It was a strange match last night in the Sportsground. I found it mildly entertaining, but there was only one linebreak for each side.
There wasn't many outstanding performances, but players impressed, especially on defence.
For me, George Ford was man of the match. He was outstanding. You can tell immediately that there is something about him. For a 20 year old to have so much game management, and be able to attack the line when it presents. He's a special talent. I was impressed with him whenever I've seen him, from U 20's games, and it looks like he's stepped up again. I'd put him in the EPS squad now. There is a serious argument for starting him. Now with Farrell and Burns impressing recently, that won't happen. But maybe it should.
More on that in another post I think.
Not many others of the Saxons impressed, mostly because they weren't allowed with some ferocious defending from the Wolfhounds.
I've been critical of Paddy Jackson's tackling in the past, but with each game he looks less and less ROG like in that regard, and Darren Cave coming up on the defensive line quickly and effectively and Dave McSharry tackling like a beast, the Saxons potent backline didn't get a chance to display its class.
Tommy O'Donnell continued his rapid rise, and along with Dave McSharry, were the two most impressive in defence.
Robbie Henshaw looked impressive under a high ball, and seems comfortable at this level, and Luke Fitzgerald edged the battle between himself and Trimble.
The most interesting aspect of the match was the battle of the props, and the outhalfs.
Kilcoyne didn't get much of a chance, and neither did Court really. It was obvious that the directive from the off was a half each, but that was a little unfair on Kilcoyne given that the trouble with Bent meant he didnt have a chance. It's still up for grabs between these two. Hopefully both will get minutes in the 6 Nations.
As for Bent, he is atrocious. But so atrocious that he needs a post all on his own.
What I found most interesting from the game was that Kidney felt the need to have the next 3 out halfs on the field at once. With Jackson not running the game completely, and being outclassed by Ford, Keatley was anonymous when he came on. But Madigan, for all the criticism I have sent his way, seemed to step up and assume responsibility. He was the only one of the three that went looking for work, and nearly produced a try for Henderson. Maybe he was buoyed by the news from earlier about Sexton, but Madigan looked to me to be the best of the three. And he wanted it more.
It's been obvious that he is the most likely to make something happen compared to the safety of Jackson or Keatley.
Interesting game nonetheless, and plenty to ponder.
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