Not exactly top marks last weekend, but enough to have high hopes for next, says Keego…
And here we go…
The November series is in full gear and I sit here not quite happy but nowhere near sad. I feel kind of like the wife did at about 3am on our wedding night…… (Joke)
This time last week I was gearing up for a new start. King Joe was going to get our team playing like a unit but they played the first half as if they were eunuchs (Shakespearean turn of phrase).
The defensive line reminded me of my two weeks in mechanical drawing class that being the line was not straight. And the game plan was about as exciting as watching “Dancing in the Jungle on Ice" Location” (or whatever that program is called). It was hands, hands, hands kick! No inventiveness.
The positives were that we got back to tackle when needed and Samoa where kept scoreless. I think I could hear the screams of the coach at half time.
‘I left Leinster for this?!!!’
A mixture of the team relaxing and Samoa tiring out led to a scoreboard that flattered us like 4 double vodkas flatter ugly people. The second half was far better. The line was straight, the tackles where bang, our set piece was immense and the team played far better. I was happy with the second half. Even before our first team subs came on, we were in control and bossing the game.
It isn’t all negative. The pack where immense all day. Even with Samoa missing 112 of their first team players, we owned the scrum. OOOO AAAAHHH Jack McGrath played with zero fear against a much larger opponent in the scrum. Paddy Jackson erased his last nightmare in green and bossed the game. Seanie OB should have a registration plate on his arse he got through so much work, same for captain in waiting Jamie Heaslip.
The Notorious BO’D didn’t have his best game, but a moment of genius got the train rolling in the second half. We had no weak links, Darce got through a bucket load of work whilst not having his best game. He has been singled out unfairly for his performance.
I will take that score line, but not that performance. King Joe said as much after the match. It was great to hear him be as honest as he can be with a camera in front of him. All bodes well for this weekend.
The Wallabies are the next opponents in the series and the teams have just been announced.
We really don’t know the vibe in the Ozzie camp at the moment. They have Genia and Cooper at 9 and 10 along with Folau at 15. Three hugely important players. 2 of which are as consistent as homeland has been this year. If we get the best Genia and Cooper then we will need to be high and tight. No kicking, I think this is why Joe has picked Reddan instead of Murray. Quick ball and minimal box kicks. We are trying to keep the ball away from Folau.
The Wallabies pack, while strong, holds no fear for Ireland. We should be able to at least match them, and aim to put them on their heels. I was rewatching Ferris (I miss aul Steve Ferris smashing people) carrying Genia as if he was his Tesco shopping. We need to be on him like people by the shifting post in Coppers (a friend told me about it). Zero space for their playmakers will quickly bring their confidence down.
For us, we need to keep our set piece as strong as it was last week. We need to not be so easy to read and to keep the ball. I am hoping that we kept a lot back last weekend for the next two games.
As for team selection, Reddan in for Murray and Luke Marshall in for Darcy are the big changes in 5 made by the coach. The usual front liners are back in, Healy, O’Connell and Sexton. This is probably as close to our top choice team as we can get. Marshall deserves a start in the green, Ultimate Rugby (@ultimaterugby) had Luke Fitzgerald at 12 in their first post, I thought I was seeing things…
I expect Ireland to win, as usual if we can get a good 15 minutes in without any disaster, pressure their scrum, maybe win a lineout and the Wallabies will be rattled. We need to keep the ball and do the simple things.
1 score victory.
I will be watching from the couch in HD (Horgan Definition) so I look forward to watching and hearing the green army for the duration!
As usual, @nkeegan on twitter and www.thedailyclothesline.com for more.
Until next week.
Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, former professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.