Tag Archives: Irish Rugby

Rugby Bullets – Ireland aim for a slam

Here’s this week’s quick fire rugby thoughts.

Ireland vs Scotland

  • Ireland lost three big players early on, and it was the kind of game where it would have seemed as though having impact subs in the last 30 minutes would be beneficial. The subs did make an impact, particularly Cian Healy as Hooker. Having Cian Healy down as an extra hooker was clever as if Ireland would have gone to non-contested scrums due to two hookers not being available somebody else would have had to go off. Healy mastered the art of playing at hooker quickly turning the scrum in our favour. Van der Flier once again proved he is no mere mortal rugby player by throwing into the lineouts.
  • Scotland lucky to avoid a penalty try, Ireland overthrow the lineout and lose big ground.
  • The first 10 minutes saw big pressure, going for 3 was the right call, from there Ireland were under pressure. Scotland had a penalty with the clock in red to go in ahead at halftime, they went to the corner rather than the posts. it was a long way out but Hogg probably had the distance. A lead of any kind at the break would have been huge, Scotland game close to a try but ended up in touch. Psychologically that was a massive moment in the game.
    • Ireland had a bit of odd luck in the game. Having scored a try off a Scottish quick lineout, it was ruled out because Scotland had used a different ball. In the second half Lowe got over when Scotland were really pushing it with the infringements. Strangely, if it had of been a penalty try there would have been a yellow and an automatic conversion. Ireland could have ended up suffering for finishing a movement.
    • Mack Hansen doesn’t appear to have bad games for Ireland, but his performance on Sunday was special. He made the Lowe try by taking the ball in the air and throwing the ball into Sextons arms in one move. Immediately after for Conan’s try Hansen was once again there for a big pass. His movement and positioning were incredible last weekend and he’s a big reason the back three is so effective.
    • Sexton goes off for Byrne late on, tied with the record for most Six Nations points with Ronan O’Gara. He nailed a difficult conversion for James Lowe’s try which made it a two score game.
    • Losing Gary Ringrose is a massive blow as we’ve seen how important is to the defense. His neck went back when his head went into an opponents hip and it looked bad. He was stretchered off with a brace but was moving, and later he was reportedly up and talking. For as good as he has been for Ireland it’s a shame he misses out on the grand slam decider, similarly he’s been excellent for Leinster and would deserve to be back for the latter stages of the League and potential games deep into the European Cup.
    • Scotland were good in the first half but admittedly got away with an awful lot throughout the game. It may be harsh to call the second half a collapse when really it was Ireland going up a gear.
    • This win is arguably the biggest since the third test down in New Zealand when you consider every single thing that went wrong. So many injuries and bits of bizarre luck, everything was going against Ireland. It is the performance of a team unwilling to die. It’s big a few months out from the World Cup, as teams will be wondering what they have to do to beat Ireland.

Elsewhere in the Six Nations

  • In one game Italy undid all the good work they had done in the early rounds. Despite losing their first 3 games they performed fairly well and were largely competitive. Against Wales they were soft and disjointed. They certainly weren’t helped by a refereeing performance that got progressively worse throughout the game.
    • If Italy perform like that in the World Cup they will be blown away by hosts France, and New Zealand. While they should have enough to get past Namibia they will also struggle against Uruguay if they put in this kind of performance. The South American side qualified as Americas 1 and have drastically improved over the past few years.
      • Los Teros have now qualified for 3 successive World Cups, with this being their best qualifying performance (they topped the South American qualifier pool over Chile and Brazil, and they beat USA over two legs to qualify as top seeds. The majority of their players play for Uruguayan side Penarol who won the Sudamerica Championship last year having finished runners-up the previous season
  • As poor as England were France were incredibly good, returning to the heights they hit last year. They remain favourites for the World Cup on home soil.
  • England will surely improve by the time the World Cup roles around, they can’t possibly be that bad again. They, like Wales, benefit from being on the easier side of the World Cup draw thanks to the lopsided nature of the pools, but may find themselves having a hard time against Argentina and Japan if they play like that.

Ireland vs England

  • Ireland are favourites and the better team, but the beginning of the game will likely be a battle. England will be hurting, have been poor this tournament, and capitulated last weekend. There will be a response and the first 15 minutes will likely be very competitive. Ireland are rightly favourites to win the game and the grand slam, but they may have to survive a storm. Psychologically the first quarter of the game is big, as if Ireland can hold off England early on, based on last week the away sides heads will drop and Ireland will power on.
  • Despite numerous injuries there isn’t a lot of concern going into the game. Andy Farrell has done very well to build depth in the squad since the last World Cup. He was sometimes criticized for squad choices but we’re seeing the benefits of building a big squad. A few months out from the World cup we’re now in a position where there will be a few big players unlucky to miss out.
    • Ryan Baird, Rob Herring, and Keiran Treadwell get a chance to impress and cement their places in the squad. It’s also a big game for Jimmy O’Brien who can show why he belongs in the 23.
  • Hopefully Sexton can get the record early so that narrative is out of the way. If the game is won with 30-20 minutes to go it’s time to empty the bench. Give Ross Byrne, Herring, Tom O’Toole, Treadwell, Jack Conan, and O’Brien valuable minutes in green ahead of the world cup. An argument could be made that Gibson-Park should play as much of the game as he can to get some minutes post injury, although you couldn’t begrudge Conor Murray being on the pitch for at least the final 15 minutes with the tournament he has had.
  • If Ireland were to win by 10 or more points, they would be the only team to win a Six Nations Grand Slam while winning every game by double figures. England in 2003 were the last side to win a grand slam with every victory being by a margin of 6 or more points.

Rugby Europe International Championships

  • Sunday see’s the final round of games in the top tier of the Rugby Europe International Championships. There are four games, including the ranking finals which are Belgium vs Poland in the 7th place final and Netherlands vs Germany in the 5th place final. These games are important for determining rankings over the two years for relegation. Romania play Spain in the Bronze final. Then on Sunday night in the grand final Georgia play Portugal. We’ll see this tie again in the World Cup in Pool D, so there’s more than a trophy on the line. Georgia are the dominant force in this tournament, but Portugal have qualified for the World Cup and been improving over the past number of years.
  • In the second tier (Rugby Europe Trophy) Ukraine host Sweden. This is Ukraine’s final game and only sit 3 points above last place. Sweden sit just one point ahead of their opponents and are 10 points behind top side Switzerland who have are on 15 points. Switzerland’s final game is against Croatia in two weekends time, and a single point will see them become champions.

URC Irish Shield- Round 1

The Irish sides got their United Rugby Championship campaigns started last Saturday with Ulster performing the best of the four.

Leinster Limp Past Zebre

Leinster only conceded 31 tries in the URC last season, but in the opening round of this seasons competition Zebre secured a try bonus point and could have had more. Zebre actually won the second half 19-5, and left 6 points worth of conversions on the field.

The home side and last seasons semi-finalists started well with tries from Luke McGrath and Rhys Ruddock. The Italians were down a man when Ruddock got his secon, and he got another just before half time. Despite being down a man Zebre got two tries of their own around the half hour mark with Kriel and Bruno getting over.

The second half saw Zebre come out strong and take control of the game with tries from Gesi and Pelser. Dave Kearney crossed over on the hour mark for what proved to be the crucial score. Ross Byrne had converted the first four tries, but for this one the extras were not added. Zebre went over again through Smith. Eden added the extra to make it a nervy last 10 minutes. Leinster defended well, but Zebre could have got a famous win here.

It looked very much like Leinster were still in preseason mode, they’ll need to improve quickly to put down a marker early.

Zebre Parma 29-33 Leinster

Sloppy Munster Lose In Wales

Graham Rowntree’s first competitive game in charge of Munster ended in defeat. It was the first time in four years Munster lost to the artists formerly known as Cardiff Blues.

Munster were poor in the opening minutes and conceded an early try from Llewllyn, it wasn’t converted. The Irish side got on the board though a Ben Healy penalty, and took the lead when he kicked another three at the half hour mark. It probably could have been more with Shane Daly going close to getting their opening try of the season.

Cardiff defended well and scored in the crucial moments just before half time. Dacey crossed over with Evans converting. The home side led 12-6 at the break.

Munster were better around the hour mark and crossed over after a few phases through Jack O’Sullivan. Jack Crowley converted to give Munster a on-point advantage with 15 minutes left. Cardiff edged back in front with a penalty from Evans, and would get their third try through Summerhill in the last minute to secure the win.

It was a fairly forgettable performance from Munster with a lot of unforced errors.

Cardiff 20-13 Munster

Ulster Victorious In First Interpro Of The Season

Jacob Stockdale made his return to competitive rugby in a scintillating Ulster performance. Hooker Tom Stewart was player of the match as Ulster’s maul dominated proceedings at Kingspan.

Ulster had five tries before Connacht managed their first. Marshall, Tom Stewart, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore, and Callum Reid all got over for the home side. Connacht’s try was worth the wait with David Hawkshaw creating it from his own 22, Caolin Blade finished it off.

Connacht have a lot to work on. Ulster, while not perfect, look like a team that will challenge.

Ulster 36-10 Connacht

Irish Shield Table

Next Fixtures

Friday 23rd September

Leinster vs Benetton – 19:35 (Live on TG4)

Saturday 24th September

Scarlets vs Ulster – 13:00

DHL Stormers vs Connacht – 13:30 (Live on RTÉ)

Sunday 25th September

Dragons vs Munster – 15:00 (Live on RTÉ)