Posts Tagged ‘ Keith Earls ’

Heineken Cup – Munster Brilliance Keeps Irish Interest Alive


Well, that was emotional. Be it the dream of another fairytale for Brian O’Driscoll, the anger and passion that followed Jared Payne’s red card, or the sheer and utter dissection Munster undertook, that was yet another Heineken Cup knock out round that simply had it all. It was yet another reason why the dissolving of this competition next year is little short of a travesty, though at least the new tournament looks set to more closely resemble this one than it could have. Continue reading

Heineken Cup: Clean Sweep For Irish Provinces


Toulouse 14 – 16 Connacht

Toulouse started the game at a frantic pace and seemed certain of scoring an early try. However this never materialised and it was Connacht who took the lead courtesy of a penalty and a drop goal by Dan Parks to give them a six point cushion approaching half time. However Toulouse would have a big say before the break as Jean-Pascal Barraque gave Toulouse an unlikely one point lead with a brilliant try. Continue reading

Heineken Cup Preview: Munster Face Crucial Test Against Perpignan


Heineken Cup Preview

Munster v Perpignan

Munster face a tough game against Perpignan in what is the crucial tie in terms of progression in the Heineken cup. Perpignan will pose a serious threat to Munster, but Munster will be expected to grind out a result in Thomond Park this weekend. Ian Keatley has impressed so far for Munster and has shown a lot of creativity in how he performs. Munster will need a good start to this game to settle their nerve and they have the try scoring ability to do so with players like Simon Zebo and Keith Earls. Once Munster create a solid lead it will be very hard for Perpignan to claw their way back into the game.   Continue reading

Three Uncapped Players In Ireland Squad For Guinness Series

The Ireland coaching staff have announced a squad of 34 players for the forthcoming GUINNESS Series against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in November.

The make-up of the squad is consistent with recent years. The sole exile included is British & Irish Lions outhalf Jonathan Sexton.

There are three uncapped players included in the squad – David Kearney, who was on the bench for Ireland back in 2012, is included alongside Jack McGrath and James Coughlan. Continue reading

Rabo : Munster And Ulster Prevail As Connacht Fall To Defeat

In the picture:Marco Filippucci

Rabo Direct Pro 12

Munster 19 – 15 Leinster

A Keith Earls try was the crucial score that separated the sides in Thomond Park on Saturday night.

Leinster started better with two early penalties converted by Ian Madigan to give them a six point lead early in the first half. Munster began piling on the pressure shortly after and got their first score from the boot of Ian Keatley. Madigan interfered with play after some good surging play from Munster and he was sin binned for the remainder of the half. A brilliant cross field kick by Keatley found Earls who side-stepped the defender to give Munster a well deserved lead, with Keatley following up with the conversion. Fergus McFadden converted a penalty just before half time in the absence of Madigan to leave them trailing, Munster 10-9 Leinster. Continue reading

Rabo Round Up : Ulster Prevail As Munster And Leinster Lose


Rabo Direct Pro 12

Ulster 18-7 Connacht 

Dan Parks was the key player for Connacht with the former Scottish international ensuring a great start by scoring a try. However, this was to be Connacht’s only score of the game as Ulster began to express their dominance in the game. Ulster’s Michael Allen finished off a move which was set up by Paddy Jackson to bring the gap to two points at the break. Connacht led at the break by 7 points to 5. The second half was all about Ulster as Jackson converted his first penalty in the game, to give Ulster a well deserved lead.  Jackson put Connacht to the sword for the remainder of the half when he scored and converted a try before sending a penalty between the posts to secure an 18-7 win for Ulster. Continue reading

Ireland Fall To Superior All Blacks

Remember the day Ireland travelled to New Zealand and lost 23-10? It was this morning. Now I know the scoreboard read 42-10, but the point I would like to make is that within the realm of actual rugby, Ireland only truly conceded 23 points to the superior side. After Savea’s second try, the entire second half and every All Black score that arose from it were the softest of scores ever seen against an Irish side. When two of them, the final two of the game, are caused outright by the Irish defence completely falling asleep on the pitch, major questions need to be asked. Obviously, my suggestion is not that the All Blacks didn’t perform majestically as per usual, nor is it that Ireland were cheated out of something. The point here is that Ireland started well, held off the first try we all knew was coming for an admirable amount of time comparatively speaking, and the set piece was for the most part reassuringly solid. But once more, the hype worked. The look of dejection on McFadden’s face after scoring a very well taken try sums it all up. Sure, it was a look that related to the progress of the match at that point. But it also related to how this team doesn’t actually seem to believe that they can do this. There comes a point in nearly every game against the All Blacks that the Irish players start to look like scared kids on the verge of tears, why? France on their day bring a better attack than the Kiwis. The Argentinian and Italian defences are right up there in brutality stakes. Why can’t Ireland just lobotomise themselves and see the reality of it all, this is just another rugby team that history has shown for any number of teams, can be beaten.

So what was the good news from Eden Park? Well as mentioned first of all, the set piece was solid, most notably the scrum which, apart from Fitzpatrick’s first, never really even looked like it would creak whilst Ireland were still actually playing anyway. The problem is that Ireland don’t seem to have any idea of what to do after the scrum, most of the time the ball gets a Murray box-kick or one or two flat passes into a ruck. It’s nearly as though Ireland just want to get the scrum out of the way so as to return to this run/ruck game. Which, in one sense, is understandable because Ireland’s work at the breakdown was immense. Stand up and be counted Sean O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip, their work rate in the game probably helped stop the score hit the half century. O’Brien in particular needs huge praise here as most seem to think he has started to decline due to him not making those spectacular bursts he debuted with. He now has been honing his skills in the fabled “unseen work” and for those that can see it, he is doing it incredibly well and played his opposite number, the king himself Richie McCaw, off the pitch. Between the breakdown and the set piece, you might wonder what else Ireland needed and why did they perform so badly overall?

Well, that’s the bad news from Eden unfortunately. First thing to clear up is the backline. There cannot be too harsh a judgement thrown just yet, but it is safe to say that the backline underperformed. That being said, we had Earls playing out of position, again, so too McFadden and then there was Zebo debuting. All three had good moments and an overall good individual game, but need to work more on how they link up with their partners. The worse news from the game however, was the selection. Yes, it was great to see Kidney finally cop on a little and everyone, myself included, seemed somewhat onside with his decision to blood the players he did. But the eternal thorn still remained: why would you not play a half back combination that has won back to back Heineken Cups? Why keep moving Earls around the pitch when there are much more valid centre options in Cave and McFadden available? Before the game, the selection served as an “ok, this is odd, but we’ll see” type of situation. After the game however, it was a terrible mistake. The worrying thing now is that Kidney may regress in an “I told you so” fashion. It is a worry that next week we may see ROG start, as an experiment Declan will say, and no doubt Reddan would start with him of course. O’Callaghan may come back in too. One welcome return would be that of Trimble, but it is not likely to happen. His experience could be crucial.

But what are we talking about, Ireland can only win the first test, right? Well, this one is interesting this time around. Obviously the team will tell you that every match is winnable to them, but traditionally most believe that the earlier in their season and the rustier they are, the better the chance of beating the All Blacks. But this tour could prove different. For starters, there is the aforementioned fact that all Ireland need to do is cop on somewhat and stay alert, something easily worked on, and then when you think that competitively today was only two tries to one, Ireland could stand a chance with the right team and the right attitude. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt for Kidney to lock up the tackle bags for a few hours and draft in someone for some psych and motivation talks. Based on the moments where they did look good today, this Irish team with a few adjustments could beat New Zealand. It is possible. The problem is, that they don’t seem to genuinely believe it.