Recently by Simon Lister

The Old Enemy

By Simon Lister on Feb 22, 12 04:21 PM in

After a good performance to beat the Scots two weeks ago we move onto a difficult challenge at fortress Twickenham against the English.

Gatland has named the team early which is great as it shows our intent and confidence that he has in our 22 players.

There seems to be a lot of people writing off Englands chances, but if you look at the history books, England have the best home record of all the 6 Nations teams.

Its obvious that England will try and keep the game tight & attempt to gain field position and score from driving lineouts and mauls. They will attempt to starve our backs of the ball, as they are well aware of how dangerous our backs can be.

We need to ensure that we cut out any ill-discipline and minimise any mistakes. If we do this and play near our potential then we have a chance of winning. Farrell has a good kicking record - we need to minimise his chances.

I've seen some analysis, Charlie Hodgson loves the cross field kick, therefore our wingers need to be primed for these, and they'll probably being on Tuilagi in the second half to add some go forward to their midfield.

We need to concentrate on the things we do well, and not give England the type of field position which they could score points from.

I'm not making any predictions! I'll take a 1 point win to Wales!

Good luck to the boys. Come on cymru!

Ireland 21 - Wales 23

By Simon Lister on Feb 10, 12 01:45 PM in

What a game and what a weekend.

There were 4 of us that made the journey over for a long weekend without match tickets!

Having enjoyed a few Smethwicks & Guinness and experienced the Guinness factory, we made our way over to a quieter pub on the north side of the Liffey on Sunday lunchtime to grab a seat in time for the game.

I've watched the game in a sober state since returning and realised how well we did to win the game. Essentially I believe that our determination and ability to play for 80 minutes won us the game. I predicted the worst when Bradley was given the yellow card, Ireland really should have closed the game out, however they couldn't seem to stop our ferocious attacking backs!

Well done to Priestland & Roberts for playing well with so little game time in the past few weeks. Ian Evans in the backrow also played very well considering he's been injured over the last season or so.

Everytime I watch Jonathan Davies's try it gets better, and it makes me smile when Jeremy Guscott is left purring after the game and says 'that's as good as what New Zealand do', so well done Mr North, thats a big compliment.

How Leigh Halfpenny must have been feeling taking that final penalty - only he knows!

So  who would have thought it? Really. I was hoping that we'd win but I didn't think we'd actually manage it. Perhaps I'd been reading too much of the media writers claiming that the experience of the Irish would overcome the youthful Welsh.

I have to say that it was one of the best Welsh performances that I've seen in a long, long time. From the first whisle, we looked like we meant business, and for me Jamie Roberts set the tone early on when he clattered into O'Callaghan before we scored the first try.

We didn't panick even when Ireland scored early in the second half, and each one of our XV looked confident of the man next to him's ability. We never looked like loosing the game, and congratulations to the awesome Welsh back row once again on winning their battle with the Irish.

I wasn't at all suprised to see the English being knocked out by the French. The English never looked like they wanted to be at the world cup, and for some reason they won't change their style of play - so cheerio!

New Zealand were challenged by the Argentinians, and that's exactly the type of game that they needed before taking on the Aussies in the semi's.

Now we face the French. It was unfortunate to lose Priestland, but we are very fortunate to have an able deputy in James Hook, I believe that if we start the same way we started against Ireland, we have every chance of beating France. We cannot let the French get early points on the board like they did against England.

Once again we are going to require a monumental effort from the back row, Harinordoquy has been one of my favourite northern hemisphere players for a few years now, and he always seems to play well against us, but I've no doubt that Gatland and Edwards will have done their homework and will have ideas to nulify Harinordoquy as well as Bonnaire and Dusautoire.

Mike Phillips also needs a big game in order to disrupt the silky skills of Yachvili - who tends to either be very good or very poor, Phillips will need to use his physicality to get in the Frenchmans face at rattle him as much as possible, as he always seems to have time on his hands to pick a variety of options and confuse the defence.

I'm not too worried about the French centre's as the defensive efforts from Roberts & Davies have been outstanding, we just need to be careful when the game breaks up as this is when the French backs are at their most dangerous.

Maxine Medard also looks a real threat so the back three need to be on the their guard by ensuring that he is brought down before he gets into his stride.

 

I think we can do it! I hope I'm write....i'm now very, very nervous

So Gatland has named the team, the only shock as far as I'm concerned is that James Hook is on the bench, Hook is unlucky in the fact that he can play many positions, even though we all know that he prefers to play at outside half. The fact is that Rhys Priestland has done nothing wrong and therefore does not deserve to be dropped. As an Ospreys fan I think it all boils down to their preference to pick Dan Biggar at outside half, Hook wasn't given a fair  crack (which I think is shocking considering he's a proven world class player) there which is ultimately why he'll be playing in France post world cup.

There can be no arguments about the rest of the selection in the backs, though Jonathan Davies has a lot to prove once more as Scott Williams is putting lots of pressure on his scarlet colleague.

It was clear that a fit Dan Lydiate would replace Ryan Jones in the back-row as his work rate around the breakdown and defensively will be key to nulifying O'Brien. I see the key battle as being the back row, and Faletau will have up his effort once more in order to combat the experience of Heaslip.

I believe that we will target the O'Gara chanel in order to make line break, but O'Gara will probably test Williams & Halfpenny under the high ball! So there's interesting contests all over the park.

I can't wait now , it's going the be nerve wrecking!

Well done to Wales for thumping Fiji, erasing the 2007 game from my memory. I read a few comments from Jamie Roberts saying the players have put the result into perspective and they realise what's in front of them this weekend, which is great to hear!

The big positive aspect was how clinical the team was, and that they keep going until the end which is great to see.

It is going to be a very tight game on Saturday and I think there will be around 5 points between the teams, it's very hard to predict, of course my heart says Wales, but my head says Ireland, purely due to their big game experiences. I hope I'm wrong!

It will be interesting to see the team that Gatland picks.

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