Wales punished an uncharacteristically error-prone Irish display at the Principality Stadium on Friday evening, running out 22-9 winners.
The visitors’ lineout was in disarray with first, Jake Ball, and later, Luke Charteris, causing havoc as the Irish pack failed to deal with the threat of the home side’s aggressive tactics from set-pieces.
Joe Schmidt watched his side win the penalty count 10-4 but out-halves Johnny Sexton and Paddy Jackson kicked for goal just three times. They were successful every time. Despite the success from the tee and the complete lack thereof from lineouts, the boys in green continued to opt to aim for the corner, rather than keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Wales’ defence remained resolute and Ireland couldn’t amass more than those nine points while Rob Howley’s side ran in three tries.
Ronan O’Gara, part of RTE’s panel back in Dublin, was very critical of the work of captain Rory Best, seemingly too diplomatic in his decision-making, rather than the authoritative style of the likes of Paul O’Connell or Brian O’Driscoll, suggesting he should have simply ordered his ten to go for the posts.
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) 10 March 2017
“I think it’s not the lineout that’s the problem, I think that it’s the decision before that. The lads (Sexton and Jackson) have kicked eighteen penalties in a row between them.
“For me, if that’s an O’Driscoll or an O’Connell, he doesn’t even give the kicker an option. He doesn’t even ask, he just goes…do it. There’ll be times away from home, at 5-3, and the boys are looking at me, asking ‘ROG, do you fancy it?’ I’d only love to kick to the corner to get out of it!”
The former Munster fly-half concluded:
“But there’s times when you’re away from home, you have to build a score.”