Brian Barry gives his talking points from the Principality Stadium, Cardiff where Wales have beaten Ireland 22-9.
Wales restore pride
This was a bruising encounter. No doubt about it.
Wales brought the same physicality that they did against England, but had the spark to back it up. George North was back to his best, and boy did he make an impact.
As the game wore on, the packed Principality Stadium got behind their team more and more.
When Ireland came knocking, they fronted up. They plagued Irish lineout after Irish lineout. Justin Tipuric was everywhere.
After back-to-back losses, Wales needed to make a statement, and boy did they make one tonight.
Ireland title dreams lie in ruins
England may well travel to Dublin next weekend looking to secure another Grand Slam, but the hosts won’t be in the running.
The date in Cardiff was seen by many as the defining fixture for Ireland before a ball was even kicked in this campaign.
The Irish were bested at the breakdown and at lineout time. The better team won. Joe Schmidt’s side are out of the running for the Six Nations title, but a home test against England will have an edge regardless.
The defining moment was when Wayne Barnes penalised Robbie Henshaw when it looked like Ireland were driving a maul over the line, and Rory Best was denied a try. There was a sense that it just wasn’t going to be Ireland’s night.
The Jonathan Sexton show
The story of the game was Jonathan Sexton. Having shown moments of genius with his kicking and two interceptions in the first half, he was brought ashore for an all-too-frequent HIA, and then saw yellow for preventing Jonathan Davies from barrelling over for the try.
He was badly missed in the opening exchanges after the break, but his return gave Ireland a real impetus. He linked up well with Kieran Marmion upon his return from the sin-bin, as Ireland huffed and puffed, but couldn’t manage a try.
Conor Murray is the favourite in most people’s eyes to be starting scrum-half for the Lions in June. However, Rhys Webb gave a timely reminder what he is capable of.
Quick distribution from the base gave the Welsh a platform to attack, and Webb was instrumental in the build-up to both of George North’s tries.
Murray, hampered by injury, had an off-day by his own high standards.
Murray is still the favourite to don the starting jersey, but Webb offered Warren Gatland a timely reminder that he is a viable stylistic alternative to the Munster man.