Robert Baloucoune waits patiently as Ireland flex their muscles

Ulster flyer did nothing wrong but found chances to stretch his legs at a premium

Robert Baloucoune was largely starved of ball during Ireland’s win over Argentina. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Robert Baloucoune was largely starved of ball during Ireland’s win over Argentina. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

Throughout the match the referee, England’s Matthew Carley could be heard saying to the Argentinean frontrow: “lots of patience, lots of patience.” That might well have been the instruction from Irish coach Andy Farrell to right wing Robert Baloucoune before he lined out to earn his second cap for Ireland.

The Enniskillen flier scored in his first international game against the USA earlier this year but it took almost 37 minutes against Argentina for him to receive a direct pass from his team.

Prior to that Baloucoune had put in a couple of tackles, the first at the start of the match and fetched a high ball that he gave to James Lowe for a clearance.

But as for utilising the pace of the 24-year-old Ulster player, well, Ireland just didn’t go there until fullback Hugo Keenan found himself in possession wide right shortly before half-time and he delivered outside for the first time in the game.

The former Ireland Sevens player made ground and got his hands on the ball again and made more ground with Caelan Doris going in for his try shortly afterwards.

But Baloucoune could have been forgiven for going in at the break a weary traveller having watched James Lowe take high balls in offence and defence, run lines in central field positions, occasionally act as first receiver to Conor Murray and vigorously insert himself into the match.

Closing at 24-7 ahead would have been the principle talking point for the Irish team, with all the first-half tries coming from their forwards muscling ball, with Josh Van Der Flier, Andrew Porter and Doris earning the tries.

It was a game working for them but it begs the question what Baloucoune’s offensive role was in the first 40 minutes other than stay on his wing and wait for his chance to show what great speed he possesses.

The second-half was better in terms of hands on ball with Baloucoune’s slap back from a high kick leading to Ryan Baird’s galloping solo charge down the pitch just seven minutes in.

Frission

It was a match occasionally in need of some wide ball electricity and there was a certain frisson that went through the crowd whenever they sensed Baloucoune could make a break. But largely he was denied the opportunity to provide it and what mini breaks came for him were presented in heavy traffic. The speed of the ball from the forwards and through the scrumhalf was probably a factor.

While Baloucoune ran more often inside for training ground moves that swept across the pitch, the first of which was stopped by Argentina centre Matais Moroni, he also provided himself as the link man in the midfield.

But as the minutes ticked away past the 55 mark and onto the hour, the runner was still dramatically short on clear chances to run.

In the 64th minute Baloucoune’s hitch kick indicated that he had fired the jets. Again the crowd murmured in anticipation as he sharply angled infield. But before he had changed gear, he was high tackled by Facundo Isa in centre field.

After the hour a high pass bounced off his chest but he recovered well and controlled the ball as Keith Earls came into the game in the centre position in place of Robbie Henshaw. Both Lowe and Baloucoune remained in place.

By then the match had taken a certain aspect and it was entirely forward shaped. Lowe, who was involved more than Baloucoune, never had the chance to stretch his legs like he did scoring the opening try against the All Blacks last week.

With less than 10 minutes to go Cian Healy and Tadhg Beirne added their names to the growing list of scoring pack men. It just seemed like that sort of day. Ireland were making yards and putting scores on the board keeping the ball close and playing to strengths.

Robert Baloucoune is tackled by Matias Moroni during Ireland’s win over Argentina. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty
Robert Baloucoune is tackled by Matias Moroni during Ireland’s win over Argentina. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

Late in Lowe and Baloucoune found themselves on the right wing on a two versus one. There wasn’t much space to create a clear channel but was a chance to thread the ball through with the boot, which Lowe attempted to do.

He made the play and Baloucoune prepared to go before the bobble took the ball over the line and into touch.

Baloucoune will have gone into the changing room believing that he did nothing wrong in the match and in the absence of chances to do what he’s good at, mucked in.

He will also see 53 points on the board and understand the nature of the game is to win whatever way that comes about.

So too might he wonder from his narrow viewpoint what sort of match he would have had if Ireland had played a game more similar to the two that came before.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.