Discipline and ball retention key to victory over England

Mon, Feb 4, 2013, 00:00

Ireland’s primary ball carriers in Cardiff were two of their backrow, Seán O’Brien and Peter O’Mahony, the latter used in wider channels.

England in contrast were very direct in midfield, getting centres Billy Twelvetrees and Brad Barritt to carry the lion’s share of possession.

England’s most elusive runner was left wing Mike Brown, who made 133 metres; fullback Andy Goode was also effective (64m) in this respect.

If Ireland punt as indiscriminately to the back three, as they did at times in Cardiff, then next Sunday’s opponents will exact a heavy price.

It’s interesting to note that Geoff Parling, England’s lineout caller and his Irish counterpart, Donnacha Ryan, both directed the majority of ball to themselves, each taking five catches in their respective games.

They’ll be poring over the video analysis for next Sunday’s game of poker at the Aviva stadium. Ireland tend to favour the middle of the lineout.

England, under coach Stuart Lancaster, employ a high tempo, offloading game and this is borne out by the figures at Twickenham.

They offloaded the ball in the tackle on 19 occasions whereas Ireland managed just three in Cardiff. Ireland favour the choke tackle, but might have to adapt their tactics a little next Sunday.

The English offloading game allowed them to make 11 line-breaks whereas Ireland only made two according to the official statistics.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney will also be painfully aware that his team cannot afford to concede 13 penalties as they did against Wales. The fact that the home side had to chase tries rather than three-pointers put a slightly different complexion on decision-making; Owen Farrell will punish Ireland if he’s given that latitude.

Suffice to say that two yellow cards and playing with 14 men for 20 minutes isn’t conducive to winning. England conceded just seven penalties.

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