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Alan Quinlan: Sloppy Ireland pay price for poor execution


Ireland’s CJ Stander is tackled by Dan Biggar of Wales during the Six Nations clash in Cardiff last night. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland’s CJ Stander is tackled by Dan Biggar of Wales during the Six Nations clash in Cardiff last night. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile


Ireland’s CJ Stander is tackled by Dan Biggar of Wales during the Six Nations clash in Cardiff last night. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

When you are playing away from home and you make as many unforced errors as Ireland did last night, you are never going to win a Test.

Ireland paid the price for their sloppy execution and not scoring points when in opposition territory. It has become a problem. Not to score a try with the chances that Ireland had was hugely disappointing. You can't win a match in the modern game with nine points.

But take nothing away from Wales' performance. With their backs against the wall, they were outstanding, particularity in defence. Their big players stood up when it mattered.

I don't think anyone will have been shocked by Wales' intensity. They came into the game with a point to prove but Ireland more than matched that early on.

Shaun Edwards' stamp was all over that Welsh performance and he also probably had a say in the way that the pitch was heavily watered prior to kick off.

Wales were hitting rucks at a ferocious pace. They were, however, borderline offside at every ruck which is a typical Edwards ploy - risk everything and not die wondering.

They were right on the edge of the offside line defensively, and then in attack they were incredibly flat. Ireland reacted well to that and were able to pick off a couple of passes. Johnny Sexton intercepted one and Keith Earls was unlucky to knock on another.

Ireland coped well with the power of Scott Williams, Jonathan Davies and George North early on but they will really rue that lost lineout when deep in the Wales 22. Having gone 3-0 in front, it was an ideal start. Sexton had the chance to extend the lead but they went for the corner instead.

Hindsight is great, but at the time I felt it was the correct decision but the execution of the set-piece was really predictable. Rory Best threw to CJ Stander at the tail whereas that should really have gone to the front.

Alun Wyn Jones did brilliantly, it has to be said. It looked like Ireland weren't expecting him to compete in the air. That was a crucial moment.

Sexton going off for the HIA definitely unsettled the team and Wales scored their first try a minute later. It wasn't a coincidence either as Wales had attacked the number 10 channel.

It was a well-worked score from a Welsh point of view but it looked to me like Rhys Webb's pass to Scott Williams was marginally forward.

From there little mistakes started creeping into Ireland's play. Tadhg Furlong knocked the ball on and Jamie Heaslip did twice. They were uncharacteristic errors but they came about as a result of the relentless pressure that Wales were applying.

To make matters worse, Conor Murray picked up a knock to his arm. His desire to stay on the pitch was incredible. He still managed to put in a couple of big hits. He was eventually forced off early in the second half but Kieran Marmion didn't look out of place when he came on.

With Sexton still in the bin at the start of the second half, the key was to see out the first few minutes until Ireland were back to their full complement.

The way Ireland flew out of the traps, they looked like doing just that and just when they were patiently building the phases in Wales' territory, another mistake was forced and they went up the other end of the pitch and scored a second try.

Ireland worked their way into Wales territory. A pre-planned move was called and as Ireland drove towards the Wales try line, Henshaw joined the maul illegally. If we score a try there, we go ahead and win the game.

Ireland didn't panic, however, and when they won the five-metre scrum after huge pressure from Donnacha Ryan and Iain Henderson, we saw Ireland look to set up one of Schmidt's power plays but again the execution was poor. In many ways, it summed up Ireland's frustrations.

Jamie Roberts' try rubbed salt in the wounds. A bitterly frustrating evening when Wales were fully deserving of their victory.

Irish Independent

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