You are viewing the content for Monday 27 February 2006

New self-belief for Crown assault

Andrew Trimble

By Charlie Mulqueen, Lansdowne Road
NO doubt about it, this was a great day for Eddie O’Sullivan and his Irish side.

But yesterday may say more about the perilous state of the Welsh game after Ruddockgate than the perceived healthy state of rugby in this country.

It may be a little churlish to be less than ecstatic after beating Wales by 26 points, but this was far from a great game, nor was it confirmation that Ireland have at last reached the stage when we can hope to take on rugby’s finest with reasonable hope of success.

Still, there can be no denying the merit of the 31-5 victory, and Ireland now move on to Scotland in a fortnight’s time, and hopefully a week later to Twickenham, with their sights set on the Triple Crown and possibly the Six Nations Championship.

Apart from the opening 10 minutes when Wales looked capable and grabbed their only score, when a bounce favoured winger Mark Jones for a five-pointer, the Irish were well on top.

Gavin Henson came on for Wales after 19 minutes, replacing the injured Stephen Jones. The Golden Boy had a bit of a nightmare on his return to the red jersey and as he sliced kick after kick, fumbled and hesitated, and generally looked yards off the pace. To be fair, he wasn’t the only Welshman to flounder. Pre-match predictions that the Welsh would be galvanised by the way the Mike Ruddock case was handled proved way off the mark, even if their new coach suggested otherwise.

"What happened over the last 10 days couldn’t have been further from our minds," claimed Scott Johnson. "We were focusing on the game and will be honest and not use it as an excuse."

To listen to Johnson and his captain Michael Owen, you would never have thought they had been beaten out of sight on the scoreboard and held scoreless for 73 minutes. Owen insisted their "attitude was fantastic and the preparation was spot on".

Perhaps, but the number of unforced errors put one in mind of Ireland in Paris. But unlike the French the Irish never looked likely to let Wales back into the game, and regardless of the opposition’s shortcomings O’Sullivan’s men came up trumps big time on this occasion. There was one dark note when Marcus Horan was stretchered off. The news later, however, could hardly have been more encouraging with O’Sullivan confident an x-ray would prove the damage to Horan’s neck to be relatively minor.

Other than that the coach saw much that must have pleased him greatly. Having had his ability to gel the powerful Munster pack with Leinster’s outstanding backs questioned by public and pundits alike, he was gratified and deeply relieved to know that the XV could actually perform as a unit.

"I thought we played good, solid rugby and one of the more pleasing aspects was the way we defended," he said.

"We made the Welsh work hard for any yards they made and stopped them playing the game they wanted to play and that’s what defence is all about."

Skipper Brian O’Driscoll took a number of positives from the game and declared: "I believe there is more in us. The first 15 minutes were tough but we got through that well and after that there was a general improvement."

Individually, the vast majority of the Irish players stepped up to the plate. Denis Leamy will have some work to do in explaining away his yellow card for stamping, but he continues to grow as an international number eight of the highest quality.

Any doubts the coach might have had concerning David Wallace’s worth must have been dispelled by another highly effective contribution, while it will be hard on either Donncha O’Callaghan or Malcolm O’Kelly to have to give way to a fit-again Paul O’Connell for the Scottish game.

O’Kelly was a far better on this occasion while O’Callaghan’s vigour and wholeheartedness in the rucks and mauls were a strong point of the forwards’ display. Jerry Flannery was only deprived of a great first-half try after a thrilling 20-metre run by a last-ditch tackle by Welsh full-back Lee Byrne. It was just one of many moments when he looked one of the most exciting forwards on the park.

It would be harsh to debate the choice of Shane Horgan as man of the match given the magnificent manner in which he took a Brian O’Driscoll pass off his boot laces before weaving his way through for his try, and a fine contribution generally, but Peter Stringer also scored a try and once again ridiculed critics who claim with monotonous regularity that he is short of the required standard.

Between Stringer and the back-row, Welsh dangerman Dwayne Peel was completely bottled up and Stringer and Ronan O’Gara maintained the pressure on the Welsh with clever variation in their play. Geordan Murphy at full-back helped keep the squeeze on the Welsh defence.

It would be silly to run away with the idea that all is now well with this Irish team.

It’s difficult to analyse just how good they were yesterday, but they were certainly streets ahead of Wales. Whether a similar performance will suffice against Scotland remains to be seen, but any loss of morale and self-belief after Paris should have been restored by yesterday’s result, and that can only be good for a side that has had to take a lot of criticism over the past few months.

 

New self-belief for Crown assault

Andrew Trimble

By Charlie Mulqueen, Lansdowne Road
NO doubt about it, this was a great day for Eddie O’Sullivan and his Irish side.

But yesterday may say more about the perilous state of the Welsh game after Ruddockgate than the perceived healthy state of rugby in this country.

It may be a little churlish to be less than ecstatic after beating Wales by 26 points, but this was far from a great game, nor was it confirmation that Ireland have at last reached the stage when we can hope to take on rugby’s finest with reasonable hope of success.

Still, there can be no denying the merit of the 31-5 victory, and Ireland now move on to Scotland in a fortnight’s time, and hopefully a week later to Twickenham, with their sights set on the Triple Crown and possibly the Six Nations Championship.

Apart from the opening 10 minutes when Wales looked capable and grabbed their only score, when a bounce favoured winger Mark Jones for a five-pointer, the Irish were well on top.

Gavin Henson came on for Wales after 19 minutes, replacing the injured Stephen Jones. The Golden Boy had a bit of a nightmare on his return to the red jersey and as he sliced kick after kick, fumbled and hesitated, and generally looked yards off the pace. To be fair, he wasn’t the only Welshman to flounder. Pre-match predictions that the Welsh would be galvanised by the way the Mike Ruddock case was handled proved way off the mark, even if their new coach suggested otherwise.

"What happened over the last 10 days couldn’t have been further from our minds," claimed Scott Johnson. "We were focusing on the game and will be honest and not use it as an excuse."

To listen to Johnson and his captain Michael Owen, you would never have thought they had been beaten out of sight on the scoreboard and held scoreless for 73 minutes. Owen insisted their "attitude was fantastic and the preparation was spot on".

Perhaps, but the number of unforced errors put one in mind of Ireland in Paris. But unlike the French the Irish never looked likely to let Wales back into the game, and regardless of the opposition’s shortcomings O’Sullivan’s men came up trumps big time on this occasion. There was one dark note when Marcus Horan was stretchered off. The news later, however, could hardly have been more encouraging with O’Sullivan confident an x-ray would prove the damage to Horan’s neck to be relatively minor.

Other than that the coach saw much that must have pleased him greatly. Having had his ability to gel the powerful Munster pack with Leinster’s outstanding backs questioned by public and pundits alike, he was gratified and deeply relieved to know that the XV could actually perform as a unit.

"I thought we played good, solid rugby and one of the more pleasing aspects was the way we defended," he said.

"We made the Welsh work hard for any yards they made and stopped them playing the game they wanted to play and that’s what defence is all about."

Skipper Brian O’Driscoll took a number of positives from the game and declared: "I believe there is more in us. The first 15 minutes were tough but we got through that well and after that there was a general improvement."

Individually, the vast majority of the Irish players stepped up to the plate. Denis Leamy will have some work to do in explaining away his yellow card for stamping, but he continues to grow as an international number eight of the highest quality.

Any doubts the coach might have had concerning David Wallace’s worth must have been dispelled by another highly effective contribution, while it will be hard on either Donncha O’Callaghan or Malcolm O’Kelly to have to give way to a fit-again Paul O’Connell for the Scottish game.

O’Kelly was a far better on this occasion while O’Callaghan’s vigour and wholeheartedness in the rucks and mauls were a strong point of the forwards’ display. Jerry Flannery was only deprived of a great first-half try after a thrilling 20-metre run by a last-ditch tackle by Welsh full-back Lee Byrne. It was just one of many moments when he looked one of the most exciting forwards on the park.

It would be harsh to debate the choice of Shane Horgan as man of the match given the magnificent manner in which he took a Brian O’Driscoll pass off his boot laces before weaving his way through for his try, and a fine contribution generally, but Peter Stringer also scored a try and once again ridiculed critics who claim with monotonous regularity that he is short of the required standard.

Between Stringer and the back-row, Welsh dangerman Dwayne Peel was completely bottled up and Stringer and Ronan O’Gara maintained the pressure on the Welsh with clever variation in their play. Geordan Murphy at full-back helped keep the squeeze on the Welsh defence.

It would be silly to run away with the idea that all is now well with this Irish team.

It’s difficult to analyse just how good they were yesterday, but they were certainly streets ahead of Wales. Whether a similar performance will suffice against Scotland remains to be seen, but any loss of morale and self-belief after Paris should have been restored by yesterday’s result, and that can only be good for a side that has had to take a lot of criticism over the past few months.

 

New self-belief for Crown assault

Andrew Trimble

By Charlie Mulqueen, Lansdowne Road
NO doubt about it, this was a great day for Eddie O’Sullivan and his Irish side.

But yesterday may say more about the perilous state of the Welsh game after Ruddockgate than the perceived healthy state of rugby in this country.

It may be a little churlish to be less than ecstatic after beating Wales by 26 points, but this was far from a great game, nor was it confirmation that Ireland have at last reached the stage when we can hope to take on rugby’s finest with reasonable hope of success.

Still, there can be no denying the merit of the 31-5 victory, and Ireland now move on to Scotland in a fortnight’s time, and hopefully a week later to Twickenham, with their sights set on the Triple Crown and possibly the Six Nations Championship.

Apart from the opening 10 minutes when Wales looked capable and grabbed their only score, when a bounce favoured winger Mark Jones for a five-pointer, the Irish were well on top.

Gavin Henson came on for Wales after 19 minutes, replacing the injured Stephen Jones. The Golden Boy had a bit of a nightmare on his return to the red jersey and as he sliced kick after kick, fumbled and hesitated, and generally looked yards off the pace. To be fair, he wasn’t the only Welshman to flounder. Pre-match predictions that the Welsh would be galvanised by the way the Mike Ruddock case was handled proved way off the mark, even if their new coach suggested otherwise.

"What happened over the last 10 days couldn’t have been further from our minds," claimed Scott Johnson. "We were focusing on the game and will be honest and not use it as an excuse."

To listen to Johnson and his captain Michael Owen, you would never have thought they had been beaten out of sight on the scoreboard and held scoreless for 73 minutes. Owen insisted their "attitude was fantastic and the preparation was spot on".

Perhaps, but the number of unforced errors put one in mind of Ireland in Paris. But unlike the French the Irish never looked likely to let Wales back into the game, and regardless of the opposition’s shortcomings O’Sullivan’s men came up trumps big time on this occasion. There was one dark note when Marcus Horan was stretchered off. The news later, however, could hardly have been more encouraging with O’Sullivan confident an x-ray would prove the damage to Horan’s neck to be relatively minor.

Other than that the coach saw much that must have pleased him greatly. Having had his ability to gel the powerful Munster pack with Leinster’s outstanding backs questioned by public and pundits alike, he was gratified and deeply relieved to know that the XV could actually perform as a unit.

"I thought we played good, solid rugby and one of the more pleasing aspects was the way we defended," he said.

"We made the Welsh work hard for any yards they made and stopped them playing the game they wanted to play and that’s what defence is all about."

Skipper Brian O’Driscoll took a number of positives from the game and declared: "I believe there is more in us. The first 15 minutes were tough but we got through that well and after that there was a general improvement."

Individually, the vast majority of the Irish players stepped up to the plate. Denis Leamy will have some work to do in explaining away his yellow card for stamping, but he continues to grow as an international number eight of the highest quality.

Any doubts the coach might have had concerning David Wallace’s worth must have been dispelled by another highly effective contribution, while it will be hard on either Donncha O’Callaghan or Malcolm O’Kelly to have to give way to a fit-again Paul O’Connell for the Scottish game.

O’Kelly was a far better on this occasion while O’Callaghan’s vigour and wholeheartedness in the rucks and mauls were a strong point of the forwards’ display. Jerry Flannery was only deprived of a great first-half try after a thrilling 20-metre run by a last-ditch tackle by Welsh full-back Lee Byrne. It was just one of many moments when he looked one of the most exciting forwards on the park.

It would be harsh to debate the choice of Shane Horgan as man of the match given the magnificent manner in which he took a Brian O’Driscoll pass off his boot laces before weaving his way through for his try, and a fine contribution generally, but Peter Stringer also scored a try and once again ridiculed critics who claim with monotonous regularity that he is short of the required standard.

Between Stringer and the back-row, Welsh dangerman Dwayne Peel was completely bottled up and Stringer and Ronan O’Gara maintained the pressure on the Welsh with clever variation in their play. Geordan Murphy at full-back helped keep the squeeze on the Welsh defence.

It would be silly to run away with the idea that all is now well with this Irish team.

It’s difficult to analyse just how good they were yesterday, but they were certainly streets ahead of Wales. Whether a similar performance will suffice against Scotland remains to be seen, but any loss of morale and self-belief after Paris should have been restored by yesterday’s result, and that can only be good for a side that has had to take a lot of criticism over the past few months.

 

New self-belief for Crown assault

Andrew Trimble

By Charlie Mulqueen, Lansdowne Road
NO doubt about it, this was a great day for Eddie O’Sullivan and his Irish side.

But yesterday may say more about the perilous state of the Welsh game after Ruddockgate than the perceived healthy state of rugby in this country.

It may be a little churlish to be less than ecstatic after beating Wales by 26 points, but this was far from a great game, nor was it confirmation that Ireland have at last reached the stage when we can hope to take on rugby’s finest with reasonable hope of success.

Still, there can be no denying the merit of the 31-5 victory, and Ireland now move on to Scotland in a fortnight’s time, and hopefully a week later to Twickenham, with their sights set on the Triple Crown and possibly the Six Nations Championship.

Apart from the opening 10 minutes when Wales looked capable and grabbed their only score, when a bounce favoured winger Mark Jones for a five-pointer, the Irish were well on top.

Gavin Henson came on for Wales after 19 minutes, replacing the injured Stephen Jones. The Golden Boy had a bit of a nightmare on his return to the red jersey and as he sliced kick after kick, fumbled and hesitated, and generally looked yards off the pace. To be fair, he wasn’t the only Welshman to flounder. Pre-match predictions that the Welsh would be galvanised by the way the Mike Ruddock case was handled proved way off the mark, even if their new coach suggested otherwise.

"What happened over the last 10 days couldn’t have been further from our minds," claimed Scott Johnson. "We were focusing on the game and will be honest and not use it as an excuse."

To listen to Johnson and his captain Michael Owen, you would never have thought they had been beaten out of sight on the scoreboard and held scoreless for 73 minutes. Owen insisted their "attitude was fantastic and the preparation was spot on".

Perhaps, but the number of unforced errors put one in mind of Ireland in Paris. But unlike the French the Irish never looked likely to let Wales back into the game, and regardless of the opposition’s shortcomings O’Sullivan’s men came up trumps big time on this occasion. There was one dark note when Marcus Horan was stretchered off. The news later, however, could hardly have been more encouraging with O’Sullivan confident an x-ray would prove the damage to Horan’s neck to be relatively minor.

Other than that the coach saw much that must have pleased him greatly. Having had his ability to gel the powerful Munster pack with Leinster’s outstanding backs questioned by public and pundits alike, he was gratified and deeply relieved to know that the XV could actually perform as a unit.

"I thought we played good, solid rugby and one of the more pleasing aspects was the way we defended," he said.

"We made the Welsh work hard for any yards they made and stopped them playing the game they wanted to play and that’s what defence is all about."

Skipper Brian O’Driscoll took a number of positives from the game and declared: "I believe there is more in us. The first 15 minutes were tough but we got through that well and after that there was a general improvement."

Individually, the vast majority of the Irish players stepped up to the plate. Denis Leamy will have some work to do in explaining away his yellow card for stamping, but he continues to grow as an international number eight of the highest quality.

Any doubts the coach might have had concerning David Wallace’s worth must have been dispelled by another highly effective contribution, while it will be hard on either Donncha O’Callaghan or Malcolm O’Kelly to have to give way to a fit-again Paul O’Connell for the Scottish game.

O’Kelly was a far better on this occasion while O’Callaghan’s vigour and wholeheartedness in the rucks and mauls were a strong point of the forwards’ display. Jerry Flannery was only deprived of a great first-half try after a thrilling 20-metre run by a last-ditch tackle by Welsh full-back Lee Byrne. It was just one of many moments when he looked one of the most exciting forwards on the park.

It would be harsh to debate the choice of Shane Horgan as man of the match given the magnificent manner in which he took a Brian O’Driscoll pass off his boot laces before weaving his way through for his try, and a fine contribution generally, but Peter Stringer also scored a try and once again ridiculed critics who claim with monotonous regularity that he is short of the required standard.

Between Stringer and the back-row, Welsh dangerman Dwayne Peel was completely bottled up and Stringer and Ronan O’Gara maintained the pressure on the Welsh with clever variation in their play. Geordan Murphy at full-back helped keep the squeeze on the Welsh defence.

It would be silly to run away with the idea that all is now well with this Irish team.

It’s difficult to analyse just how good they were yesterday, but they were certainly streets ahead of Wales. Whether a similar performance will suffice against Scotland remains to be seen, but any loss of morale and self-belief after Paris should have been restored by yesterday’s result, and that can only be good for a side that has had to take a lot of criticism over the past few months.