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4 Reasons For Ireland Fans To Be Hopeful Despite Another Bleak Six Nations Loss

4 Reasons For Ireland Fans To Be Hopeful Despite Another Bleak Six Nations Loss
By Will Slattery

The Youngsters Look Here To Stay

You probably have to go all the way back to 2000 to find a time that Ireland blooded so many new caps in such a big game. 16 years ago Warren Gatland turned to Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Simon Easterby, Shane Horgan and John Hayes to save his job and while Joe Schmidt isn't under the same kind of pressure, he was also looking to salvage a Six Nations campaign.

And while Ireland may have lost disappointingly after squandering a number of chances, the performances of Stuart McCloskey, Ultan Dillane and Josh van der Flier were very encouraging.

Fans take failure a lot easier when there is a concerted effort to bring in new players at the same time. All three must start going forward, and perhaps even Garry Ringrose should be a given a cap too.

Rob Kearney did what Rob Kearney does - that is, struggle in attack while doing the basics well - and it is time for a change at fullback, whether that means that Robbie Henshaw or Jared Payne are rerouted there.

The Scrum Looked Solid

Ireland may have benefited from some generous interpretations from Romain Poite but Mike Ross' inclusion in the side still seemed to have a balancing effect on a scrum that had been overwhelmed in the opening two games. Ireland gave away just one scrum penalty with the veteran tighthead on the field and won two of their own.

But more importantly, the Corkman negated Joe Marler's drive on a number of crucial occasions in the first half when Ireland were under immense pressure near their own line. Unforunately when Ross and Jack McGrath left the field, Cian Healy and Nathan White couldn't maintain the shove and a crucial penalty was conceded in an attacking position but overall, the scrum was a positive.

Although when you are relying on a 36-year-old to achieve scrum parity it is a bit of a problem.

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Johnny Sexton Put Eddie Jones In His Place

There was a lot of pressure on Johnny Sexton coming into today's game after the England coach's pre-match comments regarding how his team would target the out-half, but despite taking a battering the Leinster playmaker kept driving his team forward.

He converted two tough kicks and carved England open with a lovely break that almost yielded a try for Robbie Henshaw. It wasn't enough but the Ireland ten can be proud of his effort.

The Games Get Easier

Ireland were handed a nightmare fixture list for this year's championship. Having to face Wales first up at their most depleted was tough but following that with away trips to Paris and London was just plain cruel. They now finish their campaign with home games against Scotland or Italy, which should yield two wins.

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You would never have thought after Ireland's big win over France at the World Cup that five months later Ireland would be hosting Scotland after going four games without a win but that is the disappointing position the team is now in.

The more players given experience now the better. You want to expose the young players to a few more test matches before travelling to South Africa for a daunting three-game series this summer.

Read: Ireland's Attacking Muscles Are Wasting Away And It's Slowly Killing This Team

Watch: You Won't Be Able To Stop Watching Kerry's Ultan Dillane Barrelling Through England

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