I’m really trying to love the box kick. It was used a lot by the Irish today, to good and bad effect, in their victory over Scotland. Overused, perhaps.
Ireland 28 - 8 Scotland
The commentators on TV3 summed up the game well, delighted with the win but watching the Irish play rugby is not entertaining. The Irish did not appear to get out of third gear today, comfortably scoring four tries to put as much pressure on the English as possible.
Rob Kearney was in great form, both in the air and on the ground today. He reclaimed a few of the kicks, putting enough pressure on his opposite number to cause a turnover where a clean catch was not possible.
Too many times the kick did not give enough opportunity for the chasers to get pressure on. Kicking too far, kicking with too few chasers, kicking with the wrong chasers, front rowers not being known for their aerial skills.
Ireland seem comfortable with and without the ball. Their set piece is so strong, they can play for territory and wait for a turnover. The line out was a good hunting ground for stealing ball today.
The break down was obviously an area for concern in the Irish camp going into today’s game, with the Scots showing how dangerous they could be against England last week, and psychologically this prompted Ireland not to try too many phases in a row. If in doubt, kick.
The Irish were dominant in the ruck, although Scotland did manage to steal a few. Credit to O’Mahony, Leavy and Stander, who were tireless in clearing out. Given their dominance and as the score more towards uncatchable, I think we could have kicked less in the second half.
The Scottish try came from a rather simple move off a solid scrum. The left winger joined the line and seemed to confuse the usually well organised Irish line, Stockdale and Kearney allowing space outside.
Scotland had plenty of opportunities, but butchered nearly them all. Overpasses, underpasses and passes behind. The opening Irish try came from an intercept, with Stockale mopping up some sloppy passing out wide.
Hogg and Russell’s kicking was good during the game, keeping them moving into Irish territory. There were a few loose ones and a missed kick to touch from a penalty. But all in all the men in blue edged the kicking battle.
One of the highlights of the game for me was the battle between the thirteens. Huw Jones has been in Stirling form this season and did not disappoint today. Gary Ringrose is only just recovering from injury but was up to the pace immediately.
I can see these two having a fantastic competition over the years to come, both for club and country And perhaps they will vie for the jersey on the Lions tour in three year’s time.
Both with similar experience and electric attacking moves. Ringrose probably edged the battle today, stepping into the pivot position on the blind side to set up a great Stockdale try.
With Sexton man marked, it was a fantastic ploy to use Ringrose, and he worked the wrap around move, a signature for the Irish ten, on several occasions with success.
Seeing his limp at the end of the match is a serious worry for all Irish and Leinster supporters, especially with Henshaw on the long term injury list.
There were lots of highlights today. Each of the forwards did their fair share of carries and clear outs, the backs made line breaks, and a few set pieces paid dividends. But there was a lack of continuity, or something. These brief cameos were interspersed with too much Scottish possession in between.
Looking ahead to the English game next week, I don’t see us changing tactics much. We will kick for territory all night long and look to stop England at the breakdown. There is evidence that the Irish back row has been the strongest
England are just about beaten in the game against France. There’s only a few minutes left, and the players know they have lost the championship already. Even if they do turn in around in the final few minutes, Ireland have won the championship. And they have a fair shot at the Grand Slam next week at the home of rugby.