Joe Knows

Ireland 29 South Africa 15.  It was a win of such accurate execution, discipline and adherence to a superb gameplan that it’s almost impossible to say anything interesting or worthwhile about it.

Seventeen injured players became eighteen on the morning of the game as Chris Henry fell foul of a virus. Never mind, Ireland won anyway, by 29-15 and Rhys Ruddock played so well it was almost a relief to have something we could level at Schmidt: ‘Why the hell was this guy not in the team in the first place?’

We said that pre-emptively criticising Joe Schmidt’s selections was a bad idea, but for some reason we went ahead and did it anyway. And once again we find ourselves in the hole. His seemingly experimental midfield worked a treat with Henshaw in particular exceptionally robust at 12, and with a touch of class to boot. His kick behind the defence to set up the platform for Ruddock’s try was sublime.  Payne also contributed in defence and his best moment in attack was a great support line off the peerless Rob Kearney.  Richadt Strauss’ selection on the bench raised a few eyebrows, but he had a superb impact when he replaced Sean Cronin.  Joe knows.

The story of the game everyone knows; Ireland’s lineout and scrum creaked badly but they made up for it by pulverising the breakdown and being more accurate and better disciplined than their opponents. They had less territory and less possession than South Africa, but made better decisions and executed better when it mattered. The half-backs dominated their opponents.  They worked the scoreboard with impressive regularity, while South Africa missed their opportunities to do so, and in the last 20 minutes of the first half they had plenty.

Ireland’s record against The Other Two southern hemisphere nations isn’t bad – on their own turf anyway, but few wins have been as convincing or with such sound foundations. Ireland have had scalps before, but usually as a backlash against previous rubbish performances and wounded pride. Not so here.

A special mention for the half-backs. Before last year’s Six Nations we remarked that Sexton and Murray had world-class ability, but now was the time to unleash their ‘test match animal’ and become not fleetingly great players, but those who consistently dominate test matches. The call has been met, and arguably both are now operating at the peak of their powers. Sexton has tended to prefer playing with a ‘servant’, a scrum half who sees his job as being to give him the ball. Eoin Reddan has understood this role and executed it superbly at Leinster, but Conor Murray is no junior partner. It’s taken them a while to gel, but now they have done so the results are, and will continue to be, astonishing. It’s a half-back pairing for the ages.

The glass suddenly looks not so much half-full as brimming over. Injuries? Who cares? Australia? Let’s take them. We’ve a shot at a three-win series. The possibilities are huge. There’s no need to urge the team to ‘front up’ or ‘grasp the nettle’ because we know that under this coach, cold hard detail, accuracy and execution of an appropriate gameplan will be used to deconstruct the opposition. It looks increasingly like the best coach in the world is coaching the Ireland team. Momentum is being built and a world cup is less than twelve months away. These are heady times.

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76 Comments

  1. Thrilled!!!! And Nugget can hook! Who knew? And his throws were all straight too, as far as I could see, fair play to him. Admiration of the magnificence of Murray and Sexton simultaneously leads straight to the squad depth issue. What would we do if, come RWC 2015, either one or both, God between us and all harm, are out of action? To my mind this means Marmion has to get more game time in the Green. Ditto Ian Madigan in Green and in Blue – and in both cases IN THE NUMBER 10 SHIRT. If this means Nucifora pulling rank on Matt O’Connor so be it. The national cause takes preference over the provincial one.

  2. Agree it was a great performance and everyman stood up and delivered Joe’s plan but (there is a but), do you not think this South African side seemed a bit too cocky. Foregoing a number of kickable penalties in their quest to put Ireland to the sword early on only to be denied by great defending and too many errors. Even before the anthems they were out on the pitch laughing and joking, they seemed too relaxed and looked like they expected to win without too much trouble. Ireland played well but the Boks let themselves down with their attitude. Doubt they will do that again, England beware!

    • D6W

       /  November 10, 2014

      I should be noted that afterwards they were very gracious in defeat. Makes a change from previous years, with their charmless coach Peter De Villiers.

    • They definitely let us off the hook a few times in the first half. The decision to forego kickable points, whether a result of arrogance or not, was erroneous.

    • SportingBench

       /  November 10, 2014

      A bit like Ireland’s approach to Australia last autumn which was at best casual.
      often games are influenced by poor decision making by one team

  3. Leinsterlion

     /  November 10, 2014

    Strangely flat, or mufflingly clinical, if that makes sense, there was none of the intensity that had Un-Zee on the canvas after 10/15 mins, we just played to the pattern Joe has had us playing for a while now; error reduction, high percentage passes and kicks, solid d, make the opposition try and beat you. Granted injuries etc, play a part in what Joe is asking these players to do, he obviously is aware of the limitations of his squad(a pack with next to zero ball carriers) and thus has us playing everything off Sexton and Murray, it was not pretty or exciting by any means, but it got the job done against a Bok team on a roll so I cant really complain.. Long term though, pretty disappointing if this is it…..

    Also, was nice to see George Hook make one sane comment amidst the inane and insane, SA’s forthcoming quota policy(of five “black Africans”(eg no “coloureds”, sorry Habana, you are not black enough)) is a disgrace, and it can be seen in action with their version of POM taking the field, their nominal openside “Oupa” was so far out of his depth, only 6 superrugby caps? I know lads playing in the Currie cup who are better players, you can carry one player of his caliber, and a 7’s clown like Hendricks, but five in a team? If it comes to pass, the Boks are done as a force in rugby.

    • Was it not the same line-up that beat the All Blacks? They can’t be that bad.

      • Melonhead

         /  November 10, 2014

        He put in a great shift against BNZ too, hit a lot of rucks, made some big tackles and earned a key turnover. I’ve seen all three of his test matches and this is the first time he wasn’t outright impressive.

        But of course I’m not an expert on Blindside play like Leinsterlion, (Incidentally Mohojé isn’t an openside, Saffas reverse the numbering on flankers, blindsides are 7, opens 6). we should probably consign him to the garbage heap along with POM.

        • osheaf01

           /  November 10, 2014

          Not to mention Conor Murray on that garbage heap; the worst scrum-half ever to play for Ireland…according to LL.
          Still, the “best team in Europe” managed an away win in the Top 14 at the weekend, so he must be feeling reinforced in his prejudices…

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 10, 2014

            In fairness how many caps did it take Connor Murray before he could be declared mildly competent, how many woeful non performances did he have in a green and red shirt? Murray has been off the garbage heap for a while now, he has morphed into a good player in a certain gameplan, I have no problem revising my opinion when a player obviously improves upon their weaknesses.

          • eatmypoint

             /  November 10, 2014

            He still only has 29 caps! You say he’s been off the heap for a while now, presumably since the 2013 6 nations considering he was selected for the Lions that summer so that’s about 15 caps ago, it therefore took him 14 caps to go from a 22 year old with only a couple of years experience as a pro to one of the best 9s in the world by the 2013 lions tour to quite possibly the best now and still only 25….pretty good going.

          • D6W

             /  November 10, 2014

            WIthout wishing to get between yourself and LL, it is unfair to claim that previous LL criticism of Murray was unjustified just because now Murray is playing exceptionally well.

            The Murray we are seeing now is in a different class to the Murray we saw in 2012, who was slow to the breakdown, took too many steps before passing, and constantly chose the wrong options. And I doubt you would find todays Murray outside Supermacs in the early hours sharing an, ahem, burger with Zebo!

          • eatmypoint

             /  November 10, 2014

            Apologies wasn’t trying to get in an argument with LL….looking back at my comment it certainly looked like I was trying pretty hard!:) I just didn’t agree with the idea that we had to put up with loads of terrible performances from Murray. He was probably starting for Ireland for about a year when he was still really young/inexperienced and he had all the holes in his game that you mention. By 2013 he had most of these fixed should have been starting for the Lions and he’s improved even more since to being truly world class! I think a lot of fans are very quick to write off new players and older players alike.

          • A lot of the early criticism was wildly overstated too. He was good at times during the bedding-in period; against Australia off the bench and against Italy from the start at the RWC, against France in the 6 Nations in 2012 before he had to go off injured, against New Zealand in Christchurch that summer… And that’s just offhand, there were plenty of other games where he was doing good stuff mixed with bad stuff and getting completely slated online by a brigade of hysterical fools saying he’d never be international standard, etc. It happens a lot with young players, but Murray in particular got a lot of bile.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 10, 2014

            My main gripe with Murray was he was learning on the job and wasnt punished for poor performances, when we clearly had options in reserve(in Redden and Boss(yes at the time) Stringer. I am massively in favour of giving youth a chance etc, but that is all based on performance, if you dont perform, you should be dropped(provided there is a viable alternative) and brought back when needed, end of.
            Unless you are a world class talent like Dan Carter with buckets of goodwill in reserve, I dont think you should have a right to a jersey, an idea which I think still applies a lot in Irish rugby, it seems to permeate Munster, Leinster and Ireland.
            Its all academic now, he is the best nine at the minute and in this setup, its his jersey to lose.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  November 10, 2014

          @Melonhead I know about SA numbering conventions hence why I called him a nominal openside… You are right about what I think of him, cant for the life of me see how he is a Bok, the likes of Ashley Johnson would do a far better job, Johnson is a crap Jerry Collins, which is still better then most.

  4. Really impressive performance. Not perfect, but in a game where Ireland went in with such a questionable (from almost all corners bar the management staff) team selection, it was outstanding. Atmosphere in Lansdowne was great too. Chuffed.

  5. D6W

     /  November 10, 2014

    Despite the great victory, we certainly do have to “front up” in the set-peice, particularly the scrum. One of the unique aspects of this win is that it is so rare for a team can win when they are being dominated in the scrum, as we were.

    We may well beat Australia, and will not face a monster pack like SA until England or France in six nations, But we will have to address the scrum problems ASAP. Lineouts may not be such an issue when Best and Strauss are fully fit again.

    PS One solution would be to hire the current Japanese forwards coach

    • Yeah, the scrum was certainly a concern, as we expected it would be with Healy and Best out and Ross rusty. Georgia will provide another test in that regard.

      Was it just me, or did things get a bit better after Strauss (and possibly McCarthy) came on? I noticed O’Connell was scrummaging on the tighthead side and Mike McCarthy’s USP is that he has a bit of grunt and can wedge his shoulder into the tighthead’s arse and push.

      • Stephen

         /  November 10, 2014

        Injuries a definite factor in the scrum, particularly Best. Also, McGrath will be a stronger scrummager by RWC time – Healy’s injury absence practically guarantees it.

      • ruckinhell

         /  November 10, 2014

        The scrum did look more solid but that also coincided with Strauss in the bin for SA so it was no longer 8 v 8.

        • Yes, they’d a man in the bin from 67 minutes, but Strauss was on from 59 minutes and I think there were at least a couple of scrums in the meantime?

          I can’t remember – did South Africa have to put someone unusual in to hook after Strauss went to the bin? Anyone?

          • Stevo

             /  November 10, 2014

            I don’t remember there being a scrum while Strauss was in the bin, I only recall Vermeulen having to take a line-out. That said, I’d had a couple of glasses of wine at that stage.

          • Stevo

             /  November 10, 2014

            Besides, isn’t it the case that the absence of a specialist hooker means uncontested scrums?

          • Yes – they would have to have a specialist front row on in any case. I don’t know if it specifically has to be a hooker, but they would have been forced to make a change.

      • That is what made it remarkable to me D6W. I remember wartching the World Cup final where BNZ got hammered in the scrum, dominated (particularly by harinordiquay) in the lineout (aside from one clever Steve Hansen trick play from which the kiwis scored) but because they won the breakdown about 60-40 (and also assisted a little by the whistle) they won the game. It struck me as being funny the length rugby had come that this was possible in such a big game. On Saturday Ireland were hanging on for dear life in the scrum, barely contested springbok lineout and had their own lineout ravaged, at the breakdown – whilst Ireland did a great job of legally slowing their ball all the big poaches seemed to be South African. Yet still they won the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. The mole talked about miracles before. This wasn’t a million miles from one.

        They consistently managed to expose the imbalance of how South Africa defend. It was best illustrated by Henshaw’s kick-you could see him scan the defence, think about going wide and then making a (decisive) decision to go in behind them because they were coming up too quickly. Schmidt talked about intelligence in the midfield and that was an example of it, but the intelligence was there in everything they did-they were ready for those first half mauls close to the line where the point of attack of the maul gets changed (a hangover from plumtree’s coaching) and almost every play in the game showed how smart Ireland were. South Africa are taking some flak for this one. I’m not sure how justified it is. Ireland had to be absolutely incredible to beat them.

        • Yossarian

           /  November 10, 2014

          Let’s not mention the Joubert/Paddy O’Brien world cup. joke of a final.

          • osheaf01

             /  November 10, 2014

            Yup. The most blatantly biased “give the home team the Cup” refereeing performance since Derek Bevan in the Boks/France 1995 semi.

          • Aye maybe that does skew it as an example a bit.

    • Lop12

       /  November 10, 2014

      I see they had three pen tries over two weekends Vs the NZ Maoris..clearly some work done on the scrummaging!

    • hulkinator

       /  November 10, 2014

      Japans scrum coach is French. I forget his name but he has them performing well

    • Xyz

       /  November 10, 2014

      I don’t know if that video is just a very selective collection but….wow.

    • I only just got to watching the video now. Very interesting. My favourite bit is when the scrum coach is walking on the second rows. Brilliant.

      • Yeh thats class now in fairness , It takes alot of creativity and ingenuity to coach at test level and that what you like to be seeing , Japan can become a power , they have interest now and numbers , and the financial backing in their domestic league , they are the most improved nation the last two years IMO , Georgia and Italy will continue to rise too.

    • If he did that with Japan I can only imagine what could he do with Ireland.

  6. ruckinhell

     /  November 10, 2014

    While our tackling defence was good despite what the stats say about missed tackles (a good few of those seemed to have been guys who were bounced in the tackle when they went in high but didn’t result in line breaks as they stopped the runner dead who was then tackled on second attempt or by a team mate), the key really was our ability to slow down and disrupt their ruck ball. Time and again Irish defenders were swarming in and slowing or kicking the ball at the base, it clearly frustrated SA greatly. POM in particular was a serious pain in their side and it’s very clear that he’s not selected to tackle his socks off but to be first into as many rucks as possible to steal, delay or obstruct as frequently as allowed by the ref on the day. This is a fundamental part of the system and perhaps the usual suspects (LL I’m looking at you) will acknowledge that there’s merit to this. A tackle everything, bruising carrier might be the “typical 6” but it doesn’t mean that it’s the right 6 for the system we play.

    Regarding the scrums, I’m not overly worried (yet). Ross was held together with sticky plaster and Cronin is not a noted scrummager. Get Best back and Ross with another a few weeks of gametime and match sharpness and we should have a much more stable platform. Fine outing from McGrath, tremendous workrate despite obvious pressure in the scrums. Depth is building nicely in the front row and fingers crossed Moore comes back ready for the RWC.

    • Seeing us make shit of every South African ruck was more beautiful than any 60 metre counter attacking try!

    • osheaf01

       /  November 10, 2014

      “POM in particular was a serious pain in their side and it’s very clear that he’s not selected to tackle his socks off but to be first into as many rucks as possible to steal, delay or obstruct as frequently as allowed by the ref on the day. This is a fundamental part of the system and perhaps the usual suspects (LL I’m looking at you) will acknowledge that there’s merit to this.”

      Don’t be asking LeinsterLion to disturb his prejudices, now…

    • Leinsterlion

       /  November 10, 2014

      Has he had a double figure tackle count in an international? we had another blindside playing out of position and he managed that in Ruddock, McGrath got how many on the weekend? Tackle count should not used as a stick to beat him with, but the majority of opensides(POMs role) still manage to get into double figures in addition to their ruck work, he is just not a great player, he is workmanlike, nothing more.

        • Seems a little primitive to measure a players contribution and hardly going to be shouted from rooftops, but if this is indeed the value apportioned to great blindsides nominal or otherwise here it is. http://m.sarugbymag.co.za/?postslug=blog/details/november-test-stats-week-1#november-test-stats-week-1

          • Leinsterlion

             /  November 10, 2014

            Hmmm, ESPN, had him down for 9….minor difference I’ll admit, one tackle, but it is a theme of his, low tackle count, ineffective carries(Heaslip can be lumped into the carry criticism point, its an issue.). You can point to his work at the breakdown and say yes, look at all the unseen work he does, but I would point out that nearly every player in or around his position does that, and so much more, look at what they do and then compare it to POM, he comes up short. Stats are a poor mans illustration of this point in isolation, especially tackle count, I agree, I wont bring them up.

      • Have a lie down Leinsterlion, you must be exhausted. It has to be tiring being so relentlessly appalled.

        • Leinsterlion

           /  November 10, 2014

          I would characterise myself as relentlessly snarky….but how and ever…

          • Fair enough leinsterlion, maybe the saffers gave him the credit for putting Murray into touch. 🙂

            I enjoy your posts leinsterlion and you fight your corner so fair dues. It isn’t necessarily an insult because I like him, but I gotta say you are worse than hook!

        • osheaf01

           /  November 10, 2014

          You can’t really blame him for being appalled when “should be on the rubbish heap” Murray somehow gets on the pitch ahead of Reddan, not to mention taking Isaac Boss’ rightful place in the 23…can you?

          • D6W

             /  November 11, 2014

            Are you actually Conor Murray? You are taking LL’s historic criticism of Murray (which was justified at the time) awfully hard.

  7. SportingBench

     /  November 10, 2014

    I think I’ll have to join the witch hunt and burn myself at the stake for doubting Joe.
    Magnificent and makes a lie of the excuse we have often comforted ourselves with that the oppoisition are just too big. At the breakdown we should that technique and correct decision making can counter sheer muscle.
    Yes, SA did leave points out there but a win is a win and we don’t diminish our own defeats when we have made poor desicions so why caveat this victory. Yes SA were cocky but I’ve never seen a SA side play Ireland that wasn’t supremely confident and cool, clear desicion making is a winning trait, one which Munster and Leinster are famous for (though Ulster are not sadly) so hopefully that is spreading to Ireland now.

  8. Nearly all of of the possible worries ended up more than ok

    Henshaw and Payne – Massive worry but rock solid. I’d like to see the same vs Oz
    Sexton being flogged and injured – his best ever performance in green
    No ball carriers – No real inroads made but Henshaw, POM, Heaslip and Kearney carried well.
    Kearney’s average form and: his best game in ages
    Scrum – hmm, seemed to get better as it went on but overall a definite blot on the copybook…Heroic by Ross going 75 minutes. SA were absolute idiots not going for a second 5 metre scrum when they had us by the balls though.
    A weak looking bench: seamless enough when everyone came on, Strauss in particular.
    John Plumtree’s loss: Simon Easterby take a bow.
    Cronin’s dodgy darts: at least he threw it straight!

    All in all one of our greatest victories. Massive credit to everyone, in particular our backrow. I thought we’d be lacking a bit of badness but jesus they were pure dog, vicious stuff!

    • SportingBench

       /  November 10, 2014

      Good point about Easterby. The pack were well prepared which is a great sign for the future.

      • Not contesting the lineouts was a masterstroke..never seen that before. I’d forgotten Easterby was the new coach until yesterday..and I mean that as a compliment! Seamless transition. What I like about this team is that it is, in fact, a team. The memories of our ‘give the ball to Seanie and Fez’ gameplan grow fainter each passing match, and we’re not relying on BOD miracles to get us over the line against any team that’s halfways decent…very reassuring going forward but we must back it up against Georgia and Oz…This November has a similar schedule for RWC ’15 and it can be used very well as a mock, to use Leaving Cert parlance!

        • How is it similar? We have France , Italy , Romania and Canada , in the world cup , then Argentina if we top it , and NZ if we don’t, I’m not being Facetious , I’m genuinely curios.

        • I don’t mean playing the same teams, but teams of a similar standard/style. France(while dreadful are always good for a one off…particularly against us) are brutes like SA, Italy are a rich man’s Georgia (both will probably dish out a few injuries) and I’d imagine we’d have to play a similar way against Aus as we would against NZ (if France beat us), and if we beat France then Arg are a similar standard to Aus. This November our 3 opponents are 1)potentially very good 2)poor but massive and 3)relatively decent …(a big)If France turn up then you could apply these ratings to 1)France 2)Italy and 3)Argentina…beat those three and we’ll have done the unthinkable – hurdled a QF!!! That’s why I think this Aus match is huge, we desperately need consistent victories against top class opposition if we’re to do anything at all at this WC.

          • osheaf01

             /  November 11, 2014

            France are not as good as SA, if Saint-Andre remains in charge.
            Italy are a lot better than Georgia.
            Argentina are nowhere near as good as Australia.

  9. eatmypoint

     /  November 10, 2014

    “There’s no need to urge the team to ‘front up’ or ‘grasp the nettle’ because we know that under this coach, cold hard detail, accuracy and execution of an appropriate gameplan will be used to deconstruct the opposition.”

    That’s the big thing from this weekend. We no longer need to have our backs against the wall, solely relying on passion and desire or playing England with emotion pouring out during the anthems (although I hope POM continues to scream it like his life depends on it). Now thanks to Joe we can out smart our opponents and with cool heads implement a game plan specifically designed for each opposition.

    Simon Easterby deserves credit too for the maul defence, the scrum and lineout were a mess admittedly but some of that is down to personnel, but I’ve never seen a team have the discipline to actually stand off the maul like that. Everyone was gutted when Plumtree left but he looks a good replacement.

    • SportingBench

       /  November 10, 2014

      The maul defence was a thing of beauty both standing off and also shunting the SA back often when they did compete. I think that messed slightly with teh SA decision making as I don’t think they expected such destructive defence of the maul and it confused them. The more I think about it the better this performance was from Ireland. It reminds me of a training course I was on a while ago when someone droned on about turning weaknesses into strengths and not focusing on what you can’t do but trying to do the things your are good at. Certainly that was how Ireland played on Saturday.
      The stand off at the lineout tactic, used selectively, turned a SA advantage into a source of confusion and frustration for them.

  10. Winning so comprehensively with no setpiece against the second team in the world, with all our injuries, was jaw dropping. Yes, the Boks were poor, but it is still massive testament to the other parts of our game.

    The defense and defensive line post-BOD was really very good. Is it because Kiss is being allowed to focus on this again? Certainly, all players fronted up.

    Will be interesting to see the 12-13 this weekend. As others have said, so much rests on our outstanding halfbacks though.

  11. The uncontested maul trick was good but I’m sure will only give a temporary advantage before teams come up with a way to counter it. Still, it is great to see Ireland come up with ways to out-smart opponents.

    • There’s a fairly established way to counter it (which I’m surprised South Africa didn’t execute after the first time Ireland used the tactic), which is to keep the ball at the front of the maul and just walk forward. This forces the defending side to tackle the ball carrier and if his body position is right he should be able to transfer it to the back of the maul at that stage. (Easier said than done, of course.) It goes to show how difficult it is to make and execute those decisions, because the Boks had Victor Matfield on the pitch, as good a thinker on the lineout and maul as there is playing the game, and still didn’t react too intelligently. Instead they started using the clean ball they were getting to launch runners up the middle, which was basically meat and drink to our 10-12-13,

    • SportingBench

       /  November 10, 2014

      I think the beauty of it was that they only did it the odd time to confuse the South Africans like with a trick play in American Football.I would doubt it will be a first option. The execution of it was amazing though. Hard to back off as a team without making it obvious in advance to the opposition.

  12. Delightful game, was a pleasure to be at. McGrath showed a huge amount of maturity if nothing else to hold up his end of the scrum after getting pinged 2-3 times early on and stop the flood, and his tackles were top notch (although admittedly the Springboks were definitely running at players rather than space by and large).

    Poor old Willie Le Roux, definitely seemed to be out there on his own trying to salvage things, and he was definitely the most dangerous (from an attacking and legal POV, take bows Messrs Vermeuluen and Strauss) player for SA on the pitch but he just didn’t have anything to work with.

    Hard to find fault with any player, 1-23 really. I remember one or two hairbrained moments (Dev Toner doing a DOC impression and hanging out on the wing for a cross-field kick which he promptly palmed to SA being a notable one), and maybe collectively the bench/squad were guilty of switching off in the last few minutes to concede that try, which could have been much more costly if SA had taken their points, and happened to cost us 4th place in the IRB rankings.

    The one thing I’m worried about now is someone (read: BNZ) out-Joeing Joe, and simply having too many different types of gameplan that they can rely on which can’t simply be out-thought. We’ve made a hell of a lot of progress, but the All Blacks (and heck, even a Cheika Australia once they’ve had three games to get their systems buttoned down) are going to be altogether different propositions I imagine, but I’ll be fascinated to see what Joe comes up with.

    • Bowe Gathers

       /  November 10, 2014

      I agree with the BNZ game plan shuffling – they have the personnel to play pretty much any game plan with the same terrifying intensity – but for the rest I reckon you’re forgetting that Joe hasn’t really had time to set out our game plan. We managed to stop SA scoring and when we entered their 22 took our (limited) opportunities.

      It might be a bit soon this series, but I feel we’ll see a WC blueprint of our attacking game in the 6 nations with all the best characteristics of Schmidt’s teams, such as accuracy on the gain line, chilling decision making and clinical finishing. Given the few months we have in hand between June and September it may be that we roll out an offensive style of play that scares our opponents as much as our defensive systems.

  13. My favourite moment was Heinke van der Merwe sitting all alone in the Boks changing room after the game with his head in his hands, intermittently shaking his head. He has just been schooled by the world’s best coach and he knew it…so telling. Joe knows!

    • Not to indulge in schadenfreude too much, but my favourite moment was actually when South Africa scored! jannie du p was like the Incredible Hulk. He would have put you in mind of Gary halpin a little! What I enjoyed about it was that here was a top team (and they are a top drawer side) who looked pretty bloody serious about winning, who looked to have finally cracked Ireland’s resolve and had the momentum of not only the game but of stellenbosch and the rugby championship behind them. And then they just didn’t.

      • Or another great moment was Strauss jumping into bowe’s arms after the try. With the year that fella has been through and the significance of this particular game – nice moment.

        • Spikes

           /  November 10, 2014

          Agreed. He played a belter, and I couldn’t be happier for him.
          Speaking of hookers, what has happened with Bismarck duPlessis? For a guy often talked of as the best hooker in the world, he seemed like a penalty machine. Mind you his replacement didn’t help the Boks much either.
          As others have said above, it was wonderful watching Ireland play with such intelligence and discipline. Fantastic work by the players, and Schmidt deserves all the praise he is getting.

        • I felt for Tommy though – 70 minutes of hard rugby and then a hooker decides to jump on you to celebrate!

  14. Andrew097

     /  November 10, 2014

    Great team performance once again Joe coches Irish players to perform and be better players. POM passing who would have thought he would not look for contact and Toner gets a few swings from SA for just being a gangly, in the way nuisance.
    I got to see nearly every Leinster game coached by him and it did not matter who was on the park every player performed and played to potential and beyond. Happy Days because it was no fluke emontional win it was about setting standards

  15. For me the “best bit” or aspect about our defeating the Boks means that they’re gonna have to redeem themselves next weekend and should they succeed will seriously derail the charioteers’ RWC 2015 preparations. Schadenfreude? I’m saving mine…..

  16. Safe to say Ireland have serious potential to be consistently among the Top three , no easy feat , but It should somewhat be our aim , If our aim is not to be THE best in the world.

  17. This is not the kind of discussion I thought we’d be having today. I thought if we did win it would be tight but have to say I’m yet again happy to have JS prove me wrong. Ruckinhell I agree with you re POM he isn’t picked to be a standard hulk smash type 6 carrying aggressively and tackling even more aggressively. He’s chosen for the jackiling and being a general pain to the opposition as well as being a good line out option. However saying we don’t need a hulk smash 6 isn’t really correct either. We had that on Saturday he just happened to be wearing 7. Maybe with POM at 6 we really are more like SA in swapping the numbers. POM does more of the typical 7 stuff where our actual 7 and Heaslip pick up more of the work expected of a standard 6. In the end so long as it works and is balanced enough to function properly against big opposition who actually cares what Jersey the back row are wearing. Anyone seen the SA sports add about making irish Mondays miserable? Priceless stuff.

  18. Hello WOC, long time fan and first time commenter here. I feel what you’re saying about it being a difficult match to say anything interesting about. However, can we now finally put an end to the talk of there having been a golden generation? A team riddled with injuries went out and beat the Boks by 14 points. I don’t think many people were predicting an Irish win, least of all against the South Africans who were playing with a full deck. A deck any manager would be glad to have.

    I think Ruddock deserves a lot of credit for playing very well after being called up last minute and into an unfamiliar position. Was it just me or did Joe wait until very late in the day to use the bench?

  19. Yossarian

     /  November 11, 2014

    With Ruddocks performance and POM playing well we are developing the ability to vary our strategy depending on the opposition when SOB comes back. Schmidt used to vary between Jennings and McLaughlin depending on the opposition and the scenario. Be great to be picking from a full deck and being able to do the same at international level. Henry/POM/Ruddock. Healy/McGrath. Cronin/Strauss. Potentially in midfield we will have similar options between Henshaw/Payne/D’Arcy and perhaps Olding.

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