A touch of class
Ireland continued their dominance over Wales with a comprehensive win at Croke Park yesterday which marked the 100th cap for Brian O'Driscoll.
The captain will move into fifth place in the world order if he can get through the rest of the calendar year in one piece. And his team will pick up another Triple Crown -- their fifth in seven seasons -- if they can beat Scotland at Croke Park on Saturday.
The only injury cloud on Declan Kidney's horizon this morning is the dead leg picked up by Gordon D'Arcy, who was forced off in the first half, followed by Keith Earls late in the game with a calf strain. Earls scored two tries in another blistering performance in which Ireland won the try-count three nil.
Otherwise, while Kidney will be pleased with the key performers and the meanness of his defence, which has conceded just one try in the last two games, the penalty count went against Ireland for the third game running. Kidney's team have averaged twice as many penalties in the games against France, England and now Wales. Much of yesterday's trend was ascribed to the strict approach of South African referee Craig Joubert at the breakdown, an area where southern hemisphere refs currently are coming down hard on tacklers who play the ball or the man before getting back to their feet.
On Saturday another South African, Jonathan Kaplan, will be in charge in what will be the last Six Nations game at Croke Park before the IRFU moves into the Aviva Stadium. Brian O'Driscoll said that Ireland's lack of familiarity with the latest trend was what caused the problem.
"The new ruling is in and we haven't played a huge amount under them and it's very difficult get out of old habits," he said. "It's something that is a work in progress. Hopefully we will get better at it and not give away so many penalties."
Kidney was delighted with the team effort, which balances out the defeat in the corresponding fixture two years ago.
"They took the tries well," he said. "They had the courage to go for them and we said we would go for the 80 minutes, so we were even trying things there at the end and that's the way we wanted to play against Wales. That's the best way to play against them because they have been scoring tries at the end of games."
The team to play Scotland will be announced on Tuesday.