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Farrell evokes Johns in Irish stew

Date

Paul Cully

1. Cian Healy (Ireland) Click for more photos

British and Irish Lions team of the week

Paul Cully picks his British and Irish Lions team of the week from the latest round of the Six Nations championship. Photo: Getty Images

After the openness of the first round of Six Nations, came something more familiar. Ireland and England, adventurous just a week ago, succumbed to a force greater than either of them: Dublin's grey skies and persistent rain. England's 12-6 win was ugly. But it was also clever, pragmatic and stoic – a mirror of their young five-eighth Owen Farrell. His place on the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia is already assured, but he's steadily constructing a case to be the starting No.10.

In tandem with the excellent No.9 Ben Youngs, Farrell exerted a control over the game that completely eluded the Irish. With valuable support from No.15 Alex Goode, England simply kicked better and chased with enthusiasm and cohesion. By contrast, the veteran Ronan O'Gara – who replaced the injured Jonathan Sexton after half an hour – had one of his least memorable hours. His kicking for touch was dreadful. The Irish, already suffering from a case of the dropsies, with captain Jamie Heaslip the worst culprit, could gain no foothold.

On a heavy ground and with a slippery ball that limited the usefulness of possession, the other side to Farrell's game that demanded respect was his defence. In pre-match interviews, the youngster had thrown up some interesting names – Darren Lockyer and Andrew Johns – when asked for his boyhood idols, and there was more than a bit of Johns in his driving tackle on Irish fullback Rob Kearney in the first 10 minutes. With legs pumping, he picked up the No.15 and drove him a few metres back. What a bonus for Warren Gatland to have a No.10 with such an obvious enjoyment for the less glamorous but invaluable requirements of the position.

Youngs was as good as he has been. That might seem a bold call given there were none of his trademark dashes, but he was virtually flawless at the base of the ruck in difficult conditions. His box kicking always gave the pursuers a target, and his wonderful chip over the Irish defence in the second half deserved a try instead of bouncing just out of the hands of Manu Tuilagi. It was telling that England coach Stuart Lancaster kept Youngs on for the full 80 minutes, keeping Danny Care on the bench in defiance of the modern practice. It was just reward for a mature showing.

England's captain, Chris Robshaw, was another who received many plaudits in the aftermath.

Through no fault fault of his own, there seems to be a desire in the north to present him as a sort of Home Counties Richie McCaw. There are certainly some worthy parts of his game: he carries with enthusiasm, and misses few tackles. But there remains the suspicion that he would be vulnerable against a David Pocock or Michael Hooper. Gatland had previously described Robshaw as “a 6-and-a-half” rather than a true No.7 before recently indicating that his opinion had changed. Sticking to his instinct might be the sounder path. Justin Tipuric's performance for Wales in their dogged win against France in Paris was that of a natural openside. The Welsh were far from perfect but their fire has now been reignited.

Suddenly, their game against England in Cardiff in the last round of the tournament has taken on a completely different complexion.

Cully's British and Irish Lions team of the week:

1. Cian Healy (Ireland)

2. Rory Best (Ireland)

3. Euan Murray (Scotland)

4. Andrew Coombs (Wales)

5. Geoff Parling (England)

6. Ryan Jones (Wales)

7. Justin Tipuric (Wales)

8. Tom Wood (England)

9. Ben Youngs (England)

10. Owen Farrell (England)

11. Mike Brown (England)

12. Matt Scott (Scotland)

13. Brad Barritt (England)

14. Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)

15. Alex Goode (England)

5 comments so far

  • Cully, totally agee with you as to young Owen Farrell. He has definitely come of age in this year's 6 Nations Championship. He looks confident, assured and reliable in either attack or defense. Add the bonus of being a Johnny when it comes to goal kicking and looks pretty damn good !
    Robshaw had a great Captain's game but I don't think is quick enough around the paddock.
    Talking of paddocks.....it wasn't Rugby in France but 'turf wars'....what a joke. It, ironically, seemed to have more of a negative effect for the French rather than the Welsh.
    Lastly, but no ways least, well done Scotland !
    There you go....and look you're now in 2nd place on the log....amazin' !!

    Commenter
    Machooka
    Location
    inner west sydney
    Date and time
    February 11, 2013, 5:21PM
    • @ Ed
      Is there any rhyme or reason as to why we readers are being 'Recommended' (as above) to read about ...Killer Vaginas, Insecure Vaginas, Nancyboy Boxers, Hitmen & Bikies and then given Tips on how to Attract Women...Like Crazy?
      Further, are these 'Women' in the same catergory of the before mentioned Killer Vaginas types et al ?
      Just wondering.....maybe Cully might know as it's at the bottom of his article.

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 8:20AM
  • The pivotal moment was when Sexton came off - O'Gara kicked possession away aimlessly and looked confused when Jamie Heaslip called on him to actually run the ball and give his forwards a break from the relentless force that is the England tight five! They certainly breed them big in England! The reason Ireland demolished Wales was because they ran the ball - I think the men in Green are going to have to have a 'wallabies/waratahs moment' and rethink whether it is worth keeping a one dimensional player in their pay - Sionara Berrick...

    Commenter
    harigupta
    Location
    Dublin via Sydney
    Date and time
    February 11, 2013, 8:05PM
    • Paul, your selection of the top 15 players looks like a hard team to beat, but isn't this a bit old fashioned only considering 15 players when a team is made up of 23 players? The strength of a team in my view is who has been left out of the top 15 to make up the bench. So why don't you include the other 8 players in your selection too?

      Commenter
      Simon_Sez
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      February 12, 2013, 7:27AM
      • You cheated when selecting the Lions 15 by including Halfpenny on the wing. Gatland is going to have a tough choice for fullback with Hogg also impressing. Good to see some other Scots in the team, potential for a few more to be in the touring squad.

        Farrell definately the stand out 10 at the moment.

        Commenter
        iKris82
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        February 13, 2013, 12:20PM

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