Ireland v Wales Reaction Part 1

"I don't know whose gameplan that was, but it wasn't mine." No, wait, wrong Irish coach. Kidney never says anything interesting in reply to questions.


Grrr. Sack the board. Sack them all. This was a dreadfully disappointing game from an Irish perspective and a hugely satisfying one for Warren Gatland and Wales, who looked absolutely delighted at the final whistle.

Wales played with an intensity and purpose that Ireland showed only briefly all day. That purpose made a number of average Welsh players look better than their domestic form suggests. The Mole is convinced that man for man the Welsh team that took the field is not better than Ireland but Wales played Ireland off the park for most of this game. The final penalty that decided the game looked ludicrous at the time and replays suggest that the lunatics are indeed running the asylum but it ignores the fact that the better team on the day won and fully deserved it.

Wales were more physical than Ireland and played with a purpose to their game that Ireland lacked. They targeted Ireland’s wingers, running at Tommy Bowe and scoring two tries down his wing while kicking to Andrew Trimble who never looked comfortable dealing with the airborne ball. Wales put the ball wide off multiple phases, running at Ireland’s lightweight midfield who didn’t shirk tackles but lacked the kilos to halt Wales’ heavy artillery. Jamie Roberts didn’t look fit but still had an impact towards the end of the game while George North was simply phenomenal, bouncing Fergus McFadden while hardly breaking stride to set up JJV Davies, before scoring his own try to bring his team within a point.

The Welsh tackler, whoever it was, lay on the Irish side of the ball at every ruck and Wayne Barnes let them do it all day. In fairness, Ireland were no angels in this regard either and you must play the ref. Wales kicked deep off restarts and looked happy to keep Ireland in their own half. Ireland’s inability to string together quick phases meant that they were obliged to kick the ball away. The Welsh back three were well positioned at cut off any clever options, due to the fact that Ireland rarely managed to get on the front foot.

There was one period that Ireland took the upper hand and had the Welsh knocked back like skittles. Bradley Davies had been sinbinned for dumping Donncha Ryan and Ireland picked it or went one out and ran at the Welsh defence, making huge yardage in the build up to Tommy Bowe’s score. There was a Munster like ferocity in simply taking the game to the Welsh that had been missing up to that point. Then, having got the crowd on their side, and with Wales looking tired, Ireland kicked the ball out on the full before making an incredible decision to kick for goal from 53 metres after 73 minutes. The Mole was aghast at what seemed like a 10:90 decision to go for points at that stage. Boot the ball in the corner and maul the seven Welsh forwards into further tiredness, deprive them of the ball and run down the clock before tagging on a further 3 or 7 points to make the game safe. Never give a sucker an even break.

What had so aggrieved Bradley Davies was the temerity of Donncha Ryan to contest Welsh ruck ball. Ireland had, incredibly, allowed Wales to dictate the pace of the game by never counter rucking. This allowed Mike Phillips to get on the front foot and meant that Wales could set targets, running their big men against Ireland’s little men. Anybody who had watched last year’s two Bledisloe Cup games might recall that Australia let NZ have the ball in the first test and spread across the pitch. The result? A Dan Carter inspired master class in attacking rugby. In the second test the Australians contested every tackle area and pulled off an unlikely victory as NZ tried to play footie off slow ball in the wet. Mind you, NZ almost came back into it by playing one out physical rugby in the second half and denying Australia the ball. A bit like Ireland’s two minutes of purpose…

Ireland’s attack in the first half was almost embarrassing as a number of single runners were sent charging at the Welsh. There was no change of angles, there was no weight of numbers, there were few mismatches. There was Jamie Heaslip, who looked outstanding, and who broke the gain line to set up quick ball. From that, Ireland’s Leinster midfield showed good hands and set up Rory Best for a try that owed more to Joe Schmidt than Declan Kidney.

It may be that Ireland are targeting France but this was a poor performance from a very capable team. Three teams in the knockout rounds of the Heineken Cup suggests that Ireland has plenty of talented players. They are not doing themselves justice under the current coaching ticket. Kidney earned huge credit winning Ireland’s first Grand Slam in 60 years then topped it up when he needed a refill by turning over an Australian team missing three vital forwards (Robinson, Moore & Pocock). Dan Carter’s groin and Marc Lievremont’s nightmare meant that a World Cup was there to be contested and possibly won by a daring team. Now he presides over a Six Nations that offers no Triple Crown or Grand Slam, beaten by an injury ravaged Welsh team at home. The knives are out, Ireland need more than bland press conferences and passive defence.

9 thoughts on “Ireland v Wales Reaction Part 1

  1. The passive defence was what irked me. We allowed much bigger, stronger guys build up a head of steam and met them after the gainline. We got destroyed out wide because of this.

  2. The result was the right one, but you would argue about how it got there! I didn’t think Ferris’ was a tip tackle, I would like to see it again on the telly, but it seemed safe at the time. I would say though that if Wayne Barnes did see two tip tackles out there, why weren’t two red cards produced?

    Anyways the better team did indeed win. I dunno about saying Ireland are better man for man than wales at this stage mole. I know that will bug provincial ultras, but surely its time to hold the hands up to a hell of a good Welsh side? There are too many ifs (a nice line about something else from Tate I think earlier in the week) with Ireland at the minute. To snatch defeat from the jaws of undeserved victory in the championship minutes……I know its first week syndrome perhaps, but it would have given such momentum. All that is with Wales now and the knives will indeed be out-regrettably for me, but it does have to be better.

    This game was to be championship defining. Paris is gonna have to be now

  3. Agreed. The passive defence during the endgame was depressingly predictable.
    Kidney hasn’t a hope of the Lions gig now and I hope he was never a realistic contender.

  4. The worst thing is that Ireland only have 4 more tests to sort this out before they have to go down to NZ for a 3 test series, the new World Champion’s Homecoming Parade. Will Ireland choose to kick possession down their back three’s collective throat? Will they allow Nonu and the like to have a bit of room in which to get some steam up before they reach the defensive line.
    The kicking coach Mark Tainton is now assisting Les Kiss in handling the backs’ strategy, I imagine his contribution at the meetings consisted of “kick!” and it seems to have been taken on board.
    Oh, me so woe Mole!

    • Ok, so I haven’t seen the replay, so going from memory. Have to agree with Mole, I thought guys were putting their bodies on the line, but the pace and physical size of the attacking Welsh players were too much for the defenders to deal with. D’arcy, despite his size, is no shrinking violet, and has for over a decade performed heroics for country & province alike. McFadden & Earls , although playing out of their natural positions, more than adequately hold theIr own at HEC level. Yesterday however, our centres were at times faced with up to 4 potential carriers coming down their channels at pace, all 6ft 3 plus and all at least 15kg heavier. Who to tackle?

      On the flip side, I can’t recall us once bringing our (not exactly small) wingers into the midfield. Wales applied this tactic on a few occasions, the one of note being Norths brushing aside of McFadden and offload for Davies. Even the great BOD himself would have found it difficult to bring the fella down, not to mention deny the pass.

      Ok, so it’s fairly clear from previous postings that most people don’t see Earls or McFadden as the future outside centre. Who then?

      And as for D’arcy, who’d otherwise play 12? Wallace? Other than Downey, we as a nation are not exactly blessed with big footballing centres. While I agree with many of the musings about DKs apparent lack of a gameplan, in his defence there aren’t many alternative selection options open to him in the backs. Well one that massively adds a ball carrying or defensive presence anyway. Again, I haven’t given this huge thought, bit other than Denis Hurley or Johne Murphy, are there any Irish backs available to DK to match the physicality of Roberts, Davies & North?People can take a swipe at DK for his gameplan, for the timing of his substitutions, but he can only pick the guys that are available to him….

      Just sayin….

      • One other thing I feel obliged to mention: finally proof that Rob Kearney CAN pass an oval ball. Hallelujah!

  5. Out-thought, out-musceled and out-played! Only the players know if the ‘step-up’ from H-cup to 6-Nations is real or a change of pattern where guys come from a variety of successful systems into just one, temporary, one which lasts for 7 weeks of the season?
    The overall game was very disappointing from an Irish perspective; kicking, by whom – to whom, and why? One short flat pass in the whole game and while Tommy Bowe’s try was a masterclass in the use of the ball to cover distance, we have seen all the Irish H-cup teams gain territory from mixing the short pass with good pod work to suck in opposing defenders.
    Out-thought at every stage of the game – P.S.A. had only to sip his wine and watch while nodding at his 23 ‘braves’ to meet again at Stade de France on Saturday!

  6. A Welsh perspective – mine at least. On balance Wales deserved the victory, Bradley Davies deserved a red card but not for an illegal tackle, it was an off the ball incident following what he thought was an unreasonable shunt during the previous ruck, Ireland did not deserve a yellow card, that wasn’t even a penalty as I saw it at the time, but this law needs to be quickly sorted. Davies’s offense was clearly deliberate, Warburton’s RWC had no malice. I would have thought that TMOs should take a look if the ref is in any way uncertain, these incidents can have more impact on a game than the lengthy deliberations we see around tries, if they had then in my view Warburton should have had a yellow and Davies a red. The line judge defined a red card offence to the ref and then recommended yellow – what’s that all about? Coming on the back of last years dodgy Mike Philips match winning try in Cardiff, I reckon Ireland will feel a bit hard done by, but they need to close out test matches like this and made bad tactical decisions at the end of yesterday’s game. What odds Italy to beat England this year? worth a tenner I would have thought….

    • I was going to reply to this fully but I get frustrated with this directive. Warburton – penalty, no red. Political decision by Rolland. Inconsistent with his refereeing of NZ-France in the pool, particularly Cory Jane on French winger (Rougerie?). Decision – scrum to NZ! Ridculous. Brad Davies – yellow, was off the ball but was a dump, not a spear. Ferris – legit tackle, play on.
      The shunt argument got far more coverage in UK media than in Ireland. I guess the Bakkies-Jones incident during the Boks-Lions series hit a nerve. I think Ryan is entitled to counter ruck so nothing wrong there. If you’re going to sanction guys for physicality then George North would be a penalty machine! I believe the law requires players to bind before engaging in contact so Ryan was illegal but its a technical penalty that is rarely given.
      Wales did deserve to win and Ireland’s decision making partially contributed to that. However, Priestland did hit the woodwork twice.
      I fancy Italy myself…

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