Sunday, October 9, 2011

The music dies for Ireland in New Zealand

I feel like that too if it's any consolation (picture )

New Zealand 33 - 10 Argentina 
Ireland 10 - 22 Wales 
England 12 - 19 France
Australia 11 South Africa 9

I woke up on Saturday morning with a funny feeling in my stomach about the Ireland match, and it wasn’t just that curry I had on Friday night (although that may have had something to do with it). It was the day the music died for the Irish in New Zealand. There’s no point in beating about the bush – Wales were just better on the day, sharper, hungrier, faster more physical, better sums it up pretty well. We looked like we had a chance when we got it back to 10 all early in the second half, but then Wales stepped up a gear.  They had all the answers to the questions we asked of their defense, and they wore us down until the two trys they scored in the second half were pretty well inevitable.  They were given away way too easily, but you can only defend for so long against that sort of attack until the cracks start to appear. Wales can go far now if they can just keep hold of themselves.

 There weren’t too many Irish players that had fantastic matches, not that they played badly, just that they were shaded all over the field by the rampant Welsh. Now’s not the time to knock the team though, they gave it everything they had, but came up short.  Players O’Connell, O’Driscoll O’Gara have been unbelievable for Ireland, and it must be very hard for them to take that they didn’t manage to push Ireland on to their best ever world cup finish.  A sad ending for some of the greats of their generation BUT things are looking up in the long run – we stopped at the pool stages last world cup, got the quarters this time, that means we’ll make the semis in 2015 and the final in 2019! Keep the faith!

France finally decided it was time to stop messing and play some rugby, and they had England caught like a rabbit in the headlights. Johnson had made a few dodgy selections, Flood at center for instancewas always going to have the potential to go wrong, he should have taken the bull by the horns and dropped Wilkinson. And what was he thinking picking Easter when the man’s clearly in the advanced stages of pregnancy – aren’t there health and safety regulations about that anyway? On the bright side, Dan Cole, will be releasing a limited edition miniature garden statue of himself after the tournament.  England looked leaden and devoid of ideas – they peaked just before their match against Ireland in the six nations. France will be reveling in the superlatives coming their way, they played some sublime rugby, and should they chose to turn it on again, could go all the way.

After Ireland were knocked out, I threw my weight behind my ‘B’ team, the Springboks. Big mistake. Ireland were at least beaten by a better team on the day, whereas the Springboks  absolutely butchered a perfectly winnable match against a below par Australia. All they know about is running in to people as hard as they can – you wouldn’t want to pass or your mates might think you were a sissy. Australia rode their luck, they used up lives 4 to 9 in this match. It’s enough to make you weep. Anyway, good luck to the Aussies, there are no prizes for trying really hard and doing everything but winning, as the Springboks have discovered.

Finally Argentina got their shot at being the first team apart from Australia and France to knock the All Blacks out of a World Cup. They made a fairly good fist of it for the first half hour, and even had the lead for a while, but they ran out of steam eventually. The All Blacks look fairly out of sorts – Slade, trying to fill the massive boots of Dan Carter, looked unsure of himself, and the giant hook removed him from the field at the 30 minute mark just after the Argentinean try. They got the win, but they look eminently beatable, and it’s those jammy Wallabies who get a shot at them next.

So that's a shocking one from four right for me.

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