'Wrong' tactics won it for Ireland
Mon, 10 Feb 2014 07:28
Why Ireland 'mauled' the Welsh
It was effective, very effective, but Ireland's tactics were based on an inaccurate weather report.
The men from the Emerald Isle put a huge dent in Welsh hopes of a record third Six Nations title in a row, with a clinical display in Dublin's Lansdowne Road at the weekend - as they ran out 26-3 winners.
Warren Gatland's men simply never got close to the hosts, who tactically outmanoeuvred the giants in red, and boasted raw strength and aggression to complete the rout.
Both Ireland captain Paul O'Connell and coach Joe Schmidt admitted that they were expecting the weather to be "very foul" and based their game plan on that.
And when it turned out to be a fine day, they opted to stay with what they practiced - kicking more than they have before and mauling the Welsh into submission.
"The forecast [for Saturday] was awful and we felt that if there was an area we could be accurate at, it would be in the maul, and be nice and tight, they would have to work fairly hard," Schmidt said.
"It would mean we wouldn't put the ball at risk and that worked out well for us.
"We preconceived certain tactics based on the weather forecast and when it didn't eventuate we decided just to stick with the tactics we had," the coach added.
O'Connell also admitted that in the conditions they expected mauls were going to play a big part.
"Once we got a lead it became a very potent weapon for us," the Irish captain said.
"It is a great way to hold onto the ball and put a team under pressure, particularly when you have a lead.
"All the [Irish] provinces maul very well and you come into camp an there is a good mixture of ideas.
"We chatted to [forwards coach] John Plumtree and he had a few ideas as well.
"Line-out wise we have very good jumpers, four excellent jumpers - we wanted to deliver [from the line-outs] and we wanted to maul."
The other area where the Irish won comprehensively was at the breakdown, with Peter O'Mahony producing a masterclass in his head-to-head battle with British and Irish Lions captain Sam Warburton.
"I wouldn't say we target it, but it was an area we wanted to be good at," Schmidt said of the breakdown.
"Peter O'Mahony in particular, but Rory Best also, got pressure on them there.
"I thought Brian O'Driscoll got a great poach at one stage.
"There were aspects of it that we were really happy with and there were aspects of it we were lucky with."
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