Twelve tries but still room for Paulie to give them a bollicking



You’d hope Kevin The Carrot isn’t booked in for a session too early in the morning. Ireland’s favourite animated advertiser wouldn’t deserve to incur the wrath of an angry O’Connell. No living being would. You might wonder what Paul O’Connell might have to be put out by having seen those prepared by Andy Farrell, himself and Mike Catt run in 12 tries and clock up more than 80 points. But there will be room for Paulie to give them a bollicking.

Without even mentioning the Romanian try. That was purely down to the machine being stuck in neutral. What will drive the former behemoth of the lineout mad, though, will be Ireland’s slipshod inefficiency – Joe McCarthy aside – in the area upon which the fundamentals of the Irish game have been based for as long as there has been cognisance of the oval ball game in this seat. And probably eons before that.

Joe McCarthy stood out on a day when the Irish lineout was out of sorts

Simply take McCarthy’s No. 4 jersey as a starting point. That I can recall, greats of Irish rugby in Moss Keane and Donal Lenihan and Mick Galwey and Paddy Johns and Donnacha O’Callaghan have all filled the same shirt with distinction and were the basis for some of our greatest days.

That’s without even mentioning the armour plated weaponry we’ve developed in the back row in the last couple of decades. Yet at times today the Irish forwards looked like a Sunday League soccer team on the way home from the night before.

No, I haven’t lost the few marbles that I have left. Yes, there is of course an awareness that climatic conditions weren’t exactly ideal for playing pick-and-drive rugby and it was indeed a day to let the backs do it their way. My only fear would be that the lineout being similarly offline further down the tracks could prove catastrophic.

However, I’ll let more vaunted outlets than this one be the negative naysayers. Why not instead celebrate some truly historic attacking rugby. 12 tries. That’s 60 points, without even mentioning placed balls. An aspect of the game in which we are truly blessed to have three top notch operators in Johnny Sexton, Jack Crowley and Ross Byrne.

And it wasn’t just running up what was a record score for an Irish team. It was the way it was done. Jamison Gibson-Park, playing in his first World Cup match, conducted the orchestra as if he could do similar in Carnegie Hall, Bundee Aki displayed footwork suggesting he could do Riverdance and Dancing On Ice all in one.

Bundee Aki had his finest in an Irish jersey to date

Personally, mind you, it was the performance of Hugo Keenan at full back which was the most noteworthy and encouraging. Not only because it was the Leinster man’s first outing in the Webb Ellis Cup, but also given the hotbed of competition the number 15 jersey tends to be within the Irish setup.

Overall though, more to enthuse about than causes for concern. Kevin should be alright!

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