All is not Lost

Dreams of a grand slam have evaporated after Ireland lost to Wales in Cardiff but all is not lost.  The slam is gone but the championship is still to be decided. As is our wont, despite having only two (two!) Grand Slams in our history, its Holy Grail status means we are still busy wailing and weeping in a funereal atmosphere – the championship is one hell of a difficult prize to win, and we haven’t retained it since 1949 (1983 was shared). Winning two in a row, despite (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO) not winning a Grand Slam, is an extremely impressive achievement.

Ireland were made to pay for a poor opening quarter in which they fell 12-0 behind.  Thereafter, they dominated the match, to the extent that a couple of Welsh forwards produced tackle counts that were off the chart.  But this Irish team is not set up to chase leads as well as they are to protect them and they came up short.

They showed admirable on-field intelligence in some respects.  As we feared, Wales had sufficiently talented catchers in the back field to nullify Ireland’s kick-chase game, which had so effectively put the heebie-jeebies up the English.  Halfpenny and Williams were never likely to come unstuck, but Ireland at least showed the wherewithal to change tack and hold onto the ball instead.  Fears that Ireland lacked the carriers to gain territory with ball in hand proved less than well founded, with the forwards sufficiently robust at close quarters to put Ireland on the front foot and in the right areas of the pitch.  Paul O’Connell even made a couple of bona-fide line breaks.

It was their inability to convert the pressure into tries that was their undoing.  Three times Ireland were camped on the Welsh line but on no occasion could they breach the defence, bar a maul-and-penalty-try.  A lack of guile is certainly one problem, and Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne have been picked with one thing in mind, and it is not outside breaks or distribution.  But it only tells half the story.  Wales dominated the breakdown contest and Ireland just couldn’t get quick enough ball to score the try that might have swung the match.  Another factor was that, as in Twickenham last year, neither Sexton or Murray played especially well.  Both are vital to Ireland and have been outstanding for much of the last 13 months, so we don’t want to come down too hard on them.  Both of them had an off day.  It happens.

Murray was replaced by Reddan, who is a good reserve, and Reddan did supply the backline with some fast passes, but his trick-play of the behind-the-back-pass was read by the Welsh defence.  Sexton, however, was only hauled ashore late in the match, and Madigan’s form has ebbed significantly in the last couple of months, to the point that Keatley may be the better pick right now.  Mads was spared the ignominy of kicking the ball dead from a penalty in the Welsh 22 only because Wayne Barnes hadn’t started the clock again.  It would have been tantamount to criminality. On paper, the situation was made for Madigan – in fact, it’s pretty much what he is in the team for – no need to kick, keep ball in hand, play flat, unlock an aggressive defence. The fact that the coach only trusted him to play 5 minutes makes you wonder why he was even picked.

The good news is it all sets up a last weekend of huge drama.  Three matches and each one with a possible champion.  A three-way tie on points beckons between England, Wales and Ireland, with points difference almost certainly required to settle the dispute, for the 3rd year in a row.  It leaves England slight favourites.  They begin with a four-point headstart over Ireland and a 25-point start on Wales.  They also play last, and will do so knowing exactly what is required of them.  The last time the title was decided in such a manner was 2007, when last-play tries in both matches (for Italy against Ireland and France against Scotland) proved decisive.  Had Ireland been playing last in that situation they would have won the Six Nations; but they weren’t so France did.  There’s every chance it will be as tight again.  What chance a TMO adjudication in Twickers as Courtney Lawes tries to ground the ball for a garbage-time try against France?  It’s all too much! What Irish fans can take hope from is England’s hopeless lack of awareness and accuracy against Scotland at the weekend – from countless first half line breaks, they contrived to butcher chance after chance and even went in behind at half time. England could have won that game by 30 points and put the championship to bed. But they didn’t, so there is hope.

Wales appear to be third favourites, but they face an Italian side that lost 0-29 to France and may have decided that an away win against Scotland is enough for this season.  It’s not beyond the bounds of possibilities that Wales could win by 40 points and give themselves a real chance – when they want to let the shackles off they can really play, and they’re reasonably well set up to adopt a cavalier approach from the off.  Maybe bring in Tipuric for Lydiate to signify an intent to play fast and loose? There is a real chance Wales can tag on 3 or 4 tries in the last 20 minutes if Italy throw the towel in – if all games were at the same time, you sniff around the 9/1 price on them winning, but given they are setting a target for Ireland and England, it’s a pretty big ask.

Can – and indeed should – Ireland do the same?  In all likelihood Ireland will need to win by 15 points to have a realistic chance.  Scotland are porous in midfield, but not completely hopeless in attack, and are good for 55 minutes of decent performance.  A 15-point winning margin points to needing to score somewhere in the region of 25-30 points, which probably requires three tries.  Ireland have scored four in the whole series so far; one from a pick and jam off a lineout, one a penalty try and one a catch from a kick.  They’ve scored exactly one try where someone is running with the ball in their hands over the tryline.

So, while the temptation is to appeal to management to start Earls, Fitzgerald and Henderson, logic points to Schmidt keeping with the approach that won ten test matches in a row, and giving his team a chance to atone for the Welsh match. After all, the team showed they could execute a ball-in-hand gameplan .. until the tryline beckoned. In Schmidt we trust, even if we recently lost a test match. Although, like a long playing record, we’ll once again ask how having Felix Jones on the bench contributes to the goal of winning by a large number of points.

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57 Comments

  1. Roundy

     /  March 18, 2015

    Your last line is very true. While I do believe and trust St Joe I would really like to see a change in the back line. Henshaw with Fitzer outside him, Payne as cover (for FB and centre) on the bench and maybe Earls also on the bench (or possibly starting ahead of Zebo). I do think Henshaw and Payne are very similar type of players and a change in outside centre might give us more options. We need to win the game so hopefully Sexton and Murray find their form and we need impact off the bench if we want to score a clatter of try’s late on and I agree Jones does not offer that impact.

    • Wew hear you Roundy, and we’re of tghe same opinion but we’re bored of repeating ourselves at this stage!

  2. Was at the match (after missing the Rosslare ferry due to a fella with a broom sweeping the roadworks on the N11 holding up traffic for 45 minutes with Stop/Go lollipop signs, driving back up to Dublin to get to Holyhead at 6am, then driving through Snowdonia to get to Cardiff), and if nothing else it the second half made it some spectacle. The hits the Welsh were putting in (Davies handing off Sexton back a few weeks, Cronin getting blindsided on the wing) were immense, and you have to credit them for putting in some shift. That’s the second time I’ve been to the Millenium for an Ireland match though and it’s the second time I’ve had a Welsh try scored right in front of me. Might reconsider heading over to our WC matches there!

    Anyway, on to Ireland. I do think that there could be a couple of changes in the pack to try and batter the Scots early on. Henderson for POM/Toner and Healy for McGrath? I think the step up in their ball-carrying can’t just be saved for the last 20 or so minutes if we want to go out with the intention of winning the match, which you could arguably say we didn’t really do against Wales. The Scots are probably going to be at their most dangerous this weekend, and they have form for denying us a win in the last round when they’re getting desperate as well.

    All in all though, it’s probably for the best that we haven’t continued The Streak, as otherwise hubris might have started to set in. Hopefully we see a response on Saturday!

    • I do not get the call to start Healy instead of McGrath. McGrath has been consistently excellent & Healy has failed to set the world alight every time he’s come on. Healy is obviously a world class player at his best and should be the type of impact sub that puts the fear of God into the opposition but he comes charging on so eager to prove himself that any control goes out the wind a la the knock on that days later still makes me weep. I don’t think McGrath deceives to be dropped for Healy based on current form rather than reputation

      • If we’re going to drop a front row – and I doubt we are – then surely Best is first in the firing line?

        • Leinsterlion

           /  March 18, 2015

          Cronin is equally as dire at the old darts though.

          • The best throwing hooker in Ireland this season has been Casey. I find it odd there was no place for him prior to his current injury. Plus, from what I’ve seen, he can hook

        • Roundy

           /  March 18, 2015

          Best was absolutely amazing against the English, how he didnt get mom I will never know. Yeah he was off with his darts last Saturday but he is still our best option at hooker. Cronin make a good impact off the bench.

      • Bogsy

         /  March 18, 2015

        Completely agree Kate, it was like he was trying to win the game on his own on Sat. Ironically he probably wouldn’t have the same problem if he did start!

      • curates_egg

         /  March 18, 2015

        Plus one

    • Das Waderwurst

       /  March 18, 2015

      Agree that The Streak coming to an end is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when we consider all that went wrong on the day (Lineout, Sexton & Murray not firing, all round lack of accuracy, Barnes at scrum time) and how close we were to actually winning it. No bad thing to be knocked down a peg or two and refocus. It might even inspire a Baa-Baas style backlash this weekend where we actually run in a couple of tries.

  3. Das Waderwurst

     /  March 18, 2015

    Jones’s continued bench selection is baffling. He doesn’t offer impact, he’s not versatile, there’s bags of ready-made cover elsewhere, and there are two guys who are shining at their provinces who appear to offer infinitely more. It does not add up in any way. It’s by no means the reason we lost on Saturday, but not having an option to change things up in any meaningful way outside 10 is debilitating, particularly when we so clearly lacked guile and creativity.

  4. Letthelionroar

     /  March 18, 2015

    Am I the only one who thinks that decisions to go down the line rather than take shots at goal were ultimately what cost us the game? I know we were well on top at the time but felt like we made some very poor calls on that front that may have been clouded by an effort to prove Ire can play a non-boring style of rugby. Watched it in a pub with a lot of distractions so may be incorrect.

    • curates_egg

       /  March 18, 2015

      Totally agree. This was very frustrating. POC is a wonderful leader but he sometimes makes captain’s decisions with the heart instead of the head…and loves the kick to the corner.

      We could have been 12-12 after 30 minutes and 15-15 at halftime if Sexton had made his first penalty and we had not kicked to the corner. There were at least a couple of the penalties in the second half period of dominance that could/should have been kicked.

      Another bugbear is the lack of a dropgoal mentality in Ireland. I cannot remember either Sexton or Madigan ever dropping into the pocket for Ireland. I can only remember Sexton doing so a couple of times for Leinster and not sure if Madigan ever has? That 40 phase gong show was crying out for a dropgoal.

      • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

         /  March 18, 2015

        Agree completely re drop goal. As regards kicking to the corner, Ireland are usually pretty sensible re taking the points on offer – albeit more when building a lead rather than chasing one. Led me to wonder was PO’C concerned about Sexton’s lack of kicking practice due to hamstring injury – a concern exacerbated by his early miss? They weren’t exactly ‘gimmes’ and if Johnny was not able to get through his usual practice workload???

        • curates_egg

           /  March 18, 2015

          If there were concerns like that, he shouldn’t have started. He kicked one that must have been close to 50m too, so I’m not sure.

        • Letthelionroar

           /  March 18, 2015

          Would agree that Ireland are pretty sensible/conservative normally hence why I thought maybe they were trying to prove a point about their attacking ability. Don’t think Sexton’s kicking on the day would have been a factor nor would I pin the blame solely on POC. My experience in those situations is that the captain would have a look at the kicker (particularly if the kicker is a senior leader like Sexton) for advice on the options. I would suspect Sexton was urging him go down the line; obviously POC would have needed little encouragement. Perhaps this was a predetermined game plan but given how the game was going I thought at the time it was very poor on field game management.
          Don’t necessarily agree with the lack of a drop goal mentality, personally would prefer to continue an attack to try and build a 7 pointer or create a penalty then rely on a snatch at a drop goal

        • D6W

           /  March 18, 2015

          The Sunday Times match report wrote that Sexton took a big hit from Biggar early on, and that he was completely out of the game from then on. Did not see the hit, but did wonder in the 2nd half whether Sexton was injured or not. Have never seen him so anonymous, and the incident where he was looking the other way when a pass came to him was extraordinary at that level.

          • Letthelionroar

             /  March 19, 2015

            Interesting, did they suggest he was suffering from concussion? I think if he was playing with an injury he would have been taken off sooner considering he wasn’t really at the races, may be just a typical Irish media response to what was just an off day for Sexton.

          • curates_egg

             /  March 19, 2015

            The Sunday Times was referring to the hand off from Davies. Watched it a number of times now and Sexton bounces straight up (not even a second on the ground) and tracks back immediately. Grasping at straws methinks.

  5. Yossarian

     /  March 18, 2015

    I would be amazed if there are any changes to the starting 15. Jones will be out for either Luke or Earls on the bench(Luke would be my preference)
    Healy arguably cost us 10 points between knocking on at the line and picking and going in front of our posts for Warburton penalty.
    Second rows have been excellent up till now-no place for Henderson there.
    Backrow are not being changed either despite poor showings from Heaslip and POM.

    10 game winning streak up till now not going to be thrown away because we failed to score in a game we nevertheless dominated.(75% possession for second half)

    Shades of EOS about getting off the irish team the way things are- that said if Jones makes the bench i think some of the Joe gloss will start to fade.

  6. Red Wolf

     /  March 18, 2015

    Can we just be adult enough to admit now that the Zebo experiment has not worked and move on? At present he does not have what is required for an international wing. Granted his work rate has improved, as asked, but he is a selfish player with probably 5 passes attempted so far (no idea of exact stat but I guess I am not too far off) in the entire tourney. It has to be Earls or Fitz to start, in this supporters opinion.
    It is frustrating to see him with ball, lately he just goes into contact and kills whatever momentum dead. Had me wondering if it was down to his time as fullback that has him doing this.
    Other changes I would like to see would be Henderson on for Toner, O’Donnell for POM with Seanie moved to 6, and Felix’s place on the bench to whoever didn’t start from Earls/Fitz.

    • aoifehamill

       /  March 18, 2015

      Have to agree there. Not that he’s a selfish player as such but in terms of attack he always ALWAYS goes inside and to ground. He’s been good in defence but in attack looks a bit toothless.

      • Surely that’s what he’s been coached to do though and was pilloried for not doing when he wasn’t being selected? Even watching him with Munster he never attempts to burn guys on the outside, he takes the ball into contact every time which is a low risk low reward option. I don wonder if to be a better cog int he machine he’s lost something of what made him an exciting prospect in the first place?

        • aoifehamill

           /  March 18, 2015

          Simon Hick was saying that on Second Captains actually… he’s been turned into Andrew Trimble (dependable rather than high risk/flair). It does feel unfair to give out about him doing what he’s told but surely there’s room for a bit of running and invention with the current gameplan. That said, no one is scoring tries at the minute!

    • I like Zebo, but you gotta say, a fully fit and firing Trimble would be ahead of him. Bowe and Trimble on the wings is what I’m hoping for in September.

  7. Agree that it’s far from all bad news. Ireland will get a huge amount out of this game in terms of developing their attacking game and even allowing for that and all the things that went wrong it is one they should have won. I think the impact from the bench is excellent and would be reluctant to make too many of them starters but do think Schmidt might regret not throwing more in sooner-probably after the big wales goal-line stand, when (I think) only Healy came in. Jones as a specialist 15 obviously doesn’t offer the same impact, but I think he has been included in the subs with a view to rwc. Presumably he will be kearney’s back-up rather than overload Henshaw, zebo or Payne and they have perhaps wanted to work closely with him over the past few months. Fitzgerald must be in with a shout for murrayfield though as a stand alone game.

    I’m optimistic there will be a lot of learning this week, that some areas of dominance might reap a more reflective reward and that there will be a general backlash which will mean a much improved attack and a pretty good win. After that you are relying on France and Italy which is hard to be too optimistic about unfortunately.

  8. Leinsterlion

     /  March 18, 2015

    The cult of the coach…..not quite killed, but given a right boot up the arse? Schmidt has shown himself to be a canny operator, a cut above the majority of coaches we have had on these Isles, but, in stepping up from club to international, his limitations(self imposed maybe) have come to the fore. We have played a dire style of rugby since the first half of the Aus game(where we married attacking devastation with hari-kiri defence) and only intermittently flashed before that. Questions need to be asked of our game plan and selection. The great unwashed and the papers of record uttered not a word of dissent as we kicked and bashed our way to wins, we supposedly had the best half back pairing in the world, the best coach in the world… Both are patently false, our gameplan has been matched and beaten, our vaunted half back/kicking combo found out when fast flat gainline passing was needed. Schmidt needs to evolve or a WC QF will be our ceiling. Compare Leinster under Schmidt to the guff we have been served for the majority of his tenure with Ireland, night and day stuff, we need a return to traditional Leinster values(especially with a championship decided on points diff).

    As for the weekends game, Best bottled it, POC utterly immense,he pulls of a Munster jersey and becomes an utter machine(Foley must be wondering how he can coax those types of performances out of him). Murray cannot play a quick passing game, world class box kicking, a shot Redden displayed a tempo Murray has never shown, back to the paddock for him. Payne and Henshaw need to swap, or put fitz in at 12 and Henshaw at 13. Zebo is done, cant get through gaps, he looks to have lost a yard of pace, Earls, welcome back. POM offers nothing as a 6, he needs to add about 5-10kg, or learn how to utilise what he has more effectively. Move SOB to six, TOD to 7. Cian Healy…what is he doing in the squad? Shockingly off the pace. Whilst both of POC and Toner have been immense, with Hamilton likely out, two heavyweights are not necessary, Toner should be swapped for the more mobile Hendo for the Scottish game.

    England showed how to beat Scotland, run hard and often, if not for a comical case of white line fever infecting the team, they could have put sixty points on Scotland. Scotland are ripe for the slaughter, we need to go out all guns blazing, fill the team full of pace and attacking them from every angle.

    • Bueller

       /  March 18, 2015

      So in your estimation “attacking devastation” = a length of the field intercept + a particularly lightening kick chase by the very player you believe has lost his place. You make some good points above but you have married it with some laughable selection comments and referral to the “traditional Leinster values” set in 2 seasons under the same coach you are lambasting for a single loss.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  March 18, 2015

        I have been querying Schmidts tactics since he has taken over, if you are winning playing rubbish, the ends justify the means to an extent, but when you lose as your plan A is matched and you are unable to switch into a higher gear, you deserve to be lambasted. This loss has been a long time coming, we have played the same pressure game for over a year, the fact its a taken a man with “the intellect of a tub of Flora” to figure out how to stop it, doesnt mean it was the right path to go down in the first place. We are playing ten man rugby, an intellectualls version of Kidneyball, shades of the ’11 WC…

        Zebo has lost a yard of pace, or is carrying an injury, he had two gilt edged opportunities to blow through a gap on sat and got scragged both times, I would put money on Earls getting through the same gap.

        As for traditional Leinster values, seeing as Leinster have been cancerous to watch this season, and Ireland are playing risk reducing rugby by numbers stuff, I dont think its too much to ask for an odd offload or outside back running with ball in hand, is it? that is what rugby is about, isnt it? I can go to the driving range and basically replicate what Murray and Sexton are doing, or pull out the Jake White coaching manual circa 2007..

        • “This loss has been a long time coming”.

          It sure has Leinsterlion, because we won ten matches in a row beforehand.

          • Boom!

          • Leinsterlion

             /  March 18, 2015

            We hardly set the world alight in doing so.. We were not prime NZ-esque in winning ten, out of sight of the opposition. We have displayed a ruthlessness, but we have been largely myopic in our ambition and width.

          • D6W

             /  March 18, 2015

            Would not say it is a long time coming, but certainly one game coming. The euphoria of beating England obscured the fact that we did kick particularly well against them. Both Murray and Sextons kicking from hand was poor, the box kicks to long, and some aimless kicking in the second half (from Kearney also). It was simply that England did not cope at all with the high balls. We were similarly poor against Wales, who had the players to punish us.

          • D6W

             /  March 18, 2015

            Murray chip for Henshaw excepted, of course.

  9. I would be quite hopeful of an Irish backlash in aghaidh Alba in response to coming up short in Cardiff. The loss to Oz 2013 was followed by one of the finest diplays of an Irish team ever v NZ; that loss followed by essentially an Irish 15 in Leinster colours thrashing Northampton away, and the defeat agin the Oul Enemy in Twickers with a rare away victory – albeit a close-call – against the French.

    I had a awful sense of foreboding, which only got stronger, the closer it got the Wales match. It was reinforced by utterings in the Irish meeja and elsewhere, that we already had the game in the bag, as our coach was intellectually so much superior to theirs. RTE’s “King of the Kick” video was the pinnacle of hubris – and retrospectively of embarrassment. We’re always the first to criticise the English, when they get carried away with themselves – latest e.g. being the Sam Burgess hype. Why, oh why, do we then have to make the same mistake? Ireland traditionally are the perennial underachievers of World Rugby. Our inability to extend our running win to a historic eleven matches on the trot is further continuance of this sad tradition. Whether Joe Schmidt will be able to prevent us choking, if and when we stand on the cusp of a first WC semi or even final, is debatable.

    I agree what we did many things well in Wales match and that we shouldn’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater”. Our ball retention through the phases was quite impressive. Our lineouts less so. Any chance David Nucifora and the IRFU could set up a throwing clinic for our hookers?

    • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

       /  March 18, 2015

      I’m not sure the failure to win an 11th consecutive match could be described as a continuation of Ireland’s sad tradition of perennial under-achievement??!

      • Have to disagree with you here, Hairy. For me it’s right up there with “Crotty in the corner”. For the second time in just over a year Ireland had set everything up for a historic first and then buckled when it came to the crunch. Mental strength and compusure was lacking individually and collectively. The same mental strength and composure or lack thereof was the reason the All Blacks were able to reel us in having gone down 19 points in 17 minutes, why we let them and conversely why we couldn’t do the same, when faced with Welsh intransigence in Cardiff. I would conjecture the same phenomenon manifested itself at RWC 2011. Having topped our group – for the first time ever and beaten a SH team away for the first time since Ollie Campell down under fadó, fadó – we blew the quarter final. BO’D said at the time the team hadn’t “turned up”. We didn’t turn up last Saturday either. Identify the common factor and we might, might manage to make a WC semi or better – but not before.

        • kevin

           /  March 19, 2015

          Hear hear. Lets not forget the championship was there for us last year in Paris and we absolutely shat ourselves. We seriously pressed the self destruct button in the second half and only for France being denied a blatant scrum penalty(or another for Henderson being offside) we’d have lost (that gobshite Barnes inflicted some rough karma on us in the 80th minute last Saturday!!).The media narrative of ‘we managed to hold out against France because we learned our lesson from the NZ match’ is absolute bollocks.We seem to be a very mentally frail team

  10. curates_egg

     /  March 18, 2015

    Dexies is mooting Fitz and Healy as possible starters. I thought Zebo had been going well but last Saturday was maybe a step too far. I think it would send a very bad signal to start Healy who, let’s face it, has been poor since returning from injury, whereas McGrath has been excellent in defence and strong in the scrum (so long as you don’t ask Wayne Barnes). I won’t replay my record on why Payne is not convincing at 13 but I think after Hook’s xenophobic nonsense, there is even less chance of him being moved.

    As an aside: Madigan knew the clock was off and was (IMO) taking a free practise shot to touch to test his range. Watch the sequence again (1:41:20 https://youtu.be/yoKdJb5Rbr0). As much as he has looked off form, it’s not like Keatley has been really pushing to get his place since going back to the Munster camp: have you watched the games?

    • Good point about Madigan’s kick. I wondered why he took it since Barnes was so clear that time was off. There’s obviously some thought going on under the hair.

  11. kevin

     /  March 18, 2015

    I still think Schmidt is the best coach in the world, but he isn’t beyond criticism either. We looked exactly like the England team of the mid-late 00’s, monstrous pack effort but absolutely braindead trying to bludgeon our way over, and that mindset must come from the top. Healy ignoring the 4 man overlap isn’t new, we did the exact same thing early on vs England except we got a 3 pointer in front of the posts. As usual, shocking decision making from POC, going for the corner when we should have taken penalties (despite his superhuman performance). Our 2×30 phases were pathetic, we were like crash test dummies for Wales. Can anyone tell me why Sexton (or ‘Europes premier World Class Outhalf Johnny Sexton’ to give him his full title) NEVER drops back for drop goals? He doesn’t do it to kill off games or chase games, and he plays in the Top14 for god sake!

    We will beat Scotland but can’t see us cutting loose, I don’t think we know how.Replace Kearney, Zebo and Payne with Payne, Earls and Fitz, and add Henderson. If Sexton and Murray have similar performances then dump them after 50. 2 seasons into Schmidt’s tenure we’ll have 2 Six nations finishes on 8 points – nothing poor EOS didn’t regularly achieve with a far inferior group of players (playing much better rugby) and back when France were actually good.

    • curates_egg

       /  March 18, 2015

      Ha. Think we posted the same thing at the same time! See my comment to Letthelionroar.

      • kevin

         /  March 18, 2015

        Haha looks like it, I’d never let my plagiarism be so blatant!!

  12. Manntach

     /  March 18, 2015

    On Madigan versus Keatley – I don’t think Keatley would have been give more than 5 minutes either. The minutes afforded to other out-halves is a reflection of Sexton’s importance and the distance between him and the other options.

    The match was reminiscent of last year’s in Twickenham. Our attacking structure falls apart after a few phases if we are put under pressure by an intense, physical defence. I wonder if the team are focussing too much on set moves or power plays and not enough on general attacking structure. You felt that, as with Bowe’s almost try, if Wales repelled our initial attempt we weren’t going to score.

  13. As a little aside on the ingenuity of the different coaches, consider this: after our match in Cardiff and the butchered try chance on the Welsh line, Bowe mentioned the Irish players had trouble communicating due to the noise in the stadium. If so, this communicational interference between backs and forwards possibly cost us the game. Prior to England’s visit to Cardiff this year Stuart Lancaster had his team training indoors with speakers on full blast, in attempt to replicate the acoustic assault his players would have to cope with in the Millenium Stadium. The result would seem to indicate, that the experiment paid off. In terms of attention to detail, I found it impressive. If I were to put money on any NH team winning the WC in the Autumn, my bet would currently be on England

    • aoifehamill

       /  March 18, 2015

      I think that’s a bit of a red herring. Firstly the roof wasn’t even closed – I think that’s usually the main concern with playing in Cardiff. Training with speakers on doesn’t give the players superman type hearing skills. To me this is waaaaaaay down the list of where things went wrong. Further up would be Tommy Bowe losing concentration and letting in that try! (it might have gone in anyway but he totally took his eye off it)

      • Your point, Aoife, that the noise may have made no difference in the case of the botched try, is perfectedly valid. I also agree that other factors may have played a larger part in our defeat. That said, I still don’t think the assumption unreasonable, that the acoustic assault, which visiting teams players encounter in opponents’ stadia represents a form of pressure, which can be hard to deal with and can negatively impact on the individual and team performance. In the Millenium this would seem to more the case than in other venues. Certainly Stuart Lancaster seemed to think this an aspect worth addressing.

        • Actually they have performed studies in the US and found very high decibels (>120) actually directly impacts decision-making capabilities by essentially overloading the sensory parts of the brain. Watch a game in CenturyLink Field in Seattle – the atmosphere is incredible.

      • D6W

         /  March 18, 2015

        Heaslip should shoulder more blame than Bowe for that try.

    • Jimble

       /  March 18, 2015

      Good point, and with their squad depth and home advantage England are worth a flutter for the WC. It struck me during all the talk about the crowd noise in Cardiff that the players’ eyes aren’t affected by noise. A quick look up by any one of around 4 players who were standing around waiting for the ball under the Welsh posts might have told them that there was an overlap out wide. Of course Reddan being stuck at the bottom of the ruck didn’t help, but it shows the current mindset of the team – going wide is not an option.

      • seiko

         /  March 18, 2015

        I agree about your point that the current mindset is to play risk free rugby. Zebo got hammered for a risky pass against Australia and since then seems to have knuckled down to the game plan. Bowe looks to be a shadow of his former self. Kearney never passes or offloads. Payne & Henshaw just concentrate on defending. Schmidt doesn’t seem to trust any of them and they know they will be dropped if they don’t stick to the game plan.

        I don’t understand why people are calling for Luke Fitz – he has been in the travelling subs, yet can’t even make the bench instead of Felix Jones. It seems Schmidt sees him as a wing anyway.

        Dropping Murphy for Heislip looks to have been an error as well, and I don’t think SOB has been anything to write home about. He doesn’t compliment POM as much as either Henry or TOD when POM plays way better.

        Some players seem to be nailed on starters and others seem to be discarded readily (like Murphy & POM). I’ll go crazy if Healy starts at the weekend. He just doesn’t seem to be in it yet, though I would keep Toner rather than Henderson starting.

        • curates_egg

           /  March 19, 2015

          When has POM been discarded? He seems to be a nailed on starter regardless of how he plays – much to many fans’ chagrin.
          In fact, there have been no non-injury (or return from injury) related changes this campaign…until today maybe.

          • seiko

             /  March 19, 2015

            Should have read Tommy O’Donnell (and Murphy) being discarded.

  14. Buzz

     /  March 18, 2015

    When your gameplan consists entirely of kicking the ball up in the air and running after it and competing well at the breakdown, you’re gonna be in trouble when your opponents deal with that and go 12pts up.

    It’s no coincidence that the best side in the world are also the best side to watch.

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