Ireland must beware Parisse and Co in last Six Nations Championship match, especially in the final 10 minutes
It will take a monumental performance from Ireland to stop Italy in Rome
He often stays away, allowing his backrow and props to truck it up, building multiphase. In essence they are happy to play without a 10. When they go wider, especially off first phase, it looks awkward and deep.
It appears the Italian scrumhalf will hit anyone but Orquera, who he found just three times in the first half. To be fair to Orquera, on just his sixth receipt he cross-kicked to Luke McLean on the left wing for a cracking try, which is not a bad return from six touches! But, by 54 minutes the score was 15-11 to England, with Orquera missing five points! Hence, it’s no bad thing Paddy Jackson gets another start to further develop.
Defensively, fullback Andrea Masi stands at 10, with Orquera floating wide and McLean stepping into first receiver on turnovers. Orquera’s defence should be tested but all the more if he is out of position. Their line speed in defence, however, is very impressive and Ireland will have to employ several tactics as they ride the first 20 minutes.
I’d love to see a very direct game in opening with Seán O’Brien much wider taking the ball hard off a very flat pass right on the gain line. This is a much harder tackle than from a standing start, running at the fringe Italian props, who fly up on both sides of the ruck in defence, clocking up multiple tackles. This is great but a scrumhalf like Paul Marshall could flip this on its head, getting around the corner quickly.
Italy have a very high completion rate at lineout time but rarely hit the tail and will go short and maul throughout. Consequently their lineout isn’t necessarily a source of possession to launch the back line, such is the brilliance of their short man lineout maul or the majestic front peels, with Parisse’s symbiotic interplaying with Alessandro Zanni.
Not unlike their back three, where Giovanbattista Venditti on the right wing may be a tad slow to turn but has a really strong left-arm hand-off. Conscious of computer games that display energy levels with Ireland close to empty, I marvel at Parisse, a thing of beauty, poise and leadership and a competitor who simply never stops. Hence it will take a monumental performance from Ireland to stop Italy in the last 10 minutes.
PS: Is it the end of the Ireland road for our most capped (94) second row Donncha O’Callaghan; phenomenal performance?