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Saturday Mar 14, 2015

Wales dash Ireland's Grand Slams hopes in epic Cardiff battle

Wales dash Ireland's Grand Slams hopes in epic Cardiff battle
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Wales put in a sensational defensive effort to end Ireland’s unbeaten run with a 23-16 victory at the Millennium Stadium. Scott Williams scored a try and Leigh Halfpenny kicked five penalties for the home side, while Ireland picked up a penalty try.

Johnny Sexton was a bit off with the boot early on but got three penalties and a conversion, while Dan Biggar grabbed a well taken drop goal.

Wales’ early 12-0 lead was chopped down by Sexton, and the sides went into the halftime break at 15-9. Wales held Ireland out for long periods of play but the Williams try proved vital to their cause.

“I thought it was admirable the way we came back,” Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said. “If it was disappointing at all, it was at the start. We were down 12-0 without having really got into the game.”

Brian O’Driscoll paid due credit to Wales’ defensive play, giving former British & Irish Lions midfield partner Jamie Roberts a nod in particular, then tweeting:

Ahead of the final weekend, which now involved a three-horse race, New Zealander Schmidt added:

“England are at home again next week against France and they’re going to be pretty tough to catch. Wales have got to go away to Italy and I think that will be tough for them but they’ll be looking to enhance their points differential as much as they can.”

View extended highlights below, with more clips to follow soon. Game of the tournament so far? Who would you say are favourites to win the Championship now?



29 Comments

  • kadova
    9:19 PM 06/04/2015

    Oliver, another French fan here. You should stop reading French newspapers. The Irish never claimed Heaslip had broken vertebrae, only French papers did. The 4 weeks were a usual time for what Heaslip had. Irish had not lied. Do like me and read newspapers from the relevant country :)

    Reply
  • reality
    11:06 PM 18/03/2015

    Well, when I say I loved it I mean that the difference in treatment was absolutely ridiculous and Craig Joubert-like. But in reference to your point about Barnes, I actually find it funny how he congratulates players. At scrum time it's fine, because each referee might expect a different thing and the players need to know if they're doing what's expected. Getting out of the way in rucks is just the basics of rugby though, and thanking players for it just weakens his image as an authority figure, in my opinion.

    Reply
  • drg
    6:42 PM 18/03/2015

    ...is that a joke?

    Reply
  • reality
    10:27 PM 17/03/2015

    Personally, I loved the way he continued to penalise Irish players who got caught on the wrong sides of rucks (rightly or wrongly, depending on your opinion) and then when Dan Lydiate did it he just said, "He did everything he could to get out of the way" and didn't penalise him, even though in that instance he really was obstructing the exit of the ball from the ruck.

    Reply
  • themull
    8:08 PM 17/03/2015

    That flick is exactly the sort of thing I'm talking about and personally i feel he's been living off that flick for the past number of years, because i cant really remember any superb performances by him in an ireland jersey..he was good was england two weeks ago, but he wasn't amazing..Not saying Zebo has been palying bad, just nothing standing out to me from most of his performances...I feel if we are going to stick to the physical game then we need to get Trimble back asap..but as i said before i think we need to try the likes of earls and fitzgerald and gilroy in there to try and open up some space

    Reply
  • drg
    11:59 AM 17/03/2015

    I didn't like hearing Barnes congratulating players on getting the **** out the way in rucks... "Well done fella", "Thanks mate" etc... all seemed a bit weird to me. As for Zebo, I was very uninspired by his game, are his moments of magic to few and far between? That time he sort of kicked/flicked the ball into his hands was immense, but that was 2-3 'Six Nations' ago now? (inc this one!).... I'm not finding he offers enough.

    Reply
  • drg
    11:56 AM 17/03/2015

    The problem I have with your comment is that it's one of those situations where I think you have to look more at your own camp than you do of others... Someone puts a scratch on your car and you say "it's ok, I can sort it myself"...Next year you put a scratch on their car and they want your insurance details etc... you can't blame them and use the excuse that you didn't cause problems for them. Well you can but it won't mean anything. The actions by Pape were dirty, stupid, obvious and dangerous - the Irish would be right to want him cited. In similar fashion, the actions by Healy in that video you showed were also dirty, stupid, obvious and dangerous and personally I think the French should have asked it to be reviewed/cited. I cannot sit here and say, well it's tit for tat... However I do believe that players being cited should be judged on their actions and not really on the outcome. Take for instance Lote Tiquiri spear tackle on Richie McCaw years ago, on another man that could have been a broken neck - I think the actions and the extent of the actions should be punished, but the fact Mr McCaw DIDN'T break his neck, is not something that should mean a reduction of sentence.

    Reply
  • oliver
    8:20 AM 17/03/2015

    I'm not defending Pape. It's just the way these things are handled by management that irks me. How can you say a player has 3 fractured vertebrae then have him play 4 weeks later? On the other hand, when Cian Healy did that flying headbutt thing on Picamoles, only last year, there was no yellow card and no red either. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifEvDBfZe0w Did French management cite him afterwards ?? No! So I hope you understand if I feel a bit aggrieved.......

    Reply
  • themull
    9:47 PM 16/03/2015

    As usual barnes made the game all about himeself and made some baffling decisions...In the end they ended up costing ireland although he wasn't particualarly favouring eitehr side..The biggest calls just seemed to go in wales' favour, particularly that last collapsed maul and the scrum won against the head..I've no particular problem with how he reffed the breakdown because he made it clear from the outset how he wanted it..however eh has to acknowledge when the team going forward are holding on at ruck time..he literally made it into a no contest zone Wales put in a huge shift in defence and as I mentioned after the Enlgand match ireland are going to have to start picking players who are that bit more creative for when "joe-ball" isn't working..I believe i also picked wales out as one of the teams that the kicking game would be difficult to execute against ;) Unfortunately now we have no real competitive matches left before the world cup once this six nations is over meaning this is probably going to be the same backline which starts @ WC To be honest I dont think zebo offers that much for ireland.he has moments of good but far too many games he is average.Not saying he's playing bad but for a winger he's simply not creating enough..That is also due to payne too imo who is also not creative enough with ball in hand..He's great for a power game, but that will only get you so far against the likes of jamie Roberts and george north etc... Would really like to see schmidt try and get them playing with a bit more flair with ball in hand, and on that note I would like to see Gilroy, Fitzgerald and Earls become more involved in the starting line ups...That game was there for the taking by ireland but they simply weren't good enough in the backs..It's also very disconcerting how many times ireland ahve knocked on good ball...So many little offloads and pop passes have not gone to hand menaing that any momentum we do make is often nullified through our own mistakes

    Reply
  • drg
    6:15 PM 16/03/2015

    I got called out for semantics on another thread, but regardless of the extent of the injury, from what I am lead to believe, punishments are more based on actions and less based on the outcome/injury. If don't think Pape purposefully kneed Heaslip then I'll have to forgive you for being a blind French fan because I don't think it could have been an awful lot more obvious. Was it worth 10 weeks? I don't know, possibly not, but it was dirty, dangerous and I am glad he got banned. The only thing I'd change is the colour of the card, he should have got a red card.

    Reply
  • boybath
    2:31 PM 16/03/2015

    Thats actually shown as an offence in the IRBs videos for reffing the BD only the 9 is allowed to pop his hands in.

    Reply
  • boybath
    2:27 PM 16/03/2015

    The thing is it buys you 2 seconds - which is a lifetime in defence. As soon as they stopped doing it the game opened up - its amazing they all claimed they couldn't help it then as soon as the penny dropped they stopped going on the ground on the wrong side. He will have been positioning himself in accordance to where his homework showed the offences were over the rest of the tournament.

    Reply
  • oliver
    11:04 AM 16/03/2015

    yes I did read nonsense like that, "soft tissue fracture" and so on. But if it's soft tissue, it's not a fracture. Pretty simple. Don't believe me, ask any doctor.

    Reply
  • reality
    10:14 AM 16/03/2015

    Very true about the predictability of the Irish attack. I don't understand why they didn't try taking the ball at pace from rucks. Standing still while receiving the ball and having the defence immediately on top of you is simply not good enough, especially at international level.

    Reply
  • oliver
    9:44 AM 16/03/2015

    to make myself clearer : - the Irish management lied to get a bigger ban for Pape. OR - the Irish management does not care about their players' well being and future health.

    Reply
  • oliver
    9:35 AM 16/03/2015

    That was a cracker of a game. But as I expected, when Sexton is not kicking as well, the Irish are a much diminished threat. Now as a French fan, I'd like to point out that Heaslip returning to play 70 minutes of international rugby 4 weeks after his injury can only mean 2 things: - the Irish management lied to get a bigger ban for Pape. - the Irish management does not care about their players' well being and future health. No way in hell can anyone recover from 3 fractures in 4 weeks. I dont know what the answer is, but in any case it's not pretty.

    Reply
  • larry
    9:18 PM 15/03/2015

    It didn't help Barnes that he positioned himself opposite of the loose-head time and time again. As a ref there's only one reason to do that, and it would be shenanigans by props on that side opposite from the put in. There didn't seem to be a problem caused by foul play from props, so I don't know why he wasn't checking scrum put ins from where a ref usually does. Anyway, it was pretty obvious that crooked feeds were being allowed. On the other hand, there were more than a few times when penalties were blown up for players being on the ground on the wrong side of rucks when their being on the ground wasn't in any way obstructing play from continuing. As a ref I let that go. I don't if the player on the ground is infringing on play continuing. No harm, no foul!

    Reply
  • larry
    9:10 PM 15/03/2015

    I think there needs to be some law changes, as in if someone comes behind a ruck and the ball is sitting there at the foot of the last player in the ruck, the ball must be played immediately, or the ref yells ball out and the defense can come across the offside line created by the ruck. I think that would stop this "guaranteed" possession aspect of the game that makes it so much more like rugby league and so much less like rugby union used to look. Also, no more of these players adding themselves onto rucks and "hiking" American football style the ball back to another player. It really amounts to hands in the ruck, but it's allowed anyway. If the ball is still in the ruck, it's supposed to be played with the foot, not the hand, and that's obvious!

    Reply
  • larry
    9:07 PM 15/03/2015

    Carwyn James wouldn't approve of these static ruck tactics.

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  • 6:14 PM 15/03/2015

    Great commitment by the welsh but Ireland were as predictable as a clock. Ruck, pass from 9 (108 times, only 3 runs), tackle behind the line, repeat. No pick and go (maybe 4 or 5 the whole match), as I said before, only 3 runs by Murray (reddan made a difference), not great game by sexton. Reminds me of my last provincial coach who demanded every ball went from the 10 to the 13 because it worked for his HS teams. A winless season followed. Now not comparing schimdt to that fool, but being too robotic and not playing what's in front of u, will not work against a team of Wales caliber. Ireland also needs some more big ball carriers besides SOB.

    Reply
  • reality
    4:56 PM 15/03/2015

    I think the main reason Ireland lost was that they were crap and not because of the referee, but having said that, I think Barnes did screw Ireland over a few times. They were loads of small things like in the first half when Halfpenny took a high ball, clearly held on when SOB contested the ball, and then the support all dived in off their feet. The fact that it ended up resulting in a penalty for Wales which put them two scores ahead was just beyond belief, but whatever. Then there's the penalty try minus the yellow card. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought a penalty try for collapsing a maul was generally accompanied by a yellow. Again, whatever. What really annoyed me though was how Barnes just refused to referee the scrum. It was Ireland's only area of clear dominance and he just refused to actually referee it. Crooked feeds all day from the Welsh scrumhalves and no penalties when they collapsed the scrum. The one in the last play was just unbelievable - worthy of Craig Joubert. So obviously not straight, Ireland still win it against the head, and then a penalty against Ireland? I'm not saying Ireland would have gotten a try, but I wouldn't have betted against it. Aside from the referee though, I thought Rob Kearney was absolutely terrible. Can someone not tell him to run at space when he counterattacks rather than running at the nearest defender? The Welsh counterattack was light-years ahead of Ireland's.

    Reply
  • larry
    3:15 PM 15/03/2015

    I agree. It's how law has been written and applied at the breakdown. Basically a team with the ball has almost "guaranteed" possession now, and with all the "ruck" phases, the game has turned into a version of rugby league. With the emphasis on this grinding out phase play there's little chance for tries to be scored, and there's so many defenders in mid-field anyway. The best chance to score would be for counter-attacking by fullbacks and wings when the opposition kick away possession and kick too deeply. But these wings and fullbacks have a tendency to run right at the nearest opposite colored jersey and set up....wait for it....another "ruck."

    Reply
  • larry
    3:10 PM 15/03/2015

    The referee did penalize both teams numerous times. He was applying the law regarding the breakdown very strictly. I didn't understand the last call at all and agree that Ireland seemed to have won a rare ball against the head (you don't see that very much in first class rugby), and might have had a last second chance to score. The game might have been lost by Ireland when their #17 knocked the ball on near the goal line. Three backs were unmarked outside him. The scrum half should have chucked the ball out wide to one of them. When I played props weren't loitering outside of rucks; they were in them fighting for the ball. But that's how the game has developed in the last few decades, as rucks are a joke, as are multiple phases that ground out a few inches of territory at a time, and even mauls with this "truck & trailer" legalized obstruction. Perhaps Ireland needed to use that tactic more. It did bring them that penalty try, and perhaps Wales did pull down another maul later in the second half, but I doubt the referee was going to award another penalty try. That's not always an easy decision by a referee, as sometimes it's obvious that the maul is being pulled down, and other times the team with the ball is trying to go to ground to set up a ruck, and it might appear that the maul is being pulled down. Maybe truck and trailer needs to be made into obstruction again, and mauls need to be conducted the way they used to be, as in the lead player with the ball was pushed forward by his team until the scrum half or acting scrum half called for the ball.

    Reply
  • larry
    2:55 PM 15/03/2015

    I see there's a few comments about the referee and all the penalties given in this game, which really went in no one team's favor. As Eddie Butler pointed out, the team in possession was going to benefit from very strict application of law as it exists regarding the breakdown, the tackle, and if defenders are rolling away or getting away from the breakdown, whether being near or on the ground was going to affect play or not. But I see other things wrong with the game as a whole, not just in this one alone. Ireland might have scored on if that substitute prop wasn't in the way, as three back were unmarked outside him, but there in itself is part of what is wrong with the game in the last decade or so. That prop and most all forwards of either side would have been fighting for possession in the past, not out in the backs, some time ago in a similar situation. Now the midfield is cluttered, even that close to the goal line. For Wales they did find space when they scored their try. Seems Ireland's defense got misplaced or just got that tired enough not to be able to cover out wide. So Wales did the right thing in defense down to that knock on by number 17 in green, because Ireland should have scored a try then. Eddie Butler remarked that there were some 28 phases in the first attempt by Ireland to score a try in the second half before being repulsed. That's just way, way, way too many phases, and it's how the game has developed, which means watching countless "rucks" that don't accomplish much at all, and the defense spreads out and there's just no space for any movements to score a try. So in all that excitement of seeing Wales defend, and screaming at my computer screen for Ireland to score, I also saw what was really just another boring attempt to run phase after phase with little being accomplished, much like Trench Warfare in World War One. Want to see an exciting Five Nations Match? Scotland v Wales 1988: it's on You Tube!

    Reply
  • cluainoir
    1:26 PM 15/03/2015

    Barnes had a brutal game, no consistency in his interpertation at all. You have to ask why when he awarded the penalty try did he not send someone to the sin bin as he had just a few minutes earlier given Wales a final warning and his decision to penalise the Irish in the scrum in the last play of the game when they had won the ball against the head beggars belief, even Jonathan Davies was lost for words on the BBC. And you wonder why the Irish complained when they heard the man who only sin binned a man for deliberately kneeing a player in the back was gonna replace Steve Walsh!!??

    Reply
  • sjaaks
    10:08 AM 15/03/2015

    Well reffed by Barnes indeed. It's disappointing to see an increasing number of matches largely decided by referees calls. I certainly don't blame the referees in general, I think it's up to the teams to focus on dominating the game by scoring tries. Be that as it may, this particular match was great to watch. Just awesome commitment and endeavour from both sides.

    Reply
  • hellraiser_rob
    9:48 AM 15/03/2015

    I thought this was a great game, i'm normally not really a barnes fan, but i thought he murdered them in the 1st half at the breakdown, and surprise surprise everyone stopped cheating in the second half. I'm really not sure what the Welsh game plan is, but they look like a team that is capable of much more. Thought PoC and SoB came a bit close to football player style dissent when things weren't going their way.

    Reply
  • drg
    10:21 PM 14/03/2015

    Quite a few points on this game. Some disappointing referee decisions (or lack of) at and around the breakdown - many in Irelands favour. Some interestingly disappointing behaviour from Mr POC who appeared to do some sort of football injury roll after he was tackled off the ball.. Some disappointing play from Ireland who seemed to not be able to choose a gameplan, they sort of tried the kicking game, but were so uncommitted to it, that the kicks went haywire, and then they sort of couldn't stick with the running plan... or maybe that is due to my next point. Some wonderful defence by Wales, it's rare to see a team basically play an entire 80 mins of defence yet still come away with the win - Scotland perhaps has this trophy on some occasions. Point above isn't 100% true, Wales did do well in the lineouts, which was interesting - good Welsh/Poor Irish? or both? Some great play by SOB. Loved Irelands maul that lead to the penalty try, very well worked!

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    10:20 PM 14/03/2015

    That second half was something else. Unbelievably tense stuff, great play defensively and offensively from both teams. On a side note, great to see Wales win (not something I would normally say). This result blew the championship wide open.

    Reply


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