Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

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Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

Postby neiliog93 » February 11th, 2019, 12:02 pm

Just a comment about Ireland's style under Schmidt.

Because we're set up to retain possession as our main priority, even from inside our own half, and are incredibly disciplined with and without the ball, we are well set up to grind teams down. If this tactic of ball retention is eventually going nowhere, we have the aul box kick up our sleeve. Our generally good set-pieces reduce the 'freebies', easy-outs and penalties we give to the opposition even further. In most games, these factors combine over the course of the match to leave us having dominated the game, and as a result we usually win.

And yet against half decent teams even if we've dominated, the difference on the scoreboard is often too close for comfort. Think France in 2015, dominated the whole match, loads of media commentary about how craap France were, but we only won 18-11 and didn't score a try. Or France in 2016 - dominated much of the match but lost. Then the same almost happened last year. We should have won by more than four points against England in 2017, and by more than nine last year. The same goes for the consecutive 11-point winning margins against Argentina in recent years - should have won by more. Even though we scored freely against Wales last year, the fact we needed a last-second interception by Stockdale was poor considering our control of the game. In fact, we should have won the recent NZ game by more than seven too.

Here it is in a nutshell: Ireland go out to dominate the game, rather than to score (in a sense) Low risk, accurate rugby. Scoring eventually comes as a by-product of this domination (and denies the opposition chances to score), especially if the opposition are ill-disciplined. The problem with focusing on domination, and then needing that domination to score any points, is that if you don't dominate, you don't win. England, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Wales, Argentina and even France on a good day can win big games without dominating the match. We are incapable of this. If the opposition break our dominance, we struggle to score, and we don't win. If they can defend our blunt multi-phase attack with discipline intact, we struggle to score tries (Wales 2015, 2016 and 2017; England 2014, 2016, 2018).

We've almost backed ourselves into a tactical corner whereby we need to be noticeably better than the opposition to establish dominance, and to a win by an artificially tight scoreline. If the stats are even (as they almost where against England) we lose quite badly.
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Re: Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

Postby MylesNaGapoleen » February 12th, 2019, 12:35 pm

fair points.

a contrarian view might be that the JS strategy is more sustainable with injuries.

We always hear "everyone knows their job" from Irish team members in interviews. In other words...keeping possession and sticking as much as possible to structured play and set pieces is arguably less reliant on injuries than, perhaps, the English strategy.

For example, if England lose Tuilagi, billy V and/or Maku V....their game plan doesn't have the same potency in attack AND defense. There are some big hitters that could step up but the Vinupolas and Tuilagi are pivotal to their game plan. If Ireland lose some players to injuries, we have depth where people can slot in to the same game plan.

Let's not forget..we have only lost 2 games (Australia & England) since March 2017...when we lost to wales in cardiff..utilising the JS approach as you describe. In the same breath, the game is changing and we need to tweak our game plan to match, but, I wouldn't get too down about how we are doing this year.
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Re: Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

Postby suisse » February 12th, 2019, 2:45 pm

There are plenty of examples of punishing teams all over the pitch, except on the scoreboard. Even the NZ game last November. POM did make a vital play on a kick through for Ben Smith but 16-9 was not an accurate reflection of how the game went. In commentary, Donal Lenihan kept saying "pressure pressure pressure" but that pressure has to be turned into point. At the end of the day, the difference between winning and not winning was, perhaps, the bounce of a rugby ball.

Shans Horgan talked about this Sunday but made it seem like it was a rare case. It is harder to score inside the 22 when there's less space but if we go through 25+ phases, there eventually has to be an alternative option apart from picking and driving. It grinds teams down but as we've seen with Wales twice in Cardiff under Schmidt, if you don't score, it is enormous for the other team and their fans.

On Saturday, we had our first attacking platform with a scrum just outside the Scottish 22 and on the left touchline. There were 16 forwards and 2 scrum halves locked into a small space on the 5 meter line. Stockdale had moved in behind Sexton. There was so much space on the field. As the scrum unfolded, I remember thinking this better not go to Aki. It did, and the Scots saw it coming a mile out. We all did. I understand doing this sometimes, but we do it too often. Our ruck ball wasn't quick and 1 phase later, all 15 Scottish defenders have joined the defensive line. We never once got over the gainline and 5 phases later we were on half way. It was just too obvious.
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Re: Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

Postby neiliog93 » February 14th, 2019, 3:01 am

^^ Agree.
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Re: Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

Postby hugonaut » February 14th, 2019, 10:01 am

suisse wrote:On Saturday, we had our first attacking platform with a scrum just outside the Scottish 22 and on the left touchline. There were 16 forwards and 2 scrum halves locked into a small space on the 5 meter line. Stockdale had moved in behind Sexton. There was so much space on the field. As the scrum unfolded, I remember thinking this better not go to Aki. It did, and the Scots saw it coming a mile out. We all did. I understand doing this sometimes, but we do it too often. Our ruck ball wasn't quick and 1 phase later, all 15 Scottish defenders have joined the defensive line. We never once got over the gainline and 5 phases later we were on half way. It was just too obvious.


That was the one where Aki lined up Finn Russell, I think – a big collision which Aki won hands down. I think that that was a good ploy: get a big hit on Russell with the first offensive play of the game and let him know that he's going to be in for a long day of getting hit, with and without the ball.

To my mind, that's a really valid idea: strategically, you're making a talented, relatively lightweight player make lots of tackles which will tire him out [or take him out], and hopefully frazzle his confidence a little, which hurts their attack; tactically you're running a big player one-on-one at a small player, with a pretty good chance of getting over the gainline quickly.

It didn't pan out in that instance, but not every punch you're going to throw is going to be a knockout. Sometimes you've got to go to the body to open up the head.

Just as an afterthought [and with reference to the original post], I think these articles by Conor Wilson on the1014.com about Ireland's attacking patterns are outstanding and put a sidelight on how we play the game.

https://the1014.com/irelands-patterns-tactics-tenets/
https://the1014.com/irelands-patterns-t ... -1-looper/
https://the1014.com/irelands-patterns-t ... -splitter/
https://the1014.com/irelands-patterns-tactics-twos/
https://the1014.com/irelands-patterns-t ... s-factors/
https://the1014.com/irelands-patterns-t ... y-players/
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Re: Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

Postby Oldschool » February 14th, 2019, 2:21 pm

On the title of this thread it's becoming evident that nearly everything team has to dominate to win.
Defence is king at the moment.
England may have hit on a tactic to break down the current defence fashion but a RK type FB will negate this to an extent.
Basically it's not just Ireland that have a problem but it's certainly the case that the NH teams by virtue of tradition are better prepared for the war of attrition that will be the RWC.
Coaches like Joe Schmidt and Eddie Jones will be the ones to come up with answers.
I'd add Gattie and Townsend to that.
Scotland would be a huge threat if they had Ireland or England's pack.
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Re: Problem for Ireland: We need to dominate games to win

Postby ronk » February 16th, 2019, 4:51 am

A key for England was the variety in their kicking game. Pullback passes brought the wingers up to create space behind them.

If we couldn’t predict them then we couldn’t concentrate defensive resources to allow a dominant defense.
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