Rugby These ingredients are huge!
In competitions like this, at the elite level, it is purely mental. Performance is purely mental. Ireland were out-gunned, out-classed, out-thought and out-fought by a team that could smell weakness.
If both teams looked apprehensive when the anthems were being sung, only one team went on to play in such a manner. Maybe New Zealand did take cognisance of what happened at the Aviva last November, but it was nothing to do with how Ireland beat them that day, it was just a mental note.
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This was a statement performance by New Zealand. To Ireland, it was a statement that if you have the temerity to beat the All Blacks then you’d better be able to back it up. To the remaining sides in the tournament, it was a statement in case any of them were getting ahead of themselves.
It had nothing to do with revenge and yet what transpired was as ruthless, relentless and remorseless a performance as I’ve seen from them in quite a while.
The question has to be asked about this New Zealand side — which is far from a vintage New Zealand side — is how many dimensions can they play in? They play with a gift of simplicity and they have an all-purpose, all-court game; principally they won every collision yesterday and the manner in which they stopped Ireland’s runners was violent, yet it personified calmness. New Zealand’s runners went about their job in a dispassionate, cold-blooded manner. They knew from the off that Ireland’s first-up tackles lacked the mental will needed to stop them at the gainline and so after only a few minutes the game was up. There would only be one winner.
There was no honesty in Ireland’s performance. Trying hard is neither an excuse nor a foundation stone to take on the All Blacks. If Ireland did have a game plan it became redundant almost immediately and on the back of it the resolve was broken.
We all figured that Ireland had a puncher’s chance yesterday — maybe a good performance from our pack allied with a little missionary zeal in defence and a cohesive effort and we would have a chance. Ireland’s halves, though, reserved their worst performances of the competition for the match that mattered the most. The virus of unforced errors still afflicted Ireland in everything that they did, and you would hope not to find the errors and errors of omission in a half decent AIL side.
The uncertainty principle ruled: nobody really seemed to know what they were trying to do and a team lacking in cohesive effort came undone against a side whose ease of effort was obvious from the off.
This was supposed to be Ireland’s day; this was Ireland’s time — they would either rise to the occasion or shrink from the challenge. We all saw what ha
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