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Player Ratings: How The Irish Played Against Wales

Player Ratings: How The Irish Played Against Wales
By Conor O'Leary
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Usually you can be forgiven for looking rusty in the first game of the season. Not this time though, with so much at stake and the huge competition for places.

Here is how Ireland's players did in their impressive first run out against Wales. Ireland were so good in the first half that commentator Martyn Williams said it didn't look like it was Ireland's first game of the season.

15. Felix Jones 7.0

A mixed day for the fullback. Had one searing break in the first half, and passed nicely to Trimble who nearly scored in the corner. Capped his performance with a try, but could have costed Ireland another had he passed to Trimble faster another time in the first half.

14. Andrew Trimble 7.0

Had a monster hit on debutant Eli Walker for Keith Earls' easy try. Unfortunately came off injured after 34 minutes, and hopefully it won't be too bad.

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13. Keith Earls 7.5

One of the better performances from Earls in the centre. Defensively sound today, and ran some threatening lines. Can be excused of some of the handling errors given the nature of the game. His step was devastating and deserved his try. I'd still prefer him on the wing, but it's nice knowing that he has this in his locker if the worst happens.

12. Darren Cave 8.0

Quietly one of Ireland's most impressive performers. Almost a mirror image of what Henshaw does in the Ireland jersey. Clearly exactly was Schmidt wanted - strong running that consistently broke tackles, and passed off his hands well.

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11. Fergus McFadden 7.0

A little quiter than most other Irish backs, but noticing no mistakes is always good. Ran well when put in space, but needs to get involved more.

10. Paddy Jackson 6.5

The Welsh commentators were confused by his tendency to kick in the opening ten minutes, but it seemed to turn the Welsh back three, and set them on their back feet as Ireland then switched to exploit the Welsh out wide. It was a performance that had Schmidt's plans all over it, and he will no doubt be happy.

9. Eoin Reddan 8.0

It was as if Eoin Reddan was told he was a sub, and to increase the tempo right from the start. His service was sharp, and he gave lots of lovely soft short passes from the base. There was one silly mistake, but we can forgive that right?

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1. Jack McGrath 7.0

Absolutely dominant at scrumtime, and if there are any doubts about Healy, there are none with McGrath. Quiet in the loose today, but will be pleased with his outing.

2. Richardt Strauss 8.0

His highlight was a monster hit on teenage debutant Tyler Morgan in the second half, but Strauss impressed as the game went on.

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3. Mike Ross 7.5
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Taught the inexperienced Welsh front row a lesson. Will face tougher challenges in the World Cup, but it's nice that he didn't lower himself to the opposition.

4. Iain Henderson 6.5

Had one nice carry with ball in hand, but this was much more restrained from the Henderson we saw at the end of last season. An efficient performance that will have pleased Schmidt, but still a bench option off this performance.

5. Donnacha Ryan 7.0

It seemed like Ireland were playing against an underage team at times. Ryan and Heaslip seemed to emphasise this the most with their play, which was a class above.

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6. Jordi Murphy 7.0

Murphy has had better games. Worked hard and was a nuisance, with mistakes like getting isolated aswell. A good performance, but was outshone by O'Donnell and Heaslip

7. Tommy O'Donnell 8.5

My man of the match. O'Donnell was the king of the breakdown, and stamped his authority on proceedings from the off. Went off with a serious injury towards the end which could end his World Cup hopes which he had done a world of good.

8. Jamie Heaslip 8.0

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He remains a class above. His lovely hands and work rate were evident throughout. A nice outing.

Replacements:
16. Rory Best 7.0

Impressed almost immediately after replacing Strauss during a concussion check. Brings so much leadership, and was part of a pack that was dominant.

17. Dave Kilcoyne 6.5

There was no let up in the scrum dominance when Kilcoyne arrived. Offered more in the loose than McGrath, but it wasn't needed.

18. Michael Bent 7.0

Ireland's scrum was utterly dominant before he came on, and that didn't let up with Bent is his less favoured role of tighthead. Will need to be tried there again, but the word is that he's very very close to being the fifth and final prop in the World Cup squad.

19. Dan Tuohy 6.5

Had a good thirty minutes to try and up Donnacha Ryan. Ireland were so dominant throughout, and Tuohy did his duty in setting up an easy platform for Reddan and Marmion.

20. Chris Henry 6.5

Was sent to the bin for a team offence. That can't have helped his cause. It was a hard game to further his cause after O'Donnell, Heaslip and Murphy had given him a demoralised Welsh pack to come on against.

21. Kieran Marmion 6.5

Marmion's service was improved since his late-season dip - but the sniping that is his best quality hasn't been seen in an Irish jersey yet.

22. Ian Madigan 7.0

Looked good in a short space of time. Passing was his usual sharpness, and threatened with ball in hand. Offers more creativity than Jackson, and seemed to demand things more when the pair were on together.

23. Simon Zebo 7.5

Lovely pass for Jones' try, and looked bright when he came on. Got involved in play a lot, and looked to create things. It's exactly what you would have wanted to see from Zebo.

See Also: All Of The Ireland Tries As Wales Are Ripped Apart
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