Tuesday 12 November 2019

Ireland have the ability to hit right back

We can retain title if we learn lessons from Welsh setback

Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt

Johnny O'Connor

In an ideal world I would be writing this looking forward to a potential Grand Slam decider against Scotland but things don't always work out like that and last Saturday Ireland weren't good enough.

The annoying thing about all of that is I think it's just going to be getting tougher and tougher to get Grand Slams over the coming years with the younger squads coming through, but that's for another day.

Wales were simply fantastic, their defensive effort was like nothing I've ever seen - the way they kept Ireland out in the second half was extraordinary and you have to commend them on that.

Ireland went through so many phases at one stage, trying so hard to get over the line but they couldn't.

Blamed

Ireland can be blamed for their own downfall for certain things. Another time they had an overlap out wide and it was very disappointing that they just couldn't get the ball out there - maybe the forwards just got in the way.

There were lads screaming for ball and that would've added some points onto the scoreboard, but you have to give it to Wales in terms of the way the defended.

They made 289 tackles and they were just immense in that respect. Defence wins championships and they opened up Ireland at times and played off Ireland's scraps.

Also that game showed what happens when a team can cope aerially with the Irish attackers.

It was difficult because Leigh Halfpenny and Liam Williams had massive games - they were great in the air and Wales ended up winning all of those 50-50 contests.

Wales have big, big players all over the place; we had the reliable Rob Kearney but it just didn't work on the day and we didn't manage the aerial threats.

Things didn't go well, they didn't execute on certain things but it's definitely not the end of the world for this team and Joe Schmidt came out to say he's not throwing the baby out with the bath water yet - that's reassuring.

The players were composed as well afterwards and it was refreshing to see Eoin Reddan telling the media that Ireland had forgotten about the loss and were changing their focus to the game against Scotland.

You need to learn from your mistakes; they did make a couple of errors and didn't execute certain things during the game but there is no point in dwelling on them.

They can look at particular parts of their game, isolate them and say this hasn't worked - this is where they fell down.

A player can identify if they got certain aspects of it wrong and it will ultimately lead towards better results in the future.

There are processes and everything and I think that's the fantastic thing about Ireland right now.

If you know that as a player you will get a bit more confident if you get those things right then you're probably going to deliver better results, and on top of that you've won ten out of 11 times which isn't bad anyway.

And now it all boils down to the final day and a game against Scotland, a scenario where they need to win comfortably at Murrayfield.

The respective coaches have all come out to say they are not chasing points tomorrow but that is what they need to do, obviously get the win first and foremost but then they need to get the scoreboard ticking over.

Difficult

Warren Gatland is probably in the most difficult position there with Wales - they are well behind on points difference and they're on first which doesn't do them any favours.

Even if they hammer Italy in Rome, realistically they won't know until around 7.0 tomorrow evening whether they have won the championship.

Ireland are in a slightly better position but still need a big win over Scotland to make sure they finish first while England really hold all the cards when they host France at Twickenham.

I think Ireland will do it and put Six Nations titles back to back, but when you are relying on other results it's never a nice place to be - just ask England last year.

Irish Independent

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