It was a scorcher of a weekend here in Dublin, with Father’s Day as an added bonus, so how on earth could I possibly find fault with another comfortable win for this Lion-less Irish squad?
Plus with Warren's Wanderers playing Saturday and Tuesday and the “Wolfpuppies” wrapping up their World Under 20s campaign in impressive style on Sunday, there’s a lot of harping to be done so what say I keep this writeup simple and focus on describing the seven tries?
- EARLS (1) - This sums up the tour so far. Pack makes mulch of the opposition scrum’s put in, Jack Conan takes the loose ball and surges up the sideline, Keith Earls is in support to apply the finish. Those two players have been the leading lights over the past two weeks for me. The Munster man has played his way to “undroppability” while Conan would have to give way for the likes of Stander & Heaslip for the number 8 jersey though any dip in form for either and he has to be in the frame the way he’s playing.
- LEAVY (1) - Concerted pressure in the Japan 22 led to their prop being sinbinned. On the lineout following the penalty we use the maul as a decoy, with Quinn Roux taking, laying off to Toner who in turn ships it to Leavy on a wrapping run to get over the line with Healy alongside him. I’m happy to see we’re adding moves like this to our locker.
- LEAVY (2) - Cian Healy got in some sterling work in the trenches and he won a penalty in midfield. Off the lineout Toner bats it down to Luke McGrath who has Earls steaming through once more. Not for the first time on this tour it took a wonderful pass from the Munster man to find his support which was Dan Leavy again who nabbed his second of this sin bin spell.
- CONAN (1) - We were barely settled from the last try when Niall Scannell makes a strong run at midfield before it gets shipped out wide to the tramlines where we had some stacked numbers. Once again it’s that man Keith Earls setting the table with a surge up the line before a perfectly timed layoff to Conan who bags a well deserved test try for himself.
- CONAN (2) - To be fair to the “Brave Blossoms” their D wasn’t easy to break down with 15 men on the park. Eventually it was Healy again making a nuisance of himself, this time wresting the ball loose with his boot - if fell perfectly for Conan to pick up and saunter home.
- RINGROSE - Twenty minutes elapsed before this try, including ten with Conway off the park for a yellow (on that note, I thought the ref was rather lenient on Ireland overall if anything). Ringrose seemed to get a stringer in a tackle moments before his score, but after strong running & offloading up the middle from the likes of Roux, Kilcoyne and “newbie” Treadwell, a long looping pass from O’Halloran fell perfectly for the Leinster centre who cleverly stutter-stepped his would-be tackler to get over the line, though he was taken off before play resumed.
- EARLS (2) - Perfect symmetry with the Man of the Tour getting the last try as well as the first, though in different fashion. Conway made the first run up the middle and when it came to Dave Kilcoyne, as a former loose head myself I was willing him to make it all the way to the line but it wasn’t to be. He did have excellent support with receiving and clearing out and eventually it was Earls ducking low and charging over the line.
The home side were disappointing overall as the scoreline suggests...there was the odd backline move and defensive stand that impressed but they were very odd. We did let them in for a few tries in the final quarter to give their side of the scoreboard some respectability but I’ll leave it to Joe to analyse and berate.
When it comes to individual displays I have already highlighted Earls and Conan and otherwise it has been more about how the team plays together that has stood out. Rory Scannell has done well with his opportunity to provide an option for a 10/12. If I had to pick someone out for criticism, I did notice Quinn Roux involved in the odd SNAFU over the two matches, but then again he also clicked well with the group at other times so that may be harsh.
Overall this has been a good couple of run outs for this touring squad and the results to date have given them a definite target for the final test next Saturday - go out and make it three fifties out of three if you can. JLP