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Posts Tagged ‘ Italian Rugby ’

Six Nations-Ireland Still Lead The Charge, But With New Contenders

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All of a sudden, the competition is back on. After round three of the Six Nations, four teams now stand a realistic shot at the title. The Slam is gone, and only England remain contenders for the Triple Crown, but how long has it been since a loss for Ireland at the half way point wasn’t the death of their chances?

It barely felt like a loss, even post match Joe Schmidt and Paul O’Connell could have been exceptionally more downbeat than they were. Ireland’s more than comfortable points difference means that though the Slam is gone they’re still hot favourites for the trophy. They lost some of their composure on Saturday, a notable example being the eighty minute uncharacteristic off day from Sexton, but still it was a game won and lost by the smallest of margins, and England were on fire. Continue reading

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Ireland Set To Power Past England

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Joe Schmidt may have set his stall out at the beginning of this Six Nations Championship as being happy with a top two finish but he and everyone else knows that there is so much more on offer for this Irish team. A win today is very much on the cards for a rejuvenated Ireland team. They have in their ranks the best positional kicker of a rugby ball, they have the better of the two packs and they have experience that money can’t buy. Leaders will be littered around the park in green jerseys. Paul O’Connell, Brian O’Driscoll and the latest leader by example Peter O’Mahony.

Ireland’s maul has been the weapon of choice for their first two games against Scotland and Wales and what a weapon it has proven to be. How England can stop this marching green machine without giving away penalties must be a severe head scratching exercise for their coaches. The simple answer is, they can’t, Irish body positions when they roll forward have been so close to perfection as to say that this maul is unstoppable. Will they get an opportunity to use it? With Devin Toner, O’Connell and O’Mahony in their line out, it’s difficult to see them not getting ample opportunity to break English hearts here. Ireland were slow off the mark against Scotland but impressively they didn’t panic. They bided their time and eventually broke down the opposition to win out comfortably. There was only ever one winner from the kick off against Wales. The better structure of the Irish game, the better decision making and the continued frustrating of the Welsh by pinning them back in their own half, time and time again reaped dividends. Continue reading

Six Nations 2014 – Do Or Die For Gatland

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As well as the much anticipated meeting of Ireland and England, there are of course two other imminently watchable Six Nations clashes this weekend. For Italy and Scotland, keeping off the bottom is the aim of the game. For Wales and France however, this is the weekend one will see their championship hopes effectively disappear.
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Irish Rugby: One Direction,Right Direction

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It was a pleasure to be at the Aviva Stadium last Saturday to witness Ireland versus Wales. A major banana skin lay in wait for Joe Schmidt’s rejuvenated side but they stepped over it and did it with some style. There were some huge performances all over the park from the Irish team but as an overall package, they left Wales frustrated and confused. Tactically, Schmidt again got it right. The Welsh were left with no room to run, their big ball carrying backs never got up speed when accepting a pass, they were met with a line of green, each and every time they attempted to make progress. Their frustration eventually boiled over after Paddy Jackson walked through for a late try. The Irish fly-half was followed to the ground and struck with an elbow into his face as he landed, momentum, no, malicious, yes. The follow up handbags and pushing only confirmed the frustration that the Welsh were feeling. If they came to Dublin to fight, they left it too late.

Outplayed and out thought by an Irish side not willing to give any ground, the Welsh must go back to the drawing board and hope that England can stop Irish momentum in two weeks time. If one moment of the early exchanges epitomises the Irish effort that was on display, it was a huge hit on Brian O’Driscoll by Welsh centre Scott Williams, the big screen replay is not one that went down well with the home crowd, as late as a bride at her wedding. The wind was obviously knocked out of the former Irish captain and he received treatment as play continued. The crowd erupted when he got back to his feet, he was shook but glanced forward and offered a wry smile to his assailant. Williams was replaced moments later, a shoulder injury the result of his exchange with O’Driscoll, you don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Continue reading

Six Nations 2014 – Irish Win Sets Up Twickenham Thriller

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I’ve written this article before. Last year Ireland emphatically beat Wales to set up what everyone, myself included, called a title decider against England. And of course it went all kinds of wrong from that day on. But this is different, notably in the fact that Ireland had this game put away after thirty minutes, and already the nation was looking towards Twickenham.

13 nil is by no means a standard match winning score in a Six Nations fixture, but by the thirtieth minute Ireland had stolen three line outs, turned over at least three rucks, crossed the gain line at least four times in attack and smashed Wales back two metres in defence at least twice. Chris Henry’s try coming off the now regimental Irish maul just sent the dagger home and though Wales were still in it from a points perspective, there was little could be done to salvage the game. Continue reading

Six Nations : Ireland Seek To Banish Welsh Blues

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The Six Nations Championship continues this weekend and Grand Slam hopes are on the line for the three winning teams from last week. If France and England was the pick of the clashes last week, well then undoubtedly, the meeting of Ireland and Wales holds top spot this week. In a year that looks to be very open, even last weekend’s losing sides will feel that the Championship is still up for grabs. England in particular will be looking to get their chariot back on track and will be looking for a big performance against the Scots. The first game of the weekend will see the meeting of Slam hopefuls Ireland and Wales. Continue reading

Six Nations – Grand Slam Candidates Keep Cards Close To Chest

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In a year where four wins may suffice to claim the Six Nations Championship, the three winning sides from last weekend kept their cards very close to their chests. A not too convincing performance from the defending champions in Cardiff saw them limp over the line against Italy. The Italians were up for it from the start but didn’t get the luck that an underdog requires to put it up to the favourites. Wales took advantage of early Italian mistakes and nervousness. Mistakes that the Italians would really regret at the final whistle. Warren Gatland will be delighted that his side managed to take care of the Azzuri without really clicking into third or fourth gear. The second half of that match was all about Italy, two break away tries saw them get to within five points of the hosts at one stage and the whiff of an upset was there momentarily. Wales finally quashed the Italian ambition with yet another Leigh Halfpenny penalty. A two score game for the last few minutes gave the Welsh a cushion as defeat became an impossibility. Not getting out of second gear may have kept future opposition in the dark somewhat as to the what Wales can really offer but this may yet prove to be a double edged sword that they may well regret.

If this year’s championship proves to be as close as it promises then score difference may well be the deciding factor after the final round of games. Only beating Italy by eight points at home could come back to haunt the Welsh yet. The Italians will feel that they had a real chance here. An impressive game from centre Michele Campagnaro which saw him cross the Welsh line twice in the second half is but one of the positives they can take away from this performance. They have the look of a team that will upset one of the Championship hopefuls between now and the finish. Wales know that their first big test is against Ireland this weekend and the one way to make sure that score difference doesn’t come into it, is to win all your games. Continue reading

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