The Mole enjoyed Liam Toland’s early morning article in today’s Irish Times – a good read all the way through, and you can tell that he enjoyed the technicality of Rory Best’s opening score, a well-contrived lineout move that created a potent mismatch of running a big forward at a small back over a short distance.
That lineout move was a thing of beauty, with loads of small moving parts that didn’t demand acrobatics from any one player but relied instead on practice and teamwork. The Irish lineout has Healy at the front, with Ferris at two, O’Callaghan at three, Ryan at four, Heaslip at five, O’Mahony at six and Ross at the tail.
O’Callaghan steps out of the line as the ball is thrown in to Ryan, and Ferris moves back into the hole created to act as the front lifter, with Heaslip taking on the role of the rear lifter. It’s a smashing throw and a smashing take, Ryan moving forward into the small gap that O’Callaghan’s movement has created. At the same time as Ryan is taking the ball at the height of his jump, Mike Ross is already peeling around from the tail, with Peter O’Mahony keeping his nerve and staying put.
Ryan takes it down and transfers with two hands to O’Callaghan, who has his left shoulder almost in Ryan’s gut at this point. Ross has arrived at O’Callaghan and as O’Callaghan is turning on his left heel [so that his back is facing the Scottish try line], Ross actually has his right hand on O’Callaghan’s right hip as a locator: Ross is facing twelve o’clock, O’Callaghan six o’clock. O’Mahony starts his short looping run from the tail as the Ross/O’Callaghan duo continue to turn clockwise – sort of like a ying-yang symbol!
Mike Ross’s efforts are now focused on joining Cian Healy at the front of the lineout in what they’d call a ‘contain’ in the NFL: essentially stopping the Scottish forwards from leaking out into the 5m tramline. The two props are driving towards three o’clock, perpendicular to the try line.
O’Callaghan pops to O’Mahony as he continues the turn, and O’Mahony makes sure that he doesn’t go too lateral – it’s not a huge step, but he makes sure to straighten and commit Ross Ford before he gives the pass to Best, so that the Scottish hooker can’t drift out on the Irish captain and knock him into touch. It’s a good pass, and leaves Best one-on-one with Blair, whom he smashes through for the try.
It really was a beautifully constructed try, with all the forwards playing their respective parts. Well done the pack, and well done Axel Foley.