Farrell praises ‘top drawer’ set-piece as Ireland maintain perfect start

Ireland's James Lowe in action against Italy's Ross Vintcent during Sunday's Six Nations match in Dublin.
Ireland's James Lowe in action against Italy's Ross Vintcent during Sunday's Six Nations match in Dublin.
Image: REUTERS/Lorraine O'sullivan

Coach Andy Farrell heaped praise on Ireland’s set-piece during Sunday’s 36-0 win over Italy, after a second successive faultless day at the line-out set up the Six Nations holders to continue the perfect start of their Grand Slam defence.

After winning 13 line-outs from 13 in last week’s 38-17 win in France, Ireland won the same number again on Sunday with four new faces in the pack. They stole five of Italy’s for good measure and were extremely comfortable in the scrum.

“What was the best part of our game, our set-piece by a mile. I thought it was excellent, top drawer ... Our scrum was tremendous, and line-out, it backed up last week,” Farrell said.

Farrell can often pick out faults in the most flawless of wins and while he described parts of Sunday’s performance as clunky, he cut a very satisfied figure, particularly having made six changes from the side that won in Paris nine days ago.

Among those singled out for praise, Farrell said centre Robbie Henshaw had “found his mojo”.

“He’s back. He’s on fire at the minute. He’s playing really well. You could see that when we met up at the first day of training. He’s back to his old self, his confidence, he’s bouncing around the place.”

Italy coach Gonzalo Quesada likened facing Farrell’s Ireland to playing against New Zealand in their prime.

“When they got those 19 points of difference (a 19-0 halftime lead), it’s like the All Blacks some years ago. They just go through their basics. They had 100% of their line-out, 100% of their scrum, 100% of the high balls and then they just work the rucks in attack and defence with extreme efficiency,” he said.

“They did what we know they can do, the frustration is more that we couldn’t put a bit more pressure on them like we wanted to ... With this level of Ireland, I don’t know how many teams can beat them in the world today.” — Reuters



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