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Eleven Irish Lions Selected
One cannot help but feel really sorry for Scotland. They defeated us and Italy and whipped Wales, and yet they have been short-changed in the selection process by the Welsh-leaning supremo. Of course, John Bull is far from satisfied with 'only' sixteen players in the forty-one tour party, but I reckon that the Oirish can have few complaints about a healthy allocation of eleven representatives. Leinster surprise surprise boast five players in the squad, while Munster and Ulster have done well to receive three call-ups each.
A Bitter-Sweet Triumph
On the eleventh anniversary of a famous triple crown-clinching victory at Twickenham, the Oirish reverted to their tradition of ruining an England grand slam finale, thus emulating the heroics from 2001 and 2011. However, in spite of this thoroughly-deserved win against the champions of Europe, Irish rugby fans cannot but help feel short changed by a squad that raises its game against the All Blacks and John Bull, whilst failing to quite hit the same heights against Scotland and Wales. It's all very well priding themselves on being party poopers, but the men in green really ought to be competing for a grand slam themselves.
A Cardiff Shocker
After two consecutive defeats, Wales needed a reaction, especially as careers and Lions places were on the line. In the event, the hosts did indeed respond to the challenge, producing a brilliant defensive display against an impotent Irish team that failed to score a single try, despite countless efforts to break home resistance. Instead, it was the reds who ran in three tries, all of which amounted to excellent counter attacking. The final margin of thirteen points was a bit harsh upon the losers, but it was a sharp reminder that tries are crucial. Trouble is that the greens appear to be still intoxicated from their historic victory against the All Blacks. They need to learn a thing or two from the champions England about how to attack with pace and precision.
Another Brilliant Effort From Marvellous Murray
Arguably the best scrum half in the world, big Conor Murray scored the only try of this dour but compelling struggle and was also pivotal in Ireland's first half revival after their second sluggish start in the 2017 Six Nations. This time, France didn't emulate Scotland by building an unassailable lead, but it took a disqualified try to get the Irish out of jail. After conceding a six-point lead to the visitors, the Oirish actually proceeded to win the rest of the skirmish by an emphatic nineteen points to three, denying the away team even the crumb of a losing bonus point.
A Feast In Rome
Only four Irish players could manage to record a try, but they helped themselves to nine between them in a try-scoring banquet in Rome. Furthermore, Paddy Jackson underlined his credentials as a fine stand-in by slotting each and every one of the nine conversion attempts, some of them from awkward angles. In the event, a rampant Ireland went some way towards atoning for their major setback in Edinburgh. They also made headlines for the right reasons by becoming the first team to achieve a bonus point in the Six Nations on account of amassing at least four tries, although there really ought to be another bonus point on offer for accumulating eight tries.
An Edinburgh Mugging
Underdogs Scotland took a leaf out of Ireland's book by defending exceptionally well and then proving to be lethal on the rare occasions when they were on the attack. Irish teams have often managed to overturn the form book with similar behaviour and success, so they can't complain too much about this mugging. Scotland were simply clinical. They hit the ground running, as less fancied teams need to do, and more crucially they put scores on the board that left their hyped visitors with a large mountain to climb.
Australian Hurdle Is Overcome Too
A very makeshift Ireland back division saw off a determined Australian comeback on Saturday evening, ensuring an unprecedented hat trick of southern hemisphere scalps in the same calendar year for high-flying Ireland. Unbeaten England fully deserve to start the Six Nations as tournament champions, but recent form points to a grand slam decider in Dublin's fair city in mid March in the final fixture of the competition.
All Blacks' Revenge
The 'underdogs', according to their coach Steve Hansen, prevailed on Saturday past in a peculiar but compelling encounter. Ireland battered the mighty All Blacks like never before, enjoying a remarkably large lion share of possession and territory, but try as they might, they could not blow the New Zealand house down.
A Routine Win
After the historic high of slaying the world champions of New Zealand, it was back to business with a predictable triumph against Canada. The occasion enabled the Oirish second string to gain some valuable game time for the national team, whilst allowing the returning O'Brien and O'Mahony to audition for places in the first fifteen. In the event, the hosts defeated the visitors by eight tries to three, with Paddy Jackson weighing in with several accurate goal kicks. It's always a no win scenario against a lesser ranked opponent, as a win is expected, while anything less incurs a barrage of criticism. Well, now that this banana skin has been safely negotiated, the Irish have the small matter of a second November fixture against the All Blacks. The latter will be gunning for revenge, whilst Ireland will be seeking a unique double against the southern hemisphere giants. It should be nothing if not interesting!
History Is Made!
Remember, remember the fifth of November! Who in the Irish rugby family can ever forget such a date now? After all, the men in green have belatedly exorcised the demons from bygone days of yore by inflicting their first-ever defeat upon mighty New Zealand. As well as ending 111 years of humiliation and the occasional near miss, the Oirish also dealt the All Blacks their first loss after a prolonged winning sequence that extended into double figures.