I found Ireland?s game with France to be an utterly confusing affair.
Ireland had made a good start to the game and were attacking from more depth. Unfortunately for them, every time they made a mistake they were punished for it by the clinical finishing of Vincent Clerc, who I thought was superb again, and Cedric Heymans.
Ireland were always capable of getting back into it if they were to score first after the interval. When Heymans scored I felt it was all over.
But Marc Lievremont's substitutions didn't work out for him. He took off Dimitri Szarzewski and Jean Baptiste Elissalde, who were among the best players on the park, and his side lost all shape. Their scrummage suffered when Nicolas Mas was replaced by Julien Brugnaut and the Ireland forwards simply ripped into them and were completely on top for the remainder of the match.
With the penalty try and David Wallace's pushover from a maul, Ireland should have then gone on to win the game. But having dominated up front, with Rory Best and Mick O'Driscoll particularly prominent, they chose to move the ball along the backs. if you have the edge in that area you should stick with what is working and maybe that was a result of the lack of confidence since the World Cup.
Jamie Heaslip had a great game. I had been unsure of him but he was excellent. Bernard Jackman had a tough time at the lineout and that can be a lonely position to be in. Because he throws the ball with a not very tight spiral it can allow the opposition an extra second to disrupt, but I thought he did well around the field.
Overall, I was encouraged to see signs of a revival but it is hard to tell how much of it was down to the substitutions France made.
It is Scotland up next for Ireland and they are just really struggling. They have no pace or cutting edge behind the scrum and I think that is because there is a dearth of quality players to choose from. They do have good players but not a big enough pool of them.
I fancy Ireland to win that one but Scotland are capable of making things very difficult for opponents in that they have a big pack of forwards and Chris Paterson is a deadly goalkicker if you are indisciplined, but I just think Ireland have the ability to play better than the Scots.