I struggle with the logic of Declan Kidney taking Conor Murray off with 20 minutes left
I have huge admiration for the Irish frontrow but there is something rotten in the state of Denmark if a hooker only gets pitch time if a scrumhalf is injured
As stated here many times; when you lose you can deserve praise andwhen you win you can deserve criticism but when you draw it can be most confusing, especially against the French, twice in a row.
So in watching the game many aspects struck a chord with me. I remember back to that line kick young Paddy Jackson missed in Edinburgh that was cordially returned with interest to Rob Kearney who, defying the odds, ran back into a wall of blue clad Scots with the inevitable penalty arriving to give Scotland victory.
This time Kearney was supreme in every touch of the ball. Most impressively he did the complete opposite of that counter against Scotland. On Saturday he chose to field the ball and immediately trade space for time.
There are many complicated principles in rugby that are crucial but none more so than “go forward” but Kearney decided that going laterally from the French, thus avoiding their physicality, to find green grass deep in their territory was how wet weather rugby should be played.
Aligned to him Conor Murray was immense in his appreciation of the conditions and the young man outside him at outhalf. I gave up logging the box kicks from his boot but each time he kicked he added value to the game plan and took untold amounts of pressure off Jackson.
I often marvelled at Peter Stringer’s manic type delivery of the ball which gave outhalves such opportunity based on accuracy and speed of delivery. But on Saturday Murray’s kicking gave Jackson time to read and appreciate the environment he faced. Hence in just his second cap Jackson looked comfortable and at ease, which manifested itself in his brilliant place kicking.
[CROSSHEAD]Taking Murray off
[/CROSSHEAD]Perversely, and considering my constant focus on the bench and the need for a full 23 man approach, I was very surprised and struggled to understand the logic in taking Murray off with 20 minutes remaining. I’m a huge fan of Eoin Reddan but the conditions and the score suggested that Murray was the best option.
Align that with Seán Cronin’s entry to the fray and once again the use of the bench was perplexing. Why does it take a suspected broken leg to a scrumhalf before our sub hooker gets introduced? In fact when was the last time an international frontrow completed a full 80 minutes?
Many will highlight the youth and inexperience of players numbers 17 and 18 but Mike Ross was barely able to stand and deliver as the game ticked by. The quality of the French opposition was evident in the two free kicks and two penalties conceded by Ireland after just 25 minutes.
On 52 minutes and 26 seconds Ross found himself double teamed by Thomas Domingo at loosehead and Benjamin Kayser at hooker. Domingo slipped outside Ross with Kayser attacking him and the great enemy of big tightheads, height came to play. Just as Ross became vulnerable both French men lifted the height and Ross was exposed.