So here we are. Less than a week after a result that none of us saw coming.
There is no one in the country that saw that first half coming. We didn’t even dare dream about a performance like that. It was fantastic to see a team playing to their potential.
The team looked brave, cohesive, cunning and confident. Word that we haven’t used to describe the Irish rugby team in a while. I thought that Wales would have aimed at Ross and tried to get him off the pitch by any means necessary, then firing the ball out wide where they had the physical advantage. But they didn’t get a chance in the first half.
People made a lot of noise about the welsh losing their last few games, but when you look at the opposition and how they lost (they were within a score with 3 minutes to go in each of them). They have very strong backs, they may have been weaker than Ireland at 2, but they where the defending champions. The grand slam champions. We demoralized them for 45 minutes. It was the next step we should be taking after the Argentina game.
Then the welsh had their purple patch. They started playing like champions. They pounded the Irish line like………..eh………there might be children reading so I will keep it clean. They where awesome! If I was a neutral I would have really enjoyed watching Wales in full flight. But I am not a neutral; I was biting my finger and toe nails while pulling out what little hair I have left.
The positives are that we hung on. We defended like demons. The notorious BOD tackled everything that was wearing a red jersey. He was amazing. He is not a big guy, but he flattened back rowers tat dwarfed him. Darcy also had a great game until a dead leg brought him to the sidelines. The front row was great. The line out was mostly good. Gilroy hit puberty with this performance; it was a mature tough game from him. Tackled his balls off. I thought he would be found out against a bigger more experience opponent, but he came through it as a man.
Zebo……what do you say? Awesome stuff. Hopefully he keeps the momentum up; the English will be scared of him.
The negatives where our discipline. We should never be playing 20 minutes with 14 men. I understand that emo Murray was pushing his luck with slowing down the ball illegally for his yellow, that was a tired mistake. But we cannot have this happening next week.
This brings us to England in the Aviv……….Lansdowne Road! They had a topsy turvy autumn finishing with a win over the All Blacks that where suffering from the winter vomiting bug. They beat a weary Scotland team last week, and now are being pegged as champions in waiting. Scotland did have an improved performance, but they offered zero problems for England. I always enjoy when the English are built up, usually this would have me thinking an Ireland win would be guarantee. But they do not have martin Johnson on the sideline. They have Stuart Lancaster, a (dare I say it) nice lad. There is zero pomp or arrogance from Lancaster. He is a very smart and not naïve coach. This is what worries me. While there are still scumbags like Hartley in the squad, Lancaster will keep that in check.
It is a worrying problem. I would rather have Woodward or Johnson on the sidelines.
We know exactly what England will do. They will aim directly for our front row. They will aim to get Ross off the pitch. We know Ross struggles with 80 minutes, so the bench will be important. If we can get level in the scrum, England will struggle to move the ball quickly. We need to get up in their face for 80 minutes.
As paulie would say we need to ‘put the fear of god into them’. They murdered us in the scrum last time; it is time to use that to motivate us. While Lancaster is good at man management, a leopard never changes its spots. So hopefully a small bit of arrogance sneaks into the English psyche.
The first scrum will dictate the match. We need the green army to do their bit to shout down the English support.
Ps: if anyone wants to give me a ticket, I will gladly accept 😉
I thought I would finish by picking my team, along with subs:
1 Cian Healy – was a monster last week
2 Rory Best – Has been hugely consistent in green.
3 Mike Ross – Everyone pray to all the gods that he stays on for 80.
4 Mike McCarthy – Was strong last week.
5 Donncha Ryan – The enforcer of the team.
6 Peter O’Mahony – Solid strong performance last week, more needed.
7 Jamie Heaslip – I’ll always be knocked for Jamie at 7, but for me, he would be more suited here.
8 Sean O’Brien – Hopefully fit to terrorize the English.
9 Eoin Redden – Quicker ball needed to get the backs moving.
10 Jonathan Sexton – Merci boquo (very ordinary level French)
11 Simon Zebo – Zeeeeeeeebs is the form player.
12 Gordon Darcy – Hopefully fit after a great game last week, McFadden to replace him if not.
13 Do I really need to say it? The Man has already scared the English before the game starts.
14 Craig Gilroy – A mature performance last week, a bit more twinkle toes this week.
15 Rob Kearney – Will hopefully get out of second gear this week.
The subs: McFadden (May start if the Darce can’t)
Kilcoyne – looks to be a monster in waiting.
O’Callaghan – been useful all year (I feel dirty for saying it)
Tom Court – Better this year with more game time than Fitzpatrick
Henry – the highlighted assassin
O’Gara – It should be Madigan, but there is no point in me putting his name down is there?
Earls – If McFadden starts, if not then he stays in the hotel.
Murray – Backup for Redden.
As usual feel free to debate/abuse/discuss with me @nkeegan on twitter.
I have a feeling we will be celebrating a 3 point win this weekend.
Until next week…..