What needs to change
Published 03/02/2012 | 07:58
Ireland simply did not have the same mental edge for the quarterfinal as they had displayed in the pool wins over Australia and Italy.
It was nothing to do with lack of desire or effort, but the feral intensity of those earlier encounters was missing and Wales took advantage.
Declan Kidney’s side are favourites again on Sunday but, with France to follow in Paris six days later, the knowledge that this Six Nations could swiftly slip away, not to mention the oft-referenced revenge issue, has to instil the necessary fear factor.
Having out-muscled the Wallabies and Italians up front, Ireland were expected to do the same against what was seen as a mobile but not overly-intimidating Welsh eight.
Instead, it was the Welsh who won the front five battle and the collisions, which denied Ireland the launch-pad they needed.
Dominating the set-pieces on Sunday is crucial as that will bring the back-row into play, while providing Jonathan Sexton and his backline front-foot ball to run onto.
Wales had done their homework before the quarter-final, negating Ireland’s back-row runners and closing down the threat further out.
Kidney and his coaching team have been working hard on widening Ireland’s options and have placed a massive emphasis on quick ruck ball.
For Sunday, there needs to be greater unpredictability to get beyond the Welsh blitz defence. In short, as opposed to Wellington, keep them guessing.
AND FINALLY ...
Take your chances. As Kidney pointed out this week, Ireland had probably the same amount of scoring opportunities as their opponents in Wellington, the difference being Wales took more of theirs.
This time around, Ireland have to be as ruthless as their constituent provinces have been in the Heineken Cup.