‘Scotland were the revelation of the opening weekend’


Wales likewise. Excuse the language, but what the buggery bollocks were they doing in the first half? You do not – repeat, you do not – give this Irish team easy entries into your 22. It’s the equivalent of inviting in the double glazing salesman, offering him a seat on your sofa and serving him a cup of tea and a slice of fruit cake.

Missed touches, umpteen compound penalties, diffident defence and forcing passes that just weren’t on meant that Wales shipped twenty- seven points in even time. And, much like the French, as hard as the Irish tried to repay the favour – 11 penalties in the remaining 50 minutes – there was no way back; the drawn second half not so much a consolation for Wales but a glaring indictment of how much they’d given away in the first.

England came into the game cocked and loaded but, far too often, shot themselves clean through both feet.

England, again, will have been steering clear of their razor blades on Sunday morning. 71% territory? 57% possession? An eight-point lead ten minutes in the second half? Yes, well, if you miss thirty tackles, kick woefully to a side who have the ambition and the ability to counter- attack from anywhere and, once you’ve established an eight-point lead ten minutes into the second half, drop the restart and gift the opposition an immediate converted response, then you’re your own worst enemy. England came into the game cocked and loaded but, far too often, shot themselves clean through both feet.

Look, let’s qualify this for a moment, not least because four, away, bonus-point wins take some gainsaying. France were resilient and have developed a champion’s happy habit of winning ugly or, at least, of shading their darker games; Australia and South Africa in November and now Italy in February. There are days when you have to grind it out despite yourself and the bench – again – were the trump cards. If Matthieu Jalibert knocks any louder on Fabien Galthie’s front door, he’s going to take the damn thing clean off its hinges.

Hugo Keenan proved he is one of the world’s best full-backs against Wales (Photo by Ian Cook – Getty Images)

Ireland were – Ireland are – as as ruthless as a rat-catcher. Give them an inch and they’ll take five miles and as much as Wales gifted-wrapped the first forty minutes in Cardiff, there were defensive plays in that first half from Keenan, Ringrose and Porter that were just world-class. Does Hugo Keenan ever make a mistake? Has Caelen Doris ever had an average eighty minutes? Gary O’Ringrose? It’s not just the number on his back that starting to bear comparison. Frankly, you could cheerfully lick the entire Irish team right now. They resemble New Zealand in their absolute pomp and, let’s not mince words, the Slam is theirs for the taking.





Source link: https://www.rugbypass.com/plus/graham-simmons-scotland-were-the-revelation-of-the-opening-weekend/

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