Sunday, August 28, 2011

Time to back Ireland, and New Zealand for the World Cup

Practise your tackling, Sir! (picture from )
Saturday , August 27
Ireland 9 - 20 England
Australia 25 - 20 New Zealand
Ireland England
I’m trying to make this a match a match report rather than an autopsy or a wake, you may not believe it, but I am trying promise. I didn’t see the whole match, and had the misfortune to miss Tuilagi brushing Earls aside to score England’s opening try, but the commentators made up for that by talking about it non stop. So what went wrong for us to finally break our winning streak against England? That can be fixed in time for the World Cup anyway? Well, our line out has gone very shaky, so let’s hope Gert Smal can work a bit of magic in the next few weeks and get that right, because it wasn’t too long ago we were guaranteed our own ball, and often in with a shout on the oppositions throw. We also need to play centres at centre – it’s a radical concept I know, but Earls proved on Saturday he’s not a centre’s bottom. Please let’s play McFadden there if needs be.  We’ve really got to work on our defence, as we even made Mike Tindall look masterful and composed as he set up Armitage’s try. Yes we that bad! But it’s the first time since forever that Geordan’s been back in the team, and Bowe is still rusty, so we can and will improve. Murray shouldn’t even be on the bench in any of the big matches after a fairly headless display.
Harder to fix is going to be our lack of physicality – we absolutely milled England the last time they were here. Losing Heaslip and Wallace didn’t help, but that’s one area we need to seriously step up a gear. Blunt attack is the other area that’s a worry – put Kearney and O’Driscoll back and we’ll look a lot sharper, but it was pretty distressing to see us aimlessly battering against a solid English line in the last 10 minutes.
Losing Wallace is a blow, a big one, but did we really ever have him? He seems to have really struggling with injury.Jennings has big shoes to fill.
But all in all, there’s no point in getting depressed, we’re off to the World Cup, we only need to beat Italy to get of out our group, and after that it’s one offs when anything can happen. Going into the thing with sober expectations is probably the best thing for us, we have a Heineken winning team in the mix there, and fantastic players from one the premier teams in Europe in the last 5 years, Munster, we can play better, and we will, C’MON IRELAND!
England meanwhile, look confident, didn’t really do too much but took their chances when they came. They are going to need more than they showed on Saturday to make any waves at the WC, but their curve is on the up.
Australia New Zealand
All the pundits are queuing up to announce the choking has started already. I don’t buy it myself, they were never really up for this one, for whatever reason, even the haka looked like they were trying to convince themselves about how potent they were. Australia, to their credit, played really well, and all things being equal are certainly in with a shot at the World Cup. The All Blacks seldom had decent front foot ball to attack from, I know how good the Australian backline attack is, but I think their defence is suspect. Losing Read was a big blow, Thompson less so as I’m not a fan, would have had a host of others before him. At home, with the players at their disposal, this World Cup is still New Zealand’s to lose. But it’s only right that Australia get to bask in the light of a well deserved win over the AB’s, and their first 3N in 10 years.

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