Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Fall from Grace

The old story from Paris eh. You never give a sucker an even break. France were far from suckers and we gave them numerous breaks with our mistakes and poor decision making. And another thing, this French team were hugely well motivated and determined to show who was cock of the walk. This was exemplified by Parra - an annoyingly cocky and confident scrum half in the Matt Dawson mould. As a team they showed more hunger and intensity - a decisive ingredient in rugby. We lost despite dominating possession especially through the lineout. The French defence had plenty to do with this but we showed a lack of tactical nous by not varying our game more. Our backs, apart from D'Arcy's break, looked lumpen and one-paced. Their backs were faster and more varied in their attacking gambits. I felt that the French would have won anyway but the momentum turned after Flannery's foul. Instead of going to 3-3 we found ourselves 10-3 down shortly afterwards and never recovered. Healy's sending off further weakened a crumbling scrum. Kidney didn't help with his bench selection. He picked two out halves (Sexton and Paddy Wallace) and no wings. This meant that when Kearney went off 2 other players had to change position - Earls to full back and D'Arcy to the wing. If he had Trimble or Horgan on the bench we would have had better cover. And Paddy Wallace showed yet again that he's a game lad and a sound club player but is out of his depth in international rugby. Ferris and Heaslip were the only two Irish players to emerge with reputations unsullied.

Changes? Sexton for O'Gara certainly. Put Earls at full back for the injured Kearney and bring back Horgan on the wing (or maybe Trimble). Who knows what to do with the front row. Maybe Healy, Best and Court. Or maybe Horan, Best and Hayes. Neither one if going to trouble England. Where have you gone Tony Buckley, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you.