IRELAND’S Six Nations opener was full of note worthy performances from the boys in green.
Ireland started fast as the injury-hit Welsh trailed 10-0 at half-time. A full capacity Aviva Stadium crowd lapped up Bundee Aki’s second minute try and Mack Hansen’s impressive debut on the wing. Hansen’s impact earned him the player-of-the-match medal,
Irish captain Jonathan Sexton passed 500 points in the Championship, and Garry Ringrose bagged the bonus point try with a gut busting dash to the South Stand. Andrew Conway’s second half brace of tries helped guide Ireland to a well-deserved 29-7 bonus point win.
Taine Basham was one of Wales’s best players on the day. Basham ran in a late intercept score, but it failed to take the shine off a controlled and efficient four-try performance from Andy Farrell’s men.
Ireland will now look to carry on this form into a box office clash against France in the Stade de France on the 12th of February.
Below are the player ratings from the Aviva Stadium.
Andrew Porter – 8.5
Porter came out to really put on a show in the green of Ireland. From the loose prop position Porter made a nuisance of himself against the Welsh. Porter was a constant outlet for carrying the ball. He also found himself making nine tackles for his side without missing one. His reliability in the scrum was also a major part of his game at the weekend.
Ronan Kelleher – 7
Kelleher didn’t find himself in the space that would allow his huge attacking threat, nonetheless he still carried hard. To make up for it he worked hard for the team around the pitch. Kelleher put in nine tackles coupled with a crucial turnover near half time.
Tadgh Furlong – 8.5
Arguably the best player in the world at his position, Furlong did his usual business around the park. Facilitating the attack in both the back and forward lines he may be one the most unique tightheads to play the game. His scrumming was reliable and powerful.
Tadgh Beirne – 8.5
Paired brilliantly with Ryan in the lineouts for his own ball and disrupting the oppositions. Beirne constantly found himself moving forward with the ball. His 14 carries and 35 meters gained are evidence of that.
James Ryan – 8
Everything you want from a second row comes easy to Ryan. His defence in the lineouts and through his tackling was unwavering. Ryan also added to the attack by carrying hard and distributing the ball efficiently.
Caelan Doris – 7.5
Doris put in a great shift, doing most of the unflattering dirty work that helped his team move forward when he was on the ball. When it mattered defensively in the game, he also made himself accounted for.
Josh van der Flier – 9
The Leinster man brought his most recent performances for club to the pitch on Saturday. He punched his way through the Welsh line with power numerous times while his hunger at the breakdown and in defence was incredible. The highlight of his game was his tireless work rate throughout the match. His 16 tackles are evidence of this.
In the form of his life.
Jack Conan – 7
Making big meters when carrying the ball, Conan just found himself doing the dirty work for his team. Nothing really too spectacular but he helped throughout his time on the field.
Jamison Gibson-Park – 7
Gibson-Park did what was asked of him and he only got better as the game went on. Great vision for the pass to Conway and all-round great tempo.
Johnny Sexton – 8.5
Its remarkable that Sexton is competing at such a high level at his age and he definitely proved a lot of doubters wrong. It was a perfect performance outside of the three missed kicks his play. Like a quarterback in American Football, he seems to be aging excellently.
Mack Hansen – 9.5
The Australian born Connacht winger had a debut to remember. Immediately proving himself to be a threat in this tournament. Hansen looked to attack every time he had the ball in his hands. Also showed great class by taking his try so sweetly. This performance landed himself the Player of the Match award which speaks for itself.
Bundee Aki – 8
A great performance from Aki as he battered the Welsh on both sides of the ball. He was crucial in setting Hansen away for his try with a beautiful catch and pass. Seems to be playing better and better in Irish green.
Gary Ringrose – 9
Ringrose seems to back in touch with his dynamic side. His try is a prime example of the threat he carries against other teams. A strong, smart and lighting quick threat who is only going to show more class as the tournament goes on.
Andrew Conway – 9
Conway looks to be truly back to his best in the green of Ireland. He showed immense skill in converting his difficult try opportunity against Josh Adams. He also poached a great try on the right wing which allowed him to comfortably touch the ball down. A key figure in the Farrell set up.
Hugo Keenan – 8
Keenan is doing an excellent job in replacing the hole Rob Kearney left at the fullback position. His performance at the weekend was exactly what you want from a fullback. He was reliable in defence with good coverage, tackling and kicking. His attacking side is also finely tuned.
Dan Sheehan – 7
Relative to his time on the pitch, Sheehan really put in a strong shift after coming on for Kelleher. He carried well and his lineouts throws were on point.
Cian Healy – 6.5
Healy provided great physicality and with a scrum heavy second half his expertise in that area is invaluable.
Finley Bealham – 6.5
The Connacht prop seemed to enjoy his time on the pitch as he looked to get stuck in around the park. Found himself busy in the scrums and did well.
Ryan Baird – 6.5
Only coming on with fifteen minutes left Baird showed all the athleticism and grit of the man he replaced, James Ryan. Definitely could become an important player for Ireland.
Peter O’ Mahony – 6.5
O’ Mahony stepped up as captain when Sexton left the pitch and commanded the team well. He didn’t have the greatest of impacts on the game, with the result never in doubt.
Conor Murray – 7.5
Coming on for Gibson-Park Murray got stuck into the game immediately. In his 13 minutes Murray made 21 yards and an impressive 23 passes.
Joey Carbery – 6.5
A quiet return for the Munster man as he didn’t affect to much of the game when coming on. However, it was definitely a positive sign for Andy Farrell and the Munster management to see him back on the field..
James Hume – 6
Definitely one to be watched in upcoming matches, Hume just didn’t get any chances with his time on the field in his debut.
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