The Sunday matinee did not disappoint. Early drama with the early red card for Peter O’Mahony and as it appears to be the case with both sides, Ireland had a chance late to win the test match only for Billy Burns’ kick to go out in the full. Hawkeye Sidekick reflects on the test match which Wales won 21-16.
Fourteen man Ireland go down fighting
I am pretty proud of the Irish effort here. When you go fourteen men down after the first quarter, to have a chance to win the test match is a testament to the side in how they applied themselves to this test match.
No argument on the red card
Why we went down to fourteen men is beyond argument. Peter O’Mahony has no recourse here, the clear out is late, it is not accurate and hit the head area of an opponent. O’Mahony should cherish this test match because if I was the head coach, I would have questions on whether I could trust the guy after that. Farrell has backed the player but you know in house that management are going to have to make a hard call here. O’Mahony will hope for a chance for redemption but I suspect other players in wait will get their opportunity now starting next weekend against France.
It is a clear red for O’Mahony but the Williams tackle soon after for Wales warranted a look but Barnes and officiating crew did not appear to check. Williams got his tackle technique all wrong (akin to O’Mahony). Williams did not return from the HIA. It is an incident which will be talked about.
Earls looks vulnerable
Playing with fourteen players, you need everyone to be on it and I think that question of form over reputation came to the fore. Keith Earls has been a magnificent player for Ireland but his time is now past. This was an unconvincing display from the player.
His kick game and aerial ability constantly challenged and it coughed up easy territory for Wales. His kick into touch was poor, it set Wales platform and the rest as they say is history. I am waiting for Earls to be phased out with Larmour, Conway looking for game minutes as the tournament progresses.
Standout Ireland performers aplenty
Ireland had some great moments in this test match, their go forward ball in the second quarter was really good. Tadhg Beirne was immense. Iain Henderson provided key cameos.
Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose probed and created line breaks. James Lowe’s kicking game really good along with Keenan who has established himself as the full back now.
There was so much to admire here from Ireland on how they stuck at this test match. Other teams would have thrown in the towel long before the final whistle.
Stop before putting the boot in on Billy Burns
Before folks start criticizing Billy Burns, the question is this. There needs to be a body of work on the player before you pass judgment. Burns went for broke on the final play of the game. The kick was inaccurate, go in the full, game over. Burns will be the first to admit that he screwed up but Burns showed some lovely touches. Test match arena is an awful place to make an unforced error like that so it will be interesting if Farrell persists with Burns. I think he will.
Wales win but scope for improvement aplenty
Wales. They did what they had to do in this test match but Wayne Pivac and management have so much work to do with this side. For a side to go a hour playing against fourteen players, the sight of Ireland launching an attack to win a test match is galling.
North’s try was opportunistically brilliant. He identified the mismatch with Henderson and backed himself instead of taking the three points on offer. The Welsh half back unit provided nothing, no go forward ball. Wales will be exposed starting next week to Scotland on this performance.
Farrell and media reaction
Andy Farrell and the media reaction will be interesting here. The red card was decisive, the regroup needs to happen now. The half back partnership was a mixed bag at times. Inaccuracy at times, penalty concessions which were cheap from Murray particularly. Sexton looks 50/50 for next weekend so what does Farrell on the ten jersey? It is a fascinating watch in the leadup to this game
Wales get much needed win
Credit Wales. Pivac and team were under the gun today. They got the test match win. The win might propel them to new heights. Navidi was a substitution which enhanced the side. Wales soaked up the tackle count, picked their opportunities and that was that. AWJ, Beard and Tipuric set the tone. AWJ is a legend, his work load again outstanding. Wales will be the first to highlight a need to improve but given their wretched form last year, this was a great starting point for 2021.