And here we go, Monday morning after a disappointing weekend in green. The pre match positivity began to wane as the game unfolded in front of us on Saturday morning. Firstly, Saturday morning at 11am is a tough time to be combative. While I know it was later in Australia but I like to feel combative while watching Ireland play, easier with Guinness than a quadruple espresso but that is another story for another day.
Ireland arrived with form, trophies and positivity. Australia knew their backs where against the wall. They have been consistently inconsistent over the last 12 months. At time’s ready and playing like they should, and at times falling far short.
They started like a house on fire on Saturday. They stood a couple of yards behind the gain line that meant they would be hitting the play at massive speed and playing on that offside line all day. It was impressive to see early. I assumed that they would tire and their ability to get off the line correctly would cost them. It didn’t. Ireland began millimetres off the pace and took some early hits that galvanised the home side. Not something they were after.
Ireland didn’t play badly, Australia played like an angry Australia.
Looking at the stats:
Ireland had 60% possession for 61% of territory.
Ireland conceded 21 turnovers to Australia’s 12 (massive)
Ireland lost 1 scrum (the big on on the Australia line) and stole 3 lineouts.
Ireland missed 14 tackles for an 89% completion rate; Australia missed 18 but where forced into making 52 more tackles in the game.
Ireland conceded 11 penalties as did the home side. This was 1 of the 3 times Ireland has been in double figures for penalties this season. It shows the pressure Australia put on.
Ireland came in with changes that where needed. Whether it is for rest purposes or game time. So how did Joey Carberry do?
He did…….. Grand. He had very little room to operate because the Irish pack was on the back foot, but he managed the game well, 1 missed kick but aside from that it was a good day at the office. It was a wakeup call for a lot of people. We have seen him bring home big matches with relative ease, and in those matches (Chicago and England this year) he had a pack performing and dominating. That wasn’t the case on Saturday so now he knows the feeling of going backwards and will be ready to deal with it slightly better next time. This was a massive learning experience for Joey and will reap the rewards going forward. He was brought off earlier than most expected which hopefully won’t affect him. It looked like the substitutions where made early, hopefully for fatigue purposes and not panic.
Basically Ireland didn’t get to that 85% average output that they (and Leinster) have been doing all season. There are factors to that, a long season and acclimatisation to Australia being 2. Rob Kearney mentioned fatigue in the post-match media briefing making ‘cowards of us all’, Australia pounced on knowing Ireland may not start as normal. This was also the first match that Ireland hasn’t scored in the championship minutes, another sign of tiredness.
Social media would have you believe that Kearney is past it and Joey can’t handle the big games, Joe is losing his touch and Aki had a bad game, none of which are true. I think we should avoid social media (and stick with Harpin on Rugby and The Couch Pundit Podcast instead) after matches. I made the mistake of visiting some rugby forums on Facebook after the game and it was a complete cesspit of nonsense. A frightening place best avoided for a few days post-match.
Ireland had a bad day at the office and weren’t able to navigate it like they have done in the past. That won’t happen again. Will Joe pick a new side? Or will he stick with Murray/Carberry and bring in Ringrose/Leavy. From a selfish standpoint I want to see at least 80 minutes of Leavy versus Pocock on this tour.
Earls is undergoing RTP protocols which may rule him out, Aki may make way for the return of Henshaw (12) and Ringrose. But only time will tell.
Whatever the selection, I am just delighted that I wasn’t in the post-match video review session on Monday morning!