Mixed performance but Madigan and Ruddock impress
Leinster outhalf has rediscovered his knack for geting in for tries in tight games
With only one score between Ireland and Argentina when he came on with 15 minutes to go in the second and final Test of the series, Ian Madigan produced his trademark magic to get in for a vital try under the posts. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
A mixed bag of a performance and, rather summing up something of a no-win end-of-season tour containing two long treks and four internal travel days in a fortnight, there were mixed results individually too.
Rhys Ruddock left an indelible impression with on his first Test start, and Simon Zebo made significant strides from a low base, while it was encouraging to see Ian Madigan grasp the game in his own inimitable style.
Joe Schmidt had spoken beforehand of not , ideally, wanting to finish the game with a half-back combination of Kieran Marmion and Madigan, certainly not a taut endgame with the result in the balance.
After Conor Murray was ruled out with a dead leg, this prospect came increasingly into focus when Johnny Sexton suffered concussion and Madigan was brought on with 15 minutes to go and with one score between the sides.
When Madigan soon compounded a missed penalty by Sexton with one of his own, the game remained in the balance as Paul O’Connell opted to turn turned down a three-pointer for the third time in the match by going for the corner.
There was a renewed intent about Ireland as they went through umpteen phases but the crowd’s chanting was growing in volume as the Pumas kept repelling the green charges, until Madigan showed and broke one tackle before skipping past Tomás Cubelli to score under the posts.
Following on from his match-winning try against Ulster in the Pro12 semi-finals, Madigan has re-discovered his exceptional knack for scoring tries with his first for Ireland in addition to 20 for Leinster. <QA0>
“I think when things aren’t going well for you, you revert back to type. I had a good chat with Isa Nacewa about six weeks ago and he just kind of re - assured me of what I was good at. I’ve just tried to go back to that, and one of my strengths is showing and going with the ball, and beating people one-on-one with feet, and it’s worked well for me over the last weeks.”
Recounting the score itself, Madigan said: “We were on their line. Their goal-line “D” was really excellent throughout the game, and they were coming off really hard off the line, so I think when a team is doing that to have lateral movement makes it harder for them to defend, and I tried to get Zebo in on a trail and I knew if I had a danger man like him running at the back of me, he’d be a good man at dragging defenders and luckily that created a one-on-one . Luckily that created a one-on-one for me and I was managed to slip through.”
Madigan was as frustrated as anyone by Ireland’s failure to retain the ball in promising positions, but it has been an encouraging two weeks for a player originally earmarked for the Emerging Ireland team at the IRB Nations Cup ; and that facile 66-0 win in 45 minjutes over Russia .<QA0>
“Romania would have presented good opportunities for me to get game time at outhalf, but I think to be surrounded by the best players in your country is probably better for your game, both in training and playing with them.
I think when you come into the Irish squad and training with players from all around your country, it definitely lifts your game. You learn things off them and then drive your own game on. I’ve certainly found that over the last two weeks.”
“It’s been a rollercoaster year. Any high was quickly followed by quite a bad low,” said Madiga n when reflecting on his season, and n, citing the back-to-back games against Northampton last December, and the try-scoring feat against Ulster followed by initially missing out on this squad.
“It certainly hasn’t gone to plan. At the start of the season I would have intended to be first-choice with Leinster and pushing for a starting spot in the Ireland team.
“I ended up being second choice in Leinster and second/third choice with Ireland. It’s not back to the drawing board, but I think it’s about continuing on next season from the strong finish I’ve had to this year. ”
His main lesson is to hit the ground running, although he was a victim of his own versatility and others being unavailable at the start of the season just completed.
“I think you’ve got to start the season quickly. It’s a big part of it. If you start the season well with your club in the league and in Europe that has a great knock-on effect going into the autumn internationals, and if you miss the jump with your club you’re just on the back foot for the season, and I felt like I was just chasing my tail a small bit from having a slow start with Leinster.”
“On the club side of it I think I’ve learned a huge amount from Matt and I understand what he wants more as a coach now , as opposed to last year, when I wasn’t too sure what he wanted from certain parts of the pitch or in certain parts of the game .
“He’s a pleasure to work with and I’m really looking forward to next season.”