Saturday 24 March 2018

Tactics perfect... we just couldn't sustain intensity

Prior to the game, I think we would all have taken the draw. And been delighted to do so. But after a lead of 17-6 at half-time to end up with a draw is pretty unfulfilling.

I am disappointed as we don't often get chances as good as yesterday to turn over the French in Paris. France were very poor and I think the most honest comment is we let them off the hook.

If that sounds as if I am being negative on Ireland, I am not. The intensity was phenomenal, the tackling bone-crushing.

The tactical awareness in the first half was spot on. Line speed, defensively, put the French back line in all sorts of trouble.

True, they kept their trademark depth but the rush-up-and-in tactic seemed to remove all pace from their attack.

The back-row's defence was incredible, as were the smothering tackles of Jonny Sexton. Time after time he made the correct decision to come out of the line and snuff out potential threats.

The effort of that first half had an early detrimental side effect at the start of the second.

The French came out flying, no doubt after getting the hair-dryer treatment from Philippe Saint-Andre, and started putting Ireland under intense pressure.

The jump in tempo, plus the accumulated fatigue, led to silly mistakes, lapses of concentration, and a playing of the game in the wrong part of the field.


The momentum of the game swung very early and, I felt, that Kidney should have made his substitutions on 50 minutes.

The players were dead on their feet. Instead, it looked as if France were going to coast away, but there was one more twist in the tale.

Ireland plunged the depths of their energy reserves to have an extraordinary last 10 minutes, highlighted by the incredible Stephen Ferris charge down of Beauxis's drop goal attempt.

At the final whistle we were treated to an emotional canvas etched on the faces of the Irish players.

Pain, resignation, desperation and a little sprinkling of relief, but no jubilation.

It was a chance missed.

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