Monday, February 28, 2022

IRELAND-57 ITALY-6

A QUARE ONE


Just. Get. Those. Tackles. Lower.

Of COURSE we must harp on the quirky Law which meant the Italians had to cut an extra player. And of COURSE we must harp on the difficulties Ireland had in making hay while the rugby gods had the sun shining on us brighter than would have ever imagined.

But please, PLEASE can we get one thing perfectly clear before we discuss any of that.

"Player safety" has been said so often in recent years that it may be in danger of getting filed along with other well-worn rugby references and phrases like "Ireland get Italian job done" and "Van Der Flier seems to have worked on his carrying". But this is one that we cannot afford to become redundant.

Whatever we might think of the severity of these sanctions, they are there for a reason, and that reason is NOT to ruin our Sunday afternoon. Just. Get. Those. Tackles. Lower. If you ignore that, you put yourself in a situation where your team could be badly affected. And if the players at senior level start getting that message, it has to filter down to the children playing the sport making the game safer for everyone.

And if you think that's me "virtue signalling" or anything like that, well, I guess I really don't care. There's also the importance of consistency from officials and unfortunately there were two examples in this match that were treated differently.

OK, I think I've made my point; time to start looking at the 80 minutes. Obviously 57-6 was a final scoreline most Irish fans would have been more than happy with at kickoff time, and it sailed over the 40-point bar set by bookies and previewing bloggers alike.

But much of the discussion stems from the fact that when Andrew Porter's knock on shortly after the sending off of Epalahame Faiva forced referee Nika Amashukel to enforce the substitution Law, once you got past all the confusion the reality of the match was that Ireland was to have three full quarters of test rugby with two extra players against a team we were expecting to beat handsomely.

And later when the clock was heading towards 70 minutes, our lead had "only" been stretched to 30 so although the three late tries definitely helped, there were still a lot of questions in our minds which needed answers so the general sense of disappointment is understandable.

0-20

Rewatching the opening 5 minutes takes me back to a simpler time when test rugby was 15 v 15 and only those who had never watched a match before couldn't understand what was going on.

Well I say that, but even in that short spell we had to go to our bench as Garry Ringrose needed treatment for a cut which meant James Hume had to be introduced, but not surprisingly it didn't stop us from taking full advantage of our first big opportunity.

Monty Ioane had tried to beat our cordon of tacklers with a grubber through but it went straight into touch giving us a lineout in their half. While our maul inched infield our innovative scrum half Jamison Gibson-Park chose to take the ball up the blind side allowing Mack Hansen to get us on the front foot out wide.

From there it was a case of JGP showing why he has become the presumptive starter in this "Farrellball" squad, moving so quickly he's pretty much moving to the next breakdown before he's finished passing from the last one, and with strong support from his forwards, we worked our way to the 22 where an inside pass by Peter O'Mahony was perfectly times (and disguised) to allow Caelan Doris through a gap.

Next was the relatively easy bit as he has Sheehan and Carbery in support and it went quickly through the hands allowing our out half to defy a last gasp tackle to get it over the line. 5m gone, Ireland up 7-0, just what we needed to settle ourselves into the task, especially our 10 who was badly in need of game time.

So everything going to script so far and things got worse for the Azzurri when their hooker made a flailing attempt to tackle Doris on crash ball, landing awkwardly on his arm meaning he could take no further part, and of course little did we know that this was phase one of all the confusion.

But not unlike the Leinster game on Friday, an early score can make you complacent, or alternatively it can spur the opponents to up their defence, and I reckon the latter happened as our next few attacks struggled to get far beyond halfway. At one point JGP was forced to kick ahead and with Beirne forgetting to get onside before chasing, Padovani had a chance to pull 3 points back from near halfway which he took very well.

It was the Italian backrow that was getting success at the breakdown, with skipper Lamaro as well as no8 Halafihi getting in on the jackling, but when we were trying another time to find a gap, Dan Sheehan brought it into contact when faced by their reserve hooker Faiva.

We have to just ignore all the nonsense (even from Irish fans) that Sheehan was "dipping" into the tackle. If anything it may have only looked like that because rather than go low as you're supposed to, Faiva was actually rising towards his opposite hooker in the challenge and met him on the chin. Fair play to the Georgian referee for looking at it closely, and no matter who sees red I never like to see a gave affected like this, but it was still an easy call.

But of course that wasn't all the ref had to sort out. On the next play after the penalty, Doris got close to the line only for his offload to Porter which meant there had to be a scrum, and with no qualified hooker available, we not only had to go the "uncontested" route, the Italians had to lose another player.

I could waste three paragraphs explaining the reasons for the ruling here, or I could just link you to this excellent Twitter thread by "EK Rugby Analysis" for you to check out yourself in your own time.

The net result was that while Italy had the put in to the scrum, the opening quarter could not have ended worse for them, and though they did manage to clear their lines from the neutered set piece, it only went as far as James Lowe not far outside the 22.

20-HT

Next there was one carry by Doris to set things up but the rest was all Lowe and JGP. The scrum half found his winger with the half inch of space he needed out wide, and when the man was beaten out there it was a simple pass back inside where JGP could canter over the line. Now it was 14-3 and there wouldn't be any arrogance in assuming a "point a minute" average could be achieve by the end.

Much like our early score, it did lead to more resolve from the Italian defence and despite the gap in numbers we still needed to get creative in finding ways around them. For this we chose the kick and with a penalty advantage already at halfway, Ringrose planted a beauty into the corner which was hunted down by Hansen forcing the Italians to bring it over their own line for a 5m scrum.

And even though this was uncontested, the fact it was also 5m from the touchline meant the limited Italian backline was stretched thin right across the pitch, giving us an overlap before the ball was even put in. So the try that followed had more of a training exercise look to it although Lowry on his first Six Nations start still finished well and will remember the moment no matter what the circumstances were.

Things were starting to get scrappy around midfield as the Italians did their best to use their line speed to slow us down and to be fair they weren't doing a bad job of it but when we kept going at them eventually we got it as far as the line which mean O'Mahony had to just fall over to clinch us the bonus point.

Carbery then missed his second conversion of the half and shortly before the whistle blew it was JGP's turn to be caught by the same offside call as Beirne had earlier, allowing Garbisi to knock over an easy three which I wasn't sure gave much consolstion.
40-60

There's a very good reason why I'm not a rugby coach myself, but still it really did look as though Ireland's task after the break was straightforward as my halftime tweet suggests. Yet for as many as ten minutes into the second half we still struggled to get anywhere, often taking the more complex option when it wasn't necessary.

And I also have to raise a question about Carbery.  Obviously he still needs game time, but we can't use that excuse forever and especially given the quick thinking players we had at 9, 11, 14 and 15 on this day, plus the extra space involved, I really do think we needed better production from him overall and the multiple missed placekicks didn't help his cause much either.

Eventually we did make a breakthrough as having worked our way to just 5m from the line after a strong maul at halfway, JGP chucked a high miss pass right at James Lowe and once more all we had to do was fall over for the score.

Then came a substitution that really did seem cruel when you consider the way the Italians' day had gone, we only went and brought on Johnny Sexton. And it has to be said his introuduction made a difference since we came within one point of doubling our total in the final 27 minutes.

His impact was immediate as he helped Henshaw and O'Mahony force a choke tackle on Ioane in their half giving us a strong central position for an attacking scrum. From there it was a "good ol' fashioned wraparound move" which found the gap and a flat-ish pass inside from Sexton in the tackle went to Lowry who thought about offloading but instead took it himself for his second.

60-FT

One thing you have to watch for when your opposition ships an early red card is that your own discipline doesn't give the officials an opportunity to even things up and in the 65th minute after a scrappy Italian lineout their sub Alessandro Fusco gathered up a loose ball and tried to get an attack going.

But he was met by Ryan Baird who didn't try to go low for a challenge any more than Faiva had done. Obviously we're talking about different sized players but the net result was the same, with contact being made to Fusco's chin so why the TMO didn't bring it to the ref's attention I'll never know but play was allowed to continue.

And as if Italy didn't need even more salt rubbed into their gaping wounds, it was Baird who finally broke down another spell of their dogged resistance as he blocked an attempted clearance from that very same Fusco and the ball sat well for the lock forward although it still had to be picked up which he did easily before dotting down for try number seven.

It wasn't just Sexton upping the tempo in the final quarter by the way...Craig Casey had come on for JGP and our speed from breakdown to breakdown didn't miss a beat, which makes me wonder if he should retain the 21 jersey for Twickenham. Eventually a strong series of carries and phases in their 22 forced Bram Steyn to deliberately bat the ball into touch leaving the ref no choice but to reduce their numbers to just 12.

We took the scrum option from the penalty and fair play to Lowry for sending it all the way through the hands when he could have taken it himself instead he let James Lowe get his own second. Sexton popped over a sweet conversion from the touchline with the clock reading 76:31 and the only question left was could we fit another in before the end.

And when yet another strong carry from van der Flier was held up, it left us with just one final chance from the goal line drop out and a one two punch of successive carries from Conan and Sexton got us close before Kieran Treadwell followed up nicely to get it over making the final score a lot more impressive than it could have been.

HARPIN' POINTS

There's no doubt the Italians did well under increasingly impossible conditions but I have seen some Irish fans suggesting that one of them should have been named Player of the Match and to me that sounds absolutely absurd.

It had to be an Irishman and with his try and multiple strong carries van der Flier was a good shout although I might have gone for JGP. Overall it doesn't really matter though and while I understand that we probably expected a bigger margin given the match position at the 20 minute mark, the fact that the situation was so unusual meant allowances have to be made and we can only look ahead.

When it comes to winning the title, well the Scots didn't do us many favours against France but we did push ahead by a 3-score margin in the points difference column so all we can really do is focus on our own remaining matches, both of which are ones we should look for results from.

One final point, it's interesting to hear so much ridicule about the Laws of rugby coming from football fans on the same day a major trophy was decided because a goalkeeper had to take a penalty kick. Sport can be weird sometimes. Just sayin'.

WHAT'S NEXT

Does our failure to flirt with a triple-digit score mean we should expect to have problems in Twickenham in two weeks? Absolutely not. Overall the squad is still in good nick, I presume Farrell will resort to more or less his best 23 where possible for it along with his original formula. One thing is for sure, whatever about our own display, there wasn't a whole lot for us to worry about from England's in Twickenham either.

So onwards we go and for the next couple of weeks I'll be using the podcast to get the opinions of fans from all four provinces on Ireland's Six Nations campaign to date, as well as featuring Leinster's away dates with both Benetton and Ulster in the URC. Do stay tuned. JLP


HARPIN' ON RUGBY MATCH WRITEUPS
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Online comments after Ireland v Italy

A selection of the “keyboard warrior” reactions after the full-time whistle of our featured matches of the weekend.

If you’d like to contribute stay tuned to our Facebook page for our “Feel free to leave your thoughts…” posts which show up around full time after Leinster & Ireland matches.


Noel Hewson Sounds a bit mad but not overwhelmed by Ireland. We lacked the ruthlessness that other teams would have shown. Should have been able to mix up the game plan to suit the situation by did not seem able to do so. Way too many penalties conceded against 13 players. Plenty to work on before England.

Gerald Williamson When 15 play against 13 the game can become unstructured. You cannot expect a free flowing game .A bonus pt win was not unexpected.


Conor Cronin If you play 13 men and can't create space you have an issue that needs serious examination.

The Italians deserve serious credit for forcing our mistakes and making us resource the ruck as heavily as we did. But we should've been running them ragged, not the other way round.

Video session will be a rough watch for some, but I think that Lowry Lowe and Hansen was a worthwhile experiment, and Casey should keep his shirt

James Griffin Points differential could yet be important. Also, if the sloppiness serves as a bit of a wake up call, then that’s a good thing given our next game. The red card not only deprived them of two players but also denied us a set piece and set plays off same. Sexton again showed why he’s the boss. Italy also deserve some credit for sticking at it.


Greg Kelly Carbery is not good enough. Getting hooked after 53mins doesn't look good for him. Carty now needs to be looked at. Keenan wont be worried about Lowry I'd imagine. Hume showed nothing. Baird was the only 2nd string starter that played relatively well. Bealham actually did fairly well too.

Colin McConaghie (reply to Greg Kelly) what a strange comment about Lowry. It’s not about Keenan being worried by him it’s about Ireland building a squad of players. Scores two tries on debut and doesn’t put a foot wrong.


Brian Corr Great conditions for a good fast game, ruined by many handling errors.

A hard watch due to stop start nature and Italy doing everything in their power to slow it down. Scrums and lineouts took an eternity and how many times did the ref say no more huddles. How can an uncontested scrum still take take an eternity?

I think the Ireland players were uncomfortable with all the time they had on the ball individually and second guessed their decisions. On the other hand when space opened and they charged through the gaps they left their team mates behind and got turned over, Italy were excellent at swarming over the break through players, how many turnovers did they get? Were some of them influenced by ref and their 13 man situation?

I feel the new coming players didn’t really get the opportunity to say they’re better or play good enough to be included in the bigger test matches.

It’s amazing having achieved everything we wanted before kickoff, pa 51 point margin win with a bonus point and 9 tries in total that it still feels like two hours of my life I’ll never get back.

Loved the Baird try, always cheers me up to see him go on a gallop with the ball, even if this was a chase down and beautiful pick up to score, was getting worried he was getting stuck in the trenches.
You would have to credit Italy with some excellent turnovers.

Reenen Stenekamp Always a pleasure seeing POM score a try


Alan Murphy Poor leadership. Why call short line outs when the opposition are down to 13 men? Commit them to the set play. One other gripe, in the first half the first receivers were way too deep. At least our points difference now looks good when you consider both England and France have already played Italy.

John Willie Conroy I thought Ireland were terribly taking into account the quality of opposition and then the advantage they had with Italy down to 13. Shocking poor performance


Keith Mongan Thought it was a poor day for Joey... Just seemed to be happy to move the ball on rather than taking it to the gain line. Still a massive drop in level if Johnny's not on the field on today's evidence. Lots of talk about Lowry's best position being at 10 but unlikely to get a run for Ulster in that position before RWC. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‰

John Peeters Carbery was very poor


Gav Heg We should have put a lot more on them. Didn't think they're red was a red, yellow at best. Red should only be for malice.

Can we all just take a moment and appreciate Josh Van Der flyer? The guy just ups it everytime, just majestic.

Overall I think Irish rugby is in a good place. We are developing depth nicely.

Moment of the match for me was Lowry passing to lowe when he could easily have had a debut hat trick. This just shows the squad spirit and how they play for eachother. Or that they're just scared shitless of Farrell!

Peter Tracey (reply to Gav Heg) I think we’re short a tight head though. Nothing against Bealham but you see what the French have to come on. We were depending on Porter and Furlong for 70 mins in that game. Moore and O’Toole seem to be injured and are not getting game time in the Irish squad. Just my own opinion. You know far more about the sport then I. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป


Ronan McManus The biggest question is why Ireland panicked when Italy went down to 13.

We pushed everything just that step to far with the numerical advantage, and got very sloppy.

The law that brought Italy to 13 should probably involve some measure of referee discretion in future.
Still, a 51 point victory is a 51 point victory.

Mel Cawley (reply to Ronan McManus) referee discretion would have helped definitely


Donal O'Brien (reply to Ronan McManus & Mel Cawley) Didn't the referee use his discretion when the Italian captain told him they could contest the scrum (presumably with three props), but the ref refused to consider it? I think the fact that they are laws rather than rules means that the ref should have a bit more discretion than otherwise.

Imelda Reidy Thought the red card was harsh. Sheehan was definitely dipping. Kudos to the Italians for making it difficult. Very fractured game, no flow to it. Ireland made hard work of the 2 man advantage. Poor handling and decision making at times. 5 points and the rest is best forgotten.


Odran John OBrien Ireland still looking for a replacement for Sexton

Pamela Roantree (reply to Odran John OBrien) the search continues

HARPIN TWEET

Many thanks to all who offered opinions.

Look out Monday for our match writeup JLP

Front Five - 28.02.22

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

ICYMI click here for our 
Leinster v Lions writeup


For those who came along in search of entertainment, the afternoon had lost its attraction. 


Brendan Fanning - Irish Independent

...considering they were down two men for much of the game, and even reduced to 12 for the final ten minutes, the visitors never let up in defence.


SixNationsRugby.com

Third-placed Terenure College are now just a point behind Lansdowne, following an impressive 36-15 bonus point dismissal of Dublin University.


Dave Mervyn - The42.ie

The lobby group Progressive Rugby...who are campaigning for improvements in player welfare, have sent an open letter to World Rugby...


Andy Bull - The Guardian

Schmidt’s love of strike plays during his time with Ireland...would clearly be an asset as NZ Rugby tries to re-establish its flagship team to the No 1 ranking in the world.


Paul Cully - Stuff.co.nz

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Leinster-21 Lions-13

THAT TACKLE


"Real life" doesn't always give me time to do the kind of research I'd prefer ahead of matches like this, but I did make sure to find the time to watch the Lions' last URC match against the Stormers two weekends ago.

The first thing I wrote in my notes was the commentator mentioning that while the Johannesburg-based side may not have been having ideal results of late, the best feature of their overall game was definitely their scrum.

Here's the thing...what I saw from the 80 minutes didn't really leave me with that impression, so when it came to writing my preview for this match, I left it out. They won a few penalties at the set piece yes, and against a front row with the likes of Kitschoff I might add, but it was nowhere near enough to suggest it was actually a real threat, at least not to me. Needless to say they showed us that it was at the RDS on Friday.

One other thing I did notice was that their winger Stean Pienaar likes to have a cut when given half a chance, so he DID get a mention and what's more, when he finally found a few inches of space out wide having picked up a loose ball in the 60th minute, it looked to all intents and purposes like he was going to finally get his side's first try of the night.

But the thing is, nobody had consulted Tommy O'Brien about all of this. And before I heap the deserved praise on him for this, I must point out the prevailing culture that seems to be at Leinster at the moment, a very defense-orientated one which may not be fully appreciated by all fans, but most certainly is by this blogger.

We may have come out of this three-match home series with some grumbling about cohesion and such, but still it has to be said that for a makeshift squad to be so organised over 240 minutes to limit each of their opponents to just one try in the final quarter each time, the overall systems have to be in pretty good nick.

And when your province is in that kind of a zone, you'll be extra motivated to hunt down an opponent even when it looks like your match is won anyway. But that's enough about the general state of Leinster's defence - like I said, this was mostly about Tommy.

It was a certain try. It just was. And even if Pienaar was caught, that wasn't going to be enough - he had to be hit just right so he couldn't power through and touch the ball down anyway as the best wingers are wont to do. And boy did he hit the guy just right, it was one the best try-saving tackles the RDS has seen.

Obviously he did more than that to earn the Player of the Match award, but the fact that his tackle was very much the highlight of the night despite the four tries in total speaks volumes. But since this is meant to be a match writeup, I really should start harping on what happened the rest of the time.

0-20

There were milestones aplenty on this night - it was the first time the Emirates Lions had played in D4, and also Leinster were led out by Rhys Ruddock who was racking up his 200th appearance for the province.

We were just about two minutes into the proceedings when our guests gave us the first taste of their scrummaging prowess. I suppose having been a prop may self back (way back) in the day I should stick up for the Front Row Union but I have to say these were all well-coordinated 8-man heaves with the power from the engine room very clear to see and we struggled to counter throughout.

The decision was made to go for the posts and while the angle was a bit tricky, the attempt by their 10 Hendrikse was poor and he also missed another a couple of minutes later. Obviously that doesn't mean they "should have been 6-0 up" as that's not how rugby works, but it would certainly have settled them nicely had one gone over.

On their next possession however, the Leinster defence started to do their thing, forcing another error from the boot of Hendrikse as his attempted high kick was caught in the wind and drifted into touch on the full, giving Leinster our first attacking chance with a lineout well in opposition territory.

First our 9, 10 and 12 combined well but it was Tommy O'Brien who made the most space by offloading around his tackler to Osborne and just like that we had a 3 on 1 out wide with Jimmy O'Brien sending it to Dave Kearney who beat the last man for a fine opening score, with Ross Byrne adding a sweet conversion for good measure.

Normally I'd have led off the writeup with a description of a try like that, but the way the rest of the match went I reckon the O'Brien tackle was more memorable. Because as memorable a score as that was, our mission was to go for a win with at least four and for the remainder of the half, we were unable to add to our side of the question.

As it turned out the only other score of this quarter was Hendrikse finally getting a penalty over the bar after some scrappy play in midfield led to a Leinster player getting isolated offering a much easier kick position. They might have even had more if openside Ruan Venter had held on to an interception after we tried a cheeky lineout but it was knocked on.

20-HT

The Lions also won the first scrum of the second quarter and now they were putting it into our 22, only for our defense to show itself to be strong once again. Our maul stood strong and the big boot of Jamie Osborne is handy enough for clearing long.

For the remainder of the half it was pretty much an ugly slog at midfield with neither team able to make much headway. Tommy O'Brien managed one decent moment when he chased down his own kick ahead into their 22 but the visitors won a penalty and were able to clear.

A better chance came down the other end when the nippy Lions 9 Morne van den Berg got deep into our 22 only to be caught by our scrambling defenders and eventually what a sight it was for Dan Leavy to be jackling us out of a tough spot once more.

We came close a couple more times before the break, first we were pressuring the line until Nick McCarthy tried a risky pass that was picked off, and also right at the death when Leavy looked to have gotten it over only for it to be judged held up. In the end the only other score was another Hendrickse penalty and I doubt there were many in the RDS who thought the halftime score would be so close.
40-60

It looked like we weren't going to get that much needed strong start when the Lions again won a penalty from the first scrum of the half, but we managed to escape really well and once down the other end we were able to start turning the screw.

No matter how kickable our first penalty was outside the 22 it was always being put to the corner and we backed up the confidence with a strong drive by our maul (ironic given how the scrums were going) and with a couple of penalty advantages in the back pocket it was eventually Michael Ala'alatoa getting it over the line.

And it wasn't long before we were back down there again as Dave Kearney tidied up some broken play by jinking his way into the Lions half before Tommy O'Brien took it even further on into their 22. Maybe there was a hint of a case that the penalty shipped by the Lions during this front foot ball might have been a card but to be fair we had shipped a good few penalties so were lucky not to have seen the naughty step ourselves.

Instead we were more than happy to put it back to the corner where Devin Toner snatched the lineout, it was a straight forward set up and who else but Scott Penny, sporting the 23 jersey no less, to power over the line for the gagillionth time.

So...after all the worrying about where the second try was coming from, now we suddenly had three in the bank and just under half an hour to go on the clock. It seemed all we needed was for the complacency we showed in the first half didn't creep back in to keep us from getting this job done.

Well apart from Sean Cronin stepping past a winger, the sight of which the RDS crowd will never grow tired, the only other highlight of this portion was that Tommy O'Brien wonder tackle.

60-FT

As it turned out, while those two quick tries didn't spur us on to get the bonus point, they did play a large part in helping us nail down the win as with the margin at 15 the Lions had to push for scores and we definitely caught a break when referee Craig Evans gave us a free kick at a scrum 5m from our line in the 63rd minute allowing Osborne to clear (we sure as hell weren't going for another scrum!)

To say the rest of the match kind of fizzled out would be something of an understatement, but once feature of the final twenty minutes was a barging run by Joe McCarthy, who has done really well with his opportunities in this part of the season and hopefully will be rewarded with more.

But time after time we went back to being unable to break down the visiting defence and while I don't want to take too much away from the Lions, I'm writing this after having watched Ireland's match against Italy (writeup to come on Monday btw) and although that match was far from conventional, I couldn't help notice what a difference Jamison Gibson-Park's quick ball can make to an offence and it wasn't there for us on Friday.

Finally as the clock was ticking down the Lions got just reward for their scrum pressure. Having spent most of the final 5 minutes in our 22, our resolute defence from our bench was doing well to keep them out only because it forced a knock on, we had to weather one more scrum before the end.

And the frustrating thing was, we couldn't even cope on our own put in and this was no exception as the pressure forced the ball free, their 9 picked it up and easily slipped their skipper Jaco Kriel through for a try which made the final scoreline reflect the match a lot better it has to be said.

HARPIN' POINTS

Let's face it - any club should be delighted to be 4 points clear at the top of the standings after 11 out 18 matches play. And an even better stat is that although half of the league have player fewer times (Cardiff only 7!!!) we still have the best defensive record of the 16 and that has to be the biggest takeaway.

Because maybe a bonus point here and there will be missed but if you can rely on your bench during the Six Nations to put in a strong shift in the last half hour of a match, that has to be a sign that things are set throughout the squad to be strong when you get to the business end of the season.

Also like I have said while the past three outings haven't been classics, there are some strong performances from Tommy, Joe, and the game time has done no harm for the Jamie Osbornes and Max O'Briens either which will help them down the line.

NEXT UP FOR LEINSTER

So it's away from the RDS we must go, on to Treviso in fact where we'll be on another quest for tries. On the podcast during the week I spoke to the author of the Italian Rugby Blog, mostly about Italy but he also gave a few pointers on the Benetton squad while the internationals are away so be sure to check it out.

With more harpin' to be done this weekend I'll leave you now with a selection of the best comments from after the fulltime whistle, many thanks to all who contribute. JLP

*****

Dave Murray Take the 4 points and move on.


Chris McDonnell Good to have Dan back. Really impressed with Joe McCarthy. A few others like Oreily and ruddock were very good but We have 2 9's who are not even AIL standard. A 10 who can't move a back line.
Sloppy mistakes from the likes of dave, josh and dev. ED Byrne wouldn't get a game for bectives 3rds with that performance. Just not good enough from a team with about 14 or 15 internationals in it.


Conor Cronin Lions gave us a better game than either of the Scottish or Welsh teams over the last couple of weeks. They were deserving of their try and might have deserved a BP. Leinster wasted their chance for one throwing an intercept at 1m out.
With that said, from the south stand I reckon the refereeing was poor and hindered Leinsters progress. Particularly the kick that went dead and he said was fair. It's tough to see a game where the officials have so much away, this was one of those. As Dave Murray says, take the win and move on


Brian Corr It’s not often a scrum gets so dominated and the team wins, that’s my first worry, not that they won but that the scrum was so ineffective. Can this be changed is this a coaching thing or are we really so bad without Furlong, Porter, Healy, Kelleher and Sheehan.


Louis Hoffman Great to see South African teams very competitive. Augurs well going forward for the competition


Elaine Cully Tommy O'Brien's tackle, no need to say anything more!! ๐Ÿ™Œ


Front Five - 27.02.22

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

ICYMI click here for our
Ireland v Italy preview


"I'm not so sure there's too many positions up for grabs other than players getting experience and getting in front of Andy Farrell in a matchday scenario."


Jonathan Byrne - Balls.ie

Scotland...were left to rue the five minutes before half-time during which they butchered two golden chances and then allowed France in for their third try.


Graham Bean - The Scotsman

The Irish province were ten points behind with 20 minutes remaining but ill-discipline by their South African opponents proved costly


RTร‰ Rugby

Eve Higgins delivered a player-of-the-match performance and her Ireland colleague Ailsa Hughes snapped up a brace of tries


Dave Mervyn - Irish Independent

The try put England into a 17-0 lead although Wales bounced back soon after


Rugby Onslaught

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D4tress

D4tress
Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019