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Featured image By Reggie Suplido from USA (The fabulous Aviva Stadium) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tactical masterclass by Joe Schmidt and Ireland

After a resounding victory by Ireland over Wales at the Aviva Stadium, Tadhg Creedon evaluates the performance of the Irish team.

It doesn’t get much better than that from Ireland, does it? An absolutely marvellous display as Ireland demolished the Six Nations holders, Wales, by 26-3 in front of a raucous Aviva Stadium crowd.  It was the best display since Ireland last won the Grand Slam in Six Nations rugby.

Irish  Player  Ratings :

1. C. Healy – 8 : A great display by the Leinster tighthead bruiser.  He was very dominant in the scrum, carried well and was part of an excellent Irish pack.

2. R . Best – 8 : Best has always been one of Ireland’s most consistent performers and he led the front row  brilliantly against Wales.  He was excellent in the scrum, great at the lineout and in the loose. He was afforded the luxury of coming off quite early in the game after a good display.

3. M. Ross – 7 : Competence in the scrum from Ross, who worked tirelessly as usual.  Marty Moore was able to come on for him, which was good as Ross isn’t getting any younger. He has been crucial to that Irish scrum for so long now.

4. D. Toner – 8 : Toner is clearly coming of age in the green jersey at the moment and was excellent at the Aviva  with his all-round game.  It helps that Toner is learning from the best of second rows; Paul O’Connell.

5. P. O’Connell – 8 : The leader supreme of this Irish team and even in recuperating from a chest infection led the Irish pack magnificently, especially throughout the first half. The depth of this Irish squad was seen with the introduction of Dan Touhy.

6. P. O’Mahony – 9 : So many superb individual performances from Ireland against Wales but leading the  way was man-of-the-match Peter O’Mahony.  The Munster captain did everything, with steals at the breakdown, tackling and carrying. He has arguably been Ireland’s best player through their opening two games.

7. C. Henry – 8 :  This man is really stepping up to the plate for Ireland, taking the place of the almost- irreplaceable Sean O’Brien at 7.  He took his try well and played really well throughout the game, being a vital part of an outstanding Irish pack.

8. J. Heaslip – 7 :  Another solid display by Ireland’s no.8.  It may useful for Ireland and Heaslip if he had a  challenger putting him under pressure for that 8 jersey; maybe Coughlan of Munster, who really should be in the squad.

9. C. Murray – 8 :  Murray controlled the back of the endless Irish mauls well and completely outplayed his Lions counterpart, Mike Phillips.  At times however, he seemed a little inconsistent with his kicking to touch.

10. J. Sexton – 9 :  Sexton was the conductor of the Irish orchestra in this scintillating performance. He controlled the game from the get-go with his excellent kicking to touch, always putting the Welsh on the back foot and near perfect place-kicking also. Sexton is simply the best fly-half in Northern Hemisphere rugby, and is catching up with the great Dan Carter.

11. D. Kearney – 8 :  For a young man making his first Six Nations appearances, it’s been very solid so far from the Leinsterman.  With so many injuries to other Irish wingers at the moment, he is certainly taking this opportunity to make his mark and hold on to the Irish jersey.

12. G. D’Arcy – 7 :  As usual, D’arcy was tigerish at the breakdown but on the creative front, you would have to say that the up-and-coming Luke Marshall may have the edge over him.  D’Arcy is definitely the type of solid player you want for defense at Twickenham in a fortnight.

13. Brian O’ Driscoll – 7 : A competent yet unspectacular display here by the legend in his penultimate home game for  Ireland.  O’Driscoll got shaken up a bit in the first half following a tough hit from Cuthbert, but he came into his own in the second half with excellent tackling and a few clever grubbers. Schmidt should be focusing on grooming a replacement for Ireland’s greatest ever servant.

14 A. Trimble – 8 :  This was arguably Trimble’s best performance for Ireland and it wouldn’t be surprising if he felt hard done by that he was taken off as early as he was in the second half.  He carried excellently and was superb under the high ball; this from a man who probably wouldn’t have been in the squad if Bowe, Earls and  Zebo were fully fit.  It’ll be hard to dislodge him from this team the way he is playing now.

15 R. Kearney – 8 :  The ever-consistent Kearney outplayed his no. 15 Lions rival Leigh Halfpenny, and his  excellent turnover clash ball with him led to Ireland’s first big try of the game.  He’s simply been a great player  for so long now.

As for Joe Schmidt himself, his tactical nous was written all over this Irish triumph. Ireland perfected their strengths, pinning the Welsh in their own half with kicking by Sexton and then hammering them with arguably the best maul and pack in Northern Hemisphere rugby at the moment. Their line speed in defence didn’t give the  Welsh space to breathe and forced constant turnovers and knock ons.

You can already see Schmidt building a very potent squad for the next World Cup.  Take a look at Ireland’s XV in  the final 20 minutes and you’ll see how the young Irish contingent are growing alongside the old heroes like BOD, O’Connell, D’Arcy and Best.  Focusing on the present, though, there must be a fantastic buzz around that Irish  camp now, a Triple Crown first and a Grand Slam next in their sights.  All we can say now is bring on the auld enemy in two weeks time!

Pundit Arena, Tadhg Creedon.

Featured Image By Reggie Suplido from USA (The fabulous Aviva Stadium) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

About Tadhg Creedon

A History and Politics student at University College Cork, Tadhg Creedon lives for sport. He has a vast array of knowledge on many sports like socceer , american football and rugby but his expertise is on GAA.