Sunday, November 19, 2006

Same Old, Same Old - But Better

Another Monday - another glad, confident morning for Irish rugby. It is almost becoming tiresome, the routine: putting down a few words about yet more happy tidings for the oval-ball proponents of this isle. Leinster, Munster, Ulster, Ireland; fantastic performance, impressive victory, total dominance, comfortable win. Yesterday was even better than what went before: few caveats, a near-full strength opposition; rotten oul' day, okay, but it was such for both teams, and they get rain in Sydney too you know.

Let's go further again. We can now add a slice of depth - if that is not a paradox - to our list of attributes. The Munster/Leinster subclassification of this Ireland team is no longer valid: Ulster are, like the gawky kid sister who grew up just as pretty as her older siblings, just as much a part of this Ireland squad now. Of all the Ulstermen who have contributed over the last fortnight - Trimble (who we admittedly knew all about), Best the flanker, Best the hooker, Young, Boss - none are tokenistic in their presence, and all have made robust claims for places on Ireland's best XV.

Yesterday was Neil Best's day; the number 6 did enough in his hour on the park to win several man of the match awards. In that first half in which Ireland effectively won the game, as possession after possession was recycled and the green waves crashed on the shores of Australia fair, Best was omnipresent in his ferocious mining of ball. When carrying, he was the proverbial irresistible force.

Back to depth though. Marcus Horan's injury reinforced the wisdom of breaking in Bryan Young. Imagine the worry that injury would have generated a year ago. "What's Reggie Corrigan up to these days?" In Jerry Flannery's absence Frankie Sheahan is not the only realistic alternative. Choice, natural selection: Rory Best, Frankie, who wants it more, boys?

Is there a new Boss at scrum half? Not yet probably. Stringer is a Beloved National Institution, after all. But the god of rugby won't have this Isaac sacrificed any time soon. The passes kept being slung, whipping out of the breakdown in that dominant first half spell and the Kiwi in green looks a fine international to have in reserve.

Of course that's all just another angle on the thing, the new boys, the whack of the Red Hand. Needless to say the monotonously excellent O'Connell, O'Gara, O'Driscoll, Horgan, Wallace, Leamy were as predictable as ever. But we're just getting fed up having to go on about it.

Mustn't be in our nature. Any chance of an embarassing implosion next week lads? Some sloppy defending? Powder-puff tackling? Uninventive, predictable attacking?

No? Tsk.



Blogger Fence said...

I don't think anyone could call that first half boring rugby, could they?

All we need now is for Connacht to cop on and stop losing matches they really should win. Not putting away chances and then losing by 2 points or a late try is getting seriously old at this stage.

9:45 a.m.  

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