Irish eye hat-trick chasing Welsh
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt enjoyed a winning start to his first Six Nations campaign, but his team is now up against the tournament's benchmark.
The Irish, who eventually eased to a 28-6 win over a one dimensional Scotland at Lansdowne Road on Sunday, are determined to knock two-time defending champions Wales off their pedestal..
Schmidt, who replaced Declan Kidney last year after the latter was sacked following a disappointing Six Nations, saw his side turn a shaky first-half performance – which saw them lead 11-3 – into a more impressive one in the second-half.
It will give them some grounds for confidence ahead of Saturday's home game against Wales.
The Irish, who had been hit by the withdrawal just before the match of captain Paul O'Connell, who picked up a chest infection, ran in three tries through Andrew Trimble, Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney, winning his 50th cap.
Kearney, scoring in his second successive Test having scored in the epic defeat by the All Blacks last November, said that the Irish would have to raise their game if they were to beat the Welsh next Saturday, though, they were the only side to beat them last year.
"It is nice to get off to a winning start and very happy about that," he said.
"However, we are under no illusions at the massive challenge that awaits us in six days. They are going for three in a row [Six Nations titles] which their coach Warren Gatland doesn't stop telling everyone."
Kearney said the fact Gatland dropped icon Brian O'Driscoll – who won a record Irish 129th cap on Sunday – from the final British and Irish Lions test against Australia last summer would only serve to heat up the atmosphere.
"Yes, I think it will spice it up," he smiled.