Ireland beat Scotland 28-22 this evening
1. Poor Game
Last week Ireland played with verve and purpose against Wales. However the Irish looked ponderous this evening. At times Joe Schmidt’s team looked to be going through the motions, as Ireland attempted to bludgeon their way through the Scottish defence.
For their part Scotland were not much better, although Dave Denton did supply the Scots with some dynamism.
2. Simon Zebo and the other Irish fringe players
It has been said on many occasions that this is the strongest squad Ireland have ever possessed. However if this game was anything to go by, Joe Schmidt will have little trouble when it comes to selecting his final squad.
Neither Dan Tuohy or Jack Conan illustrated why they should be considered for selection on August 31. On his performance, the World Cup looks beyond Gordon D’Arcy. While Luke Fitzgerald did well for his try, overall his performance was average, as was that of Chris Henry. Although Dave Kilcoyne carried well, he was penalised in the scrum on a number of occasions.
The only fringe player to really put his hand up was man of the match Simon Zebo. The Munster player constantly offered himself as a ball carrier, appearing in both the inside and outside channels. With one more warm up game to play against Wales before the August 31 deadline, Zebo will be confident that he can force his inclusion.
3. David Denton
Scotland’s David Denton was busy throughout, carrying a good deal of ball. He challenged Ireland’s defence with his strong direct running and did well slowing Irish ball at ruck time.
As one of Scotland’s few top class players, it is important that Denton is playing well ahead of tough World Cup pool games against South Africa and Samoa.
4. Sean O’Brien
It is worth pointing out that Sean O’Brien has played little rugby over the last two years. It would therefore be understandable if O’Brien was a little off the pace today. However while his back row colleagues struggled at times, O’Brien was impressive in both defence and attack with a number of turnovers and ball carries.
5. Ireland’s Defence
For the second consecutive week, Ireland’s defence looked vulnerable. There were a litany of missed tackles from a number of Irish players as Scotland’s runners ran direct lines. What will worry Joe Schmidt most was despite the fact that Scotland’s attacking patterns were not at all complicated, they managed to score three tries.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena