Ahead of a massive game for Ireland against Wales, here are 4 concerns going into the game.
Ireland are missing some key players going into the game. Furlong being out is massive. Not just for his quality at scrum time, but for his work around the field. He draws defenders in creating space out wide. Ireland are missing other big ball carriers in O’Brien, Van der Flier, and Henderson. That’ll impact on the attack. Henshaw is another big loss. It leaves Ireland with a centre partnership that’s only had one game together. I think Farrell was the correct choice over Ringrose, he’s had more game time, and at least he has played with Aki once. It’s still a concern defensively.
- The referees interpretation of the scrum
Glenn Jackson is the man in the middle today, and is going to play a vital role. Wales would have worked on scrummaging this week with Furlong being out and inexperienced Porter in the front row. That inexperience might sway Jackson into thinking that any problem at the scrum is down to him. Porter only switched to tighthead about a year and a half ago, he’s up against an experienced Rob Evans. If Jackson decides early that Ireland are at fault at scrum time, that will gift Wales a lot of penalties. This is going to be a tight game, if Wales take their chances they’ll win the game.
- Sexton not being 100%
Sexton sat out yesterdays captains run yesterday. He is going to be targeted during the game. If he is not 100% and has to go off early, Ireland are left with Carbery who hasn’t had much game time, particularly at fly-half. If either Sexton or Murray has to go off at any point that is a huge blow. That’s one thing Wales have over Ireland, they distribute responsibility throughout their team better. Ireland have two world class players that control the game. If one of them is completely healthy that is a big concern.
- Wales are more adaptable
As I said, Wales are better at distributing responsibility throughout their whole team then Ireland. They are also more adaptable. Ireland have a rigid game plan. When it works it’s great, but when it doesn’t it’s easy to counter there are no surprises. Wales adapted well against Scotland, they were able to move the ball wide quickly which led to their first try. That’s not to say Schmidts prescriptive nature is necessarily a bad thing, but Gatland is good at coming up with game plans to counter other coaches, and he will know Irelands game plan.
I was on the Friday Night Social on BBC Radio Wales last night talking about the game. You can listen to the interview from 1:14:49 here.
Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport). He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.
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