Who’s the Daddy?
Picture by Rugby Picture.
A good result and, more importantly, a good performance from Ireland.
This was a rejuvinated Ireland playing with power and confidence against a French side who came to Dublin to entertain.
As Ballpark has covered the game eloquently here I’ll concentrate on the performance of the Ulster players involved.
From my vantage point in the Hogan Stand Stephen Ferris appeared to have the stand out performance amongst the Ulster players. He was involved in everything for the 70 odd minutes he was on the pitch adding much needed grunt to the back row and freeing up Heaslip to play his roving role.
There was one point in the second half, just before D’Arcys try, were Ferris practically picked up the stumbling O’Connell and drove him into the French pack then immediately took the ball on himself driving three French players back that vital yard to keep Ireland on the front foot. Overall an impressive display from a hugely strong player.
Paddy Wallace can count himself unlucky to get injured early on. Despite this Paddy was fully involved in the game acting on many occasions like an additional backrow player as he shuttled from breakdown to breakdown. Dissapointingly he appeared to be used more as a decoy in attack and got few chances with the ball in hand. Don’t think he would have made such hard work as D’Arcy with his try.
Rory Best got on slightly earlier than usual for the injured Flannery, and what a welcome boost he gave to the Irish pack. The more often he and Flannery play in the same game the more often Best stands out as he brings a bucketful of work and additional stability to the front five. From the moment he came on the Irish pack started to dominate their French counterparts.
Desperately unlucky to be isolated on the wing for the French score.
Tommy Bowe (still an Ulsterman) had a reasonable game but for most of the game he was an underused attacking option for Ireland. Showed what he can do with the ball in hand when he got the chance but I stil have a slight feeling of unease abouth his defensive covering.
Big Tom Court was unfortunate not to get a run out but perhaps his main contribution to the game could be the fact that Hayes and Horan had one of their best performances for Ireland in recent years. Hopefully the big man will get his chance against Italy.
Finally, as someone who has predicted the demise of Brian O’Driscoll over recent games, it was great to watch him at his rampaging best both in attack and defence. Isn’t it great what a new manager and a proposed trip to South Africa can do.