So the rare chances of a Championship with victory over Wales have been empathically dismantled by a focused and disciplined Welsh side led by Alun Wyn Jones who today won his third Grand Slam. This game started with another early try this time set up by Gareth Anscombe and finished by Hadleigh Parkes both of whom won a Super Rugby title in 2013 with the Chiefs alongside Ireland’s inside centre this afternoon Bundee Aki.
Ireland will look back on this game when they regroup for a de brief either tomorrow or Monday they will realise that this game will taken plenty of time to recover from, Wales were full value for the 25-7 score line at full time but the Irish discipline and tactical know how that we have been so used to seeing in the past two years in particular were so sorely lacking this afternoon.
Our much vaunted half pack pairing will need to go into the video review with helmets on as they extremely poor this afternoon, yes they were not alone in that regard as others will have to look very deep for reasons as to why this display was so poor and abject. Poor kicking, extremely poor handling, yes the roof was opened and left opened but this constant theme that the weather was going to play a major factor is a non runner as far as I am concerned as we play most of our sports in this part of the world in the rain and the wind is also a big factor but this theory that you needed the roof to be closed to help Ireland and Wales produce a quality spectacle.
Well Wales certainly answered that question by producing a performance that was much stronger and more clinical than even the England game in the Principality Stadium. The early injury to George North may have been a blessing in disguise as this then meant that Dan Biggar came into the game very early on and Gareth Anscombe moved to full back and this arguably strengthened the Welsh side and as soon as Biggar entered the fray his was able to kick the corners and distribute the ball to willing carriers throughout the Welsh side.
The back row of Navidi, Tipuric and Moriarty out played their counterparts O Mahony, Sean O Brien and CJ Stander, all three were British and Irish Lions in the last two tours. Ireland were very poor at set piece and they also had some very poor in attack with our half backs faltering and the question will need to asked why both Murray and Sexton were left on until the 70th and 73rd minute when Marmion and Carty could and maybe should have been introduced earlier in the game. Those two were not alone, others like Rory Best should have been called ashore earlier than they were.
Wales were fully deserving of their victory this afternoon and with that win Warren Gatland will end his time in charge of Wales in the Six Nations like it began with a Grand Slam win. Joe Schmidt will also end his time in charge of Ireland in the Six Nations having not beaten Wales in Cardiff something I am sure that will bug him when he goes through his own personal de brief next week.
The manner of this loss will sting for a few months but there won’t be time to dwell for the players as all the Irish squad will be back at their provincial bases from Tuesday. For the Irish management team, next week will be very tough to stomach when they will go through an extremely long and hard process of sifting through the debris of the past 8 weeks and trying to pick up the pieces of what has been a mixed Championship that will see Ireland finish 3rd in the table behind Wales and England.
The preparations for the World Cup will be very interesting to say the least at this stage. The players will have to focus on club matters for the latter part of the season where they will be battling for European honours and domestic honours also. The two defeats have rocked the confidence of everyone, players, coaches, supporters and it will take serious powers of concentration and ambition to look each other in the eye and be honest with each other and know that today and on the opening evening against England that this wasn’t good enough to do anything special at the World Cup in September…..
Congrats to Champions Wales who completed the Grand Slam by beating Ireland……
My Team Of the 2019 Six Nations is :
15 Liam Williams – Wales
14 Jonny May – England
13 Jonathan Davies – Wales
12 Hadleigh Parkes – Wales
11 Keith Earls – Ireland
10 Owen Farrell – England
9 Gareth Davies – Wales
8 Billy Vunipola – England
7 Justin Tipuric – Wales
6 Josh Navidi – Wales
5 Alun Wyn Jones – Wales
4 James Ryan – Ireland
3 Tadgh Furlong – Ireland
2 Ken Owens – Wales
1 Rob Evans – Wales – 9 Welsh, 3 Irish, 3 English in the team of the year.