Monday, 12 March 2018

Ireland 28 v Scotland 8

A fine weekend in Dublin in spite of the result. After being messed about by hotels not being able to accommodate us a year after booking, we were fortunate to end up in the Trinity City Hotel a five minute walk from Doheny & Nesbitts. a landmark pub on Lower Baggott Street which marks the start of the long walk out to the Aviva Stadium.

After a good day on Friday we were up early on Saturday for the 2.15pm kick-off and bumped into mates of mine from Norway who were also there for the game. We picked up Thirsty Frank and his wife at Searson's en route to the match. The rain held off and we were in our seats high in the East Stand as the game kicked-off. 

Scotland looked quite comfortable early on and having absorbed some pressure we broke out to win a penalty and take an early lead. When we had the ball our passing and movement was slick and we tested the Irish flanks but the final pass was poor and a glorious chance was missed as Huw Jones wasted a great opportunity with Stuart Hogg on the overlap and with a free run to the line. Ireland had already scored after another interception from Stockdale and another loose long pass from Scotland but they piled the pressure on and it told with the last play of the half as Cronin dived at the line after a desperate Irish drive from a deep line-out.

The writing was on the wall at that point and Ireland maintained the pressure in the second-half and two more tries and two more conversions followed to ensure the bonus point that effectively wraps the championship up for Ireland. We did get to see Blair Kinghorm scored a good try on his debut but small comforts and a tricky match in Rome looms. All that was left was to reflect on another fine Conor Murray performance and he will surely receive the player-of-the-tournament award after the game at Twickenham next week.

Thirsty Frank and his wife Lisa were up from Clonakilty in the south-west of Ireland, for the weekend and were as keen as us to visit some of their favourite Dublin haunts. We sheltered in the Shelbourne Hotel bar as the goals went in at London Road. It sounded far worse than perhaps it was in black and white but the fact is we lost and it sounded like a morale-sapping defeat. 

Karl Robinson is again coming in for a lot of heat and, frankly, it's fully deserved.  His press work is painful to listen to, he ran out of ideas before Christmas and he looks like a man desperately hoping he can throw a double-six. I was amazed to hear him saying in his post-match presser that the side for Tuesday has already been picked. It simply reinforces his rigid mindset that sees us largely picking the same players and the same formation irrespective of performance or results. This will cost him his job. We are now down to eighth and have four sides a win away from leap-frogging us and only two we can catch. As I said in my last post, we need to hope we can stay in touch this month and that we get a few players back from injury and can take advantage of some easier looking games in April.

Meanwhile, the Wings won away at East Thurrock to remain on the fringes of the play-offs and having drafted in Magnus Okuonghae and the returning Adam Coombes, who scored the winner, they look like they have a better chance of making the play-offs than the Addicks.

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