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'They don't come around too often for me, so I'll make sure I gloat' - Furlong

The Ireland tighthead now has two tries in three World Cup starts in Japan.

JACOB STOCKDALE AND Keith Earls, Ireland’s first-choice wings, have yet to score a try at this World Cup.

Tighthead prop Tadhg Furlong now has two in three starts for Joe Schmidt’s side.

While wide man Andrew Conway is their leading try-scorer on three, Furlong has plenty of cause for slagging off the likes of Stockdale and Earls after his spectacular score against Samoa last night.

Presented to the media this morning in Fukuoka after clearly only managing to grab a few hours of kip, Furlong said he hadn’t had a chance to get stuck into the backs just yet.

tadhg-furlong-scores-a-try Furlong scored his second World Cup try last night. Source: Jayne Russell/INPHO

“I haven’t really, to be honest, most of the lads are still in the cot,” said Furlong with a smile.

“He’s too tired, he’s too tired,” laughed assistant coach Andy Farrell alongside the Wexford man before Furlong underlined that he would be enjoying his prolific World Cup record.

“They don’t come around too often for me, so I’ll make sure I gloat when I see a few lads later,” he said. 

Furlong’s first score in Ireland’s opening win against Scotland as the tighthead bludgeoned his way over the tryline from close-range with a helping hand from captain Rory Best’s latch.

His try against Samoa last night was certainly more eye-catching as he beat four defenders on his way to dotting down. It was an excellent score from Ireland as a collective, as they clinically took advantage of a visit into Samoa’s 22 to move 14-0 ahead.

On an evening where Ireland won 100% of their 16 throws, three of their seven tries stemmed from their lineout, with Furlong’s score among them.

In this instance, Ireland have squeezed a penalty from Samoa – who are down to 14 players at this point – and kicked into their 22.

Ireland walk into a 6+1 lineout, meaning Samoa can’t get an early read on the Irish set-up.

As we can see below, pre-throw movement by CJ Stander and James Ryan also changes the picture at a late stage as Iain Henderson arrives in the middle of the lineout to jump.

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Henderson wins the ball above Samoa’s Chris Vui, keeping it well clear of Vui by gripping it into his right hand on the way down from his jump before transferring to the arriving ‘receiver,’ Josh van der Flier.

Ireland get into tight, low and cohesive mauling shape very quickly, with props Furlong [red below] and Cian Healy [white] binding in on either side of van der Flier as he accepts the transfer.

Maul

Tadhg Beirne [blue above] comes from the tail of the initial lineout to flood in behind van der Flier, while Best [yellow] is working off the touchline to get involved.

While the plan for Ireland is most likely for van der Flier to transfer again to Beirne or Best, Samoa’s disjoined maul defence invites the Irish pack to immediately to surge into the space in front of them, which they willingly do.

Samo lock Filo Paulo manages to get his arms wrapped around van der Flier and the openside eventually goes to ground around 10 metres upfield.

From there, Stander [white below] offers himself up for a carry infield, having just lifted Henderson and then braced at the front of the forming maul. 

CJ

This was one of Stander’s game-leading 22 carries for Ireland last night. Though he is well managed in the tackle by UJ Seuteni and TJ Ioane on this occasion, the Munster number eight was relentless in Fukuoka and deserved his second-half try.

Henderson and Furlong arrive in to resource the breakdown after Stander is tackled, then it’s Beirne [yellow below] who gets on the ball next.

Beirne

Beirne was Ireland’s next-busiest carrier in the forward pack after Stander with 13. Again, he doesn’t win big metres for Ireland but his work-rate to get around the corner is typical of the performance he delivered.

Best, Healy and Ryan arrive in to recycle possession as Samoa lock Kane Le’aupepe briefly attempts to choke tackle Beirne, then it’s the backs turn to get involved as Ireland play the same way.

As we can see below, Bundee Aki gets onto the ball and uses his jinking footwork to get to the outside of Ioane, where some strong work by Robbie Henshaw aids his cause.

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Henshaw briefly binds onto Aki to lend him some additional power and stability into the tackle, then Henshaw drives through beyond Aki to clearout the breakdown and ensure quick ball as Henderson arrives as ‘guard’.

Because Henshaw – who did some excellent ruck work in this game – drives through beyond the ball, he creates a roadblock for the Samoa defenders ‘folding’ around the corner to be in the defensive line.

That leaves the Samoans tight to the left side of Ireland’s ruck, as highlighted in white below.

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While Aki has been carrying, Furlong has worked hard around the corner to Ireland’s left and he is already eyeing the sliver of space on the outside shoulder of opposite number Michael Alaalatoa that we can see above, highlighted in yellow.

Alaalatoa reacts and looks to get across to tackle Furlong but he’s not advancing forward to hit the Ireland tighthead, instead shifting across in a bid to make up that initial space. As we will see, Alaalatoa won’t be able to get a firm shoulder into his tackle as he tries to recover.

Furlong’s carry here might seem like sheer brute force – and there is a large degree of that – but there are important minor details too.

As he receives the ball from scrum-half Conor Murray, Furlong first sells a dummy pass to Samoa outside centre Alapati Leiua, as we can see below.

Furlong

Furlong has the ball in two hands and is shaping as if to pass to his outside.

This subtle and split-second deception forces Leiua to hesitate in committing inwards into the tackle on Furlong, and the Samoa centre even takes a slight step backwards as he waits for Alaalatoa to make up the space on his inside.

Furlong, though, has only one route in mind. 

Having sold Leiua and got himself a very brief one-on-one against the chasing Alaalatoa, Furlong shifts the ball into his left arm and tucks his right arm tight against his body to create something of a bullbar to bump the Samoa tighthead off with.

3

Furlong leans into the tackle – which Alaalatoa will obviously be disappointed with – and demonstrates his power by using his right arm to drive through the contact as he pumps his legs.

Leiua now commits inwards but he goes high around the ball and Furlong has the dynamism to get it back into two hands and rip through the second tackle attempt.

4

As Furlong surges clear of Leiua, Samoa lock Paulo is tracking across and does manage to ground him, while left wing Ed Fidow seemingly tries to target the ball, but Furlong has built up enough steam to bring him within touching distance of the tryline.

Having hit the deck, the Ireland prop readjusts his left arm to reach out and ground the ball for his team’s second try.

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So what was Furlong’s thought process as he got onto the ball here?

“It’s mad when you see stuff back and you have no clue when or how it happened,” said Furlong with a laugh this morning.

“When you’re carrying the ball, you’re trying to win that initial contact and keep your feet under you and keep pumping your legs and you end up where you end up.

“It’s kind of mad when you’re in that moment and it floats away after.” 

Furlong’s try sums up Ireland’s efficient performance in hammering Samoa last night in Fukuoka, even as they played with 14 men for 50 minutes.

They were superb at set-piece time, winning all of their lineouts, stealing one of Samoa’s through James Ryan, mauling well and playing off some very solid scrums.

Their ball-carrying forwards worked relentlessly withing 21 minutes and 18 seconds of Ireland possession and a 71% share of the territory, demonstrating the important subtle details that can help eke out valuable metres and inches.

Much of Ireland’s ruck work was accurate and impactful, and they were largely clinical when they spent time in the Samoa 22, ensuring they took advantage of the 17 penalties Steve Jackson’s side conceded and some intelligent tactical kicking of their own.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from Fukuoka

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