big issues

5 talking points after Ireland run six tries past Georgia in Dublin

Sloppy first-half, floodgates opening, Madigan’s display and the less experienced faces.

Sloppy first half

Dave Kilcoyne scores his sides first try despite David Kacharava Dave Kilcoyne scored early in the second half to get Ireland rolling. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

IRELAND WERE POOR in the first half, of that there can be little argument. Georgia do, of course, deserve credit for their spoiling and harrying of Joe Schmidt’s men, but the number of basic errors continually frustrated.

Spilled possession, inaccurate passing, weak rucking and several bad decisions; we can be sure that Schmidt had some harsh words at the break. While things did improve thereafter, the first half issues will rankle this evening.

The sense of occasion was understandably lesser than last weekend against the Boks, but all those in Ireland’s starting team had much to play for in a World Cup year.

Second half-tries flow

Simon Zebo scores his side's third try Simon Zebo canters over via a Darren Cave pass. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

As soon as Dave Kilcoyne dived over early in the second half, the Georgian defence became more and more scattered. The chances started to come thick and fast for Ireland and they pouncex superbly to touch down on six occasions.

Felix Jones bagged a brace to round off an excellent outing at fullback and later on the wing, while Simon Zebo also dotted down, resisting the temptation to celebrate in characteristic fashion.

While we didn’t see too much evidence of Schmidt’s power plays leading to scores, the Kiwi coach will have been pleased to watch his men creating openings and making excellent decisions with ball in hand in the final quarter.

Ireland’s maul delivers again

Richardt Strauss scores a try despite Giorgi Begadze Richardt Strauss gets in for a second-half try. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Simon Easterby would have been disappointed with some of Ireland’s first-half mauling, but with just over 50 minutes on the clock, we saw an increasingly familiar sight as the Irish pack rumbled over from close range.

It was Robbie Diack who took the ball in the air, transferring swiftly to Dave Foley, who then slipped it back to Richardt Strauss at the tail. Easterby’s men shunted off to the right and the hooker took his brief opening.

The maul is a huge part of the international game at present, and Ireland look well equipped in this area even without their first-choice pack.

Madigan impresses

Ian Madigan kicks a penalty Madigan was one of Ireland's best players in Dublin. Colm O'Neill / INPHO Colm O'Neill / INPHO / INPHO

Though some of his teammates may have done more damage than good to their reputations in the eyes of Schmidt and his coaching staff, Madigan was one of the strongest Irish performers.

The out-half had a couple of darting linebreaks, as well as firing several magnificent passes off both hands, short and long. His attacking skills were little in doubt beforehand, but Madigan also kicked well from the tee and out of hand.

Schmidt has long been a fan of the inventive Leinster playmaker, but this solid showing will have confirmed that he is next best behind Johnny Sexton at 10.

Less experienced faces show quality

Felix Jones scores a try despite David Kacharava Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Dave Foley was named man of the match on his Ireland debut, and certainly had a strong performance in the second row. He carried well, tackled with hunger and was superb in the air as always.

Kieran Marmion and Stuart Olding came off the bench to add pace and guile in the closing stages, benefiting from a tiring Georgian defence to work their attacking magic. Both players appear to have big futures with Ireland.

Rodney Ah You was solid as a replacement too, and the Connacht man will look to build on this performance. Felix Jones, still shy of 10 caps, was superb in the back three.

Originally published Sunday, 17.30

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