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Ireland vs The Wallabies
Sean Fitzpatrick comments on yesterday's games
Posted Sep 18, 2011 by Sean Fitzpatrick
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It would have been great to have been in my native Auckland last night, but a bar just off Grafton Street in Dublin, opening early and packed with the Irish going crazy, and kissing each other, was a brilliant second best vantage point. Good timing by my daughter, to be beginning her student career in the city.
And brilliant timing by Ireland. They set the World Cup alight, they exposed the Wallabies, they exposed Quade Cooper, they exposed Tatafu Polota-Nau, the hooker. Neither could take the pressure that Ireland exerted. Cooper can make things happen but under pressure he created problems for his own side.
It was a fantastic battle at the breakdown, and it was a carbon copy of what Australia did to New Zealand in the Tri Nations decider recently – they attacked New Zealand at thebreakdown, flew in like mad dogs and dominated at the contact areas. David Pocock and James Horwill and company out-physical –ed the All Blacks.
Yesterday it was Australia who copped the same treatment.Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Jamie Heaslip and Sean O’Brien were just fantastic in the contact eras,unbelievable. Australia were hammered, they were always on the back foot and they were in disarray before the end.
The points came from scrum penalties, and there will becontroversy about that. But I thought that the referee had it right, because Ireland were clearly on top. The props get the credit for this but for me it was Rory Best at hooker who was at the centre of things. I thought he had a terrific match. He put some much pressure on Polota-Nau in the scrums thatthey were clearly some occasions when Polota-Nau could notstrike for the ball, and he occasionally popped up out of thescrum. Best at hooker, two big locks behind him – just agreat scrummaging effort and it just shows how vital the forward confrontation has been and will continue to be in this World Cup..
Ireland have been unrated in the scrum for some years, even though they won a Grand Slam in 2009. At Harlequins we always rated Mike Ross when he was with us, and we could not understand why he never seemed to figure in the Irish side. Since then he has been fantastic for Leinster and for Ireland and yesterday, he did great work in the scrum - but also had tremendous game around the field. HE carried the ball really well. Cian Healy had has his problems over the years but he has always been good round the field. Yesterday he did well in the scrum too – it was an major effort.
The next step is blindingly obvious for Ireland – do notcelebrate too big. They have to work hard to maintain their focus, and to keep up this level. They have to repeat, they have to beat Italy and then they will take the Pool. It is fantastic for the World Cup and in the celebrations n the bar in Dublin, it was fantastic for Ireland too.
It is easy to imagine that Auckland was pretty wild, too.