Ireland will be happy to have come away from the Russia match relatively unscathed injury-wise and with a bonus point – but in terms of performance it wasn’t the best I’ve seen.
It was a little sloppy and Russia aren’t exactly the best side in the world, so you’d have been hoping for a bit more – some expansive rugby if possible. If you’re of Ireland’s potential quarter-final opponents, this wasn’t one to make you nervous.
There were quite a few unforced errors. The conditions were difficult and the ball was like a bar of soap. Mistakes are likely to happen, but Ireland are giving away penalties and their discipline isn’t great. A few silly things are creeping into our game.
These things can be fixed but I’m not as confident of Ireland’s chances as I was going into the tournament.
Ireland need to be more expansive
I would have liked if Ireland had been a bit more expansive. In the first 20 or 25 minutes of the game we were still putting up box kicks in dangerous positions where we might have had a go with ball in hand and tried to test our attack.
It’s Russia at the end of the day. They’re barely a professional setup. We should be confident enough to play more rugby and show how good our attack is. But there were a lot of one-out runners and slightly too much kicking.
It’s a win with a bonus point but if you want to win the World Cup you need to show more than that.
A few of the players who came into the side did well, like Jack Carty, who put in a few good chips after coming on, and Andrew Conway, who threw in a couple of offloads. The match started to open up in the closing minutes, but you’d like to see the players given extra licence to try these things.
Conditions the same for everyone
You play with the cards you’re dealt. The conditions are the same for everyone and we even saw the likes of Beauden Barrett dropping balls over the line.
Yet New Zealand were still able to put 60 points on their opponents in adverse circumstances. You don’t always get perfect conditions and you have to be able to do your job, be clinical and score tries. Ireland will need to improve on this against Samoa.
The Irish struggled with the heat in the Japan match though the conditioning coaches would have done their best to prepare the players. They’d been going to Portugal and other warm climates for training camps. It’s all well and good preparing but you have to go out and do it when it counts.
Samoa pose a serious threat
Samoa will be much more physical than Russia and will likely have a few more strings to their bow in attack. There are a lot of club teams in Ireland who’d beat Russia, so Samoa will be a very tricky proposition.
They’ll be tough to beat so Ireland will have to turn in a much better performance than they did against the Russians.