Best performance of the season so far
Decided in the 1st 1/2 by Barnes' three-quarters on top form
This match had official wired-up referee's assistants. The visitors secured Barnes' kick-off and were soon awarded a penalty 28 metres from their line. A good kick took them to a line-out at the opposition 22. From that their pack advanced well before releasing to centre to get another penalty 10 metres out, kicked for another line-out 5 metres out. At this they were pushed back by Barnes who then got the first scrum put-in 9 metres out. After a no. 8 pick-up Barnes recovered from a forced error then made ground before kicking to touch 17 metres inside their half. They stole this third line-out and launched an up-and-under. Irish dealt with this and sent the ball wide; that move was stopped by centre Butler. The visitors recycled 3 times before Barnes forced an error to get the second scrum still just inside their half. They released to their three-quarters and wing Riley put the other wing Lewis through. The ball was recycled 10 metres out then after another close recycle, in 2 more wide recycles, Butler's timing opened up the defence and Lewis made more yards before the ball was recycled blind to lock Collins who touched down at the corner just before 8 minutes. The conversion was wide. Barnes secured the restart and launched another up-and-under that Irish did not secure; the ball was hacked on by Barnes into the opposition 22. The result of this was yellow card to a defender and his opposite number kicked the points inside 10 minutes.
Barnes secured the restart and immediately broke through with Butler and fly-half Williams-Davies moving up to half way. Scrumhalf Reeves made a break and after one recycle and further advance Barnes were penalised 16 metres from the opposition line. The visitors' kick took them to their line-out 11 metres into their half and from that their pack advanced keeping the ball tight. When it was released it was dropped giving the opposition a put-in just inside the Irish half. Barnes were awarded a penalty at the scrum and kicked for a line-out 20 metres into the half; this was stolen by the visitors when thrown past the end. The ball was then recycled twice before two errors got the ball back for an Irish scrum. At this Barnes came way with the ball and went blind; Lewis made yards then the ball was recycled once before the defence forced an error to get another put-in 19 metres from their line. From this they kicked for territory before the Ref. went back to award them a penalty at their 22. This was kicked for a line-out 15 metres inside their half. From that they advanced well, keeping the ball close until penalised 17 metres into the other half. Now Barnes kicked for a line-out 3 metres into the visitors' half. From that their pack advanced a bit before Reeves tried an up-and-under. Irish dealt with this and varied their recycling through 4 phases before the opposition forced an error. Advantage was played and a grubber kick got Barnes a scrum put-in at their opponents' 22. Popham at no. 8 made ground from that, getting close to the line where the ball was recycled and prop Remfry went over at 23 minutes. O'Toole converted. The restart resulted in a line-out for the visitors at their opponents' 22. From that the pack kept the ball in to get a penalty plus 10 more metres awarded by the Ref. and centre Rodwell kicked the easy points after 25 minutes.
Irish secured the restart but were almost immediately dispossessed. Barnes put together a string of 8 phases while Irish defended well until it was they who got the next scrum 27 metres into their half. After that they soon passed forward, this 24 metres from their line. From this scrum Barnes went wide, made yards then kicked to the line with the result being an Irish defensive scrum 5 metres out. The visitors advanced with a back row pick up to an opposition scrum 16 metres out. Barnes kept the ball in the scrum and drove Irish back to get a penalty 7 metres out. This got them a line-out 5 metres out. From the line-out they threw long then put together 9 phases while being forced backwards and got another penalty 30 metres out near centre field. This was kicked for another line-out 10 metres out. Accidental offside got the defence a scrum 6 metres out. From it they cleared to touch at their 22. An error after the ball was tapped from the line-out gave Irish a scrum 17 metres inside their half. From this they advanced to get a penalty a few metres ahead. The kick didn't find touch and Barnes kicked back. Irish ran the ball and recycled twice before dropping. Advantage was played and Barnes kicked over the opposition. The visitors kept the ball in hand and soon got another penalty still 12 metres inside their half. A good kick took them to their line-out 30 metres from their opponents' line. From that line-out they advanced putting together their best sequence of phases of the half, including a switch of play then just before the whistle an error from each side ended play 7 metres from Barnes' line. 15 - 3 at halftime, most of the game having been played in the visitors 1/2 with Irish having no answer to the opposition three-quarters.
Barnes secured the second half restart and recycled 3 times before kicking ahead into the other half. The visitors soon dropped the ball giving their opposition a put-in 15 metres into the half. Barnes kept the ball in the scrum and pushed their opponents back to get a penalty 26 metres out in centre field for O'Toole to kick after 2 minutes. Barnes again secured the restart; two up-and-unders were exchanged then Barnes recycled twice before kicking ahead. Irish then ran the ball and put together a very good sequence of 10 phases before the opposition forced an error to get the next scrum. This was 5 metres into the visitors' half. The next put-in was Irish's at 13 metres into their half and after this was reset twice and they were forced backwards they recycled 4 times before being penalised near halfway. The kick took Barnes to a line-out 27 metres out; this was stolen and Irish advanced to get a penalty 11 metres into their half. Their kick didn't find touch and Barnes kicked for territory; the visitors then ran the ball wide and recycled wide again to break through at centre and get a penalty on halfway then an extra 10 metres from the Ref. This perhaps one of a few significant errors by the Ref. The visitors kicked for a line-out 17 metres out but this was stolen by the opposition. Barnes kicked high then Irish ran the ball recycling well but without advancing to get a penalty on halfway. The kick took them to their line-out 19 metres from Barnes' line. An error in the line-out gave them a put-in 21 metres out. From it they released wide before being turned over. Barnes kicked long to the opposition 22 and the visitors had to clear to touch 16 metres inside their half. The line-out was thrown long and Irish got the ball and advanced before a Ref.'s assistant intervened and the visitors lost a prop for the rest of the game. The penalty, 2 metres into Barnes' half, was kicked for a line-out 18 metres into the opposition half. From the line-out the pack set for a drive and kept going to 5 metres then got going again and over with flanker Smyth on the ball, wide-out after 19 minutes. The conversion was wide.
The visitors regained from their short restart and recycled 8 times before being turned over. This was immediately followed by a put-in for Irish near halfway. At the base of the scrum Barnes' no.9 caught his opposite number and was penalised for this. The visitors ran the ball and recycled 8 times without much advance before the defence forced an error. Advantage was played and Barnes kicked for territory. Irish ran the ball back before being forced into touch still just inside their 22. Barnes tried a rolling maul that was well defended then released and recycled 3 times before chipping ahead. The ball bounced off a defender into touch 13 metres out. From this line-out Barnes' pack rumbled over with Smyth again on the ball at 28 minutes. O'Toole converted from wide-out.
Two kicks followed the restart with the visitors regaining from the second, an up-and-under. They recycled 3 times before 3 more kicks then an error gave Irish a scrum near halfway. This was stolen against the head with the visitors being pushed back. Barnes went wide and kicked to the corner but the result was a 22 drop-out. Irish tried a short one and regained and recycled 8 times advancing to get a penalty 11 metres inside their half. Their forwards ran this to get to their line-out 10 metres into the other half. From that they advanced well, recycling 5 times, until being turned over. Barnes cleared to touch but after having taken the ball back into their 22. This gave Irish a line-out 17 metres out. An error then gave the defence a scrum at the same place at which the visitors were awarded a free-kick which they ran. This got them a penalty 11 metres out which they again ran before being penalised for not releasing 2 metres out. Barnes kicked to touch at their 22; the line-out resulted in a put-in for Irish at the same place. They kept the ball in and then there was another scrum at the same place for them. Again they kept the ball in and advanced to get a penalty 14 metres out that they ran and got another, this time 8 metres out. Again the ball was run then recycled 3 times before they were forced back but got another penalty 5 metres out and a man advantage for the last minute or so. They did get over after being forced back again and recycling 3 times close then releasing wide for a try to be scored half way from the posts. The conversion missed before the whistle. The Irish defence in the 2nd 1/2 held out Barnes’ wide attack but the red card for a quarter of the game had a major effect for the forwards. The game was notable for lots of forward passes by the visitors, not all noticed by the 3 independent officials.
Dry, cold and bright (15% blue sky), some wind but not enough to be a major factor; the pitch soft-ish.