Thursday, February 12, 2015

Eye spy - French tryless triumph

 
 
Here's the latest report from our secret agent who has been keeping tabs on upcoming opposition for both Leinster & Ireland throughout the season...
 
 
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TARGET - France

WHO, WHEN, WHERE - They beat Scotland 15-8 in their Six Nations opener in Paris last Saturday evening

OFFENCE - Curiously not as bad as their failure to score a try v Scotland in Paris suggests. Moved the ball upfield well, just couldn't take it that extra phase or two before the solid D would thwart them. Ireland will need to be at the top of their game without the ball, particularly Henshaw & Payne.

DEFENCE - Again, the stats are misleading - though it's hardly surprising that the French appear enigmatic! Scotland only managed 8 points, but I wonder had they Seymour for a full 80 minutes and Maitland fit would they have taken more advantage of the chances they had, French tackling wasn't awful by any means but the scrambling was poor on the one try the Scots did manage.

SCRUMS - Front row struggled to get on the right side of the ref and they'll need rhe addition of Eddy Ben Arous to fix that against Ireland.

LINEOUTS - Last two on own throw but had 18 overall so had a decent handle on the set piece. Spread the throws evenly among the locks.

BREAKDOWN - Forced a couple of turnovers in midfield courtesy of Dusautoir and Bastareaud but never got the domination you'd expect from them at home.

DISCIPLINE - Apart from the scrum no-nos the French showed good discipline shipping just the 8 pens. Could definitely do with more of the same in Dublin.

INDIVIDUALS -

Lopez- Hasn't won me over as the best 10 France have to offer yet, but was hardly a disaster despite the whole "no tries" thing.

Bastareaud - Getting close to being the complete package at 13, breaking gainlines and well able to dig in and jackle when required as well.

Kockott - We all know what he has been able to do at Castres but he'll face a real test in Dublin against Murray and Sexton. Still finding his way at this level on the evidence here.

Spedding, Huget, Thomas - A powerful back three, Ireland's tactical kicking will need to be spot on. Huget came closest to crossing the line and he strikes me as the type of personality who will relish playing the "bad guy" role in Dublin.

Le Roux - Top tackler on the day with 17

Fofana - very, very quiet here but only needs half a chance to do damage

VERDICT - It may be a worn out cliché that "you never know which France will show up" but it's one that has been earned over the years. If Ireland can play with the kind of accuracy that Joe Schmidt demands we should have enough but as has been the case in recent years in this fixture it will take an 80-minute effort.
 
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NEXT WEEK - We'll assess Zebre who play Glasgow ahead of their visit to the RDS next Friday.
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