Ireland 58 – Italy 15

hi-res-68e8f77375abe2b7707b4f7466ae7cd3_crop_north

On a lovely spring day this Irish team finally found the try line. Up to this point, they had only scored two tries in the whole tournament and both of these had come from close range from Conor Murray. However before we get ahead of ourselves (as we usually do as a nation after a win), we have to be aware of how bad this Italian team was. Firstly, they had huge injury issues, worse than even ourselves. On top of this they allowed the Irish team space on the ball that no other team in the 6 Nations have, or will in the form of Scotland next weekend. So despite the big scoreline, it is difficult to know what to interpret from the game. I do not agree with the calls following the game to review whether Italy should remain in tehe tournament, but perhaps including some other nations like Georgia and Romania and having a 2 tiered tournament with relegation could help with boosting excitement near the bottom of the table. But that is for others to decide. But after a match like the one on Saturday it is hard to know if either team gains much.

One thing that Ireland will gain is confidence. After failing to win three games in a row (albeit one was a draw), you could see that Ireland looked disappointed and short of confidence. A team doesn’t become bad overnight but when you are missing so many players through injury and you’ve lost two of your team’s biggest leaders, when results start going wrong, it can start a spiral downwards. So in that regards it was nice to see the players score tries and look happy following the full time whistle.

My one concern would be how Italy got their tries. On the one hand it is easy to see why Ireland took their foot off the pedal. When you are winning so comfortably and you know that any score conceeded is not going to make a difference. It is understandable that players won’t put their bodies on the line as much if the game is essentially over competitively, but at the same time it is difficult to imagine the big 3 teams conceeding those tries against the same opposition. Another slightly worrying sight was that the tries came from Ireland’s lack of width in defence. This same issue was highlighted when Argenina beat us in the World Cup.

Despite all this, some of the tries on Saturday were really beautiful tries. Especially Heaslip’s try, which started on the edge of the 22, and featured some really nice hands, dummies and support lines. Also the build-up play to Stander’s try was a vintage Joe Schmidt move and was so close to resulting in a first phase try, which are very rare to see these days.

So all in all it was a good day at the office with lots of tries and positive play. But we all know harder opposition lies ahead, starting with Scotland on Saturday.

Advertisements

A Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway

moveable_2108282i

(Read 20/03/2016 – 9/04/2016)

A movable feast is a retrospective look back on Hemingway’s own life during the 1920s in Paris. He wrote this almost poetic account of his hard times living in poverty in the city of love. The novel has no clear structure or narrative, but instead it reveals random and disjointed episodes which serve to piece his life there together like each individual piece of a jigsaw. This approach keeps the reader engrossed and means that you never get bored because almost as soon as each chapter reaches it climax, it is over.

Because each chapter reveals a different episode or snippet from his life, they vary greatly in their emotional reach. Most chapters are witty and often make the reader chuckle to himself, but others have the ability to convey great sadness and difficulty, and can leave the reader in a state of dismay. That means that almost every brief chapter is a game of Russian roulette where there are no losers. Hemingway has always had the reputation of having been a grumpy, drunk and difficult man in real life and some of the chapters in this book completely back this up. He almost takes great pride at annoying and irritating specific friends or acquaintances, even in times where they are in great distress. But more interestingly, what emerges in some chapters is a man who is able to bestow great love and affection on those he really cares about. It is hard not to admire how he talks about his wife and how he uses what little money he has to take her on holidays, or how he supports and offers advice to the friends he cares about.

One of the main highlights of the book for me personally is Hemingway’s own unique writing style. He manages to craft really nice flowing sentences which feature beautiful descriptions. However, unlike other writers who write in with such descriptive language, his is never difficult to read, the reader will never find any of the novel hard-going or tiring. I personally find authors who can write well but can also write in a fashion whereby the reader can read huge sways in one sitting among my favorites and most engrossing. I also find his writing quite brave in this short memoirs, because he wrote this much later in his life, which could have allowed him to tailor and alter the stories to make him look admirable. However, he writes the stories quite honestly, often making himself look like a mean-spirited man in the process.

I would recommend this book to everyone. It is a really short novel, coming in at just over 120 pages, so it can be finished in a short length of time. Also, because the chapters are so short and different, the novel can be read and then left for long lengths of time without losing your overall place in the book. Almost every chapter conveys a completely different emotion and sense of time and place, which means the reader will never be left bored or uninterested.

Leinster 19 – Ospreys 16

Leinster v Ospreys - Guinness PRO12 Round 17

 

On Saturday, those that went were treated to a game of high quality rugby and a second half of nail-biting rugby, whilst Leinster hung on to win. Firstly, it shouldn’t be forgotten how important this win may prove to be. With an extremely hard end to the season coming up, with matches against Glasgow, Munster, Ulster and Connacht, to get the win here was vital. It was also a great game where both teams looked really dangerous when they kept ball in hand.

However, the real difference for Leinster was there defence. For huge chunks of the game they were without the ball, and inside their own half. Yet they managed to keep their organisation and continue to make tackles. If Leinster continue to defend like they did on Saturday and continue to grow in attack, they could well challenge for the league trophy this season.

The try in the first half from Leinster was a really nice move. It started with a strong scrum and then Madigan spotted a gap. He then found McFadden on his shoulder who carried and released the offload to yougster Dan Leavy at just the right time. It really shifted the momentum in the first half, and gave us a lead to build on, despite seeing very little of the ball.

If I have one strong criticism of Leinster on the day it was that they kicked the ball away far too often. As mentioned earlier, the Ospreys controlled possession and territory for the majority of the game. Leinster had to work extremely hard to win back the ball and when we finally would, we would usually box-kick straight back to the Ospreys, without an adequate chasing game. It worked because our defence is one of the best in the league, but it put us under extreme pressure, especially when we happened to look so dangerous when we did keep the ball in hand.

A special mention as well must go to Ben Teo. He played his best game in a Leinster jersey at the weekend, running over and around players for fun. He is beginning to look more and more like a serious prospect and it is a shame we lose him next season.