Ireland must do better

05/02/2019

It’s not a bad start when we are down 7-3 after ten minutes and then lead 10-7 after Healy try on 24 minutes.

Then we slip a little to be 17-10 in arrears at half time.

After the break we improve to 17-13 with a Sexton penalty on 54 minutes and there it stopped dead - our last score in the middle of the third quarter until the eightieth minute Cooney try.

England scored 15 points including two tries in the second half to our ten. There was a short period (of minutes) before Henry Slade’s try on 65 minutes when we looked like we might just get back into the game against the run of play - but it passed us by.

From 57 minutes we brought in our replacements without a visible improvement.

Our star players from our previous games particularly against New Zealand in November did not perform to their high standard or they were not let perform on the day. Due in part to the physicality of England - but in the most part it was England’s enthusiasm for the job, their backing of each other in different circumstances.

We were found out, we were caught up thinking we are the number two team in the world before a proper world ranking after the 2019 RWC.

As for: Reasons to be livid: what happened to our grand slam winners - Bullied!
Schmidt made reference to his players being physically bullied by England, we have played physical sides before and won. The players were not being fresh but were lethargic after the European Cups campaign.

But on the other hand it must be a huge advantage to pull a Squad of smiling winners together from our four knock out contenders.

They had a week’s warm weather training in Portugal and then a week in Carton House and the coaches must know who is “with it “in training and who is hiding! And make the appropriate call.
It was the same for all the players from the 6N countries taking part last weekend.

Only our coach Joe Schmidt can answer after witnessing his worst defeat in the 6N and conceding the bonus point seemed to really rattle him.

Joe is a methodical man so we need not expect wholesale French style changes - but he is hurting this time so he will make changes in addition to possibly losing Earls and Toner through injury.

He does need to learn to rotate the squad in preparation to the pools section of the RWC and now would be a good time. Traditionally it was a case of “who else do we have”? Or “they cannot be as bad again!” But that is gone now and he has a big squad of up to fifty players to choose from.

The Irish Team for Scotland, - comes with a health warning - shape up:

We do need a regular playing full back, so if Rob Kearney is not available then Larmour, Conway or Will Addison should fill in.

On the wings, with Earls doubtful Larmour and Stockdale to start
In the centre Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose - (Aki might not be the backs replacement - to cover three positions)

Schmidt is very unlikely to change the golden duo of Conor Murray and Sexton in the half backs. (Carbery and try scorer Cooney, in 4 minutes lay in waiting)
He does have options in the front row to give Sean Cronin a start as hooker ahead of his captain Rory Best - which would be a major decision - and Dave Kilcoyne with Furlong to complete the trio

The second row is problematic as two of the original squad are injured Beirne and Henderson - so if Toner is injured he may have to improvise to partner James Ryan who was way off his usual pace against England. Quinn Roux was in the replacements for the England game and replaced Toner and should hold his place.

Schmidt needs another new squad contender as a replacement for this position.
As for the back row - they were the most suspect / marked absent in the England game.

The highest rated back row player in the game for us was Josh van der Flier and Peter O’Mahony is a possible captain in the absence of Best - so CJ Stander who picked up a facial injury will not start against Scotland and that leaves a recognised playing number eight Jack Conan replacing him if fit. That leaves Sean O’Brien in the replacements again for the Scottish game.

Joe Schmidt said that the 6N can be won even if losing the first game, so he needs to prove his theory. I think this is good rotation of players for round two, with a break of three weeks from now to regroup for round three.

There are four games to go including two break weeks - including the away game in Rome against luckless Italy and the finale in Cardiff on the 16th March against first round winners Wales who defeated France. Scotland and England have both five points after round one and Wales four
 

Report by Frank Quinn