Observations from Ireland vs. England Rugby International test match
By: Cian Fahey | Published Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 7:15 PM | Updated Tuesday, November 1, 2011, 7:15 PM
Geordan Murphy was outstanding. Murphy was the one Irish player that made no mistakes throughout and was always assured in defense while providing good running off the ball in attack.
Ireland's scrum has improved with Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Jerry Flannery in the front row. The lineout is still effective but was difficult to analyze after the loss of David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip.
Stephen Ferris and Jerry Flannery appear to be fully fit. Flannery played just over an hour while Ferris lasted the full game.
Ireland were dominated at the breakdown. The backline rarely got quick ball as England continually blew the Irish forwards off the ball while the Irish players appeared reluctant to attack the ball.
The whole team lacked the physicality, intensity and aggression to play successful rugby at the international level. With the ball players were hesitant and moving sideways while their counterparts on the opposite side hit the line hard and ran more dynamic lines. The lack of physicality up front and creativity behind has been a constant throughout.
Connor Murray became the team's starting scrum half without even being on the field. Murray came on late in the game and didn't do much to catch the eye but the erratic display of Eoin Reddan before him will surely see the Munster man take over the starting role.
While Paul O'Connell was praised for his display in the lineout and the open field, the Irish pack as a whole needed someone to inspire them to be more physical and take command of what was a less talented group of forwards.
The injury to David Wallace looks like a world cup ending one while Jamie Heaslip will definitely need to be at full strength after picking up a knock.
Ireland's best center partnership right now is Fergus McFadden and Brian O'Driscoll. Keith Earls proved that while he has a lot of speed and elusiveness, he is not smart enough with the ball or strong enough to play center. Earls was totally dominated by both English centers in defense while never making much of an impression through the middle of the field.
Where was Tommy Bowe? Tommy Bowe looked slow on the wing. He didn't get any real service but watching him, it looks like he is not 100% fit.
Ireland once again didn't score a try. Ireland's best chances came from English mistakes but while that is fine in Rugby if you are forcing those mistakes, England were committing unforced errors.
Even with an extra man advantage Ireland suffered a 10 point swing when Ronan O'Gara missed a penalty and Dylan Armitage managed to score a try after sustained possession deep in Irish territory.