Ireland prove too powerful for southern hemisphere visitors
Possession kicked away too often by home side
Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony jumps to win a high ball in the early stages of the match against Samoa on Saturday in which the home side, despite a patchy performance, emerged victorious. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho
Understandably therefore, not only was there the normal first-day rustiness but the pupils, as it transpired, were guilty of initially trying too hard to impress teacher. And Schmidt being an exacting, unforgiving task master, was unimpressed.
Nearing the half-hour mark, after another reset scrum consumed yet another irretrievable minute of our lives, Ireland ran the ball from left to right inside their 10m line. It was a well-choreographed set move straight off the Carton House “prunty” pitch. Paddy Jackson had three runners around him which checked the Samoan defence, passing the ball behind Gordon D’Arcy to the widest of those receivers, Brian O’Driscoll.
McFadden ran into traffic and a thunderous side-on hit from the Samoan blindside flanker Ofisa Treviranus. From static ball, Mike McCarthy trucked it up, Peter O’Mahony and Devin Toner struggled to effect the clean-out, and O’Mahony was a little harshly judged for going off his feet; Tusi Pisi landed the three-pointer.
In this, and much else, Ireland were authors of their own difficulties. Indeed, by then, to relieve the tedium of the first-half, the near 40,000 crowd opted for a Mexican Wave. A total of 16 scrums, including resets which took an age and generally wiped off a minute of play, was a huge contributory factor.
Too much of Ireland’s running game was also too late, although that said, their work when Samoa carried the ball into contact was good – chopped tackles and well-timed entries by the second and third man in – and this would be rewarded with two long-range tries in the second half. But Ireland’s ball retention, in the first-half especially, was sloppy. And when not bringing training ground moves to the Aviva, they too often opted to kick possession away.
This contrived to ensure Ireland had to make three times as many tackles as Samoa in the first half.
Some of the kicks were either too long or too far into the middle of the field, prompting Schmidt to imagine Israel Folau and Quade Cooper being the recipients, which would not have been comforting thoughts.