Four Losses (but not quite a funeral)!
January 10 2020
A brief run-down of the matches over the Christmas period. It started with so much hope but sadly went quickly south and stayed there. An unexpected bonus lifted the gloom slightly. Will it be a Happy New Year?
After the trip to Toulon, the French visitied the MadStad and, looking at the team sheet showed that while the Toulonnais are having a bit of a low-patch at the moment, their side still contains some huge names. Any team that can field Eben Etzebeth, Sergio Parisse and Julian Savea is going to be a tough ask and so it proved. Irish put in a good, if typically (for this season) indisciplined, performance but came away with just a losing bonus point in an entertaining 20 - 26 loss. You couldn't help but wonder if without the two yellow cards Irish couldn't have taken the spoils.
So the European Challenge Cup was done for the season, our two remaining games will be played with no interest from the Irish. I fear for the turn-out for an 8pm Saturday kick-off against Scarlets.
Bath have become a bit of a fierce rival since they took a huge number of our academy output and, with London Irish West's start to the season London Irish supporters arrived at the Madejski with a lot of hope. That in itself is a red flag in my experience - we simply never play well when there's any expectation of it. From the first minute it was evident that Bath had patched many of their early season problems and, bolstered by their returing internationals, put in a fairly solid performance. Their tackling was especially agressive putting Irish immediately (and irrevocably) on the back-foot. The Exiles folded and Bath came out worthy 10 - 38 winners. Merry Christmas!
Post-festivities Irish travelled to Worcester. Results elsewhere, with Tigers and Wasps beginning to find their feet, meant that both clubs although having some successes early-season were being dragged into the battle for relegation. That being the case this fixture takes on a higher significance and both teams wanted to come away with the spoils.
I have to admit I wasn't at this game but from all accounts it was simply terrible with Irish losing 20 - 6. The general feeling was that Irish had lost their go-forward and any ability to break the gain-line. With Ruan Botha having departed for his contracted stint in Japan it is worrying that he may have been our only line-breaker.
The green army went to their New Year festivities in very low spirits. It felt very much like the wheels had come-off and that the positives of the early games had simply evaporated.
So it was that Exeter Chiefs came to the Madejski. The Chiefs are quite simply a superb team that achieve a great deal with teamwork and great support play - the Irish faithful were not confident. A hiding was on offer, and to a degree, a hiding was what we got, finishing 28 - 45 losers.
It wasn't all the doom and gloom that we were expecting, though. While the result was as expected the 28 Irish scored was 4 converted tries making the Exiles the only team thus far to have taken a try bonus point from Exeter. The discipline was also much better with the penalty count in single figures for the home side (while Chiefs picked-up two yellow cards). So the desperation turned into a little bit of hope (with the associated red flag mentioned above).
Irish head-off now to Bayonne with a limited team to try and patch-up a bit of an injury crisis in the backs before returning home for Scarlets in another dead rubber (and quite possibly an empty stadium).pqs: qs:
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I think it would be nice to read the article!
Ah! It has now appeared.
Nope, gone again.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2020:01:11:06:50:42 by bigbitty.