Owen Farrell Cian Tracey: ‘At times on Saturday, it looked as though Ireland’s back-line had never played together’

Owen Farrell This is one astonishing add-on!


Owen Farrell Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during the warm-up before the match against England. Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during the warm-up before the match against England. Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Once was bad, twice was worse, three times was baffling.

That Ireland conceded three first-half tries would have been enough to send Joe Schmidt into overdrive, but watching his side getting torn asunder in an alarmingly similar fashion will have left him wondering how he can turn around this mess in such a short period of time.

A lot of that responsibly will fall on Andy Farrell, whose defensive structures, in which all of the players are familiar with, were ripped to shreds.

It’s easy to point the finger at Jacob Stockdale as he was badly exposed in the wider channel time and time again, but those around him didn’t exactly make life easy for him.

For all of his undoubted attacking threat, which he demonstrated by creating Jordan Larmour’s try, there have been lingering question marks over Stockdale’s defence.

Opposition teams are quite clearly targeting the 23-year-old and that in itself is a major concern for Schmidt.

Ireland were always going to miss a player of Johnny Sexton’s calibre, particularly in the amount of leadership he brings to the back-line, both in attack and defence, while Robbie Henshaw’s absence was also sorely felt because as well as being an excellent defender, he is a good communicator too.

At times on Saturday, it looked as though Ireland’s back-line had never played together and were thrown together at random.

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That blame does not solely rest on Stockdale’s shoulders and even though this morning’s review session will make for particular horrific viewing for the winger, there will be a shared responsibility for what were really naive defensive errors.

Ireland’s 21 first-half missed tackles was four short of what England managed in the en

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