David Corkery on rugby: Ireland need to sharpen up to take down egotistical England

Despite a rout of Italy, there's plenty of room to improve to get the win away to the old enemy
David Corkery on rugby: Ireland need to sharpen up to take down egotistical England

Peter O’Mahony of Ireland on his way to scoring his side's fourth try against Italy. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

WHAT a joke, what a complete joke.

I fully understand the reasoning behind why a red card was brandished by Georgian referee Nika Amashukeli on the 19th minute of this game. However, when Italy had to remove another player so they could replace the sent-off hooker, the game was nothing but a dead rubber and World Rugby needs to take a serious look at amending this law.

Going in, Italy had no hope of winning it in the first place so when they were reduced to a baker’s dozen, the game descended into nothing but a glorified training run for Andy Farrell's troops. And I can guarantee you that in the greater scheme of things playing against 13 players for nearly 60 minutes will do Ireland more harm than good.

With England and Scotland representing Ireland’s two remaining games in this year’s Six Nations, Farrell and his multitude of coaches would have much preferred a much sterner dress rehearsal.

With the bonus point secured by halftime I think most of us watching would have expected the men in green to run up a cricket score. That was not to be the case. While finishing the game with a 57-6 scoreline might seem significant, Ireland lacked that clinical ruthlessness that sides like the All Blacks and South Africa always have.

Perhaps it was a case that Ireland tried too hard to score every time that they got their hands on the ball, but they certainly forgot one of rugby’s golden rules, that in order to score out wide you need to make the hard yards in close.

Italy will probably look back at this game and be proud of how well they played with the cards they were dealt, however, as a team looking to remain as a viable option as one of the Six Nations competitive teams, they are really on a hiding to nothing because this is now the 35th game on the bounce they have lost in this tournament. 

The sooner the decision-makers introduce some kind of relegation system, the better the tournament will become.

DISAPPOINTMENT

Before Farrell announced his 15 for this game the big question doing the rounds was who was going to start in the number 10 jersey, Sexton or Carbery?

As we know now Carbery was given the nod on this occasion but judging from his overall display, I do believe that by starting in this game he has taken one step forward and two back. Apart from his poor exhibition of placekicking during the game, he also failed to assume any kind of stranglehold on proceedings especially when Italy were reduced to 13 players.

Ever since the 26-year-old left Leinster and joined Munster in 2018 he has either been injured or his performances have been well below the required level that are needed to raise Munster from the ashes.

If he doesn’t take the next opportunity that he is offered to make a statement of intent by stamping his authority on proceedings he will be pushed aside because rugby at this level rarely suffers any fools.

Jonathan Sexton of Ireland shakes hands Alessandro Fusco after. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Jonathan Sexton of Ireland shakes hands Alessandro Fusco after. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Debutant full-back Michael Lowry marked his first cap by scoring a brace of tries and really should have recorded a hat-trick if he didn’t so unselfishly pass the ball to James Lowe, who also managed to dot down twice in this game.

Small in stature, but large in attacking menace, Lowery is the kind of player who can make something out of nothing albeit, I can’t see him starting against England ahead of Hugo Keenan who is everything you look for in a full back.

Because of the farcical situation that arose from the red card, we never got to see how dominant the Irish scrum was going to be during this game and whether that had a detrimental effect on the individual performances of the Irish front row is one for the scrum coaches to enlighten us, but both Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter were nowhere close to their rampaging best around the field.

Dan Sheenan did well, but his role is more of a distributer rather than a bulldozer.

Man of the Match Josh van der Flier was by far Ireland's best performer during this game and I also liked the workman-like efforts of Leinster’s Ryan Baird.

Ryan Baird of Ireland takes possession from a line-out uncontested by Italy. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Ryan Baird of Ireland takes possession from a line-out uncontested by Italy. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Now, I can't see into the future but if Ireland turn up to Twickenham in two weeks and play with the same lack of accuracy and execution, they will be leaving London with their tails lodged firmly between their legs.

In my opinion, this current English side is very poor, but should you give them a platform to raise their egotistical estimation of how they view themselves, they will take it and while doing so rub your nose in the celebrations that ensue after.

England may be poor losers, but they are worse winners.

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