Five points we learned from today’s rugby international friendly at Twickenham
It is clear that Ireland have successfully attempted to cotton wool certain key players for the actual RWC tournament. However, several players today looked like they needed another two games to get up to game speed ahead of the tourney. Ireland’s first half performance was the worse seen under Joe Schmidt, all caused by unforced errors and a failure to execute the fundamentals. Tommy Bowe and Devin Toner will not be looking forward to the first half video analysis this weekend as both players struggled badly in that first forty minutes. Johnny May easily brushed aside Tommy Bowe’s tackle enroute to his try. Toner’s missed tackle count was high and there were problems in the lineout noteably at the end of the first half when Ireland were presented with a lineout five metres out blew the chance. The Ireland team’s knock on count was in double figures heading into the second half, a trend seen throughout the preseason games. Time to literally knock out the mistakes into touch.
England fail to put teams away
England will not win the RWC on this current form. They are as solid as any team in the tournament but they fail to put teams away. It has plighted their 6N campaigns of recent years and the preseason games leading up to the RWC has exposed this vulnerability. Ireland were frankly on the ropes in the opening quarter and England should have being out of sight. Lack of composure in the red zone is killing England currently. Tom Youngs guilty of throwing a routine pass forward to Johnny May in the first half (try was disallowed). The second half saw Ireland come more into the contest but England again had several try scoring opportunities that were butchered due to bad decisions, unforced knock ons.
Ireland Front Row Depth Chart
The lack of squad depth in either prop position looks more a concern than bringing only two scrum halves in the tour party. The game time for Healy, McGrath and Ross in the tournament will be extremely high as the rest of the props are struggling to get to the levels required at this level. Yes, the Ireland scrum did turn the ball over twice but when Nathan White in particular struggled in the set piece. If Healy is not ready, then Ireland have huge problems in the front five.
England’s main go forward ball weapon has being unleashed to the rugby fraternity. The rugby league player will run at defenses all day and his willingness to offload the ball at every opportunity should open scoring opportunities for England. Burgess’ inclusion looks well merited on this cameo. His willingness to tackle hard on first line defense caught the eye. Burgess looks like England’s key attacking threat ahead of this tournament.
Ireland enter the RWC tournament on the back of two losses. Ireland cannot complain about either the Welsh and English defeats. Ireland have started extremely slowly in both of these contests, surrendered early territory to their opponents and could not bridge the deficit in the second half. Ireland’s resilience is never in question. Both England and Wales need to peak early in the tournament and the results over the last two weekends say as much. Ireland realistically can settle into the tournament until the start of October and the crunch tie with Le Bleu but tweaks in game management and improvements to the fundamentals will be required before then. England head into the tournament full of confidence, four wins out of four in the leadup to the RWC but questions on how clinical the team are to put opposition to the sword still loom large? England are in the pool of death and if they leave Wales and Australia a sniff of victory, then it could spell disaster for the hosts. Competitive game today. No injury concerns. Roll onto the main event in two weeks.