Thursday 21 November 2019

Ireland will win it if they are clinical

Glory beckons if we are patient and disciplined at Murrayfield

Paul O’Connell was immense against Wales and can still get his hands on the Six Nations trophy
Paul O’Connell was immense against Wales and can still get his hands on the Six Nations trophy
Wayne Barnes is just one guy, and how he was supposed to judge what was going on in the scrum between Ireland and Wales was perplexing.

David Wallace

The players will have brushed themselves down by now and they will just get on with it against Scotland - you can't forget there's a championship still at stake.

Points difference is probably what it will come down to, with Wales likely to put up a big score in Italy - I know they are a fair bit behind on points difference but there's a good opportunity for them to turn that around.

England, currently top of the table, are at home, and who knows how that game will go against an erratic French outfit.

We wouldn't be in this predicament had we beaten Wales last weekend but let's face it, they had the emotional battle won before the game even started.

All of the talk in the press leading up to the game was about how Ireland were coming over with ten wins on the trot, and they were going for the 11th and a possible Grand Slam.

Teams are always out to stop you when they are going for things like that. Wales were just really on form and really up for the game and it showed.

Wales reclaimed the initial kick-off and then just got the scoreboard ticking over.

After the Ireland-England game, the English would have thought they left a lot of chances behind them in the Aviva.

We were certainly guilty of the same thing against Wales. We had one penalty in particular inside their 22 where we chose to go for touch and Sam Warburton cleaned us out at the lineout.

Then on another occasion that Ireland went for the corner and tried to maul it, we got penalised after a few phases.

So there are a lot of areas where Ireland could have been a bit more clinical, but the discipline maybe let them down a bit.

That has been one of the strongest parts of Ireland's game under Joe Schmidt but for once it was off.

So to sum it up, Ireland weren't being clinical - not taking the points on offer was costly as it was always going to be a tight game.

Saying all that, Ireland had some stand out performers all right and it was fitting that Paul O'Connell would be the best of them on his 100th cap.


He was immense: he couldn't get his hands on the ball enough and was making ground and making line-breaks on every available opportunity.

But our lineout didn't function, whereas the scrum was excellent. I don't think we were given the fair crack of the whip there from the ref, especially when we could have sneaked a draw at the end.

Wales probably deserved it anyway but we weren't that far off - Wales were just the better side and some times that happens in sport.

Their defence really stood up and they never let us get on the front foot really apart from the few times when Paulie made a couple of breaks, and whenever Ireland played the ball back inside off phase play they were ready.

Their defence was so strong on the inside and Ireland were running into two or three tacklers - that was the kind of day that it was.

Anytime there was a loose ball or if there was a guy getting tackled, he was getting tackled by two or three guys or there were two or three Welsh jerseys around the ball.

They had much more urgency in their play and maybe emotionally they were better primed for the game than Ireland were.

Murrayfield is a tough place for Ireland to have to go now and certainly they need to be very patient over there.

Scotland are a team that have turned a corner - the results aren't going their way but certainly comparing them to last year, they're playing much better rugby and they're not that far off in terms of making that breakthrough.

Winning is a bit of a habit and they just need to get that one under their belt.

Emotionally both sides will be looking to make amends and Ireland need to remain composed and get back to winning ways.

The championship is out of Ireland's hands at the moment but I wouldn't be surprised if results went their way.

Referees need help to sort out scrums

I said my piece about the possibility of using Hawk-Eye in the scrum a few weeks back and now it has raised its head again.

Wayne Barnes is just one guy, and how he was supposed to judge what was going on in the scrum between Ireland and Wales was perplexing.

I certainly thought that a few calls might have gone the wrong way, especially near the end.

When it came down to that final scrum, for example, it was clear that Ireland were the team in the ascendancy, but somehow it was Wales who came up with the penalty.

But it wasn't all one-way traffic either, it's just annoying when it can play such a big part in the outcome of a game.

If a few penalties go to one team, they could be tacking on the points and that can have a huge impact on the scoreboard by the end of the game.

I remember a few years ago free-kicks were brought in at scrum-time but now all of a sudden refs are blowing for penalties on marginal calls.

Free-kicks in the scrum would speed up the game and create more space for players because defences are closing down the space as it is.

Irish Independent

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