Friday 15 December 2017

Monday Breakdown: Five things we learned

Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt Photo: PA News
Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt Photo: PA News
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

1. Costly passive defence: At what point does Andy Farrell's famed defensive approach have to be questioned? In the eight games that he has been involved in, Ireland have conceded 23 tries.

Farrell is renowned for instilling line speed in his defence but Ireland's passivity in the first half was glaring, especially compared to Scotland's aggressive approach. Ireland were punished for being far too narrow, a problem which was also evident at times last season.

Referee Romain Poite Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Referee Romain Poite Photo: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Joe Schmidt is entrusting Farrell to implement the defensive game-plan but the Kiwi will be very concerned at the rate that Ireland are leaking tries.

2. Creaking lineout

Normally so assured in the lineout, something was very off with Ireland. Even when they did win the ball it wasn't always clean, which denied them a platform. Alex Dunbar's clever try will forever give the pack nightmares.

Rory Best won't be happy with his throwing, while Devin Toner was far from his best. The in-form Donnacha Ryan was badly missed.

3. Scots back up their talk

For all of Ireland's sloppiness, there was so much to admire in Scotland's play. They ruthlessly exploited Schmidt's side and played with a kind of swagger that justified the hype around them.

Vern Cotter has done a good job and if Scotland can build on this result, questions will be asked about the timing of his departure at the end of the Six Nations.

4. Lions contenders roar

While Rob Kearney had a decent game, Stuart Hogg left no doubt about who will be the Lions Test full-back in June. A stunning display from the best back in the Northern Hemisphere right now.

Jonny Gray was a colossus, while Tadhg Furlong's reputation was further enhanced.

5. No Payne, no gain

So often the glue that keeps Ireland's back line together, Jared Payne's absence was felt enormously. Paddy Jackson, Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose are not overly vocal leaders - Payne's influence would have helped eradicate some errors.

Ref link

"They've only got a minute to take it (penalty)."

"No. There's no rule about that."

An interesting exchange right at the death between Rory Best best and Romain Poite. As Greig Laidlaw opted for a shot at goal for what proved to be the last kick of the game, Best was right to point out the one-minute time limit as the World Rugby law states: "The player must complete the kick within one minute."

Ireland would still have required a minor miracle but Poite was incorrect.

Quote of the weekend

"I did not prepare the team well enough. Have I been too nice to the players and smiling too much? Maybe I need to be a bit harder. We were off the pace and it was quite strange. At half-time we weren't even panting; it wasn't like we had played a game of rugby."

Eddie Jones pulls no punches as he slams the effort levels of his players who broke their record of 14 consecutive Test victories.

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