Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Ireland v France: Five things Declan Kidney learnt

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton

1 On current form, Tomas O’Leary ought not to be going to the World Cup as Ireland’s first-choice scrum-half. Kidney has given him every chance to recapture the form he showed in the past but an 18-month stay of execution is more than generous. Eoin Reddan has to start against England.

2 Jamie Heaslip is a must-use Irish line-out option; he improves that setpiece enormously. Saturday was Ireland’s best performance out of touch in the three August Tests to date and having Heaslip as a target adds to the options, keeps opponents guessing and assists Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan immeasurably.

3 Line breaks are too few and far between, even during those periods in matches when Ireland are on top in terms of territory and possession. Far too much of their play on Saturday evening at the Aviva Stadium was of the across-the-pitch variety. The ball-carriers must keep it going forward.

4 Fits-and-starts performances are killers. Ireland need 80-minutes of aggression, concentration and penetration. A good finish to the first half and a good start to the second in Bordeaux a week earlier was followed by great early form, a dreadful hour-long dip and a storming finale on Saturday.

5 Fitness isn’t an issue; Ireland are in good nick. They finished strongly against France in Bordeaux where they were still running and competing right up until the final whistle and on Saturday once again they were able to do precisely that.

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