Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ireland let one slip, Wales were dismal, the French were sublime and Scotland got thumped but had fun.

This was a weekend for the South, with France the only Northern Hemisphere team to buck the trend. How did the North do though, in defeat? The all important world rankings are at the bottom

Starting with Ireland, who came the next closest to getting one over the South. Give me a bit of time while my soap box is set up. It was disappointing to lose, especially going in at half time 9 points in the lead. Ireland did the basics really well in the first half, their defense was solid, they didn’t look scoring a try, but they had a few half breaks, and were easily holding their own against the Boks. The turning point was the sinbinning of JP Pietersen for an idioitic tackle on Chris Henry. Ireland couldn’t turn that 1 man advantage into points. We needed to put our foot on the gas and just didn’t have the tactics to do it. With 15 men on the pitch in the second half, South Africa had Jamie Heaslip sin binned, scored a try and got a penalty and the lead, which they kept and extended.

Good games for Ireland were Mike McCarthy (I hang my head in shame there)the front row, Chris Henry, Sexton and Bowe. Good for SA were Strauss, Vermuelen and Lowe.

All in all, losing by four points to the team ranked third in the world is no shame, and especially as we have several key injuries. The Boks have injuries too, but they have way more depth than us and played together for the 4N which only ended in October, whereas we last played together in June.

As my soap box has arrived, I can now give out properly. Why I’m disappointed is that while our defense is brilliant, our attack seems to have gone AWOL. I can remember some awesome Irish performances, against France in 2009 and the second test against New Zealand this year.  In those games we ferocious in defense, our game had tempo, and our attack was structured and just about unstoppable. What style are we playing now? I think we’re analyzing the opposition and playing a different game plan every week. I want to see that tempo back, which means scrum halves like Reddan and Marshall, and ball players in mid field. Otherwise we are just marking time.

For the record, the Boks were pretty ordinary, and the bad old habits of foul play are creeping back in. The one thing I will applaud them for is picking attacking fly halves and trying to play some rugby.

Elsewhere, Wales get an F for Fail. Argentina have been playing bigger faster stronger teams for weeks on end, so Wales were never going to just run them over. Wales looked lost, not much leadership, and no attacking flair to pick the Argentinean lock instead of trying to bust the door down. What a result for Argentina though!

I was slightly off in predicting a Fijian win as they had their arses kicked. France were the big turn up for the books, playing aggressive, pacy attractive rugby the Aussies had no answer for. The Deans clock is ticking.
Finally, I watched AB thump Scotland. Good day for Scotland though, three tries against the World Champs is something to be proud of. If they can just tighten up that defense a little… Carter is the best 10 in the world, end of, his running alone makes him that. McCaw is awesome too, but it’s laughable how much time he and the rest of the pack spent lying on the Scottish side of the breakdown. I would have had them all hung myself!

Sunday , November 11
Scotland 22 - 51 New Zealand 
Saturday , November 10
Italy 28 - 23 Tonga 
Wales 12 - 26 Argentina 
England 54 - 12 Fiji 
France 33 - 6 Australia 
Ireland 12 - 16 South Africa 

1(1) NEW ZEALAND 92.91
2(2) AUSTRALIA 86.37
3(3) SOUTH AFRICA 84.69
4(4) ENGLAND 83.09
5(5) FRANCE 83.03
6(6) WALES 82.26
7(7) IRELAND 79.85
8(8) ARGENTINA 78.63
9(9) SCOTLAND 77.97
10(10) SAMOA 76.23
11(11) ITALY 76.03
12(12) TONGA 74.79

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