Robbie Henshaw was exploited at full back, Ireland have not become a bad side overnight and England bullied Joe Schmidt’s men. That’s the general narrative from across the water following yesterday’s crushing defeat to the Old Enemy at the Aviva Stadium.
Writing in The Telegraph, Ian McGeehan pointed to England’s power as a key weapon.
“That power was replicated in defence. Ireland just could not get over the gainline. Even someone like Tadhg Furlong, usually one of their strongest ball carriers, was being knocked back in the tackle. When that happens it creates a ripple effect for the rest of the team which is why Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton were far less effective than we are used to seeing.”
He also added that England exploited Robbie Henshaw at full-back.
“England deployed a very clever tactic to isolate Robbie Henshaw’s positional uncertainty at full-back. Rather than exposing him under the high ball, they made a conscious decision to test his decision making and timing of when to cover the channels. Henshaw is an excellent footballer but he is primarily a centre. Even though he is a strong catcher, there is a huge difference between playing regularly at centre and full back, where positioning is everything.”
In the Daily Mail, Joe Marler echoed Joe Schmidt’s suggestion that England bullied the champions.
“England bullied Ireland physically and Mako was at the heart of everything. He carried the ball 11 times and made 25 tackles. You don’t get much better than that in a top end Test match.
“He was backed up by Kyle Sinckler, who lived up to his Young Bull status and brought a really confrontational attitude. He didn’t take a backwards step and Mark Wilson was never far behind him.”
Read more here:
- The England trio who smashed through Ireland’s Grand Slam dreams
- Joe Schmidt issues World Cup warning to ‘bullied’ and ‘bruised’ Ireland
In the same publication, Clive Woodward hailed England boss Eddie Jones.
“Make no mistake, this was the biggest win for England under Eddie Jones and a real boost in what will be a massive year. What a fantastic performance against the form side in the world and what a fantastic way to kick off 2019.”
He added: “I can’t remember England playing better in his tenure. From one to 15, they were huge and Owen Farrell led the team brilliantly. Flanker Tom Curry had a blinder, despite his first-half yellow card and Jonny May proved he is one of the best wingers in the world.”
Woodward also pointed to Henshaw being targeted.
“There were heroes all over the pitch but some of them were in the coaching box. From the start, England exposed Ireland playing Robbie Henshaw who was at full-back with their kicking game and that would have come from the brains’ trust.”
In The Guardian, Robert Kitson said the favourites tag did not sit well with Ireland.
“Being garlanded as near-invincible champions before a ball has even been kicked is rather less comfortable terrain. And goodness this was an untypical Ireland performance: nervy, inaccurate, flat in places, panicky in others. Not even their customary saviour, the sainted Johnny Sexton, was immune. Had he bailed them out, as he so often does, there would have been little justice.”
The Sunday Times’ Stephen Jones added that Ireland have not become a bad side overnight, but never looked like rescuing this one against the English juggernaut.
“Ireland have not become any less than a great side all of a sudden, but it is difficult to remember a time when they looked like recovering this game. England’s defence pinned them to the back boards when they tried to run the ball and even a pack containing Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan was seriously beatable, and beaten. Scrum? Contact arrears? Midfield defence? You name it, England had it covered. The last we expected from their titanic day was a one-sided match. However, that is what we had.”
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