Five Reasons Why Ireland Look Like Grand Slam Winners
Has your heart rate returned to normal?! For the second time in three games, the men in green made us sweat to the 80 minute mark and beyond, before a Jacob Stockdale intercept try put the exclamation mark on a fantastic victory against Wales on Saturday – bringing Ireland one step closer to Six Nations glory and, perhaps, just their third ever Grand Slam.
Joe Schmidt and his players might insist that they’re not looking beyond Scotland – and given the heroics on display in Murrayfield, who could blame them?! – but we’re certainly daring to dream. A second clean sweep in 10 years is inching into view; here’s why we believe Ireland can go all the way…
PLENTY IN RESERVE
Losing a trio of Lions in Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Robbie Henshaw would be a blow to any side. Watching Andrew Porter, James Ryan and worthy man-of-the-match Chris Farrell on Saturday, however, you could be forgiven for wondering why they weren’t starting in the first place! A combination of canny selection and careful nurturing has provided Ireland with strength and depth like never before; while injuries might mount up, the conveyor belt of able replacements seems to keep on rolling too…
AIN’T DONE TIL 80
In Paris against the French, and in Dublin against the Welsh, the fat lady clearing her throat was the signal for Ireland to produce something special; Johnny’s epic winner and Jacob’s immense interception. Ask any expert worth their salt and they’ll tell you a sure-fire sign of a top team is one that plays from first whistle to last – and that’s exactly what our boys have done thus far!
While England pack their bags for a journey to Stade de France in two weeks’ time, the green machine will be bedding down in Carton House for the fifth consecutive weekend. Some people may not understand how big a deal that is, but Ireland’s lengthy home stand this season will do wonders for players’ recovery and relaxation – meaning they should enter the final weekend’s mission to Twickenham as well-prepared as they could ever hope to be.
FIT FOR PURPOSE
OK, so our hearts were in our mouths when Conor Murray – and, later, Johnny Sexton – needed attention; our half-back pairing might well be the world’s best, so their continued participation in this tournament is vital. But the good St. Joe has reported we needn’t worry about them, nor the cramp-stricken Keith Earls. With Sean O’Brien and Garry Ringrose both on the verge of returning, and Tadhg Furlong making quick progress, a close-to-clean bill of health will be music to Irish fans’ ears.
TRYING OUR HEARTS OUT
A few weeks ago a try-less effort in Paris had us worried about Ireland’s white-line wherewithal. Well, we take it back; 13 (yes, you read that right, thirteen) tries in the two games since have shown the killer instinct to carry this side beyond any opponent. It was even enough to book a bonus point against Wales. We won’t even be counting the tries from here on out, of course; two more victories of any shape whatsoever, and immortality awaits…
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