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Posts Tagged ‘ Wallabies ’

Guinness Series – Clean Sweep For Ireland

Ireland v Australia - Guinness Series

 

Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Aside from Joe Schmidt, who we now know took off for an appendectomy after the game yesterday, it was all smiles for Ireland as they thwarted Australia and secured a November clean sweep for the first time in eight years. Yes we do need to keep ourselves in check, last time this happened nothing but misery awaited in the ensuing World Cup, but for now there’s no shame in a little basking.

We have seen many shades of Ireland over this Guinness Series, including the stoic defenders against South Africa, the free running scorers against Georgia as well as some super subs and now against Australia we saw that this is now a team that, regardless of performance, will win a game. It wasn’t a complete performance, it wasn’t near perfect, but it was the result that was needed. Beating Australia for the clean sweep was crucial, so too was banishing the New Zealand game from last year. There’s a Six Nations to look ahead to of course, and that looming World Cup of course too. Regardless of how, Ireland snared a crucial win this weekend. You cannot underestimate this Australian side either, albeit they are still in a transition of sorts. This was a serious test match, unquestionably the highlight of the weekend, and Ireland are on their way to becoming a rugby super power. God forbid we should ever believe that one though. Continue reading

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Guinness Series – Who Will Tame The Wallabies?

Robbie-Henshaw

Dual blogged on I’m Talkin’ Here

Assuming there isn’t a Joe Schmidt curveball to come, the starting XV for this Saturday against Australia will come from the best of the Boks and Georgia fixtures. At a glance you would say that the starting team from the South Africa fixture will get to go out and prove their mettle once more, excluding Jared Payne of course who is ruled out with the sprain suffered in that game. That said though, some hands went up against Georgia and you couldn’t put it past Schmidt to feel those few deserve their chance, on the bench at the very least.

In the front row, Jack McGrath, Sean Cronin and Mike Ross will surely be nailed on starters for Saturday. You could argue Cronin if Best is good to go, but Schmidt is not going to put in someone on merit so unless Best has a training week for the ages Cronin has got to start. Mike Ross has had a tough old run of it, playing to 74 minutes against the Boks, but having had so little game time beforehand it is still likely he will get the nod. In the second row you cannot look past Devin Toner and Paul O’Connell, especially with the commanding presence the former brought to the pitch when he was introduced last weekend. Dave Foley has likely played himself onto the bench however. The back row throws up a few more debates, especially when they will be up against the like of Matt Hooper, though admittedly the Aussie back rows had little or no fun against France last week. For Ireland, Dominic Ryan has likely played himself onto the bench, marginally ahead of Tommy O’Donnell though the latter did nothing wrong against Georgia or South Africa. The two are just simply fairly level and Ryan would benefit more from the experience. Expect no less than Jamie Heaslip and Peter O’Mahony to fill out the rest of the pack. Continue reading

Six Nations 2014 – Testing Times

sixnations

After the highs and lows of the November Internationals, Joe Schmidt must look to the Six Nations Championship as a chance to show what Ireland can really offer. The World Cup in 2015 is being held just across the pond and all eyes will be on England and their neighbouring nations. Schmidt has two Six Nations campaigns to get through before the World Cup becomes an issue to concentrate on. So what are Ireland’s chances in this year’s competition?

It wouldn’t be difficult to improve on last year’s dismal campaign, that had started so well. Beating the reigning champions at home in Cardiff was obviously the best start possible for the Irish. It wasn’t only the points that mattered but it was the way in which the team went about getting them. Yes, they were out on their feet for the last ten minutes or so and they allowed Wales back into that game just after half time, from a 3-30 score line, Ireland held on to win 22-30. It was the first half performance that included hunger, a controlled aggression and an ability to finish that left us feeling that maybe just maybe, another slam was on the cards. It must be said that Wales had suffered seven consecutive defeats (4 versus Australia) and were without their regular head coach Warren Gatland, previous to the Irish game. Still the Irish looked good. Ireland lost out at home to England in a kicking contest on a wet, windy day at home. England however were the favourites after taking care of the All Blacks, the previous November. For Ireland it went from bad to worse, losing to Scotland, drawing with France and for the first time, losing to Italy. Overall a dismal campaign that they will want to forget. Continue reading

Irish Rugby Review 2013

rugby

The November series of 2012 led us into 2013 with a mixed bag of expectations, hope and a real feel of not knowing where Irish rugby was going. There was a sense that change was on the horizon, Declan Kidney was in charge of an ageing team but there were signs of talented youth on the periphery. South Africa were the first of the visiting nations and in a tight game they just did enough to keep Ireland from claiming a win. A scoreline of 16-12 suggested as much but it was a game that Ireland should have and could have won. The courageous performance of nearly winning was now becoming a bit too regular and the fans were becoming somewhat impatient, good performances no longer enough to keep them happy. The following week, an uncapped Ireland XV played host to Fiji in Thomond Park. It was a game that although one-sided, I as an Irish rugby fan, thoroughly enjoyed. Continue reading

Ireland V Australia : To Dare Is To Do

rugby

It’s difficult to assess how Joe Schmidt is viewing his second test in charge of Ireland. The Wallabies are in town on Saturday evening and with them they bring a severe test of ability and character from the Irish players. The Australian forwards are as hard as Ayers Rock itself, their backs can make flamboyancy look like just a reasonable effort. They are an extremely talented side on their day, off their day, they are ordinary, mediocre even. England showed us that they can be beaten, Italy showed us what happens to teams that let the Aussies play.

Continue reading

All Blacks Claim Victory As Wallabies Hold Off Argentina

Daniel Carter of New Zealand walks off injured

Rugby Championship

The Rugby Championship enjoyed a fiesty fourth round of fixtures with the physicality of South Africa’s performance and some dodgy refereeing decisions stealing the headlines from a tight affair in Australia.

New Zealand 29 – 15 South Africa

New Zealand were the most consistent team in this game and really established their lead in the first half.

An early try by New Zealander Kieran Read set the tone for a classic game of rugby, with the ever reliable Dan Carter making no mistake with the conversion. South Africa responded with a penalty by Morne Steyn. Shortly after Carter was injured due to a powerful tackle by Bismark Du Plessis, who was sin binned for this tackle.  There was some controversy over some refereeing decisions in this game but this was not one such incident.  New Zealand went on to score a second try as Brodie Retallick raced over the line to pull his team further in front. Beauden Barrett converted in Carter’s absence . Du Plessis returned to score the Springboks first try of the game , with Steyn duly converting . New Zealand’s Barrett put a penalty between the posts to give his side a half time lead of 17-10.   Continue reading

Going to the Wire – Gatland Rolls The Dice

File:Warren Gatland Wales coach at the Wales Grand Slam Celebration, Senedd 19 March 2012.png

The gambler has played his riskiest card yet.

And so onto Sydney after the disappointment of Melbourne last week – the Lions get one more chance to claim their first series since 1997 in Sydney’s ANZ stadium this coming Saturday. The third Test, the Decider.

First things first and team selections, which have dominated not only the headlines but also social media the past 24 hours or more. Warren Gatland has picked a 23-man squad without talisman and everyone’s captain Brian O’Driscoll. Also dropped out of the 23 are an in-form Jamie Heaslip and Ben Youngs, with the return to scrumhalf for Mike Phillips.

Warren Gatland has set out his stall for the game and decided there is only one way to beat Australia and that is to play ‘bash it up’ rugby. We should not really be surprised, as this is the way Wales play. It’s the way the Lions have set up all tour and the way Wales have played over the years. I can see where Gatland is coming from, with Davies partnering Roberts; they have played together for years and know each others every move, but not having O’Driscoll on the bench is just ludicrous, with Manu Tualagi a similar battering ram type player occupying the spot. This could be a clear indication that Roberts is not 100 per cent also. How Robbie Deans and Australia will be loving this. As a player I could not imagine a better boost of energy and drive than seeing O’Driscoll coming on to offer something different – not least his experience and captain’s expertise – with 20 minutes to go.

I believe the biggest mistake Gatland has made was made before a player was even selected to go on tour, the non-selection of Joe Schmidt as attack coach. If Schmidt had been on tour we wouldn’t be discussing such matters and possible have the series wrapped. But that is all ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ so onto the job at hand and the chance we have of turning over an increasing in confidence Wallabies side.

The key man again is the focal point and Mike Phillips needs to find his best form once more and have Will Genia on the back-foot. Sexton will be hoping for more ball in hand and the opportunity to direct the Lions going forward. Alongside all the forwards Phillips is key to this. For the impact game Gatland is indicating with his selection that good lineout ball to the back of the line is vital. Croft would be handy here but in his absence Parling will shoulder most of the responsibility to get the ball down to Phillips and onto Roberts and co to get over the gain line. With that and quick recycling of the ball we may then see the best of North and Bowe (which unfortunately we didn’t last week) and with it a serious threat on the Wallabies whitewash. Because the ball has not been good, the Lions have only attacked route one and that is really easy to defend. They play against big boys from New Zealand and South Africa on a weekly basis in the Super Rugby competition, so a Jamie Roberts and a Jonathan Davies is nothing new to them. The Lions are not going to win this game off the boot of Halfpenny, which they nearly undeservedly did last week.

The front row of Corbiseiro, Hibbard and Jones will make us a threat in the scrum but we need to show more in open play and match the Aussies in the breakdown.

The Australian side shows one change and it’s the inclusion of 110-cap veteran George Smith at flanker. Where we have dropped our 100+ cap experience for a vital test game Australia have included theirs. Smith has had an outstanding season and will battle will Sean O Brien all day to get hand on ball. Along with the clearing of captain James Horwill the Australia camp could not be in better mood with the missed Beale kicks now a distant memory. They are in a buoyant mood and the word from their people is that this series is in no doubt a repeat of the 2001 collapse with a victory for Australia. That’s just typical Aussie sporting arrogance as there is still 80 minutes to play but it is hard not to agree with their optimism, if a little cocky. The Lions are now under-dogs and must use and feed off this and bring an intensity to Sydney that they have not reached yet. Australia have war-horse Smith back at 7, captain Horwill cleared of any wrong-doing, bad-boy Beale back playing with a smile on his face, flying wingers who just want ball to run and a scrum-half that’s perhaps the best player in the world at present. The Lions have Warburton, O Connell, & O Driscoll all pre-tour captain picks, watching suited in the stand alongside nominee for rugby player of the year Jamie Heaslip. Jamie Roberts is just back from a hamstring tear and we have a captain who is third choice leader for his country. This increases my nerves and where I predicated a victory in the first Test and hoped for victory in the second, again it is a hope for victory in the last Test with the game hopefully turning into an arm-wrestle.

With Lydiate, O Brien and Faletau we have our most physical back-row. Up front we have our heaviest forwards and with Phillips and Roberts we have two big physical backs with ability to get over the gain line. We have a faultless ball-kicker solid at fullback and have two world-class wingers that would make any team. These are our positives, which the Lions must focus on and focus on nothing but a win on Saturday. For Gatland it’s the defining day in his management although win or lose people will always disagree with the O’Driscoll decision, but that is sport. Let’s hope Sydney is a sea of red come Saturday night and we are celebrating a historic series.

On a final note regarding O’Driscoll, after the disappointment of his non-selection yesterday he stayed behind late after the last two training sessions, and went through videos with Jamie Roberts giving him bits of advice. From there hew went to coach kids in a rugby camp nearby where they are training in Noosa. This shows the measure of the man he is. Class is permanent.

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