MX23RW : Thursday, January 17 15:58:24
Aug 8, 2015 at 2.30pm UK
21-35
Hibbard (37'), Tipuric (71'), Cuthbert (81')
FT
Heaslip (9'), Cave (23'), Earls (30'), Zebo (48'), Jones (54')

Wales 21-35 Ireland: Five talking points

Sports Mole looks at five key issues in the wake of Ireland's comfortable 35-21 win over Wales in Cardiff.

Ireland got their Rugby World Cup preparations off to a flying start on Saturday thanks to a resounding 35-21 victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

While pretty much everything went right for the Irish, the same could not be said for the home team. Both coaches chose experimental sides for the match, but it was the Welsh who ultimately struggled to put their stamp on things.

With the Rugby World Cup edging ever closer, Sports Mole takes a look at five key issues that came out of the one-sided affair in Cardiff.


1. Ireland have strength in depth

Joe Schmidt claimed before the match that he was not looking forward to cutting his squad down ahead of the Rugby World Cup. The Kiwi's task will be that much harder after seeing an inexperienced Ireland XV romp to victory over Wales. There were a handful of familiar faces in there (Paddy Jackson, Jamie Heaslip, Andrew Trimble, Mike Ross), but the manner in which less well-known names fitted in seamlessly showed that there is an abundance of talent in the Irish game. Schmidt can ruefully roll his eyes all he wants when talking about selection headaches, but there are coaches who would bite his hand off for such a variety of riches.

Keith Earls of Ireland is tackled by James Hook and Scott Williams during the International match between Wales and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium on August 8, 2015© Getty Images


2. Wales don't have strength in depth

Let's get things straight: no-one was expecting Ireland to beat Wales in such emphatic fashion on Saturday. By the time the final whistle blew inside a sweltering Millennium Stadium (probably not the best idea to make the conditions sauna-like by closing the roof) what had been discovered was how vulnerable the Welsh are without their big names. Whereas Ireland's experimental side came through with flying colours, the hosts looked shell-shocked. We all know that this isn't reflective of how good Warren Gatland's side is, but it will be a worry to the coach to see his second string trounced in such a way by Ireland's. Would Wales be able to cope at the Rugby World Cup if they got injuries to key players? On this showing the evidence would suggest not.


3. Keith Earls should go to the Rugby World Cup

The seasoned winger looked unlikely to make Ireland's squad for the Rugby World Cup heading into the game, but a stellar display in Cardiff may well have put the 27-year-old at the front of Joe Schmidt's thoughts. It would be fair to say that Earls had a point to prove: out of the side for over two years and having never played under Schmidt, this was his chance to impress. A marauding performance that saw him score a try during the first half did just that. While it's still early days in terms of whether he remains in the picture for Ireland, the former British and Irish Lion has done himself no harm whatsoever.


4. Justin Tipuric's glorious try

On an otherwise miserable day for Wales there was some cheer in the form of an eye-catching try from Justin Tipuric with 10 minutes of the match remaining. The flanker weaved together a zippy passing move with teammates Matthew Morgan and Hallam Amos down the left side before showing a blend of quick feet and power to make his way over the line. If anything, it was what the hosts deserved following an improved second-half performance. Take a look at Tipuric's spectacular score below:


5. The subdued Welsh crowd

If the Welsh players were hoping to draw inspiration from the crowd under the roof of the Millennium Stadium on Saturday it would have come as a shock when they were met with a pervasive wave of indifference from the home fans. The imposing sporting arena in Cardiff has invigorated many a player in red down the years, not to mention making mice of the opposition. On the weekend the sheer lack of fire and passion inadvertently played into Ireland's hands.

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Andrew Trimble of Ireland takes on Tyler Morgan and Eli Walker (L) during the International match between Wales and Ireland at the Millennium Stadium on August 8, 2015
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