Ireland Vs Japan
So for the 2nd game in succession, Ireland escaped with a victory that for long periods seemed a distant dream. Japan came to play rugby and also in the same way as Eddie Jones’s charges did in 2015 against South Africa, this Japanese side worked hard in defence and at scrum time where they caused Ireland no end of problems. Even in the line out, Japan seemed to have Ireland’s number at every turn and this meant that Ireland could not get any sort of rhythm going.
Full credit goes to Japan for having a game plan set out that they were all capable of executing to near perfection. They won’t now progress to the semi finals, but in their final Pool game they can sharpen their attacking threat for the Belfast leg of this campaign.
For Ireland, the questions remain, can they get the win needed to secure a semi final spot. On the evidence of the past two games this task will be extremely tough. The changes that Tom Tierney made for the game last night made only minimal difference. They struggled to get to the pace of the game in particular they looked flat footed in defence and very slow in attack.
Given that France put 72 points on Japan in game 1 and 48 unanswered points on Australia last night , one fears that if Ireland do not get to the pitch of the game very early next Thursday they could be in for a very long evening and that is not understating the task facing Ireland.
Ireland know that the game later this week is a winner takes all clash and that the prize at stake is a place in the last 4. All the squad need to forget what has gone before and pour all of their energy into finding a way to defeat France. The one positive is Ireland beat France earlier this year in a tight contest in the Six Nations.
They need to sum of the courage of that performance to try a secure a priceless win that will secure them a semi final place. Only a win will do to secure a semi final spot. Let’s hope Ireland big players stand up and be counted over the coming days.
The pressure is on now, they cannot settle for second best. I was sitting in front of Niamh Briggs last night and listening to her try contribute to help her team mates out was something special.
You can see how much it means. If she could have taken off the medical boot she would have to pull on a jersey and help out in some small way.
Her influence will be crucial in the next few days, she will be needed along with other senior squad members to rally the troops and come up with a game plan to try and see off France.
Here’s hoping they can solve the issues they had in the set piece last evening and regain the supremacy they had throughout the Six Nations. This is as I have said before is backs to the wall stuff and for all the doubts over team performance, they just need to put all the issues to one side and give it their all in the quest to top the Pool.
Tom Tierney knows all about heart breaking World Cup exits as he was part of the Irish squad that exited the 1999 World Cup in Lens after being defeated by Argentina. He can hopefully use the lessons he learned from that day to help his squad.
The time is now Ladies, to as they say down in Munster, Stand Up and Fight…… Over to you and your troops Claire, It’s your time…..
Cian Mc Gibney