We start our World Cup coverage here with Ireland’s first warm up match, against Wales, as they start the cull of 14 players from the 45 player training squad. As always, it will be coverage with a decidedly Ulster bias. 🙂
There are currently 11 Ulster players in the training squad with seven getting a run out in yesterday’s match as shown below.
|Player||Wales (1)||Scotland||Wales (2)||England|
|Chris Henry||25 (YC)|
The match itself was too one sided for Ireland to gleam much out of the experience. The Irish are more advanced in their preparations than the Welsh and their greater experience at this level, particularly in the pack, made it one way traffic for much of the game.
Tries from Jamie Heaslip, Darren Cave and Keith Earls, in the first half hour, set the tone with the Irish pack well in control. Paddy Jackson controlled the game, with good vision throughout. though his accuracy from the boot, both out of hand and from the tee, was disappointing. In fact such was Ireland’s dominance that they could afford to butcher two try scoring chances with Felix Jones and Fergus McFadden being particularly poor with their passing options.
Andrew Trimble was one to miss out due to their poor distribution but, while obviously rusty, he still managed to show us what we missed last season with his well focused aggression forcing several mistakes from the Welsh and it was no coincidence that Wales were scoreless until his early departure due to a (minor) foot injury.
Certainly, I couldn’t imagine Trimble leaving a huge gap in the 5m corridor like the one that allowed Hibbard to stroll over from a set line out move, the score giving Wales a glimmer of interest in the game with the teams turning round with Ireland leading 25 – 7.
Any thoughts of a fightback by the home side were quickly put to bed as Simon Zebo flopped over on the 46th minute, after another destructive scrum from the Irish, and a 53rd minute score from Jones, who improved throughout the game, gave Ireland a 35 – 7 lead.
Dan Tuohy came on for Iain Henderson and was joined by Chris Henry and Rory Best as both teams emptied their benches. Unfortunately Henry didn’t do himself any favours getting carded within five minutes of his arrival!
As the game broke up it was the Welsh who finished the stronger with late tries from Justin Tipuric and Alex Cuthbert putting some gloss on the final score of Wales 21 Ireland 35.
With respect to the World Cup squad Andrew Trimble and Rory Best were on the pitch long enough to show their difference in class and should be first team starters.
Iain Henderson, Paddy Jackson and Chris Henry should all make the cut, though Jackson has a bit of work to do to improve all aspects of his kicking game and Henry can’t afford to attract any more cards over the next two games.
Cave and Tuohy both had good games and did their chances no harm at all. Unfortunately they both have to do that little bit more than their peers as neither are favoured by the southern press! However both should get a couple more chances to show their worth.