RBS Six Nations, Scotland 12 Ireland 8

25/02/2013

Frank Quinn writes: I have lost the faith, 80% possession and eight points to show for it, the trick with possession is where you get it, in your own half or your opponents. But when you get 80% - well you would have it all over the park.

Talk about the next match is an insult, don’t answer question – tell the journalist that it is for tomorrow. We are playing for the wooden spoon, it does not count, playing for pride – it’s a bit late.

We played three lost two and the two remaining games are France and Italy, the former lost three and the latter also lost two, not exactly top drawer opponents.

So what are we playing for – take the wide angle view, bring in more new players and give them the floor, let them loose in the Aviva. The team picked to play Scotland had all the ingredients of a go forward team, a good blend – I liked the look of it.

It may mean giving Paddy Jackson the start and at half time give the number two choice (Madigan/Keatley?) the baton. Ronan O’Gara will be 36 in March and Paddy Jackson is 21, where was the in-between man in this age group.

It should mean putting in a search for a replacement for Brian O’Driscoll now rather than later – let’s have him and a start at four for Toner/A.N.Other. Bring in all the replacements at the start.

All of the players need some soul searching and will the team management have the steward’s enquiry that we expect after two straight losses.

A bit extreme but needs to be executed with enthusiasm in two dead rubbers and give value for money at the Aviva Stadium to the home crowd.

Even allowing for comeback kids – (some time), O’Connell, Bowe, Ferris, Strauss, Sexton, Zebo, McCarthy etc. we need all the players we can get to strengthen the squad. The coach never picks from a full hand in rugby due to injuries.

The role of the captain and/or the real leader on the park is what? who is he, will he please stand up and assert himself when it counts. Who talks on the field, who is bringing the players together, who is seriously making the decisions – when to kick for goal/touch, when/who to catch in the lineout and when to activate the scrum.
It does not appear to be Jamie Heaslip in the current team, so we do need a new captain of the ship who will crack the whip.

With all the possession, a few near misses thanks to Keith Earls and Brian O’Driscoll, who both failed to make the final vital pass and a Marshal wild transfer pass – we ended the first half 3-0 – be thankful.

Big start to second half – a Gilroy try on 44 minutes, a missed conversion still 8-0 is not bad and here we go? We can move on from here, moving the ball well – all the backs involved.

At the exact same time in the Wales game (44 mins) we were 30 points to the good and we stopped playing with a winnable lead, we repeated the stopping dose, only this time there was no happy ending, eight points was not going to win against Scotland.

We brought in some replacements Fitzgerald and Kilcoyne on 52 min, O’Gara and Reddan on 63 mins, and Toner and Henderson on 71 mins. By then Scotland could smell the win and there was a sour taste to our rudderless ship.

Fitzgerald butchered a half chance by not kicking ahead as he would normally, O’Gara had a rush of blood to the head with a wild foot pass which almost resulted in a try but a penalty resulted in three points instead.

The endgame set piece had all the hallmarks of a comedy. There was not an Irish leader is sight as Scotland delayed and forced the reset of a scrum at 78/80 mins, before a Jackson knock-on sealed it for Scotland.

England march on for the Grand Slam, beating a bit of a new look France, who still managed to make outrageous changes to the half back pairing in the second half to hand the game to England. They face Italy next and then make the trip to Cardiff on Super Saturday for them.

Wales as expected beat Italy in Rome and now take on a rejuvenated Scotland; they still have hopes for a championship, lost one game to us but are on the up. They need to stop the chariot in the Millennium Stadium after disposing of double winner Scotland, who will harbour their own ambitions to win a championship.

 

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