Player ratings: Making a meal of it
OPINION: Wales and Ireland both came into this fixture with plenty to prove, but the stakes were always going to higher for Wales coach Wayne Pivac.
A hard contest to rate given Wales were playing 14-men for most of the contest. A more confident team may well have put Ireland to the sword, but Pivac’s men made a real meal of it. But a win is a win, and Wales will take it.
Ian Cameron rates the Wales players!
1. WYN JONES – 8
Carried really well, making an impressive 44m from 10 carries with ball in hand and held his own against Porter. Deserved his MOTM award.
2. KEN OWENS – 6
A bombed lineout wasn’t the perfect opening for The Sheriff and it wouldn’t be the last. Tackled everything that moved.
3. TOMAS FRANCIS – 7
Alerting the officials to Peter O’Mahoney’s chicken-wing elbow to the head might well have been his biggest contribution. Tackled his heart out thereafter and was leading the tackle count before he was subbed off.
4. ADAM BEARD – 5
Along with Owens and Jones, shares some of the responsibility for a slightly misfiring lineout. Spent the rest of the game tackling and hitting rucks. Could maybe offer more around the pitch, although admittedly he’s a lineout specialist.
5. ALUN WYN JONES – 6
Started the game sporting a bruise from a training ground bust-up with Jake Ball. The old man of the Six Nations had plenty of spring in his step. Put in some show-stopping hits with the Irish hordes threatening the Welsh line in the final quarter. Made 25 tackles.
6. DAN LYDIATE – NA
A lot of the pre-game talk was about the Osprey forward’s recall. His first action was to chop down CJ Stander with his trademark tackling before be forced off when his knee buckled beneath him. He tried to walk it off but couldn’t.
7. JUSTIN TIPURIC – 6.5
An uncharacteristic missed tackle on Robbie Henshaw was telling and left Wales open to a determined 14-man Ireland with their hackles up and within sight of the whitewash. Made an astonishing 29 tackles.
8. TAULUPE FALETAU – 5
Also missed a tackle on Henshaw in seconds preceding Tadhg Beirne’s try. A couple of uncharacteristic unforced errors and was flattened by a massive carry from Lions’ rival Stander.
9. TOMOS WILLIAMS – 5
Ireland seemed to have a good read on his early box kicks. Defended gamely before his hamstring let him down.
10. DAN BIGGAR – 6
Ireland may have edged the kick tennis in the first half. Marshaled the troops well as Wales came back into it.
11. HALLAM AMOS – 5
Had very little involvement outside of a few carries. Didn’t see much ball in his defence.
12. JOHNNY WILLIAMS – 5
Some aggressive carries in the opening quarter. Went off for a HIA and never returned after clumsily trying to put a big hit on Garry Ringrose and coming off the worse.
13. GEORGE NORTH – 8
His hands let him down at times, admittedly when dealing with a couple of pretty unsympathetic passes. Carried hard when asked but eventually cut loose for a brilliantly taken try in the 48th-minute.
14. LOUIS REES-ZAMMIT – 8
Wales again struggled to get the ball to the Gloucester winger, who has only seen the ball a handful of times in his fledgling Test career to date. When he did get it, he scored with a remarkable finish.
15. LEIGH HALFPENNY – 6
Kicked his early penalties and was reliable, as ever at the back. Perfect hands skills for Rees-Zammit’s try. A very safe pair of hands but Wales’ look a far less dangerous prospect without Liam Williams in the mix.
Nick Tompkins – 6
Came on for Williams and was summarily stripped of the ball. A decent player but still has plenty to iron out at Test level. An important bit of pressure on Jordan Larmour may well have been crucial.
Josh Navidi – 7
Did a job for Wales and was instrumental in North’s try. Must start next week.