Autumn Nations Series: Five takeaways from Ireland v Fiji as sloppiness and late call upsets Andy Farrell

Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley Credit: Alamy
Ireland fly-half Jack Crowley Credit: Alamy

Following a 35-17 victory for Ireland over Fiji in their Autumn Nations Series fixture, here’s our five takeaways from the match in Dublin.

Few put their hand up to irked Andy Farrell

The Ireland head coach was pretty scathing in his post-match assessment of the showing against Fiji on Saturday as sloppiness and attitude were questioned.

With a Rugby World Cup not far away, Farrell is rightly demanding elite standards from everyone in the green jersey and he was upset with the mistakes from his team before criticising his side’s decision not to play on via a penalty on 80 minutes. No doubt there will be plenty to say in the debrief from the unhappy boss.

It was strange to see Ireland call it a day instead of pressing for another score, especially as many of these players are unlikely to start against the Wallabies.

Flashes of brilliance but discipline costs Fiji

There was some scintillating rugby from the Pacific Islanders at times on Saturday as the Kalaveti Ravouvou try on four minutes set pulses racing in Dublin.

Simione Kuruvoli’s second-half try was also a standout moment in the game but unfortunately the scores were marred by ill discipline that was ultimately key.

The red card for Albert Tuisue coupled with yellows for Manasa Saulo and Api Ratuniyarawa left the Fijians short for most of the game, with blatant lineout offences during Irish mauls something that needs addressing as officials will penalise teams to the maximum. The net result is Fiji having little to no shot at victory.

Ireland sloppy in their set-piece execution

Leading on from the above point and it’s fortunate for Fiji that Ireland didn’t capitalise on their many lineouts in attacking areas, with errors costing the hosts.

Ireland had numerous chances to claim pushover tries in the opening half but basics weren’t executed, such as the ball not being transferred to the back by the likes of Nick Timoney. One such occasion came when the flanker was hunting what would have been his hat-trick try but it ultimately resulted in lost possession.

The second half saw an attacking lineout just five metres out being thrown not straight by hooker Rob Herring, with this set-piece not firing well on Saturday.

Kieran Treadwell and Jamison Gibson-Park impress

While the set-piece wasn’t on song, it’s important to laud the work in the loose of second-row Treadwell, who was excellent with his carrying and smart lines. The Ulster lock was one of only a few to come away from this afternoon with positives on the report card from Farrell, as he played with intelligence and gusto.

Behind him the class of Gibson-Park shone through at times as he sees space like few other scrum-halves, with this a solid step in the right direction on a personal note as he continues his return from injury. Ireland need the Leinster half-back fit and firing as when he is on song they’re a slicker Test match animal.

Jack Crowley gives glimpse of talent in solid cameo

There has been plenty of excitement over the form of 22-year-old Crowley as the young fly-half has impressed for Munster this season. On Saturday Ireland fans witnessed his coolness on the rugby field as his touches were noticeable in possession, while he calmly sent over two conversions in a fine shift off the bench.

Ireland’s back-up to Johnny Sexton and third choice number 10 remains a position up for grabs and Crowley’s hopes of usurping his rivals for either role took a step in the right direction. One hopes Joey Carbery’s injury is not too serious but should a bench spot open up against the Wallabies, Crowley could be called.

READ MORE: Autumn Nations Series: Ireland muscle past Fiji in far from perfect performance

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