Friday 17 August 2018

Tactical analysis of how Johnny Sexton conducted the Irish orchestra in Wales win

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland leaves the pitch after beating Wales
Jonathan Sexton of Ireland leaves the pitch after beating Wales
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Johnny Sexton had an uncharacteristically off day from the tee, but his influence was nevertheless stamped all over Ireland's performance.

We so often hear how the out-half plays the game with Joe Schmidt's voice in his head and that was extremely evident on Saturday.

1 Ireland win a scrum in an ideal attacking position and Sexton instructs Conor Murray to pass to Chris Farrell and not him.

The Munster centre makes a powerful carry in midfield that gets Ireland over the gain line and suddenly the Welsh defence is scrambling.

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2 A couple of phases later, Murray spots that Ireland have an overlap on the left flank and this time the scrum-half takes the responsibility on his shoulders and barks the orders at Sexton. Murray fires a perfect pass to Sexton, who returns the favour with an exquisite skip pass to Jacob Stockdale, who scores in the corner.

The amount of work that the forwards get through in the lead up to Bundee Aki's try was remarkable, and when they have someone like Sexton running the show outside of them, their hard graft is always likely to reap rewards.

You can see that Aki is still finding his feet at international level, but as he continues to embed himself into Schmidt's system, he is being helped massively by the man inside of him.

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3 Sexton had three key impacts before Aki powered his way way over the whitewash, but watch as he directs the Conancht centre around the pitch. The out-half puts Ireland deep into Welsh territory with a penalty, later plays a lovely inside pass for Cian Healy, then a trademark loop with Chris Farrell and strong carry before Aki's try.

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4 Aki is not in the correct position here and as Sexton readies himself to get back into the line, he still has the awareness to ensure that Aki shifts across where he will eventually receive the ball and score.

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