Ireland see off Islanders with sixty point win

Ireland 61-17 Pacific Islands

A nice 8 try to 3 victory for Ireland’s last International in the old Lansdowne Road stadium in front of 43,000. The game was messy at times, with the Islanders showing some of their individual class, but they found it hard to deal with such a confident Irish side. Particularly impressive were the old hands, Horgan and Hickie, and the young blood of Wallace, Best, Heaslip and Fitzgerald.

From an Irish perspective here are some great take-aways for me from the Autumn series :

  • Ireland are indeed the second best team in the world.
  • We now have real strength in depth. Wallace, Boss, Fitzgerald, Trimble, Best, Best, Young, the list goes on and on. Of course, this point is directly linked to…
  • “Steady Eddie” O’Sullivan is experimenting – finally! I’ve been a big critic of EOS’s decisions in the past (e.g. playing a half-back pairing of Stringer-Humphries on a so-called “Development Tour to Japan”) Whoever got him to cop on, buy that man a drink!
  • Our most established players have at least one Rugby World Cup in them. I was concerned that the guys who have been around the block and back might be into the danger zone.

Any negatives? Well it’s not so easy to find any! We’ve still got the old problem of cover in the front row, we don’t really have a couple of props of World Cup standard lying about undiscovered. Hopefully the scrum will not be our undoing.

Lansdowne Road stadium for the Ireland vs Pacific Islands rugby international

Coming into next years Six Nations I suspect we’ll be red-hot favourites, and rightly so. In fact, here are the odds for Six Nations 2007 – Outright from Boyle Sports:

  • Ireland: 11/8 (1.375)
  • France: 7/4 (1.75)
  • Wales: 9/2 (4.5)
  • England: 11/2 (5.5)
  • Scotland: 25/1 (25)
  • Italy: 200/1 (200)

I’d be interested to know why they’ve rated France and England so highly. I’d have my cash on Wales over either of those two if it were tomorrow – are they expecting a renaissance from a New England (have to get rid of poor Andy first, lads). I think Scotland are underrated there too, despite their poor showing against Australia.

Anyway, so that’s the end of a strong Autumn Series for Ireland. It’s a pity we didn’t play either Argentina or New Zealand, the only other sides who appear to be on top form in world rugby. Pretty much everything we take from these games has been positive and it’s such a rare and fantastic feeling to be so confident about our team lining out against any comers.

Six Nations ? Bring it on.

Ireland: G Dempsey, L Fitzgerald, B O’Driscoll, S Horgan, D Hickie, P Wallace, P Stringer; B Young, F Sheahan, J Hayes, M O’Kelly, P O’Connell, S Easterby, SD Ferris, J Heaslip. Replacements: R Best, S Best, D O’Callaghan, D Leamy, I Boss, R O’Gara, G D’Arcy.

Pacific Islands: N Ligairi, L Fa’atau, S Rabeni, E Seveali’i, K Ratuvou; T Pisi, M Rauluni; J Va’aHale A Lutui, T Taumoepeau, D Leo, S Raiwalui (capt), N Latu, M Molitika, T-Pole. Replacements: M Schwalger, T Felise, E Taione, A Ratuva, J Poluleuligaga, S Mapasua, A Tuilagi.

Referee: Christophe Berdos (France)

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