Thomas O’Leary had one of his best games for Ireland, breaking well and bagging a try and Keith Earls looked much more comfortable with his forced move to the centre adding a brace. Sexton blew hot and cold with the boot but managed to add three penalties and a conversion.
Ireland won this game up front, where my own personal man of the match, Rory Best, had an absolute stormer of a game appearing to be at the involved in every breakdown, turning over the ball or slowing down Welsh possession. Easily the Ulsterman’s most impressive performance in an Ireland shirt.
The rest of the much maligned front row, and I must admit I’ve been doing plenty of maligning, produced the goods when needed and their turnover of possession, when backed up against their own line at the start of the second half, snuffed out thoughts of a Welsh comeback.
In the end though it was just much too easy for Ireland as Wales were very, very disappointing. Lee Byrne was injured from the start and his biggest contribution was his binning, Shane Williams looked intimidated by Bowe any time they were in close proximity, scrum half Rees looked completely out of his depth and though they had plenty of possession they didn’t have a clue what to do with it.
Ireland were very comfortable letting Wales attack, competing at the breakdown, biding their time and counter attacking with pace and intelligence. If Sexton had brought his kicking game and O’Dricscoll had sorted the new interpretation of the breakdown law more quickly they would have romped to forty plus points.
All in all a good day at the office, but it is a pity that there weren’t a few of the less familiar Irish players taking part.