What a difference a week makes. Last week the Irish rugby community online where wondering how the team would wake up and play better, how Murray gets picked and how Farrell is supposed to be adding tricks into the setup. Most thought that welcoming the Welsh would show where the team actually where, that being at the bottom. Negativity had set into our bones.
Going into the Welsh game, all I wanted to see was a plan, a big start and some players being able to play what they saw with support from the team. All of this happened! It was fantastic to see. Still a lot to work on, but the idea was there and the execution.
Before we get to the stats, my favorite parts where when Ireland used the 1 off running like the old days, but when they saw an opportunity to use a play to break Wales, they were able to do it. Some cheeky play and some new stuff lead the way. Wales where confused because they could not read when Ireland would go for the break. Fantastic
So let’s look at the stats:
Ireland ran 100 more meters (322), had 54% possession for 56% territory, missed 22 of 131 tackles (a bit high), Wales missed 17 of 175, conceded 10 penalties (a bit high also) to Wales 6, 100% in the lineout and lost 1 of 8 scrums, 11 clean breaks (Wales 4), conceded 9 turnovers (down massively from recent games).
So as you can see, the stats look good for the most part with a lot of work to be done.
The other talking point from the match was Captain Sexton and how he dealt with a prickly Poite, (there may have been another word for prickly on the day). For me, early doors Poite got quite a lot wrong. A lot of Welsh players off side or not releasing from the tackle. But by the end of the game, I think most of those decisions levelled themselves out. The bigger point is that the linesmen where too scared to get involved, the tmo too. Everyone is petrified of making a decision. A linesman should be able to press a button and beep to the ref when they see something and then during a break in play the issue can be resolved. I don’t think anyone has an issue as long as the correct decision is made.
As for captain, I think he dealt with the day very well. Talking calmly to Poite and explaining his point. Even the Welsh try where Sexton challenged the pass to AWJ and not the final pass, instead of throwing the toys out of the pram; he calmly made the point that it was the previous pass. A strong day from the captain, not that you would see that online.
More plusses when Cooney and Byrne came on, both played really well and you can see the difference in the passing from Cooney and Murray. Farrell is keeping those 4 fighting hard for their places and that will bring the standard up, Murray was looking goof all day.
A week off comes up, I do wish we could play this weekend and keep this momentum up, but it gives HIA a chance to work through ahead of the trip to Twickenham. The English are the old enemy and I wish I was more grown up to say ‘may the best team win’, but I am not and I would love a win against England