Trimble meeting Gilroy challenge head on
Come the Six Nations and if Craig Gilroy isn’t picked for Ireland’s opener against Wales, Declan Kidney will assuredly receive plenty of flak. Yet, on the heels of the Ireland coach being vindicated for giving Gilroy his spectacular debut against Argentina after his hat-trick against Fiji, Mark Anscombe opted to retain faith in Andrew Trimble last Friday against Northampton. And he was thoroughly vindicated too.
Although his kicking and chasing game were flawed against South Africa, the 28-year-old Trimble hadn’t become a bad player overnight.
Forewarned by Trimble’s fine performance away to the Scarlets a week beforehand, Anscombe drew on what he knew would be the winger’s huge desire as well as his experience for the furnace that is a Friday night in Franklin’s Gardens.
Left to stew on his omission for the Argentina game, which he admits he couldn’t watch, Trimble was excellent. He made his tackles, caught a host of balls, dealt capably with balls in behind him, even kicked well once, ran hard, was twice unlucky not to free players with offloads deemed forward (one marginal), was creator in chief of Jared Payne’s try by switching the point of attack and giving a flat, left-to-right try scoring pass before Gilroy was introduced in the 70th minute.
Opened the scoring
He also, of course, opened the scoring with a superb predator’s finish, latching on to Paddy Jackson’s exquisite chip into a small in-goal area with an adroit catch and touchdown in one flourish on the run. It is surely enough for him to retain his place for Saturday’s re-match at Ravenhill, which will be his 50th Heineken Cup tie.
That was also Trimble’s 20th try, making him Ulster’s all-time leading try scorer in the competition, and compares well with the try-scoring machine on the opposite wing, Tommy Bowe, whose subsequent finish was his 23rd try in 50 Cup matches (25 each for the Ospreys and Ulster).
As endearingly honest as ever, Trimble admits the pressure coming from Gilroy compels him to reach the standards of last Friday every week.
“It had been a tough enough couple of weeks. It’s difficult losing your place to someone at your club because there is more at stake and it puts pressure on you to perform. If you get an opportunity you have to take it.
“If I keep getting picked I have to keep performing as well as I did last weekend or I won’t be picked again. It puts the emphasis on the next game; nobody wants to be dropped and nobody wants everyone to be talking about someone you’re competing with for a place.”