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Here's how we rated Ireland after an intense draw at home to Wales

Ireland will head back to Carton House disappointed at having to share the spoils.
Feb 7th 2016, 5:23 PM 23,937 134

JOE SCHMIDT’S IRELAND against Wales today, here’s the match report, and here’s how we rated Ireland’s players out of 10.

Simon Zebo: 8

Loves playing at fullback and showed why with a gorgeous angle in an early attack that ultimately set up the opening score.

Looked to be hampered by injury from midway through the first half, but continued to look one of the most likely to break the game open for Ireland.

Simon Zebo tackled by Jonathan Davies Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Andrew Trimble: 6

The Ulster wing is back in the side for the first time since the summer and showed a relish for the battle with a huge try-saving tackle on Liam Williams.

Carried over his own line late in first half and that error allowed Wales’ scrum turn the screw. Selected partly for his strength in the air, but neither team put much ball skyward.

Jared Payne: 7

Made for a solid midfield partnership and justified Joe Schmidt’s decision not to play him elsewhere. A smattering of half breaks kept the Welsh defence honest and was generally quietly effective all day.

Robbie Henshaw: 7

Perhaps could have resisted the temptation to cross-kick on a first half attack, but a try was soon yielded anyway. Superb effort on and off the ball included a very important first-half turnover on Faletau.

Keith Earls: 7

Unfairly pinged for a penalty that gave Wales their first score. Showed some excellent defensive reads on the wing and his copybook was only really blighted by a poor blind pass to Payne late in second half.

Jonathan Sexton: 8

Very bright in attack, showing his trademark eye for a gap and used that strong hand-off to make yards. His goal-kicking was absolutely flawless and he seems to be kicking the ball a little more smoothly. Holding his chest late on and losing him did Ireland no favours.

Conor Murray: 7

Smooth distribution as ever and was alert enough to see the chance of a try when the rest of the stadium expected to see the ball spin wide.

Conor Murray scores their first try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

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Jack McGrath: 8

The scrum creaked before half-time, but his side remained relatively solid. Forced a turnover after an early Welsh onslaught that allowed Devin Toner collect possession. Played the full 80 minutes of an energy-sapping contest, but looked powerful throughout.

Rory Best: 8

His first outing as permanent captain and his contribution was not diminished. Excellent on the ground and delivered smooth service in the line-out.

Nathan White: 6

Suffered in the set of scrums before half-time, but recovered well after the break. Put in a big hit to rock Wales on their heels in an early attack and his hands are a welcome addition in a tight spot.

Devin Toner: 7

A towering presence who was consistently a thorn in the side for Wales. Ran the line-out very well against the best second row pairing in the competition.

Mike McCarthy: 7

Carried very well from the row and gave Ireland a nice touch of urgency at times around the ruck.

The Ireland team huddle Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

CJ Stander: 9

The debutant came close to a first-half try and was a magnificent muscular presence around the park for Ireland. Everyone knows about his carrying game, but the George native was excellent without the ball too.

After a season of hard yards, he looked to be tiring after an hour of his Test debut, but instead he sucked in a second wind and kept Ireland pushing for victory.

Tommy O’Donnell: 8

Trojan work-rate from the Tipperary man, delivering a powerful carrying option on first phase that took a lot of heat away from Stander. A head injury forced him off when he might have contributed even more to the cause.

Jamie Heaslip: 8

The bigger the stage, the better Heaslip gets. The Leinster eight worked through ruck after ruck and was an important counter-point to the Tipuric-Warburton axis.

As it happened: Ireland v Wales, Six Nations

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