The internet after an Ireland game is truly a horrific place. The reactions are mostly so far over the top that it is bananas. This week’s reviews spoke about play-acting, Cooney v Sexton and having expectations that make no real sense.
So let us start with what I thought going in. For me I thought it would be a 2 score win. I thought the recent upheaval in the Scotland setup would affect them along with the changes made. I thought that Scotland would show up with a lot of scrap, but would not have the skills to give more than that. I was kind of right on the third one.
Even with a new coaching setup people are expecting Ireland to slip back into the 2018 best, this was never going to happen. It takes time for the coach to find his rhythm etc. yes I know that Farrell has been there for the last years (whatever your thoughts on that are), but he is also under pressure to find himself quickly. It is clear to him that wins are important, seats being filled is important and when that is put to the coach you find team selections like the one on Saturday. I thought it was a good squad, Cooney being the big omission in place of Murray. Doris was slipped in and before he got hurt, he looked like a 50 capper. This may open the floodgates in terms of selections going forward. Once Doris played like he did, he showed that everyone can step up.
So let us look at Cooney v Murray. I really do not understand the furor over this. Cooney is class, but has minimal experience around the Ireland squad let alone starting. The plan (sensible) appears to be to bring him into the setup, show him how everything works and what is expected of him at 9. All makes sense because the job in white is nearly everything, whereas in green he will have a more precise role. This takes time for him to settle into. Time in and around the squad will really speed up his starting chances. I actually expect him to start against Wales, especially with Captain Sexton in fine form.
Speaking of Sexton, some of you are talking about play-acting. For anyone saying that, you really need to sit down in your chair and just enjoy the game. I could say far worse, but I am trying to stay calm. He puts himself everywhere on the pitch, hit rucks early in the game (might not be the best place for him), but to use play acting as a term shows you legitimately have zero idea what you are talking about. The incident in question was a tackle as he cleared up the backfield and was hit hard. 8 tackles 1 miss and all the points on the day means that you have nothing to say against our captain.
Now with that out of the way let us look at the stats:
Ireland ran for 51 more meters at 413, had 51% possession for 46% territory, scored the only try (a beaut), won 6 from 8 mauls (a worry), conceded 13 turnovers (a worry), won 2/2 scrums and lost 1 of 9 lineouts and conceded 9 penalties (to Scotland’s 14).
It was not the best day at the office, but that is all explainable. The big issue is that Ireland appear to be happy to allow opposition to attack and to depend on defense. In any kind of fight, you never allow the opponent to throw first. Ireland are happy to allow opponents to throw first. It may be ok against Scotland, but if Ireland allow Wales to throw first next week, it will be a long day at the office.
In closing, maybe just calm down a bit, no one played badly. We saw some good moments of new ideas. This will take time, but the fans need to be a bit more grown up post-match.
Wales next week, improvements guaranteed and a big opening scrap needed.