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Dublin: 5°C Thursday 4 March 2021

Here's how we rated Ireland in the heart-stopping defeat to Wales

Ireland trailed 12 – 0 in Cardiff and couldn’t reel Wales in during an intense contest.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rob Kearney – 5

Out-shone by his opposite number in the air and unable to find gaps in attack when storming on to pop passes.

Tommy Bowe – 5

A difficult day for both wingers. Bowe often deferred to Kearney on high balls and, bar coming close in that astonishing eight-minute period of second half pressure, was well contained by the red defence.

Jared Payne – 6

Another solid day at 13 for the Ulster man and at times he looked dangerous with ball in hand, but the entire backline struggled to make inroads against their counterparts.

Robbie Henshaw – 6

Always willing to take on a ball at pace and truck the ball into contact to make hard yards. But yards were difficult to come by against an expertly-designed Shaun Edwards defence.

Simon Zebo – 5

Stood at first receiver begging for the ball when the pack inexplicably kept the ball from going to numbers out wide. Popped up infrequently and usually to good effect despite being on the back foot.

Johnny Sexton – 4

Brushed aside too easily by Jon Davies in an early burst and missed an opening kick with Ireland 12 down. The lowest ebb of a poor day came when he had his back to a Jamie Heaslip pop pass and let the ball spill.

Conor Murray – 6

Did not contribute the perfect trajectory on his kicks that chasers have become accustomed to. A tough day with Wales winning the breakdown, but he’ll feel he should have managed the tempo of Ireland’s spells of pressure better.

Jack McGrath – 6

The best of the front rows and the evidence of his scrummaging power was again in full view as the set-piece was Ireland’s best-working facet in the first half.

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Rory Best – 4

Guilty of an extremely untimely missed line-out when Ireland went to the corner looking for a morale-boost in the first half and followed up with another shaky effort in the middle third. Went some way to redeeming himself with some good work in the tackle and on the ground, but the set-pieces are key.

Mike Ross – 5

Another good day at the set-piece, but out-flanked in open field.

Devin Toner – 5

Looked capable of growing into the contest after the first quarter but out-played by Charteris throughout. Line-out malfunctions were far from his fault.

Paul O’Connell – 7

On his 100th cap, he led from the front as usual, making the hard yards on his knees when they weren’t available on foot. The veteran even found himself making line-breaks and giving passes to speed up play. One blot on copybook was the pass from under the posts that flew at Cian Healy’s toes.

Peter O’Mahony – 5

Attempted to get over the ball and make his trademark turnovers, but on a day when Wayne Barnes was feeling at his most officious, he was blasted off by the whistle when not forced off by a gang of red shirts.

Sean O’Brien – 6

Out-gunned at the breakdown in the first quarter, but ready and waiting to make important carries around the field and made his presence felt on the ground more as the half went on. Appeared to suffer from his lack of game time in the second half and that familiar explosiveness was absent.

Jamie Heaslip – 6

Added some vital weight to Ireland’s breakdown effort, but it was a losing battle. Was unfortunate not to connect with passes after some half-breaks. Ireland looked to him to make yards in their first serious bout of second half pressure, but he usually found at least two Welsh defenders waiting for him.

Here’s Joe Schmidt in full flight kick-chasing his way to a try in ’89

Ireland’s Grand Slam dream ended by ferocious Wales win in Cardiff

About the author:

The42 Team

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