After the high of the previous week, Ireland came crashing back down to earth during a full blooded first half in Dublin.
Although Ireland raced into a 14 point lead, the Canadians came back into the game, leveling through a DTH van der Merwe try and a mauled effort.
Joe Schmidt’s side soon regained the momentum with a try from Tiernan O’Halloran, and didn’t look back as the second half progressed.
However, while the game gave a number of players on the fringes the chance to force their inclusion in the upcoming games against New Zealand and Australia, some didn’t grasp it, while others will force Schmidt to ask a few questions.
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In this week’s edition of The Oval Office Podast we review Ireland’s historic win over New Zealand and this weekend’s rugby action.
1. Peter O’Mahony and Sean O’Brien Looked Off The Pace
Eyebrows were raised when Schmidt left both O’Mahony and O’Brien out of the Irish team that won in Chicago. However on tonight’s evidence, it doesn’t look as if they are up to the pace of international rugby just yet.
Maybe we were expecting too much of players who have played very little rugby over the last 12 months, but such is their standing and reputation it was almost assumed they would make barnstorming returns.
Nevertheless, having both players available is still a huge positive, and they will each improve as the month progresses.
2. The Gap Between Kieran Marmion And Conor Murray Is Substantial
Last weekend Conor Murray delivered a career defining performance. The Munster scrum half bossed the game against the All Blacks and outperformed both Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara.
Kieran Marmion was given the opportunity against Canada, but delivered a performance that underlined Murray’s importance to Ireland.
That’s not to say Marmion is a bad player, but that Murray is world class.
3. Keith Earls’ Hunger
Had Earls not been suspended for last week’s encounter, there was every chance he would have been involved against New Zealand.
From the outset he played like a player trying to make up for that disappointment, demonstrating the type of workrate and hunger Joe Schmidt loves to see in his wingers.
Earls battled with van der Merwe throughout, and was rewarded with a try and an assist in the first half. The Munster winger may have done enough to force his inclusion next weekend.
4. Tiernan O’Halloran Is A Challenger For The Fullback’s Jersey
Eyebrows were raised when Rob Kearney was selected to play against New Zealand in Chicago. Although he performed admirably, his form this season has been poor.
Therefore there were calls for either Jared Payne or Tiernan O’Haaloran to be included at Kearney’s expense.
While Kearney will be favourite to retain the 15 jersey, O’Halloran brought the form he has shown with Connacht to the international stage and will be rewarded with further caps in the coming seasons.
5. Ultan Dillane Must Be Close To A Starting Spot
Every time Ultan Dillane has played for Ireland he has impressed, bursting through tackles with massive carries.
Nevertheless, given his impact, it’s almost hard to believe that this was the Connacht’s lock first start as an international.
However Dillane must be close to breaking into Schmidt’s first XV after a man-of-the-match display.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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