Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘ Leigh Halfpenny ’

Six Nations 2015 – Battle For The Title

England v Ireland - RBS Six Nations

Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Here we are again for the third consecutive year; Ireland face off against England for what looks to be the deciding game of the tournament (so far, of course). The last two years havn’t gone that well for Ireland, can anything make this year any different?

It is always a foolish notion to consider one single game to be a decider when it isn’t on the final weekend. Regardless of who wins this weekend (or if there’s a draw for that matter) there are still two more games for each team to play. England will go on to face a French side with reason to play a big game as well as the Scots who are a little scary when they’re cohesive. Ireland face the Scots too and a Welsh side who could be seriously smarting if things don’t go their way against France. Wales are nearly more daunting when the championship is not at stake for them. Continue reading

Advertisements

Irish Rugby: One Direction,Right Direction

ireland

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 – Grand Slam Candidates Keep Cards Close To Chest

fickou

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

Six Nations 2014 – More Blind Faith Or A Real Shot For Ireland?

Courtesy of irishrugby.ie

Courtesy of irishrugby.ie

Every year it’s always the same. Our year, things are different, did you see them in the November Series? Yet for the last four years Ireland have brought only one thing to the Six Nations, inconsistency. 2010, we were following up an unbeaten year and finished second, but from there it has been near torture for fans. Multiple implosions in 2011, a lack of force in 2012 and of course the near wooden spoon of 2013, it has been tough being an Irish rugby fan. So then is this faith in the Schmidt era based on solid thought, or is it simply that it just couldn’t get any worse? Continue reading

Six Nations : Ireland Seek Solid Start

sixnations

And so here we are again, the start of another Six Nations campaign. Probably the most open this championship has been in years. Four of the six competing nations will have high hopes of claiming the honours, maybe even harbour ambitions of a Grand Slam. If we have learned anything from last year’s competition, it should be that the November internationals only give a slight indication as to who’s in form and who isn’t. Wales had a dismal run of performances in that respect and continued their losing streak against Ireland in their opening fixture of the Six Nations. They turned their fortunes around in the next round and went on to claim their second championship win in a row. England brought with them, the slayers of the All Blacks tag and expectations were high, however they fell at the last hurdle and fell hard. Ireland and France had campaigns to forget and Italy and Scotland managed to escape from the bottom two places on the table. The opening weekend will obviously tell a lot, here’s what’s on offer. Continue reading

Rabo Direct Pro 12: Leinster Overcome Strong Test From Connacht

Ian Madigan runs in for a try 23/3/2013

Rabo Direct Pro 12

Leinster 16 – 13 Connacht

Connacht executed a brilliant start  to this game and seemed to surprise their opponents and although the game was decided in the final moments they can hold their heads high. Dan Parks got Connacht off to a brilliant start with two early penalties to give them a six point lead. Ian Madigan reduced the gap to three with a penalty but Connacht grew in confidence and a try by Kieran Marmion gave them a well deserved lead, with Dan Parks following up with the conversion. This was to be Connacht’s last score as the game turned into a war of attrition. Madigan added two penalties to keep Leinster within touching distance of Connacht. Connacht led at the break by 13 – 9. The lack of discipline in the last few moments by Connacht resulted in two of their players being sin binned. Leinster applied immense pressure on Connacht and when Leinster were awarded a penalty try, it seemed heartbreaking for Connacht. Madigan added the conversion, although Connacht must take the positives from this game. Leinster win by 16 -13 over Connacht. Continue reading

RaboDirect Pro 12 – Leinster Need To Be Wary Of Connacht

image

Rabo Direct Pro 12

Ulster v Cardiff Blues

Ulster come in to this game with the return of Ruan Pienaar to their line up which could prove crucial to their hopes of victory. Cardiff will pose a big threat to Ulster’s hopes to climb the leaderboard in the league.

The Welsh side will be hoping to come home from Ravenhill with a strong victory, following their Heineken Cup heroics against Toulon. Ulster have the potential to score tries and with players like Tommy Bowe and Andrew Trimble on their side this will be a game worth watching. Cardiff will be looking to the likes of Sam Warburton and Leigh Halfpenny to bring the victory. Home advantage will play a crucial influence in this game and you would have to think Ulster have more try scoring potential on their side. Continue reading

Advertisements
Advertisements