Rugby

Robbie Henshaw Provides Timely Reminder As Ireland End Campaign On A High

Robbie Henshaw Provides Timely Reminder As Ireland End Campaign On A High

Ireland have ended their Autumn Nations Cup campaign on a high, defeating Scotland on a scoreline of 31-16 at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon.

It was a sloppy start to the game for the home side, giving away a number of sloppy penalties as Ireland allowed Scotland to open up an early lead.

However, it would be their game after the first 30 minutes.

After Duncan Taylor got a yellow card just after the half hour mark, Ireland began to dominate in terms of possession and territory. Scotland were hanging on for their lives in an attempt to see things through to the interval, but the Irish would get their try.

With the safety net of a penalty advantage, Johnny Sexton produced a lively kick over the top into the end zone. Robbie Henshaw was the one who chased it down, knocking it backwards in the air for the on-rushing Keith Earls.

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Going into the interval with a 11-9 lead, Ireland would have the ideal start to the second half.

Cian Healy was the man who got it, making his way over the line with a helping hand from Peter O'Mahony.

They would have a third try a few moments later and this one was an absolute beauty.

It was a well worked move, with Ireland showing the type of quick passing that has been far too often lacking in recent times. The hands from Henshaw and O'Mahony were especially impressive, with Earls providing the finishing touch.

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The closing quarter of the game was relatively uneventful, although Ireland did allow Scotland in for a try thanks to some questionable defending.

In the end, Andy Farrell's side would run out winners on a scoreline of 31-16.

In all it was a mixed afternoon for Ireland. It was great to end the Autumn Nations Cup with a victory, but there will be some concerns about the team's poor tackling.

One of the positives was certainly the form of Robbie Henshaw. The Leinster man was immense and it was fantastic to see him in the middle of most of the encouraging attacking player Ireland produced.

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The trio of Henshaw, Garry Ringrose, and Bundee Aki have provided a solid base in the centre position over the last number of years, but far too often is there one or more of those players unavailable.

Henshaw especially has struggled with injuries over the years. Every time he puts a run of good form together, some sort of niggling injury seems to rule him out for a period of time.

When the Athlone man burst onto the international scene in 2013, he was seen as a key building block for Ireland over the next decades. He has certainly played a big role in the team's successes in the intervening years, but injuries have also limited his progress somewhat.

However, this afternoon was a reminder of what he brings to the team.

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Henshaw has the ability to affect the game in so many ways. His prowess in the tackle is well-known, but his playmaking ability from the centre can be underrated. His role in Earls' second try was the prime example of the quick hands he can provide.

He is also immense in the air, an area Ireland have been somewhat underwhelming in over the last 12 months or so.

With nine weeks to go until the start of the 2021 Six Nations, Henshaw will be hoping to keep a clean bill of health over the next couple of months.

As Donal Lenihan said this afternoon, Robbie Henshaw is an 'intelligent footballer'. In an Ireland team that often lacks imagination, he has a big role to play going forward.

SEE ALSO: O'Gara Admits There Was One Game He Didn't Want Ireland To Win

Gary Connaughton

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