London Irish 6-9 Newcastle Falcons (12th February 2006)

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London Irish 6-9 Newcastle Falcons (12th February 2006)

by OxonRob on Mon Feb 13, 2006 7:49 am

Not really a REPORT: A Curate’s Egg of a performance
by OxonRob

My apologies. I intended to make notes and to write a match report, but when it came to it I was feeling so unwell that I just sat there, wrapped in my LI weather-proof jacket, incapable of cheering, jeering or note-taking.

This is just as well. Foul weather, a foul performance and a frankly dire match would not have been nice to read about in detail. I hate to think what our team or their managers are saying to each other in the aftermath, for I have always understood that we have a truth culture, in which people put up their hands and take responsibility for what they have done or not done.

Image Photos by Cormac

Let's not mince words. It's one thing to lose a rugby match. If you've done your best and lost out to the better team, you just have to grin and bear it. However, this was worse than that, far worse. For all the thud of large bodies, we did not turn up mentally for this one, and in that wise at least the team need to put up their collective hands.

In broad terms, this was a Curate’s Egg of a performance, in that there were good bits and bad bits to it. We were never quite sure which would come next, but as time went by we had a horrid feeling that there would be few further good bits.

Both sides made mistakes. The difference was that ours were largely of our own making while Newcastle’s tended to be forced upon them.

Image Photos by Cormac

We displayed poor tactics, and executed those tactics poorly. Most of our players did good things of which they can be proud. Most did appalling things too. Our passing was of the lowest standard that I can recall in recent years.

Much has been made of Dave Walder’s line kicking, which was generally excellent. However, little has been said - overnight anyway - about Mike Catt’s line kicking, especially after Riki Flutey went off with what seemed like a dead leg. Catty drilled some beautiful kicks, finding deep secure touches in both halves. However, in general, his colleagues did not, and even he was occasionally guilty of what we had feared before the game – the hoof ahead into the secure hands of the Newcastle back three.

It is all too easy to blame our pack for failing to dominate. In all truth they didn’t, but I am not going to get into a blame culture about it. The Newcastle front five played above themselves and fully deserve whatever passes for an accolade in the Land of Squeaky. The real trouble started in the back row and spread to our midfield, in the sense that we allowed ourselves to be turned over more often than is decent. Our performance at the breakdown was, how shall I put this delicately, dire.

The result was some of the slowest ball that Flutey, and later Laidlaw will ever have seen. This was the underlying cause of much of our toothless back play. The other cause was our ‘Hoof and Hope’ kicking ahead. When you know that your opposition are good in broken play, I’d have thought that keeping the pill in hand or at least in your possession was quite a good idea. If they haven’t got it at least they cannot play with it.

Image Photos by Cormac

The skating rink of a pitch was the same for both sides, as was the referee, about whose performance I would only say that he was not responsible for the result.

It was not a good day at the office, but for those who expect or demand instant success out of the box, I’d only suggest that they get a dose of reality. Ours is a team in the making, not a team for Christmas. We’ll play better, again. It is unlikely that we’ll play worse. Were I wearing my green-tinted spectacles today I could probably find something good to say about most of our players this morning. However, I am not wearing them.
In short, we were stupid, stupid, stupid.

This was the kind of day to which Brian Smith will doubtless refer in the years to come when he wants to deliver a dose of reality to any inflated egos in the squad. “What did YOU do on February 12th 2006?”
Last edited by OxonRob on Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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by AlecW on Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:03 am

Rob I think you are being a tad kind!

It was an awful, awful game and we played - awfully!

Many more performances than that and the Great Reserved Seating Conundrum will be resolved...

...there'll be no need to open the East stand, as we'll get everyone who shows up into the West - easily!
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by SwanieBoy on Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:11 am

We were indeed atrocious and devoid of any obvious game plan, but we have played one very bad game amongst a lot of great stuff, so grin and bear it and look forward to better times ahead starting with Bath. Falcons were lucky to catch us on a bad day and it won't happen again for a long time. Keep it going Irish!!!!
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by Craic Me Up on Mon Feb 13, 2006 10:21 am

Forever the optimist I think some good will come of this. Imagine what is being said right now in the changing rooms, gym and offices of Sunbury, and apply that to how you will expect to see the team perform against an improving Bath next weekend.

Anyone who watched the strong Glaws performance against Tiggers on Friday night after we turned them over the other week will have seen an impression of how I expect LI to turn this around and come out fighting again.

Every team has bad games, lets hope this was the last one of our season. From what I've seen so far of our squad, management and coaching staff, I'm pretty certain we won't see anything but a massive improvement.
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