O'Driscoll is the master of time in a team performance
Rugby Analysis:Rugby, like any other game played on a field, is about creating space and subsequently exploiting that space. To that end Ireland had a game plan full of clarity implemented with ruthless efficiency – they were especially impressive without the ball. But in Brian O’Driscoll Ireland have a player who goes beyond creation and exploitation of space, so beautifully achieved for Simon Zebo’s try. O’Driscoll creates time.
When occupying the same pitch as the centre, total concentration is required. His shoulders would shift one way, with his feet and hips dancing another. But the strength of his subterfuge lies deep in his eyes where defenders can’t but help being sucked in. Where he is looking is so distracting to the defence, who are trying to eke out any advantage from the insight into his soul. What is he going to do next?
The Irish scrum was a thing of beauty with many Lions’ battles unfolding. Clearly the Irish frontrow had a plan to destabilise their counterparts. Partly for self preservation, partly for their team but I imagine they were simply sick and tired of the plaudits Adams Jones and Gethin Jenkins (both well deserving of their combined 179 Welsh caps) have received and their perceived importance to Wales.
It would appear that Mike Ross in particular (with Mike McCarthy behind him) started the momentum when getting inside Jenkins. This afforded both Rory Best and Cian Healy the opportunity to attack Jones in a combined assault of the greatest tighthead scrummagers in the game.
Momentum has been a key word all week and the intelligence that went into the Irish scrum must not be forgotten when rightly applauding O’Driscoll and Zebo’s outrageous skills. That momentum was obvious, less so the Irish frontrow or Craig Gilroy consistently staying out of touch.
Moments after Zebo’s Maradonaesque play, Gilroy stayed in play when more “experienced” wingers would have been bundled into touch. Then Healy, having gone toe to toe with Jenkins, popped up and barrelled over Mike Phillips to score Ireland’s second try, which was mentally huge for Ireland.
What makes a team? On 10 minutes and three seconds Conor Murray fed the ball into an attacking scrum on the right hand side. Ross once again destabilised Jenkins and Jamie Heaslip went open to Murray who found blindside winger Gilroy. Off the breakdown Healy popped up in midfield. When Murray found his outhalf, Wales were comfortable in defence. Inside Jonny Sexton was Ross who worked hard to get there. Outside him were O’Driscoll, Rob Kearney and Zebo who faced four Welsh defenders.