Home Rugby Talking Points As Wales See Off Ireland In Bruising Cardiff Encounter

Talking Points As Wales See Off Ireland In Bruising Cardiff Encounter

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.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 10: George North of Wales (L) celebrates as he scores their second try with team mate Rhys Webb during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on March 10, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

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.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 10: Conor Murray of Ireland is given treatment during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on March 10, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 10: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland reacts as he is sin binned during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on March 10, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Scrum-half battle

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.

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 10: Garry Ringrose of Ireland is tackled by Rhys Webb of Wales during the Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at the Principality Stadium on March 10, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

About The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team. If you would like to join the team, drop us an email at write@punditarena.com.