Peter Stringer John Hayes Irish Rugby

Peter Stringer and John Hayes relax during the big build up!

The Ireland wagon continues to roll after this sputtering win against a spirited Scottish side.

This time Ireland have to thank their veteran scrum half Peter Stringer for pulling them out of their slumbers with one of his characteristic surprise breaks to set up the posturing Heaslip who probably did his Lions chances no good at all with his show boating as he crossed the line for the decisive score.

Rather than bore you with a rehash of the game we’ve decided that this week we’ll look forward to the big showdown in the Millennium Stadium this weekend where Ireland take on the greatest team in the Northern Hemisphere, the unbeatable Welsh!

There will be some mouthwatering clashes which are extra spicy with Lions places at stake. So, man for man, how are the teams going to match up?

No. Wales Ireland Comments Verdict
15 Byrne Kearney Two classy full backs both in the running for a Lions berth, however both have struggled to produce their best form of late. Both good defensively but Byrne has the edge in attack. Wales
14 Halfpenny Bowe Bowe better in attack and Halfpenny better in defence but the big Ulster man’s inside track on the Ospreys players should see him have one of his better games. Ireland
13 Shanklin O’Driscoll Again, both class acts but O’Driscoll seems to be running this campaign as his own crusade and should come out on top. Ireland
12 Henson Wallace Think both coaches will go for the unorthodox here and both to play as game breakers. Too close to call as both can win or lose the game. Tie
11 Williams Fitzgerald Both elusive runners but Williams tends not to end up in blind alley. Wales
10 S Jones O’Gara Another close call with both tending to bottle under pressure however expect Jones to make home advantage count. Wales
9 Phillips Stringer A contrast in styles but expect Phillips to come out on top with his more aggressive style of play. Wales
8 Powell Heaslip Another contrast with power against finesse. A lot will depend on the Leinster man buckling down to the nitty gritty. Tie
7 Williams Wallace Absolute class on both sides too close to call. Tie
6 R Jones Ferris The Ulster man edges it on current form. Bigger stronger and wants it more – just like Jones three years ago. Ireland
5 AW Jones O’Connell O’Connell’s experience and his sheer bloodymindedness to edge it. Ireland
4 Gough O’Callaghan Gough’s form and his sheer bloodymindedness to edge it. Wales
3 Jenkins Hayes Jenkins contribution round the pitch against Hayes massive contribution in the line out. The Welsh man to edge it. Wales
2 Rees Best Rees is a very underrated hooker but Best should edge it by concentrating on the game. Ireland
1 A Jones Horan The Munster man should edge this one with his all round game leaving Jones trailing behind. Ireland
16 Bennett Flannery Ireland look to have the edge on the bench with more consistent players to bring on.

A lot will depend on the managers call and Gatland against Kidney is another mouth watering confrontation. Expect bith to make the right decision at the right time.

However if O’Gara is injured for Ireland or Phillips is injured for Wales then the game could swing dramatically.

17 Yapp Court
18 Charteris O’Driscoll
19 D Jones Jennings
20 Fury O’Leary
21 Hook D’Arcy
22 Roberts Murphy


So there we go seven to Ireland and six to Wales with three just too close to call – expect a narrow victory for Ireland.

UPDATE 17th March

With the selection of D’Arcy ahead of Wallace the score goes 7 Ireland, 7 Wales and 2 Ties. With home advantage the balance is now in Wales’ favour.

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, B O’Driscoll, capt, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; R O’Gara, T O’Leary; M Horan, J Flannery, J Hayes, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip.
Replacements: R Best, T Court, M O’Driscoll, D Leamy, P Stringer, P Wallace, G Murphy.