Flowering Scotland send Kidney and Ireland homeward to think again
It was always a risk, albeit somewhat enforced, to blood 21-year-old outhalf Paddy Jackson at this juncture, talented player though he is, given his goalkicking form and recent ankle injury meant he hadn’t taken a place kick in a month.
Well though he ran and passed, a return of one from four contributed to Ireland’s endgame plight. Ronan O’Gara’s inability to rescue the situation – a misguided crosskick contributing to heightened Irish angst – suggests things mightn’t necessarily have panned out all that differently, but O’Gara might at least have helped Ireland apply some pressure on the scoreboard.
The heavy casualty list hurt Ireland badly, and no-one, unsurprisingly, was missed more than Sexton. Had he been playing, or had Ireland even taken one or certainly two of the four first-half try-scoring chances they created for themselves, then assuredly they would have won comfortably.
The same might be said if they had sought to build more pressure on the Scots on the scoreboard with three-pointers. Jamie Heaslip maintained that having a 21-year-old debutant at outhalf had no bearing on his decisions to go for the corner, but it’s hard to believe that didn’t have some bearing, as, most probably, did Jackson’s first miss.
Finish them off
Asked what Ireland might have done differently aside from take their chances, Kidney said: “There were so many of them (chances) really. You go into the game to try and create them, and we managed to do that, and then you just need to finish them off. The penalties we gave away that gave them their 12 points, I thought at least two of them were very soft from our point of view to cough up. That’s something definitely we’ll have to take a look at.”
“We probably got into three, four lineout positions inside their 22. Had we won them, that would have put more pressure on them too and more points could have come from that. We had a couple of line breaks, obviously the place-kicking as well then too.”
Kidney himself will bear the brunt of the critical fallout from this defeat, but needless to say he wasn’t inclined to make it personal. “I just feel the same way as the rest of the players and the management. There will be frustration given that we created that much that we didn’t manage to win out a game, and that’s what it will be. It’ll be a case of analysing it, picking out bits that I can show the players, create even more the next time if possible and look to win the next match, and that’s all that I will be thinking about.”
For him especially, though, it will be a long fortnight.