Wolfhounds lose bite after the break
Irish Wolfhounds 10 England Saxons 14:Declan Kidney was given a selection headache this evening ahead of the Six Nations opener against Wales next weekend, but not the sort he might have hoped for. In defeat to the Saxons at The Sportsground, Ireland’s scrum was buckled all too regularly and much of the damage was done by Nick Wood on the side of tighthead Michael Bent.
He recently arrived from New Zealand to add some steal to the Irish frontrow, but after tonight’s showing Kidney may have to rethink plans for the Millennium Stadium.
Ireland began brightly and, with the wind at their backs, showed ambition and purpose. Jackson missed his first sight at the posts but when Kevin McLaughlin crashed over the line in the 10th minute and the outhalf added the extras, all looked well.
The cracks began to appear shortly afterwards as Ireland were dominated in the scrum but another Jackson penalty and some staunch defending late in the half saw them make it to the break with a 10-0 lead.
Tom Court was introduced for David Kilcoyne at the break, but the problems were at tighthead and they persisted. With the wind in their favour, England pinned Ireland back with Leicester outhalf George Ford rising to his task with a cool head. After a sustained period of pressure, in which Ireland defended admirably with a series of big hits, Ford reduced the arrears to seven with a penalty and then four with another.
In the 67th minute, his break laid the foundation for a move that saw Will Fraser stay strong in the tackle from Luke Fitzgerald and touch down in the corner. Ford missed the conversion but another penalty left Ireland needing a try and that proved too much for a team with an broken scrum and a lineout that had suffered since the withdrawal of Munster’s Mike Sherry.
Replacement Iain Henderson went very close moments after his introduction but his effort was ruled out after he scrambled for the line having been stopped by a tackle.