Tuesday 21 November 2017

Park that Warriors defeat: now it's time to tackle all the Kings men

Denis Buckley
Denis Buckley

Denis Buckley

After such a positive pre-season for the squad it was disappointing not to back it up with a win in round one, but a losing bonus point at least means we are on the board.

Much of the early work this week focused on what went wrong for us against Warriors.

In the wind and rain maybe we should have tried to play the game in their half a bit more.

The conditions were pretty shocking even by Galway standards and while I'm sure we won't have such poor weather again this weekend, if we do we'll be ready and it will be a good chance to perform like we should have.

With some of the guys picking up a bit of a bug over the weekend we had to reorganise our training schedule a little.

Thankfully they are all fit and raring to go again and thankfully I wasn't one of those feeling unwell. It was decided that as a contagion precaution, those who had been feeling unwell would stay away for 48 hours, so our Wednesday rest day was changed to Tuesday which meant that by Wednesday morning we were fully focused on the Southern Kings and the challenge that they will pose.

Our Monday meetings were put up on the squad 'Huddle' video app so everyone, including those resting up, could tune in. The app means that we were all able to review the footage we have on Kings, no one missed out on the key sessions of the week and we're all ready for action again tomorrow.

Running

Personally, I feel in great shape after the game. I came into pre-season ready to go, and the first month was really good. I got a lot of the hard running work in and was ready to take on the season, but after a freak accident in training I broke my finger and that set me back.

It happened in the week leading up to the Munster game, which ruled me out of that and both of the remaining games of pre-season. After a solid month, I missed our three games in eight days.

It was a bit frustrating, but I was still confident that I had the hard work done. When I was injured ball work was out of the question, but you can certainly keep up the running and gym work.

That meant I came into the Warriors game in good shape, and playing the full 80 minutes probably underlines that. The last five or ten minutes was a bit of a battle, but I survived and actually felt pretty good.

It is hard to explain how tough the conditions were last weekend, but considering there were 27 scrums it shows how difficult handling was. And every single scrum was a battle too.

Despite a tricky start at scrum time we felt that after tweaking a couple of things we were the dominant scrum.

It was a nightmare start though. The referee's view was that my bind and how we were engaging them meant we were at fault for their collapse. It shouldn't have taken us four scrums to figure out where we were going wrong. One or two maybe, but not four... that won't be happening again.

In those early scrums, there was a lot of weight coming on to us and we were being rocked back a bit before we engaged, so we changed tactics and we bumped back on them on the 'set'.

Once things settled down it was a good scrummaging contest, which I feel we edged.

They have got a great scrum, and they got the ball out quickly on a few occasions to their credit, but it was a real good test.

Despite the playing conditions, we have to admit that Glasgow managed it a bit better than us. They pulled one or two tries out of nowhere, and in games that are finely hung in the balance it is about taking any chance you get. In the first-half we had two or three chances when we were on their line and we didn't score, and if you convert one of those into a try, it's a totally different game.

It was pretty disappointing to concede a try from a first-phase move off a scrum, and their second one came from a speculative kick and a bad defensive read. Even at that stage we had a chance and we were hammering at the door, but in fairness to them we couldn't break them down.

Many eyes were on the South African teams last weekend to see how they'd settle, and we were no different as we got our first real look at the Kings, who we face tomorrow. They are more of a typical Super Rugby team rather than the South African national team.

They throw the ball around and play with width. Their back three have plenty of pace, which will need to be shut down, because we saw their threat last weekend. When they do keep it tight they are well able to roll out the big carriers and maul teams, so they will test all facets of our game.

It will be a good test in defence and attack, but we are excited about facing this challenge. If we get it right there will be opportunities.

Meanwhile, all week long there has been huge excitement in Galway after the hurlers' big win, and congratulations to them all. A few of the lads got their hands on tickets and went up to the game, and they had a great day. 'Mull' is a big hurling man and it was hard to wipe the grin off his face all week.

The celebrations reminded me of when we won the PRO12. Back then the whole area had a big lift and hopefully this can give another good boost to sport in the west.

Irish Independent

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