The England and Ireland fly-halves had vastly contrasting afternoons
Ford v Sexton: A tale of two tens
There are tough afternoons and then there’s doing it in front of 82,000 people in the Six Nations. The sight of Johnny Sexton trying to direct traffic with one boot off, was an apt visual representation of a day when things refused to pan out for the Ireland skipper.
It was not so much that the fly-half was all cloak and no dagger, but more that the ball wouldn’t, well, play ball. But it behaved for opposite man George Ford.
Take the try the England playmaker seized after the Ireland captain could not secure the ball in his own in-goal. As Brian O’Driscoll said on ITV at half-time: “The ball bounces in strange ways. He got his hand to it – it looked like he was going to save the day” but he could not.
Sexton hardly had happy interactions with the tee either, as a few shanked kicks demonstrated.
For Ford, though, things aligned – at least in the first half, with his pack doing the business in the second.
So while he capitalised on the Sexton spill, he also created the second try for Elliot Daly, who pulled beyond Jacob Stockdale to touch down. Talking about the weight of nudge, kicking guru Jonny Wilkinson said: “He chips back of the ball, end over end, which means it doesn’t spend long in the air.” Down on the deck, the Irish could not scramble well enough.
Though Ford’s kicking was not always perfect – as one unlucky fan can atest.
In the end it was forwards, led by Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes, getting the plaudits. However, that pressure can lead to opportunities for the likes of Ford, as Eddie Jones explained, post-match: “Your kicking game is dependent on how you go forward.
“You isolate people at the back and it’s difficult then.”
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