herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Johnny takes a licking and keeps on kicking

Maybe Ireland out-half Jonathan Sexton should play once every twelve weeks if this is the way he is going to play.

The out-half looked like Rocky Balboa at the post-match press briefing, such was the damage in and around his left eye.

Sexton had to go in where it hurt most just to slow the momentum of France's larger-than-life runners, especially one monsieur Mathieu Bastareaud.

"We threw Tommy inside me off a couple of lineouts, a little bit of extra bodies in there to take the big man down.

"I thought we dealt with him quite well. But he's a really difficult guy to stop.

"If you go low, he tends to just squash you and if you go high he just swats you away so you need two or three guys in to be ready to tackle him."

In fact, the two head-on collisions with the French centre came as confidence-boosters to the out-half, despite being forced off for ten minutes to have his wound stitched up and a precautionary Head Injury Assessment.

"Head-wise I felt great. I was really happy.

"I was almost pleased to get a bang like that so it proves to myself there is no issue going forward.

"It's just great to put it to bed now."

Sexton could not have been more accurate in his kicking, except for one over-cooked tactical punt.

Outside of that one exception to his rule, the five-from-five goals were struck with immaculate assurance and the variety to his tactical kicking was a thing of natural beauty.

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