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Ireland’s improvement in lineouts created the platform to beat Scotland

After beating South Africa there were doubts about the Irish lineout but not anymore

Ireland's flanker Peter O'Mahony reaches for the ball in a lineout ahead of Scotland's lock Richie Gray. Photograph: Franck Fife/AFP via Getty

Ireland lost five of their first eight lineouts against the Springboks in an earlier World Cup Pool B match and for a long time in the first half in the match, it looked like the set piece was going to drag Ireland down. Crisis, what crisis?

If there was any concern about the potency of the Irish lineout going in against Scotland, it was assuredly lifted after just a minute into the game, when Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan nailed one on to Peter O’Mahony as Ireland went through the first half with seven secured balls from seven Sheehan throws.

The Irish hooker also hit lock Tadhg Beirne and number eight Caelan Doris. But it was O’Mahony who dominated in the air to send a strong message to forwards coach Paul O’Connell that the misfiring against South Africa is a thing of the past that he no longer needs to be concerned about. In the first half the imperious O’Mahony took four balls from Sheehan and he stole two of Scotland’s throws. Even when the bench was emptied in the second half and a different frontrow and jumpers came on, Kelleher carried on from where Sheehan left off.

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He hit Ryan with the first one on 57 minutes and the final two lineouts towards the end of the match found a rising Jack Conan taking clean ball. The final lineout of the match almost led to a try when Ireland formed a driving maul off possession. That earned a penalty on the five-metre line and when they decided to run the ball from there, Finlay Bealham thought he was over for a final try of the game only to be called back by Referee Nic Berry for a knock-on.


From the ashes of the Irish lineout against South Africa, Ireland can go into their quarterfinal against New Zealand knowing that their set piece is, literally, in good hands whether it is Sheehan or Kelleher taking the throws.

What that gives Ireland is an attacking platform they can count on and with O’Mahony in such fine form on the defensive as well as offensive side, it is a piece of the All Black play book they know Ireland will target and contest. The confidence, accuracy and poise has returned to an important part of Ireland’s game with 10 lineouts and 10 won and two nicked from Scotland by the Munster backrow, O’Mahony.