Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium
IN AND OUT in three minutes, James Ryan does most of his talking on the pitch. But when you do what he does, the irrepressible Ireland lock can say as little or as much as he pleases.
Ryan knows no other way to play, whether it’s in green or blue, but to operate at full-tilt, producing utterly relentless shifts from start to finish and it was certainly no different here. Immense, colossal, world-class, the man of the match.
Ryan was at his brilliant best against France. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Every facet of the 22-year-old’s game was exceptional. A mountain of ruck hits, accurate lineout and maul work, 13 tackles, 19 penetrative carries and a tireless work-rate which saw him empty the tank for 80 minutes at the Aviva Stadium.
Ireland’s forwards got through huge work in the trenches and at the set-piece to ensure the halfbacks, Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, had the time and service to dictate proceedings, Joe Schmidt’s side exerting their dominance against an abject French showing.
Rory Best’s third-minute try set the tone for the afternoon, the Ireland captain barging through the tackle of Antoine Dupont and over the line with the assistance of Ryan, who resumed his second row partnership with the excellent Iain Henderson.
With the Ulster man back calling the lineout, Ireland won 18 of their 19 throws, and both Ryan and Henderson produced big defensive moments at different stages in the first half; the former smashing into Dupont in the French in-goal area and the latter stripping Demba Bamba of the ball in the build-up to Jack Conan’s try.
“The lineout went well, Hendy did a great job calling and our process and fundamentals were all there so we’re happy with that,” Ryan said post-match.
“We loved it, it was great to be back at home, obviously we were on the road for a bit. The support was great and it was great to be back in the Aviva.”
On Best’s try, the Leinster lock added: “We spoke this week about being Besty’s last home game in the Six Nations so I think you could see out there what that meant to him, so it was great.”
Through the diligence and accuracy of their forwards, Ireland mastered the basics and it told as they returned to a level of performance they can be happy with after the frustrations of the opening three rounds. The concession of two late tries irked Schmidt, but that will focus minds again going to Cardiff next week.