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Wolfhounds lack real bite

The Irish Wolfhounds lost out 18-9 to a late Christian Wade converted try in a non-event against the superior English Saxons at Irish Independent Park last night

This was one of those nights for personal gain.

However, the temptation to veer away from what would best fit the game plan taken in by the collective would be a sure-fire way for Joe Schmidt to leave any maverick at home when the plane takes flight for Rome next week.

There was another type of green jersey to play for in Cork.

It showed from the get-go. Dominic Ryan slammed Sam Burgess to the ground and Sean O'Brien's first action in fourth months was to steal the ball from the rugby league convert.

Keith Earls was slippery on the ball, breaking three tackles, on his way forward. Fast footwork by Iain Henderson and a high tackle on O'Brien by Elliot Daly handed the Irish territory.


Ian Madigan found a nice angle for his penalty to the corner. It was ruined by Richardt Strauss's crooked throw.

And so it went. The Wolfhounds were loaded with intent and enthusiasm without the game-breaking necessity to go with them, even though O'Brien had plucked away three turnovers by the 13th minute.

It was no coincidence that Saxons moved ahead from the first decent offload of the game from number eight Thomas Waldrom for centre Daly to show impressive strength in contact and scrum-half Lee Dickson to feed Henry Slade for a try in the 23rd minute.

It wasn't long before Madigan was caught in isolation and Slade hammered a 45-metre penalty to the posts for 8-0 in the 26th minute.

Openside Matt Kvesic's obstruction was spotted by referee Neil Hennessy and Madigan shook off his goal-kicking travails against Wasps with the points in the 35th minute. This was not the start-over the Irish were looking for when Jack McGrath was forced to hold on and Daly was just off-cue from inside his own half.

Mike McCarthy came off second best in a front-on version of a tackle on Dave Ewers in a mirror of how The Saxons were trading better in the physical stakes.

The Leinster lock left the field and Slade shaped his penalty nicely from the left for 11-3 at the break.

The Wolfhounds insistence on charging headlong into the Saxons strongmen did not smack of smarts.

There was a rather ragged look to the Irish as English confidence grew enough for hooker Rob Webber to whip away a flashing miss pass to Chris Ashton on the touchline. The return to the basics of lineout and maul eked out another successful shot by Madigan.

The rush of replacements did nothing for continuity with O'Brien scheduled for withdrawal right on 50 minutes.

The sharp-shooting of Madigan was beginning to look decisive as he struck his third to narrow the gap to two.

The Irish scrum preyed on the tendency of the English not to strike their ball, churning out a penalty in a sign that the ugly way was the best way forward.

The Irish had to work so hard for every yard. They did break Saxons open through their phase play and Isaac Boss's bust to get within five metres.

A Robbie Diack knock-on was costly. Joe Simpson and Chris Ashton countered to force Andrew Conway to touch.

From there, the Irish could not escape the grip of the English and Wade's late show made it a dark night.