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17th Sep 2023

Paul O’Connell couldn’t hide his delight as Ireland nail pre-match scrum

Niall McIntyre

Paul O’Connell was pleased with how Ireland navigated their Tonga test on Sunday.

Ireland won the game 59-16 and while disappointed with Ireland’s high penalty count, which eventually led to a yellow card for Peter O’Mahony, forwards coach O’Connell was none-the-less satisfied with his side’s display.

Andy Farrell’s men had struggled with their line-out first-time-out against Romania, but with Ronan Kelleher and Rob Herring deputising in place of the injured Dan Sheehan, Ireland improved on their set-piece here.

They were also solid in the scrum, no mean feat against a sizable Tonga pack which includes the heaviest player at the tournament in the 151 kg Ben Tameifuna.

“We had a tricky period either side of half-time where we got on the wrong side of the penalty count,” O’Connell told RTÉ after the game.

You saw in the big games last weekend, when that happens it can hurt you.

“We conceded a try off the back of it, penalty after penalty and a yellow card, something we haven’t done in a while. It gives us something to work on now during the week. Otherwise it was really good.”

“It has been frustrating the last few weeks,” O’Connell added.

“Frustrating that we haven’t looked after our hookers as well as we could have. I thought they were excellent today. I thought the boys called well, but everything apart from one or two lineouts, everything we did was at a very high level.

“The drill was very good in terms of the speed across the floor, the lift, the throw. When we do that, we have a good lineout. It helped us get a good foothold into the game.”

O’Connell looked particularly pleased before the game as, during a warm-up drill, Ireland’s forwards competed against each other in a scrum. In fact, as you’ll see in the video below, he couldn’t hide his delight.

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Dan Carter talks to SportsJOE

Ireland take on South Africa in their third game of this World Cup next Saturday.

HOUSE OF RUGBY WITH PETER STRINGER & JOHNE MURPHY:

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