Friday 24 November 2017

Wolfhounds make case for senior run

IF ever there was a case for performance mattering more than the result, it was in the Irish Wolfhounds’ three tries-to-two defeat to England Saxons (23-17) on Saturday evening.

By definition, this is an arena for the up-and comers to shout ‘here I am’ to Ireland coach Declan Kidney and his England interim equivalent Stuart Lancaster.

While English brawn just about squeezed Irish brain, Kidney was given ‘rugby for thought’ by hooker Damien Varley, lock Dan Tuohy, openside Chris Henry, number eight Rhys Ruddock, centre Eoin O’Malley and wings Dave Kearney and Simon Zebo.

Basically, the Irish were far more effective with far less ball. The back five forwards worked tirelessly in retreat and showed the appetite to make things happen when they got ball in hand.

From the two locks, the greater punch in Dan Tuohy’s carrying and typically soft hands out of the tackle gave him the edge over Mike McCarthy, who, |maybe, is starting to look like he struggles once he moves up a level from club rugby.

The back-row was more than |a match for the English unit, Ulster’s Chris Henry continuing to adapt splendidly at openside, John Muldoon executing the basics so defiantly and Rhys Ruddock coping admirably in a relatively unfamiliar role.

The Wolfhounds were a decent scrum short of what was required to take the scalp of the Saxons.

Props Brett Wilkinson and Stephen Archer were simply not equipped to deal with the power and technique of Paul Doran-Jones and Matt Mullan.

However, the speed of thought and movement from the Irish three-quarters, despite an inconsistent performance from fly-half Ian Keatley, was far superior to the Saxons’ efforts.

Meanwhile, Delon Armitage has been suspended from the England Saxons elite player squad after being arrested for alleged assault, writes Andrew Baldock.

London Irish back Armitage was detained by Devon and Cornwall Police following an incident in a nightclub in the early hours of yesterday morning, according to an RFU statement. He was later released on bail.

It comes in the same month that Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care was told he would not be considered for England Six Nations selection this season following his arrest for |drink-driving on New Year's Day.

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