Irish pay price for falling down in vital Restart area
AFTER an evening of high emotion, breathtaking skill and shuddering intensity, it may seem incongruous to focus on something as 'anoraky' as restarts, but this oft-overlooked area had a massive bearing on Saturday's 38-18 win for New Zealand.
The Irish players and management team talk continually about working on aspects of their game that they can control and restarts fall squarely into that category. Against a team as talented and as ruthless as the All Blacks, the emphasis must be on limiting their possession and opportunities to punish you, and Ireland failed to do this with their restarts.
It is about organisation, accuracy and timing. If the ball is dropping into you, players must move into the optimum position and be lifted at the optimum moment. When it is done well, the activity tends to pass unnoticed, but when it is done badly -- as happened with Ireland on Saturday -- it hands an immediate advantage to the opposition.
Chasing restarts hinges on the accuracy of the kick and perseverance, leaping and catching ability of the hunter. The advantage lies with the receiving team and any chasing success tends to be regarded as a bonus but this is obviously an area the All Blacks have worked on assiduously and it played a significant role against the Irish.
The following restart-by-restart account illustrates the extent of New Zealand's dominance.
0 mins -- Dan Carter drops off and the ball falls on the 10-metre line. Donncha O'Callaghan rises, unlifted, but the Kiwi chasers put him under pressure, the ball breaks loose and, after securing possession, New Zealand nearly cross in the right-hand corner.
8 -- Jonathan Sexton's drop-off is claimed by New Zealand, but a mistake by All Black scrum-half Andrew Ellis sees Ireland turn over their ball.
11 -- Carter's kick is missed by Mick O'Driscoll and the All Blacks secure the loose ball.
16 -- Sexton drops out on the full, granting New Zealand an attacking scrum on halfway.
26 -- Tom Donnelly fields from a perfectly placed Carter drop as Ireland fail to get a jumper in the air.
29 -- Sexton aims high down the middle and good pressure from Rob Kearney allows Jamie Heaslip to run onto the breaking ball.
32 -- Brian O'Driscoll is lifted, claims Carter's kick and then makes 10 yards.
40 -- Sexton gets the second half under way with Richie McCaw claiming safely.
46 -- Sam Whitelock fields Sexton's restart and makes good yardage.
50 -- Ireland split their forwards with 6'10" Devin Toner on the left, Sexton's kick goes right, Whitelock claims and New Zealand win a penalty when he is tackled in the air.
58 -- Carter uses a lower trajectory, Toner runs at the ball but can't hold onto it and McCaw scoops up.
74 -- Carter takes a 22 drop-out which Sean Cronin catches going backwards, the ball is knocked out of the hooker's hands and the All Blacks reclaim.
Total restarts: 12
Total claimed by Ireland: 2
Total claimed by New Zealand: 10