Ireland struggle for cohesion against Fiji

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Ireland claimed a 35-17 victory over Fiji in the Aviva on Saturday in a game that lacked oomph. The score line flatter Ireland in many ways and Andy Farrell was not happy about his side’s performance.

 

“We didn’t have much continuity. The way we started the game was slow. The way we finished the game was poor – kicking the ball off to the crowd, and not having a crack, summed it all up for us.”

 

That quote is very open and honest from the Irish head coach. It is clear that he had expected a dominating performance from his inexperienced but still uber talented team. As an Irish fan I am happy to hear that he is not pleased with the performance and nor should he be. Ireland started poorly. The atmosphere around the stadium was flat and it seemed to impact the players. Fiji opened the scoring with some beautiful passing and beat Ireland out wide in their typical fashion.

 

Ireland eventually got to grips with the game, but they still never really got into top gear. It was a spluttering performance. There were a few stand out performers. Nick Timoney won man of the match and scored two tries.  Tadhg Beirne and Kieran Treadwell ran hard and made some big yards when called upon. Jimmy O’Brien impressed again at full-back. There were a lot of ok performances but that really sums up the game. Just ok.

 

Ireland fans will have seen performances like these before and it always seems to be for one reason. Not having Johnny Sexton on the field. It is a problem and one that they have created for themselves, but I will go into more detail during the week regarding that.

 

Another big worry for Farrell will be the number of entries into Fiji’s 22 without points. Ireland have become one of the better teams at being super-efficient when it comes to getting points from 22 entries. On Saturday it just wasn’t clicking. Like I have said, the team seemed flat. This team was full of players who are trying to get on a plane to a world cup next year. They should be raring to go and on edge for the rare opportunities they get. They should be the furthest thing from flat.

 

Fiji at one stage were down to 13 men. One man sent off for a dangerous hit on Joey Carberry and a red card it was. Let’s hope Joey is ok after that because it was a huge hit. Then another yellow picked up from Fiji a few minutes later. Ireland seemed almost unprepared for a situation like this for some reason. Ireland faced this exact scenario against Italy in the 6 Nations this year. They didn’t use the space left for far too long. When they eventually did, Mack Hansen crossed over in acres of space. Small things like these is what will lose games for Ireland against tougher opposition. Ireland need to be razor sharp no matter who is on the pitch. They have far too much talent not too be.

 

One of the positives was the three new caps that made their debut for the Irish team. Jeremy Loughman, Cian Prendergast, and Jack Crowley all got on the pitch and will remember this day for a long time. Crowley looked comfortable at ten and I think he will gain from that experience despite the overall team performance. Loughman played really solidly and will be in and around squads for many years to come. Prendergast has so much talent and potential that you have to imagine he will win many caps in the years to come. Congratulations to those players and their families.

 

Farrell will have plenty to work on during the week as they prepare for a wounded Wallabies team after they got upset by the Italians. He will be expecting a reaction from the Australians but also a reaction from his own team who will be looking to put Saturday’s performance behind them.

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