Sport: Oval Digest – One Down In Wales…
Some Irish bodies will be very sore today. Saturday saw one of the most ferociously paced 6 Nations games of recent memory, though Ireland’s wounds will heal much quicker after a huge win in Cardiff.
Prior to the early kick off, opinion was divided as to whether Ireland’s positive showing against Argentina in November was a flash in the pan, or a signal of intent. We got our answer very quickly. From the off, Ireland’s forwards dominated the Welsh team’s, and the golden oldies at 12 and 13, dwarfed by their counterparts, played like men possessed. O’Driscoll in particular rolled back the years, and showed us why we’ll likely never again see a warrior like him in Irish sport.
The rugby was excellent all round too. Zebo’s first was created by a mesmeric O’Driscoll pass which betrayed giant wing Alex Cuthbert’s international inexperience. Zebo dotted down, Sexton converted and we were off.
Just as in November, our 9 and 10 combination looked like they were clicking. Murray couldn’t handle the raw physicality of Mike Phillips in a World Cup knockout just 18 months ago, but put a claim down for Lions honours with another good performance in green. Sexton could have been forgiven for being slightly off the ball, with lots going on in his life at the moment, but Ireland’s 10 again illustrated why he’s the best in the tournament.
For our second, Rory Best blocked and gathered, Zebo pulled out a moment of sheer brilliance that electrified pubs around Europe, and Healy finally rumbled over.
Of course, Wales were bound to come roaring back. The addition of Osprey Tipuric caused Ireland huge problems and a strange yellow for Rory Best made Irish hearts beat a little faster. The defensive stand, just like the offense in the first half, was excellent however, and despite another yellow for Murray, Ireland held out for the win.
Best of the bunch were O’Driscoll, captain Heaslip and the Panzer division of O’Brien and Healy. Special mention too to the engine room. When you don’t notice the loss of a world class player like O’Connell, you know we’ve unearthed two gems.
The confidence is seeping out of the Irish camp, and with the auld enemy coming this weekend, and France already down one, who would bet against us
Physicality means everything this Sunday, meaning some calls for the addition of Henry and Fitzgerald, though it’s likely Kidney will maintain a winning team. If we make it two from two, we can certainly start to dream.