Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Irish find solace in supremacy of scrum

Ireland's scrum grew stronger the longer the match went on. Photo / Getty Images.
Ireland's scrum grew stronger the longer the match went on. Photo / Getty Images.

Irish hooker Rory Best has stuck his head in a few scrums and seen much of what rugby can throw at teams.

Like many forwards he is pragmatic about what happens in his sport; he does not get too emotional or stressed about events.

He was aghast when Daniel Carter got a repeat dropped goal chance after his previous attempt was deflected wide. On that evidence he would like the rule changed.

"But that's the way it is and had we been up the other end we would have liked another crack at it too," Best said.

"That's rugby and that's why everyone loves watching sport - it's cruel for one team and brilliant for another."

But would it ever stop being cruel for Ireland?

"I hope so," said Best. "We have seven days to turn it around and if we make the same improvements from the last seven days over the next seven days then you know we will be in with another shout."

Senior tighthead prop Mike Ross was back with Best and loosehead prop Cian Healy on Saturday and after a few blemishes, they led an Irish scrum which began to put the All Black eight in reverse late in the test.

Without Kieran Read and with several subs on, New Zealand's scrum was nowhere near as potent.

"As a team we have worked very hard on the scrummaging for the last few years," Best said. "It is a very good New Zealand scrum and we were pleased, especially with the way we finished the game."

It had not started so well and Best reckoned Ross was chasing him around the pitch to find out what had gone wrong with an early tighthead. The hooker had missed his strike and those mishaps counted at test level.

Ireland had improved their scrum with hard work and input from coach and ex-All Black prop Greg Feek.

"As a pack we have worked hard at it. There are no corners to be cut," Best said.

"New Zealand had their problems a number of years ago and worked very hard at it and have become a very good scrum as well. To come up against them and have held our own and some, was very pleasing from our point of view."

There was no doubt that at Eden Park, Ireland stood off New Zealand too much and gave them too much time and space and they were a lethal team when given that advantage.

"We were much more like our normal self tonight and it was a great match. It was very disappointing to have lost it but we will be able to tick some good things and a lot of others we will work on and try and get better for next week."

Ireland's scrum improved and eventually started to wear down the All Blacks. That created some issues and Ireland earned several penalties from their advantage.

"It was a very, very tough encounter. That is a quality front row and to come out and have done well against them, we are very pleased with that but we are under no illusions that in seven days' time it will be a similar front row and they will be gunning to try and set that right."

Ross' return from injury had made a difference but Ireland had to be conscious of developing their next level of talent, such as Declan Fitzpatrick, who started in the first test.

- NZ Herald

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