Let’s face it, Joe Schmidt is God! We played two of the Southern Hemisphere giants this Autumn, and sent them both away empty handed. Don’t you just wish we were playing New Zealand this weekend? It wasn’t the cagey close match we were expecting, in the first half anyway, it was helter skelter end to end stuff with us storming into a big lead, throwing it all away, then clawing it back. But at the end it was the basics that saw us through – Foley left more points on the table than Sexton did, and that was the difference in the end.
Schmidt has created tremendous systems and structures, and when we stick to them, they work like a charm. But there is still the freedom to play instinctively – if Tommy Bowe hadn’t trusted his judgement and gone for the intercept, would we have won? When we ignore his systems, don’t follow up on kicks, give needless off loads, it hurts us. But we have forwards with the hearts of lions now, Best and Ruddock 14 tackles each, POM and McGrath giving everything, O’Connell gigantic. And backs to run and put their bodies on the line, Zebo, Bowe, Kearney, Murray. And Madigan coming on, tackling the biggest man on the field, Skelton, ripping the ball from a prop for a crucial turnover in our 22, making a magic pick up and break, and getting the final turnover, winning a penalty. Are we on a roll or what! And in fairness, whatever the run of results they’ve had this year, Australia are a good, good team.
I also saw Wales come up short against the All Blacks – they put in a 65 minute performance then fell away. The score was a bit cruel in the end. The best Welsh player for me was Biggar , hardly put a foot wrong, and tackled like a tiger. You just can’t ever give the All Blacks an inch can you.
I also saw the Boks scrap with Italia, pulling away in the end in a margin that flattered them. They can’t concentrate unless they rate the other team.
It’s not just the internationals we are winning either, with only Leinster of the provinces not cleaning up in the Pro 12. We are a force to be reckoned with! Leinster look really out of sorts – there are injuries and we missed the internationals, but still, very average fare from the men in Blue.
Italy 6 - 22 South Africa
Ireland 26 - 23 Australia
Wales 16 - 34 New Zealand
France 13 - 18 Argentina
England 28 - 9 Samoa
Romania 18 - 9 Canada
Scotland 37 - 12 Tonga
Sunday , November 23
Treviso 24 - 24 Leinster
Friday , November 21
Dragons 12 - 38 Munster
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow Warriors
Ulster 25 - 16 Ospreys