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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

Henry, Strauss and Gilroy emerge from Barbarians defeat with credit

While Ireland’s team performance was sloppy, there were some solid displays at Thomond Park.

IRELAND LOST TO the Barbarians on a 22-21 scoreline at Thomond Park on Thursday evening.

Read our full match report here. In this piece, we look at some of the players who managed to impress for Ireland. While the team performance was sloppy at times, this group did themselves no harm ahead of the summer break.

Richardt Strauss

The hooker is an old favourite of Joe Schmidt’s, having delivered for him time and again in the past both with Leinster and Ireland. Given his starting chance against the Baa-Baas this evening, Strauss took it forcefully to show his quality.

Zane Kirchner leads a selfie for the Barbarians The Baa-Baas celebrate their win in unique fashion. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Utterly competitive every time he was involved in contact, Strauss’ big moments came with a turnover penalty in the first half and a brilliant choke tackle turnover in the second.

Aside from those big defensive plays, the Leinster hooker chopped in the tackle, hit rucks aggressively whenever asked to do so, and largely delivered with his lineout duties. Was replaced by Rob Herring in second half, but forced back into action soon after.

Chris Henry

Joe Schmidt, pun or not intended, said yesterday that it was heartening to see Henry heading back towards his best form, and that feeling only grew as the openside flanker excelled against the Barbarians.

Chris Henry is tackled by Shane Jennings Henry stood out for Ireland at Thomond Park. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

There were one or two tackles the Ulsterman will look back on a missed chances to slam a firm shoulder into a Baa-Baa, but he was ever-present in an entertaining breakdown battle, holding his own and even standing out.

Excellent over the ball, Henry was hard to shift even when he didn’t complete a turnover or win a penalty. His communication with the less experienced Ireland players was obvious, and it’s clear why Schmidt values him as a personality as well as for his other rugby skills.

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Craig Gilroy

The Ulster wing’s evening began very poorly as he bit on off his left wing onto David Smith, creating the space that Alex Cuthbert took full advantage of for his first try.

Craig Gilroy Gilroy managed to force his way over the line in the first-half. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Schmidt is big on the defensive capabilities of his wings, and that moment will likely count against Gilroy, but the Kiwi head coach is also aware that he needs his wide men to provide attacking incision.

With that in mind, Gilroy’s superbly-taken first-half try was the latest demonstration of his scintillating finishing threat. Taking a switch pass from Eoin Reddan close to the tryline, the evasive wing stepped past and through the tackle attempts of Ruan Pienaar and Shane Jennings.

Thereafter, the ball didn’t flow his way as much as Gilroy might have hoped, but he did what he was asked to do solidly. Importantly, he recovered his defensive bearings and got through a handful of good tackles to go some way towards redeeming himself.

As Dave Kearney endured a tough time against David Smith on the other wing, Gilroy might have moved slightly up the deep pecking order in Ireland’s stocks.

Which Irish players, if any, impressed you? Who did themselves harm in the eyes of Schmidt?

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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