Player Ratings: Wales
OPINION: Wales wrapped up their Rugby World Cup preparations on Saturday afternoon in Dublin, as they fell to a 10-19 defeat to Ireland.
It was not the farewell that Warren Gatland would have wanted for his side, although there were positives in isolation from the defeat, even with Ireland having controlled the game for the majority of the contest.
We have run the rule over all 23 of Wales’ players from today’s test at the Aviva Stadium.
15 Leigh Halfpenny – 6
A mixed bag for Halfpenny, who had one notable spill on the high ball, although he was safe when otherwise tested. Provided an alternative first receiver option when Wales split their back line, but couldn’t provide too much attacking influence in a disjointed attacking game from his side.
14 George North – 5.5
Very few opportunities to get his hands on the ball, as Wales were limited to playing a tight game. Appeared in midfield once or twice in the second half, looking for work, although games where he plays a more integral role will come over the next two months.
13 Jonathan Davies – 5
A poor performance by Davies’ usual standards. He was burnt on the outside for Rob Kearney’s try and fell off a couple of tackles you would expect him to make. Couldn’t quite link the midfield with the threats on the outside, although was able to win a valuable turnover by holding up an Irish carrier just before half time.
12 Hadleigh Parkes – 7
The inside centre ran an almost undefendable line back against the grain for his first half try. Few other chances to affect the game in attack, although he was solid defensively throughout.
11 Josh Adams – 5.5
Similar to North, there was little work for Adams on the left wing. He went searching in the midfield, too, although Ireland’s defence offered little space for him to prosper in.
10 Rhys Patchell – 4.5
A frustrating performance from Patchell, who left the field after 23 minutes to have an HIA and was permanently replaced. He was lucky not to be intercepted with an early looped and telegraphed pass and he was on the wrong end of a couple of powerful Irish carries.
9 Tomos Williams – 5.5
No glaring errors from Williams, although he couldn’t quite manufacture the holes around the fringes that Gareth Davies regularly does. He did have a tendency to over-kick his chasing wings, though, with Ireland able to take the ball without competition.
1 Wyn Jones – 7.5
A very encouraging showing with Rob Evans not making Gatland’s 31-man squad. Jones was solid initially versus Tadhg Furlong, before putting a bit of a squeeze on the Irish tighthead on a couple of occasions. Contributed strongly at the breakdown, too.
2 Elliot Dee – 7.5
The hooker was one of the better players on the pitch in Dublin, not only proving to be an effective and eager ball-carrier, but also connecting on all seven of his lineouts, showing particular chemistry with Justin Tipuric.
3 Tomas Francis – 7
Francis matched the set-piece foundation that Jones gave Wales, although wasn’t quite able to turn the screw in the same way the loosehead was able to. Got through plenty of work in defence, including leading the Welsh kick chase on multiple occasions.
4 Jake Ball – 6
Along with Dee and Ross Moriarty, Ball picked up some of the slack close to the ruck as a ball-carrier. Helped give Wales physical parity up front.
5 Alun Wyn Jones – 6.5
The Welsh skipper managed to put the Irish lineout under pressure early, as well as being a reliable target for his side. His fringe defensive was physical, too, although he’ll have games where he’s more influential to Wales’ cause.
6 Aaron Wainwright – 7
The flanker impressed with his physicality and effectiveness in the defensive line. He was able to rip the ball in contact on one occasion and was consistently holding up Irish carriers and slowing down their ball.
7 Justin Tipuric – 6.5
Tipuric was the go-to man for Wales early at the lineout and was also able to get his hands to one of Ireland’s throws. He popped up in the wide channels as a ball-carrier, although he was unable to have his usual success in the midfield or as a jackal at the breakdown for the majority of the game.
8 Ross Moriarty – 6
Moriarty got through some of the unglamorous work close to the ruck, although he couldn’t quite inject the explosive carrying that Taulupe Faletau offers or that Tipuric can generate in the wider channels.
16 Ken Owens – 6
Carried on from where Dee left off, connecting with his one lineout and showing some nice hands in the loose. Wales were starved of possession and territory, limiting how much Owens could add in attack.
17 Nicky Smith – 6
Smith did draw a penalty out of Andrew Porter at the scrum, although he couldn’t match the stability that Jones had given the unit.
18 Dillon Lewis – 5.5
Like Smith, couldn’t quite match the set-piece solidity that the starting group had given Wales, although he wasn’t significantly outmatched.
19 Adam Beard – 5
Came on too late to have much of an impact, apart from some solid fringe defence. Took a sacrificial yellow card for team offences.
20 Josh Navidi – 5.5
Didn’t provide the carrying impetus that Wales needed from the bench, with Gatland’s side struggling for front-foot ball in the second half.
21 Gareth Davies – 6
The scrum-half provided some immediate momentum from the bench.
22 Dan Biggar – 6.5
Almost the perfect introduction, as he read Jonathan Sexton’s pass for intercept and ran 60m, only to be held up over the try line. He was safe under the high ball when tested and a solid tackler in the 10 channel, too.
23 Liam Williams – 6
Looked lively and keen for work after his introduction.
By Alex Shaw, @RugbyPass