Saturday, June 14, 2014

#ARGvIRL 2nd test preview

HoR pro logo greenThe date was Friday, April 6, 2012. 

There were two big reasons for rugby fans to flock to the RDS…one was the fact that they were serving booze on Good Friday but also we had the British & Irish Cup semifinal between Leinster A and Munster A.

And one of the best things about attending those matches is that should any of the prospects involved go on to play for Ireland, you can show off that you were there back when their names weren’t really known, especially if you happen to have a blog.

Munster A prevailed that day, 36-29 after extra time in a thriller, and two players in particular stood out, for differing reasons.

On the Leinster side we had Noel Reid, who had an absolute howler of a day at out-half, making error after error allowing the visitors to claw back a 21-9 to force the extra time. 

For Munster there was an enterprising young prop called Dave Kilcoyne, who had several strong carries throughout and deservedly got the winning score.

Their careers took slightly different trajectories since then.  Kilcoyne was fastracked into the Munster & Ireland setup then fell back somewhat as he never really came close to ousting Cian Healy from the number 1 jersey and then he had a similar rise to prominence of Jack McGrath to contend with. 

Still, some good displays in the second half of the season for Munster have earned him a starting position and he takes his place with Rhys Ruddock (who was Leinster A’s captain on that Good Friday) in an Irish pack that is otherwise the one that started the Six Nations decider with France.

Reid’s path to this Second Test in Tucumán was on a much wider curve.  It took a change of position for him to find his feet at the highest level.  Though he has displayed fine form this season, scoring several Pro12 tires and helping Leinster A to their second B&I Cup success, I have to say I’m a bit surprised at his inclusion on this bench, but I wish him all the best nonetheless.

When it comes to developing players towards RWC2015, there’s not a whole lot in this starting lineup to look out for…sure, we have Reid, James Cronin & Herring on the bench but how much will we really learn about them in 20 minutes at the end of a long drawn out season?

There is of course much to examine in our centre pairing, and for this contest Joe has gone for Darren Cave at 12 and Fergus McFadden at 13. It’s a fascinating axis in that the two players are extremely interchangeable in the two positions and this could provide many a headache for the Pumas defence.

I guess there are two things I will be looking for from this Irish lineup…1, a solid 80-minute defensive display that shuts down the considerable threats posed by the Argentine backline after facing them last week, and 2, the ability to turn all the fancy white-board forged moves we used in the first quarter last week into scores so that maybe the result can be put beyond doubt relatively early so we can get some of the prospects out off the bench early.

With the lineup being stronger I can’t justify a conservative prediction like I gave last week so I’m going to put it up to this team…Ireland by 20 should be an achievable goal. JLP

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