. William Yates

     /  November 26, 2013

    Hi, any reason my comments weren’t posted?

    • See them there now my friend. First time commenters need approved due to volume of abuse we were getting during 6N

  33. Buzz

     /  November 26, 2013

    Much as I enjoyed the game and (as an Englishmen) was roaring Ireland on I don’t think they deserved to win.

    Ireland failed to put any points on the board during the last 47 minutes.

    Sexton bottled that last penalty and he and Murray took several wrong options in the closing minutes which cost them dearly.

    A great performance but still a defeat. It’s not the dawn of a brave new era. If you cross the superb showing against NZ with the miserable capitulation against the Aussies you get an average score of mediocre.

    Much in the same way as England’s win over the All Blacks last year didn’t make them world beaters (or even Welsh beaters) this near miss doesn’t suddenly make Ireland contenders.

    I thought the 22-19 defeat in 2012 was a better performance and look what happened after that………..

    PS

    One of the biggest moments in the match was on Rob Kearney’s interception try when Kieran Read sprinted 80 yards not to prevent the try but merely in the hope of stopping Kearney getting under the posts and making the conversion a bit more difficult. That Herculean effort saved two points which came in handy later.

    How many other players would’ve done that?

    • Ciano

       /  November 27, 2013

      ^ Quoted for truth on all accounts man.

      If we had half the ability England have to think we’re class we’d be world beaters like England have been several times. England have consistently punched above their weight because of their mental strength. Pretty much opposite story with us.

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