Tuesday 15 October 2019

Poor discipline and a blunt attack: Five talking points from Ireland's defeat to Japan

Ireland's Rob Kearney looks dejected after the match
Ireland's Rob Kearney looks dejected after the match
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Five talking points following Ireland's humbling defeat to Japan.

1 - Japan rattle Ireland to their core

We were warned. Think back to the Brighton Miracle when Japan stunned South Africa at the last World Cup.

Ireland have now joined an unwanted list as the Brave Blossoms turned the world order on its head once again with a stunning performance to create another huge slice of history.

Their head coach Jamie Joseph summed it up well in his pre-game interview when he pointed out that his side had been preparing for this game for a year, while Ireland had a matter of days.

That is not to say that Joe Schmidt wasn't planning for this game against the hosts, but the majority of the focus and attention was put on the opener against Scotland. And it showed.

Ireland were sluggish and made uncharacteristic errors throughout, in comparison to the hugely energetic hosts, who made life very, very difficult.

Feeding off the deafening noise inside the stadium any time a red and white jersey got on the ball, Japan were full value for their remarkable win.

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2 – Poor discipline proves costly

Schmidt prides his team on their discipline and while there were so many aspects of this wretched performance that he will be furious with, conceding cheap penalties will be high up on the list.

Ireland gave away seven first-half penalties, which was one shy of what they conceded in the entire 80 minutes against Scotland.

Angus Garner was firmly put in the spotlight by both camps in the build-up to the game, and the Australian referee was certainly in the thick of it.

Time and time again Ireland's ball carriers were isolated, while their defensive work around the breakdown was in keeping with their overall poor performance.

Peter O'Mahony in particular will probably feel the wrath of Schmidt for a couple of very soft penalty concessions.

Ireland's muddled thinking was a result of Japan's relentless pressure, but they should have had the experience and composure to adapt.

Instead, they coughed up nine penalties. An absolute nightmare from Schmidt's point of view.

Read more here:

3 – Blunt attack nullified

This was the game where we expected Joe Schmidt to dip into his play-book, but instead Ireland's attack was shut down by Japan's blitzing line speed.

Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown are two of the smartest coaches in the game and they should exactly why with a clever game-plan that nullified Ireland's threat.

Having started so well by scoring two early tries, it looked as though Ireland would pull clear but the introduction of Japan's inspirational captain Michael Leitch was vital.

Kenki Fukuoka's try was no more than the home side deserved and let's not forget, the margin of victory might well have been worse had the winger scored from Jordan Larmour's intercepted pass.

Ireland never really looked like turning this nightmare around and they have now left themselves with a lot of work to do if they are to advance. This was not part of the plan.

4 - Ireland now need Japan to slip up

Even if Ireland pick up two bonus point wins against Russia and Samoa, they will need Japan to slip up along the way, if they are to top the group.

Should we even be talking about that though? Such was the worrying nature of this performance.

A losing bonus point here may yet prove to be important but it should never have come to this. That Joey Carbery booted the ball out for full-time to snatch a losing bonus point rather than trying to rescue the situation spoke volumes.

Ireland's first defeat to a non Tier One nation at a World Cup. Another one in this pool and they will be saying sayonara to Japan sooner than expected.

5 - Carty passes biggest test of his career

For the most part, Jack Carty played like a seasoned veteran at this level, before his influence faded as the game wore on

The out-half, who was starting his first World Cup game, will have been disappointed by kicking one restart dead, which allowed Japan come back at Ireland at a time when they needed cool heads.

Otherwise, Carty showed up well, particularly in the use of the kick-pass. Everyone is well aware of his football background at this stage, having played for the Roscommon minors as well as the Ireland U-15s, and you could see that coming to fruition here.

Ireland had clearly set out to use the kick-pass and although Keith Earls couldn't quite score in the corner after Carty passed up the chance at an easy three points early on, he didn't allow that hinder his confidence.

A neat kick in behind the defence inside the opening minute had set out the stall and after a quarter of an hour, Carty's pin-point cross-field kick was brilliantly collected by Garry Ringrose, who scored.

The Athlone native repeated the trick for Rob Kearney's try after 21 minutes when his delicate chip over the top was tapped back by Ringrose, which allowed the Ireland full-back to score.

A thumping hit five minutes before the break knocked the stuffing out of Carty and shortly after he made the error by kicking a restart dead.

A knock-on 13 minutes after the restart put Ireland under pressure again before he was called ashore in place of Joey Carbery. It was by no means perfect, but Carty will be all the better for the experience.

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