independent

Thursday 21 November 2019

Tadhg leaves world stage

Disappointment for Ireland as All Blacks coast home

Tadhg Furlong is tackled by Samuel Whitelock and Angus Ta’avao of New Zealand
Tadhg Furlong is tackled by Samuel Whitelock and Angus Ta’avao of New Zealand

Brendan Furlong

Tadhg Furlong's hopes of reaching a World Cup semi-final were dashed by the All Blacks who inflicted a 46-14 defeat on a dismal evening in Tokyo.

Ireland's final act at this year's World Cup was a demoralising 32-point defeat which was difficult to accept given the confidence emanating from the camp in the build-up to the game. But once again Ireland failed to cross that quarter-final hurdle and qualify for a first-ever semi-final.

It was a depressing evening of mediocrity for the Irish as a painful reality came home to roost.

They were totally outclassed by a superb New Zealand outfit who had just a handful of the players whom Ireland defeated for a first time in Chicago just two years ago.

This was not the farewell that coach Joe Schmidt and team captain Rory Best had hoped for as they left this wonderful stadium concerned as to how those left behind would cope with such a heavy defeat.

Ireland's disappointing World Cup campaign included a defeat to Japan, who were demolished by South Africa in their quarter-final.

Tactically Ireland were out-manouvered by a superb New Zealand outfit. For so long it looked as if Ireland would come out of the game scoreless which would have added to the disaster.

But somehow they summoned up the energy to snatch two late tries, albeit of the consolation variety, but they were still so important to the team's morale moving forward.

The irony of it all is that Ireland were outclassed in most positions except in the scrums where they held their own.

This was never going to be enough though, as scrums were limited during the course of the 80 minutes as New Zealand's lightning open play tore the opposition to shreds.

While Tadhg Furlong once again demonstrated why he is considered the World's top tighthead with a solid scrum, the pattern of the game did not allow him to exert any influence in the loose.

While he managed to get in some drives, his yardage was limited as the opposition closed him down, and his tackle count was low compared to past games, as the Blacks moved the ball wide and at pace.

It was with ball in hand that Ireland were made look second class, with the result Furlong was unable to repeat his Samoa display, and by the end the pace of the game got to him.

Still, he got through an amount of donkey work but was unable to make much of a dent in the opposition since, like his colleagues, he was playing the game on the back foot throughout.

This was not a World Cup for Ireland to remember, but it's an experience that Furlong will take with him into the remainder of the season with both Leinster and Ireland.

Wexford will still remember this World Cup for a variety of reasons. While Furlong may have garnered the limelight, one must also remember Dylan Fawsitt and the U.S.A.

The Piercestown native, who made an international appearance against Ireland last season, figured with the U.S.A. squad who, despite showing real improvement in their game, were sent home point-less but with much to work on for the future.

Fawsitt, who lived in Piercestown and lined out in G.A.A. with St. Martin's, played his club rugby with Greystones before emigrating to America where he quickly blossomed in the game.

It was a huge experience for the young Wexford player whose future will be followed with interest on home soil.

Joe Schmidt has now bowed out, having coached Ireland to three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam. His Ireland team won in Australia and South Africa while they had two victories over New Zealand.

He made a huge difference, but for now the Irish players and new coach Andy Farrell must plan a path for the future.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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