Kidney deserves the chance to sit down with IRFU and explain where he thinks it all went wrong
Irish heads go down after another setpiece mistake. It was the key weakness in Ireland's game on Sunday because of the psychological blows that came from turning the ball over in the scrum and lineout.
From The Blindside:We’ve all been there at one stage or other playing rugby. You’re getting outplayed but you’re hanging on in there. The opposition is disrupting your lineout and putting your scrum under pressure but it’s still close on the scoreboard. Even though you’re camped in your own half and can’t get your hands on the ball, it’s still only a one-score or two-score game. The last thing you lose in that situation is hope.
Ireland lost on Sunday because they didn’t kill off Scotland’s hope.
Scotland were a team with almost no possession and no territory but the one thing they had was a way of getting back into the game. As long as you have that, you will still keep concentrating in defence because you know there’s a chance that the game could turn at any minute. And when the opposition keeps making a mess of line-breaks and losing attacking lineouts and scrums and missing penalties, you will keep finding the energy from somewhere.
Small things become big things. Paddy Jackson’s kick to touch that drops inside the line becomes a massive moment in the game because all of a sudden the team that has been dominating feel a little bit of a wobble and the team that has been defending feel like this is the break they need. It wasn’t just that Ireland weren’t able to make their pressure tell on the scoreboard, it was more that every time they did something really well they ruined it with a bad mistake.
The missed chances off the four clean line-breaks were bad but the lineouts and scrums were nearly worse. Mistakes will happen in open play and fellas can take the wrong option or try to over-complicate it in full flight. But for the lineout especially to go so wrong on the Scottish line when it has been a source of strength for Ireland in recent times was worrying.
Not just for outsiders looking it – it would have been worrying for the players on the pitch at the time. They would have been starting to get annoyed and frustrated by it but also a bit anxious. If they couldn’t rely on the lineout and if the scrum was in trouble even though they were dominating the play, what was going to happen when Scotland had a purple patch? These things can flash through a player’s mind when the basics start going wrong.
You’ve got to hurt a team on the scoreboard. That’s the only place hurt matters. Dominate away, play away with all the ball you like but if you don’t turn it into points you leave the other team in the game.
You’re not inflicting the psychological blows that kill off the other team’s spirit. Scotland kept getting little lifts – turnovers, penalties, scrums. These were energy boosters that came directly from Ireland’s inability to put them away.