Posts Tagged ‘ Welsh Rugby ’

Six Nations 2014 – O’Driscoll Masterclass Keeps Ireland In Pole Position

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He will be missed. Make no mistake. Not as much now as he may have been two or three years ago, before we had the emerging talents of Cave, Henshaw and more. But still, he will be missed. In sixty five minutes he put in a deserved Man Of The Match display, and signed off on his international time at Lansdowne Road in style. All fourteen men who shared the field with him at any time too gave it there all, and Ireland march to France with a ludicrous points difference and the greatest sense of belief since 2009 surrounding them.
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Six Nations 2014 – A Telling Weekend In Store

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Home stretch and all to play for, it’s how every Six Nations’ penultimate weekend should be. Can the Scots keep the ball rolling and take the French out of contention? Will the mighty Welsh, back in form after a very slow start, derail the chariot and do the Emerald Isle a favour? Are Italy really that down and out? Let’s find out.
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Six Nations 2014 – Ireland Have What It Takes

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We all knew there was a good chance that optimism would be this high in Joe Schmidt’s first season, but now that it has materialised, the Irish rugby machine is truly back in motion. Yes, the England game was a minor setback and with two weeks to mull it over the mood has probably gone lower than it should have, but the fact remains that Ireland top the table still, and by a considerable points difference. Things are looking good, with a sure win this Saturday to help matters.

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Early Action Indicates Exciting Hurling Season Ahead

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Nowlan Park played host to the clash of Kilkenny and Tipperary last weekend. Unlike the international Six Nations game between Wales and France, the organisers in Kilkenny opted to play with the roof open. The storm hit frame of the old stand was all that was left and it’s skeletal remains proved to be an eerie backdrop to what turned out to be an enthralling battle between these closest of rivals. Ireland may have lost narrowly to the ‘auld enemy’ in London at the weekend and for much of this game, it looked like Kilkenny were going to follow suit.

An exhibition of goal taking from both sides kept the crowd involved until the very last minutes. If this were a sixty minute game, well then Tipperary would have just about done enough but it wasn’t and those last ten minutes proved more than fruitful for the home team. It looked from early on that Kilkenny would be put to the sword by a more accurate Tipperary. The storm that had done so much damage in Kilkenny the week previous was only playing second fiddle to the damage that Tipperary forward Seamus Callanan and his team mates were inflicting on the Kilkenny defence. After just fourteen minutes on the clock, Tipperary had amassed 3-3 on the scoreboard. It must be said that Tipperary were playing with a strong breeze behind their backs for the first half but their goals came from some very poor Kilkenny defending. Tipperary will be kicking themselves this morning that they managed to let a ten point lead disappear in front of their very eyes. The same two teams competed in the League Final in Nowlan Park last year, with the same winners emerging. They also played in the All Ireland qualifiers at the same venue in 2013 and so the Tipperary supporters and players will not want to return anytime soon. Continue reading

Irish Rugby: Clouds And Silver Linings

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Close but no cigar.

It was nothing short of heartbreak for the Irish rugby squad at Twickenham last Saturday. It was always going to be a bruising encounter but one felt that Ireland this year under the leadership of Joe Schmidt would just have too much for the young English pretenders. In hindsight, Ireland just didn’t show up, they seemed sluggish from the start and allowed England to dictate the game from the kick off. England however were guilty of leaving more scores out on the pitch than Ireland and going into the tunnel only three points down at half time must have been very encouraging to the Irish players.

Jonathan Sexton had a mediocre game, his kicking was not what it was in the Aviva against Wales but on the flip side of that, credit must be given to Stuart Lancaster and his coaches. They had their homework done as it was more the case that Sexton had little or no options when it came to kicking for field position. The English backs gave him nothing to aim at, both wingers hugged either line and the Racing Metro star was forced into little chips over their centres heads. This ploy failed as Mike Brown, who was in sensational form, continually made ground from loose kicks that ultimately just gave away possession. Ireland turned down chance after chance in the first half to use their most potent weapon, the maul. Maybe it was a tactical decision to suck in the English defence and go wide when they were almost certainly expecting Ireland to try and trundle down the middle. The decision in the second half to use it paid dividends as the English struggled to defend against it, maybe Ireland should have used it from the start. Continue reading

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

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