Saturday 18 November 2017

David Kelly: Angry energy as first day losers look beyond excuses to answers

Robbie Henshaw: We got blind-sided. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Robbie Henshaw: We got blind-sided. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

While Ireland conducted not one, but two, showings of their video nasty from Six Nations round one; Italy have waited until this morning before a repeat viewing of their opening day horror show.

Few elements will prove common to both combatants but one searing message will be implanted in each squad's heads come their Stadio Olimpico renewal this Saturday afternoon.

The game lasts 80 minutes. Ireland will absorb that much at least come the weekend; Italy appear incapable of soaking up any decent spell of pressure and, as much as Ireland will be fired by an angry reaction to defeat, Italy also seem incapable of thriving off that emotion.

Bargain

Captain Sergio Parisse lost his rag at the weekend with referee JP Doyle and conceded a penalty into the bargain as his side wilted under the weight of their indiscipline and, although a talismanic operator, at times it feels as if he can harm his team as much as he inspires them.

"The matches last 80 minutes," said a still seething Parisse whose side already seem doomed to an attempt to stave off a seventh whitewash since joining the Six Nations in 2000.

Read more: Kearney not giving up hope of earning Six Nations recall

"Even at the end of the first-half we made too many fouls. The referee signalled many kicks. We must not blame the referee, but with ourselves. In the second-half discipline has been disastrous. We must say the Welsh defended well.

"Two of the penalties were my fault. We dominated them at the breakdown and they were seriously slowing the game down without being sanctioned.

"I have struggled to have a dialogue with the referee. We know that is so, we are Italy but it is useless to complain. We must work harder and correct our mistakes. "

While Italy may need anger to fuel them; Ireland cannot afford to dilute their display with unnecessary emotion; they simply need to defend and attack with more conviction and tidy up their lineout.

"Playing angry is one thing," agreed Robbie Henshaw. "But, we need to get our detail right first and we need to prepare ourselves the best we can, first and foremost.

"We need to have a look at what's coming this weekend and how and where we can attack the Italians. Playing with emotion is obviously a great thing.

"But, we need to know our roles and do our jobs the best we can."

One of the most intriguing aspects of last Saturday was when Schmidt seemed to deliver a fairly accurate definition of complacency in the game's aftermath.

"One of the things that's a danger is that when you consistently deliver something, you can just have an expectation that it's going to happen.

"We tended to start well in recent Test matches, so for us not to start well maybe there was just a degree of…"

Complacency, was the word I suggested he was scrambling for.

"No, it definitely wasn't complacency.

"Sometimes you can just have an expectation that things are going to unfold and when they don't, you've got to take account of that and make sure they do unfold by making sure you get what you need to get done. We didn't."

Evidence

Yesterday, Henshaw agreed, despite the available evidence of desperately passive defence and poor breakdown work on both sides of the ball.

"We definitely looked at their back three as a massive threat," he said. "The likes of Stuart Hogg and Tommy Seymour are having incredible seasons.

"We knew what was coming up front as well. They were going to be pretty physical up front and around ruck time. We did expect that.

"We got blind-sided a few times at the ruck. They came through at us, slowed down our ball.

"We did look at them in detail and we knew what was coming."

Ireland will beat Italy but a repeat first-half against the doughty Italians could lead to an enervating body of work.

Irish Independent

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