If Super Saturday is the dream of the newly promoted Six Nations, then Italy have started the day well. It then slid off the roadway and into the ditch.
there was enough here to keep the full house busy on Lansdowne Road to the end – not least because that’s when the bonus point was delivered – but for everything there was to see there was a unfinished business clip to go with it cancel.
Coincidentally, most of the footage in this drama went to Scottish captain Stuart Hogg. After being disciplined as part of a drinking crew last weekend, this time it was his incredible waste that left the lasting impression.
Earlier in Cardiff, Italy’s Monty Ioane was relieved that his team covered up their mistake, pocketed the ball and left instead of pinning the man and passing, but there was no escape for Hogg. Trailing 14-0 midway through the first half, he found himself yards from the Irish line with support from within.
Make the pass and it’s probably a one-score game. He didn’t and got in touch. Between the jigs and reels, which made up another good performance from Hugo Keenan, this judge had held up cards with a perfect 10.
We should have known at this point that Ireland’s pursuit of the bonus point to embellish the Triple Crown would be largely about their ability to get the job done rather than Scotland’s clumsiness spoiling the party.
Andy Farrell’s side could afford to make a lot of mistakes on this job without being costly. Still, there were only two minutes to play when Johnny Sexton set up a touch penalty from which it was planned to slam Scotland over the line.
The Maul had been more of a grunt than a wrecking ball all day. That too provided the ball, if not the score, and top marks to James Lowe and Conor Murray for touchdown engineering.
As with most other things floating across Referee Wayne Barnes’ screen, it needed to be reviewed and analyzed. Given the choice between stability in world politics and stability in the crowd, the most talkative referee on the circuit would probably choose the latter. It would have spread to his Christmas list as a boy. “Wayne, what would you like from Santa?” “Hmm, stability would be great!”
If he asked about it once at the set scrum yesterday, he asked about it ten times. His concern was of unmistakable urgency. It might have been a quick and sometimes frenetic test match, but it wasn’t difficult to manage. The last thing he wanted was a scramble of resets and penalties and circuitous explanations to complicate things. Ireland had no consistency here.
They never had too much of it anywhere. In the opening 11 minutes, they called for a set piece that had worked flawlessly against Wales but this time was thwarted by Bundee Aki’s head. The same player missed a soft penalty for offside with his back foot a few minutes later and then Sexton missed contact with a penalty that would give his side a lane deep in the Scots half. That set the tone.
As the game headed into the final quarter, Ireland were still plagued by inaccuracies. The best/worst example was a perfectly executed fake maul that took Ireland five yards from Scotland’s line. Caelan Doris came out of the ruck at top speed but couldn’t hold the pass.
Given that game and opponent, it didn’t stop Ireland from getting where they wanted to be. It just made the ride slower.
At least Josh van der Flier’s attempt in the 60th minute pretty much ruled out the Scots, which happened until the final whistle. The away team had gotten a leg up from Barnes on an attempt by Pierre Schoeman, a classic case of the referee having no interest in what the TMO was trying to tell him. More clarity would have been good from Stuart Terheege to tell him the South African basically crawled over the line.
Regardless, Scotland were unable to capitalize on their luck and that day Ireland were unable to beat them out of goal. Collecting the Triple Crown on the way out, however, was enough.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/six-nations/irelands-inaccuracy-is-still-a-cause-for-concern-but-does-not-stop-triple-crown-celebrations-41466712.html Ireland’s inaccuracy is still a concern, but isn’t holding back the Triple Crown celebrations