Monday 18 November 2019

Comment: No invention, no spark - this Ireland team is not clinical enough

Mark McConville

It’s been a cause for concern for most of this year’s Six Nations Championship and today Ireland’s lack of invention and ability to score tries was ultimately their downfall in Cardiff.

Joe Schmidt’s men have relied on the right boot of Johnny Sexton in the crucial tight games against France and England and today that right boot misfired and Ireland lost.

“I think Ireland made four times as many metres as Wales, four times as many runs, twice as much possession, twice as much territory,” said The Independent’s David Kelly.

“In any sporting contest there is something in those figures and the main figure on the scoreline also tells the story. They didn’t maximise the pressure on the scoreboard.

“They had chances, they spurned overlaps, they spurned two attacking lineouts, they had an attacking scrum, they had oceans of chances to score. Wales took their only scoring chance to increase their lead to seven points and after the early penalties, that’s all they needed.

“Johnny Sexton didn’t have that nine or ten out of ten that we expected from him and outside him Simon Zebo didn’t show any spark and had his poorest game in quite a while and there just wasn’t any invention from the midfield.

Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15
Ireland's Rob Kearney in action with Wales' Alun Wyn Jones
Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs
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Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Ireland's Rob Kearney in action with Wales' Alun Wyn Jones Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Wales and Ireland fans in the stands before the RBS 6 Nations match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Joe Giddens/PA Wire.
Ireland and Wales line up for the anthems before the RBS 6 Nations match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. David Davies/PA Wire.
14 March 2015; Peter O'Mahony, Ireland, in action against Luke Charteris, Wales. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
14 March 2015; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, is tackled by Luke Charteris, Wales. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Wales' Leigh Halfpenny scores his third penalty Reuters / Rebecca Naden Livepic
Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Wales' Leigh Halfpenny prepares to take a penalty Reuters / Rebecca Naden Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
A Wales fan in the stands before the RBS 6 Nations match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Joe Giddens/PA Wire.
14 March 2015; Paul O'Connell, Ireland, with match referee Wayne Barnes. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Wales' Leigh Halfpenny scores a penalty Reuters / Rebecca Naden Livepic
Wales' Jamie Roberts (left) goes past Ireland's Johnny Sexton (right) during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 14, 2015. Joe Giddens/PA Wire.
14 March 2015; Rob Kearney, Ireland, is tackled by Taulupe Faletau, left, and Dan Biggar, Wales. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Wales' Leigh Halfpenny before scoring a penalty Reuters / Rebecca Naden Livepic
Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Wales' Jonathan Davies and Ireland's Paul OConnell (L) in action Reuters / Rebecca Naden Livepic
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14 March 2015; Jonathon Davies, Wales, is congratulated by Liam Williams, 11, after scoring his side's first try. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales.
Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Ireland's Conor Murray before kick off Action Images via Reuters / Paul Childs Livepic
14 March 2015; Tommy Bowe, Ireland, is tackled by Scott Baldwin, Wales. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Jared Payne breaks through the wales defence as Wales' Jamie Roberts (ground) looks on during the RBS 6 Nations match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 14, 2015. See PA Story RUGBYU Wales. Photo credit should read: David Davies/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. No use in books or print sales without prior permission. Call +44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.
CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 14: Samson Lee of Wales is stretchered off by medics during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 14: Wales captain Sam Warburton (r) is yellow carded by referee Wayne Barnes during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 14: Rhys Webb of Wales puts in a box kick during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Rugby Union - Wales v Ireland - RBS Six Nations Championship 2015 - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 14/3/15 Wales' Liam Williams and Ireland's Tommy Bowe in action Reuters / Rebecca Naden Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 14: Joe Schmidt, Head Coach of Ireland looks on prior to the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 14: Irish fans arrive into the stadium prior to the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at Millenium Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
14 March 2015; Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt gestures as his team huddle ahead of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Wales v Ireland, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

“There is a lot of intensity and honesty of effort but sometimes at this level to win a Grand Slam, to win possibly another Championship, that’s probably not enough.”

Ruaidhri O’Connor pinpointed Ireland’s lineout as one area where the game was lost.

“I thought Paul O’Connell had a good game in open play but himself and Simon Easterby need to have an inquest as to what went wrong with that lineout. You can’t win Test matches losing that much of your own ball,” said O’Connor.

“I thought Rory Best’s throwing was a bit off but Wales really seemed to know where the Irish ball was going all the time. Warren Gatland came in for a bit of criticism this week and he and his coaching staff put together a game plan and a set-piece that really did a job on Ireland today.”

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