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Wales v Ireland player ratings: Keenan, Sheehan and Doris lead the way in Cardiff

Ireland bridge a 10-year gap with win away to Wales but Andy Farrell will still have plenty to work on

15. Hugo Keenan: Imperious in the air, he covered intelligently, protected the ball when he ran it back, chose some great support lines and was alive to win the race with Rio Dyer and deny Wales a try after an Ireland move was stopped in midfield. His man of the match reflected the quality of his work. Rating: 8

14. Mack Hansen: Chased the ball aerially to reasonable effect, a few missed tackles offset by a few one-handed offloads out of the tackle in the build-up to the fourth try. Might have bagged a try but was denied in the last play of the day. It was a bit of a mixed bag in performance terms. Rating: 5

13. Garry Ringrose: Normally praised for his attacking prowess he produced a display from a defensive perspective, invariably making the right decision when intelligently shooting out of the line; one superb cover tackle saved a try, another emptied Dan Biggar. Carried effectively too in regularly breaching the gain-line. Rating: 8

12. Stuart McCloskey: He started the game brightly with a great cut-out pass to put James Lowe away in the build-up to Ireland’s first try. A fine tackle on Joe Hawkins saved a try but thereafter it was more a case of solidly efficient and was replaced on 60 minutes. Rating: 7


11. James Lowe: Superb read to intercept Dan Biggar’s intended pass for Liam Williams in advance of his 80-metre run for a try. He made a positive impact every time he was centrally involved, a strip in the tackle, a carry through multiple defenders. A superb effort given his lack of match minutes. Rating: 8

10. Johnny Sexton (capt): He provided leadership and, on several occasions, he made some big plays for his team, typically brave in some of his defensive efforts with a couple of choke tackles. One or two poorly directed punts, one cross-kick and a couple of poorly directed clearances. Rating: 7

9. Conor Murray: He came in at short notice and for the first 30 minutes he was first class, sharp and accurate in his decision making and passing and patrolled the backfield taking a couple of high balls with aplomb. However, like the team his performance levels dropped appreciably after the interval and he box-kicked too much, the ball travelling too far. Rating: 6

1. Andrew Porter: He carried powerfully in the first half making metres most of the time and was hardworking on both sides of the ball, making a try saving tackle on Jac Morgan but the concession of four penalties after the restart is disappointing and that indiscipline gave Wales some momentum. Rating: 5

2. Dan Sheehan: Brilliant lineout throwing against a Wales pack that initially put players in the air to contest, while around the pitch he was first class, exemplified by his work close to the touchlines in powering through tackles and also throwing well judged offloads. Beat six defenders in a super performance. Rating: 9.

3. Finlay Bealham: He provided the pop pass for the James Ryan’s try and was centrally involved during Ireland’s purple patch in the first 25 minutes. The scrum was solid, and he brought energy in everything he did particularly in defence where he contributed 13 tackles. Rating: 7

4. Tadhg Beirne: He showed his athletic prowess in most things he did including one glorious aerial take from a restart and matched on to help James Ryan over the line for the latter’s try. Took a very heavy knock and that seemed to curtail his influence a little before being replaced. Rating: 7

5. James Ryan: A high calibre display, calling the lineout, making the harder metres in being straight and direct in his carrying and putting in a significant tackle count (14). His try iced what was an excellent all-around effort. Rating: 8.

6. Peter O’Mahony: He won some good lineout ball for his team and during that period when Ireland dominated the match he was efficient in clearing out at the breakdown and also slowed down Welsh ball on a couple of occasions. Quieter than usual. Rating: 6.

7. Josh van der Flier: The world player of the year was employed as a distributor from lineouts, firing out long flat passes, was strong and direct when taking on the Welsh defence and when Ireland struggled in the second half, he enjoyed several important moments in defence a fine performance with a try. Rating: 8

8. Caelan Doris: One handling error aside near the Welsh line, he produced another monumental performance, read the game intelligently, committed multiple defenders in his carrying, invariably beating the first, made a team leading 19 tackles and scored a try. He was excellent. Rating: 9.

Replacements: Dave Kilcoyne joined the bench after Cian Healy was a late withdrawal due to a hamstring injury. Bundee Aki made some big plays when he came on, Ross Byrne too had some nice touches but for the majority there wasn’t the positive impact and energy for which they would have been hoping. Rating: 6.

Coach: Andy Farrell had to deal with a twin disruption on the morning of the match, losing his side’s metronome Jamison Gibson-Park and then Cian Healy but he ensured a properly calibrated team whose performance in the first 25-minutes was pitch perfect in virtually every respect. The second half will rankle, indiscipline, poor kicking, handling errors and some brittle defence give him plenty to work on but in the circumstances the team set up well. Rating: 8

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer