Full Ireland player ratings as Wales savaged in Six Nations opener
IRELAND 29-7 WALES
Andy Farrell's side put a ragged, sullen Wales side to the sword with a superb display. Our Ireland player ratings have a few lads vying for top honours.
Ireland took only three minutes to go 7-0 up after a super break, chip and chase from debutant Mack Hansen put them in prime position. It was Bundee Aki finishing, out wide, with Hansen getting the assist, and Sexton converting.
The Ireland captain then missed two penalties that were simpler than his early conversion. Irish pressure eventually saw Sexton put then 10-0 ahead by half-time, but the Welsh were still close in that rear-view.
Rather than going for shots at the posts, Ireland went for an attacking lineout with their first penalty award of the second half. That bold call was rewarded when play switched from one wing to the next and Andrew Conway got over to score.
Conway was over again, after 51 minutes, when Ireland out the boot down, following a Josh Adams yellow card for a reckless shot on Sexton. Just before Adam returned, Ireland had their bonus point fourth try as Garry Ringrose glided over after Andrew Porter's strip led to a counter.
Taine Basham got over for a late consolation try as Wales got some reward for not completely flagging when they knew the race was well won by the hosts.
Here's how we rated Andy Farrell's men in green:
IRELAND PLAYER RATINGS
Hugo Keenan - 7
Tossed out a brilliant under-arm offload that connected with van der Flier on one lovely Irish attack. Really knows his stuff when the ball is pumped high.
Andrew Conway - 8
Kept quiet enough in the first half, but only needed three minutes to get over for Ireland's second try, in the second half. Showed great awareness and determination to get the ball down. Got his second after staying on the touchline when Wales, down to 14 men, were under pressure.
Garry Ringrose - 8
His defence was on-point and he showed nice footwork on a couple of carries. Almost got through on a full clean break but was snagged by Basham. Brought back memories of O'Driscoll with his gliding carry and cut inside for his try.
Bundee Aki - 7
Showed great awareness to recognise Wales were stretched and stayed out wide to score his side's first try. Nice pass to put Ringrose away for his try.
Mack Hansen - 8.5
Lightning break up the left wing, to start, then set up Aki's try with a looping pass. Great defence on the right wing, around 30 minutes in. Another lovely carry and pass to Aki, before the Ringrose try.
Johnny Sexton - 6
His early play was crisp and nailed a touchline conversion, then had two poor penalty misses. Lovely carry and pass to Ringrose before the Conway try. Just about made a wonky conversion, just after. Missed his final kick before going off. Will need to fix that weird kicking blip.
Jamison Gibson-Park - 7
Almost pulled off the flukiest chip over the top in some time but Rees-Zammit recovered from a weird bounce to get the ball touched down. Lacking that usual tempo and sharpness, after only one start in the past six weeks. Tossed a high pass out of play while trying to connect with Hansen.
Andrew Porter - 9
Won his side an early breakdown penalty, but Sexton was wide from the tee. Was sticking in lusty hits out there. Dominant in all aspects. Made a great rip that led to Ireland's fourth try, from Ringrose.
Rónan Kelleher - 8
His hefty tackle of Rees-Zammit forced a forward pass turnover. Tackled with force and, like Porter and Furlong, showed off his passing skills.
Tadhg Furlong - 8
Had the Irish fans purring with a sublime pass to Sexton, on one Irish attack. Was driving red jerseys back with tackles in the first half. Stuck seven tackles and carried with menacing intent.
Tadhg Beirne - 7
Won his side a breakdown turnover on their own 22 line. Got through a heap of work, in securing Irish ball and disrupting the Welsh. Nearly got over for a late try but was hauled down, metres out.
James Ryan - 7
Put in a thumping defensive tackle on Dan Biggar. Put in huge shots on Basham and Beard, too. Squandered a great try-scoring chance when he carried into traffic instead of passing.
Caelan Doris - 8
Bruising carry got Ireland steaming before that Bundee Aki opener. Along with van der Flier, was leading that suffocating Irish press with great line-speed and intent.
Josh van der Flier - 8.5
Started with some decent carries but knocked on as Ireland threatened, just outside the Wales 22. Cut through the Welsh with a cracking carry into the 22, before Conway's second.
Jack Conan - 8
Got up well for an early lineout steal. On 30 minutes, dipped in at the breakdown, inside his 22, to make a great turnover. Seven carries for 35 metres, front-foot ball delivered on four of them and stuck his five tackles.
Peter O'Mahony (for Conan '53) - 6
Finlay Bealham (for Furlong '53) - 6
Dan Sheehan (for Kelleher '60) - 7
Joey Carbery (for Sexton '63) - 6
Went for touch with kickable penalties as Ireland sought more tries.
James Hume (for Conway '63) - 6
Cian Healy (for Porter '65) - 6
Ryan Baird (for Ryan '65) - 6
Conor Murray (for Gibson-Park '69) - 6
Couple of strong tackles and snipes.