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A veteran bolter, farewells and missed tackle woes - 5 things we learned from Irish victory

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Luke Fitzgerald in action against Scotland

Luke Fitzgerald in action against Scotland

Luke Fitzgerald in action against Scotland

Ireland made it two from two in their World Cup preparations with victory over Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Here is what we learned from the four-try performance.

Ireland have a 33-year-old bolter

Nathan White arrived in Ireland from New Zealand during the 2011 World Cup with little ceremony but the might be about to force his way into the squad this time around.

The 33-year-old is a proven scrummager and had little opportunity to show his wares in that regard here. However, it was his mobility and ability in open play that would have pleased Joe Schmidt the most.

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Nathan White

Nathan White

Nathan White

 

It was a performance likely to have made Marty Moore a little uncomfortable in the bleachers, with Michael Bent’s versatility expected to leave just one slot available alongside Mike Ross in the squad, White made his case and he made it well.

We may have said farewell to a legend

Gordon D’Arcy may yet go to the World Cup, but with Robbie Henshaw yet to play and likely to come into the side to face Wales in two weeks’ time, this was probably his last home game for Ireland.

That he came into it under pressure to deliver to try and get himself on the plane to England and Wales shouldn’t detract for a 16 season body of work in green that has been full of more highs than lows.

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Gordon D'Arcy in action against Scotland

Gordon D'Arcy in action against Scotland

Gordon D'Arcy in action against Scotland

 

He didn’t have his best game and has left himself with an uphill battle. It is difficult for anyone to impress on their first outings, but the road to the World Cup is a cruel one. The focus today should be on a brilliant career for a man who played a role in some of Ireland’s greatest days.

The wing positions are far from decided

Although Sean O’Brien could justifiably be miffed about Simon Zebo being awarded the man of the match award, the full-back built on his Cardiff display with an assured performance.

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Ireland's is tackled by Richie Vernon at the Aviva Stadium

Ireland's is tackled by Richie Vernon at the Aviva Stadium

Ireland's is tackled by Richie Vernon at the Aviva Stadium

 

Having proven his ability to cover the No15 jersey, his primary goal remains a wing position and with Keith Earls, Andrew Trimble and Fergus McFadden impressing last week there could be worrying times ahead for Luke Fitzgerald and Tommy Bowe.

Their mood won’t be helped by Dave Kearney’s impressive cameo and, with Trimble set to recover in time for the tournament and Felix Jones still in the mix the battle for a limited number of places is set to go down to the wire.

Much will depend on who gets a run against Wales, but a big name is set to miss out.

Missed tackles are becoming an issue

Joe Schmidt wasn’t happy with the defence against Wales and the volume of missed tackles today won’t please him.

Gordon D’Arcy and Dan Tuohy were particularly culpable and they may pay the price in the weeks to come, but the overall effort was disappointing.

Early statistics are to be taken with a pinch of salt, but a missed tackle count of 23 out of 169 is not acceptable at this level.

The IRFU missed a trick

Les Kiss made a late appeal for fans to buy tickets, but the low key nature of Ireland’s build-up appears to have affected the attendance with swathes of empty seats throughout the Aviva Stadium.

A combination of a flat rate ticket price of £20 and a marketing blitz helped Wales sell out the 67,500 capacity Millennium Stadium a week ago, but the Six Nations champions played in front of 31,780 spectators today.

Ticket prices ranged from €30 to €60 with childrens’ available for €10, but this doesn’t appear to have convinced the paying punters to head to the game.

Media access has been reduced throughout the warm-up games, while the players appear to be on a tight leash when it comes to their public utterances. It might keep team secrets from getting out, but it doesn’t add to the build-up and fails to generate any hype whatsoever.

The union are hopeful of a bigger turnout when a full-strength Wales come to town in two weeks’ time, but they are competing with the GAA at this time of year and need to do more to gain market-share.


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