independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Tony Ward: Kearney sleight of hand mirrors O'Driscoll magic

Robbie Henshaw

For Dave Kearney, last Saturday's maiden run at the highest level made for Roy of the Rovers stuff. Two tries in a typical all-action involvement represented the stuff of dreams. It is a game and a day he will never forget.

The fact that he has not made the 23 for today's second match of the Autumn series is testimony to Joe Schmidt's stated strategy of building an extended squad. Look no further than the inclusion of Robbie Henshaw and Stephen Archer on the replacements bench for further evidence in that regard.

In a much more substantial second-half showing against the luckless Samoans, the abiding memory (understandably) was of Brian O'Driscoll's improvised pass to Fergus McFadden at full tilt. Magic as only O'Driscoll can do it. However, there was another piece of artistry which defied the coaching manual and was provided by Kearney the younger on his first visit to the tryline.

The manner in which he held the ball in his left hand instead of right – to enable him squeeze in at the right corner – was, equally, improvisation of the highest order. Had he switched the ball to his right thereby freeing up his left hand in an attempt to try and fend off the tackle he would not have made the touchdown.

Technically incorrect, but, in the heat of the moment – tactically brilliant.

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