Ireland v Italy: Six Nations 2011

Italy 11 – 13 Ireland

I’ve followed Irish rugby since I was a boy and even I have to concede the moral victory to Italy yesterday. They deserved to win. Ireland are a much better team although Italy put in the better performance.

Ireland were without two of their most impressive and consistent performers in Heaslip and Ferris – they were badly missed and can’t come back into the side soon enough. Sean O’ Brien had a reasonable championship debut and if I were David Wallace I would be announcing my retirement from international rugby sooner rather than later – Heaslip, Ferris & O’ Brien look like the future, and the future looks formidable. The back row is such as source of strength – why is nobody talking about Chris Henry at Ulster or Roger Wilson at Northampton? Just don’t get me started on Leamy. Stop giving that man caps – he’s a points conceding machine!

Cian Healy and Gordon D’ Arcy continue their slide towards the wrong side of mediocre while able and gifted replacements warm the bench.

Although Brian O’ Driscoll and Ronan O’ Gara will grab some credit for their scores – why was there a huge lack of leadership in the backline for the other 79 minutes? Our three quarters ran pre-planned set moves time after time, phase after phase when a little bit of heads up rugby a la Toby Flood would have exploited the tiring Italian defence. The gaps were there and they were there often. What would a more clinical team have done to the stubborn Azzuri? Maybe we’ll see later in the competition.

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