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'It would be fair to say he made a bit of space in the middle of the pitch'

Dave Kilcoyne and Andrew Porter impressed on a good day for Ireland’s looseheads.

Murray Kinsella reports from Principality Stadium

SOMETIMES THE RAW stats are useless in summing up an individual’s performance, but Dave Kilcoyne’s efforts in Ireland’s 22-17 victory over Wales in Cardiff are certainly reflected in the numbers.

The Munster loosehead spent 45 minutes on the pitch and packed a whole lot into that time before departing with a head injury.

Seven carries. 31 metres run. Two linebreaks. Five defenders beaten. Three passes. One offload. Two scrum penalties.

In defence, he made all nine of his tackles and the majority of them were impactful hits.

dave-kilcoyne-and-rob-evans Kilcoyne was outstanding for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In short, Kilcoyne was a dominant force for Ireland. He made way for Andrew Porter in the second half, with the Leinster man also impressing on the loosehead side of the Irish scrum as they earned themselves a penalty try.

23-year-old Porter first burst onto the rugby public’s radar as an outstanding loosehead for the Ireland U20s, before Leinster switched him over to the tighthead as he came into the professional ranks.

But with the World Cup looming – and versatility so key to any squad – Schmidt has tasked Porter with also covering the loosehead, which he did very impressively against the Welsh.

Indeed, Porter’s effort on the left-hand side of Ireland’s front row saw Wales tighthead Leon Brown sent to the sin bin in the second half as the visitors marched their way to that penalty try.

All in all, it was a good day out for Ireland’s looseheads.

“Obviously, Dave Kilcoyne did well,” said Schmidt post-match in Cardiff. “He got a bit of space in the middle of the pitch, but it would be fair to say he made a bit of space in the middle of the pitch as well.

“He punched through a couple of tackles and gave us a little bit of front foot to play off, which is important. I thought he got off the line and tackled well as well. He definitely puts his body on the line.

“I thought Andrew Porter, he came on for those scrums down on the line, that pressure that he applied, especially as Andrew hasn’t even had that much training time at loosehead.

leon-brown-receives-a-yellow-card-from-romain-poite Porter's impact saw Leon Brown sin-binned. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“So for him to switch across and do such a good job, as much as this week he had been fully focused on playing loosehead – we obviously had John Ryan and Tadhg Furlong on the tighthead side.

“But to focus on it and to fully physically deliver as he did, I thought he was really good as well.

“I thought he was on the ball a couple of times defensively as well. He did really well getting over the ball. I think it’s a strength in the way that he plays and that he is good in those post-tackle situations.

“So that’s another string to his bow that is very handy to have when you are trying to make sure that you get the ball back or you get pressure on the opposition ruck.” 

Munster man Kilcoyne appears to have booked his place on the plane to Japan ahead of the experienced Jack McGrath, while Porter now looks nailed-on as one of five props to travel.

But there are many other tough decisions facing Schmidt over the next days before he finalises his 31-man group.

The Ireland head coach will inform players of his decisions on Monday, when he submits a squad to World Rugby, but won’t publicly announce his 31-player squad until next Sunday 8 September, the day after the return game against Wales in Dublin.

“We’ll go back and have a look at today,” said Schmidt. “Certainly, we’ll be as forensic as we can in looking back at it and discussing it as coaches over the next day and a bit really.

“We’ll have a look this evening, get together tomorrow afternoon/evening and we have a bit of time on Monday morning before we’ve to make some decisions.”

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Murray Kinsella

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