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20-year-old Wall's dominant display underlines her potential for Ireland

The Munster flanker was superb in last weekend’s big win over Wales.

Wall was impressive against Wales.
Wall was impressive against Wales.
Image: Robbie Stephenson/INPHO

MUCH OF THE post-match positivity after Ireland’s record win over Wales in the Six Nations revolved around the performance of 19-year-old wing sensation Beibhinn Parsons – all of it deserved – but there was another superb display from a promising young player during the victory in Cardiff.

20-year-old back row Dorothy Wall made her second start for Ireland as they swept to a 45-0 win, with the Fethard RFC product underlining her major potential with an imposing performance.

Munster flanker Wall, who is now with Blackrock College RFC, was at blindside flanker in a potent back row alongside the experienced pair of captain Ciara Griffin and openside Claire Molloy.

Tipperary woman Wall’s dominant display featured plenty of impressive physicality – which bodes well ahead of the visit of a big France team to Dublin this Saturday [KO 2.15pm, RTÉ 2] – but also plenty of good decision-making and skill.

Below is an illustration of Wall’s contributions for Ireland in attack against Wales.

A

Ball-carrying was the most prominent aspect of Wall’s performance against the Welsh, with the Tipperary woman carrying 23 times, six more than any other Irish player.

Wall made around 40 metres for Ireland across those 23 carries and while that might not sound like a huge amount, the vast majority of her carries were into heavy traffic rather than wider out in space.

Wall is the kind of hard-working and powerful ball-carrier that makes everyone else’s life easier. She puts her hand up to carry into the defence closer to the ruck or set-piece to generate quick ball that can often result in big Ireland gains on the next couple of phases.

Big Carry

We get an example above as Wall carries from a very slow Irish recycle at the previous ruck. The dynamic blindside flanker uses her powerful leg drive to break the gainline, beating a defender, and providing clean ball for Ireland to play off.

In the space of a few seconds, Wall has turned slow ball into quick, front-foot possession.

Ireland also used Wall as a direct ball-carrier from lineouts on several occasions, allowing her power to come to the fore.

LO Carry

From a five-woman lineout, Ireland number eight and captain Ciara Griffin tips on the pass for Wall to dominate the collision, giving Ireland instant impetus.

Two phases later, fullback Eimear Considine breaks through the defence to score Ireland’s fourth try.

Wall was not involved in the actual lineout itself for Ireland, either setting up in midfield off shortened lineouts or lining up in the ‘receiver’ position to steer their maul.

LO Receiver

Wall’s role from the receiver position was often to gather the ball from the lineout jumper as Ireland set up their mauls, which also meant she could break away from the maul and show her passing skills on a couple of occasions.

We see the first below as Wall breaks off the maul, uses her footwork to draw in two Welsh defenders and then releases the ball to right wing Lauren Delany running into the ‘seam’ behind the lineout.

Pass Peat No-Try

Delany bursts into space and Ireland very nearly score on the next phase, with Lindsay Peat just knocking-on over the tryline.

This was clearly a planned play from Ireland and they used it again on the other side of the pitch in the second half, with Wall slipping the explosive Parsons into a sliver of space on that occasion.

Pass Maul

It’s encouraging for Ireland to see Wall being so comfortable passing the ball, meaning she is not just about a big carrying game.

We also saw Wall deliver a tip-on pass just before being tackled in the instance below, with Claire Molloy then fighting forward as Linda Djougang helped to clear away the tackler.

TipOn

Wall would have been frustrated with a knock-on in contact on her very first carry of the day and an error at the back of a maul, but her handling skills look fluid and Ireland may look to get more from her in that department as opposition teams focus on limiting her ball-carrying impact.

Wall deservedly barrelled over for a second-half Ireland try in Cardiff as she held width close to the left touchline after initially being part of a maul effort.

Replacement scrum-half Emily Lane – making her debut – moves the ball back into the shortside as Wales expect Ireland to play to the open and influential lock Aoife McDermott passes on to Wall, who finishes past a high tackle.

Try

As we can see in the activity map towards the top of this article, Wall also contributed busily to the attacking breakdown, with 19 involvements in that area.

Ireland had nearly 20 minutes of possession in this game, meaning there was lots of attack, and when Wall wasn’t carrying herself, she didn’t shirk the breakdown workload.

The clearout below after an Ireland lineout steal was a highlight.

Breakdown

Wales have a clear jackal threat in prop Caryl Thomas but Wall levers in underneath her left shoulder and drives her up and clear away from the ball, with Djougang again lending her power.

Wall has already proven herself a voracious defender for Ireland early in her career, making a remarkable 20 tackles in 40 minutes off the bench on debut against Scotland last year, then delivering 22 on her first start against Italy last October.

Wales only had 11 minutes of possession last weekend, which meant Ireland’s tackle counts were not going to be high, but that limited slice of the ball was often because the Irish defence won it back aggressively and swiftly.

Wall was among the busiest Irish defenders, with her contributions illustrated below.

D

Wall, who completed 11 tackles, has quickly become an ‘enforcer’ for Ireland in defence, capable of eye-catching physicality and work-rate that other players simply cannot offer.

The tackle below early on against Wales sets out Wall’s stall as she comes forward with aggressive linespeed and makes a tackle for Ireland behind the gainline.

D1

A few phases later, Wall makes a good tackle as Wales play off the touchline.

This time, Wales use a tip-on pass but Wall shuts it down.

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D2

As highlighted below, Wall has a couple of options to contend with here.

She has to worry about the tip-on pass [yellow] but also a pullback pass to the ‘release’ player out the back [white].

D2

Wall’s decision-making is sound and she lands her tackle before working back to her feet.

Soon after in the same defensive set, Wall is levelling opposite number Georgia Evans just after she gets the ball away.

D3

Wall is close to a ball-and-all hit here as she leaves a mark on the Wales back row before bouncing back to her feet.

The Tipperary woman clearly relishes being physically dominant on both sides of the ball. Every team needs players with that kind of mindset.

Later in the first half, we get a simple example of Wall’s awareness and work-rate.

As Wall is working back into the defensive line, Ireland concede a penalty…

WR1

Wall reacts well by backpedaling rapidly downfield to get herself onside as Wales scrum-half Jess Roberts opts for a quick tap… 

WR2

… which means Wall is in position to tackle Roberts as she suddenly gets isolated, allowing Molloy to jackal over the ball and draw a side entry penalty from Wales.

WR3

While Wall’s tackling opened up opportunities for team-mates to jackal, we only saw one defensive breakdown effort from the blindside flanker herself against the Welsh.

In the likes of Molloy, Griffin, and hooker Cliodhna Moloney, Ireland have plenty of strong jackals anyway, so Wall’s role appears to involve reloading into the defensive line to make dominant tackles whenever possible.

Wall did have one ‘missed tackle’ in this game but it was arguably a positive defensive contribution as her linespeed forced Wales to turn back inside.

Tackle Miss

Obviously, it would have been ideal for Wall to complete a tackle on the Welsh ball-carrier deep behind the gainline but the Ireland flanker knows she has team-mates hunting inside as she races forward to prevent another pass.

While these are still early days in Wall’s international career, the early signs suggest she will become a talismanic figure for Ireland in the coming years. 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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