Six Nations 2014: Four talking points as Ireland beat champions Wales

Six Nations 2014: Oisin Gregorian takes a look at four talking points from Ireland's 26-3 victory over Wales

Oisín Gregorian
By Oisín Gregorian at Aviva Stadium
Ireland
26
Wales
3

Ireland are now joint favourites at the very least

Two from two, but still a long way to go. From the offset, Joe Schmidt and Ireland would have earmarked the Wales match as their true starting point of the tournament. Beat what Warren Gatland put out on the day, and only then begin to think about a potential championship. Against Scotland, Ireland were professional albeit unspectacular. Against Wales, they were brutally effective, intense and looked every bit the team that for 40 minutes put the All Blacks to the sword last November. But the beauty of the Six Nations means that such a performance will count for nothing should Ireland not back this up in Twickenham a fortnight from now. For Schmidt and co, the quest for a Grand Slam starts at headquarters two weeks from now.

Warrenball exposed

Gatland has an impressive CV, by far the most impressive of his peers in the Six Nations championship. The key to such success: the simple but effective game of powerful, line-breaking Warrenball. At Lansdowne road on Saturday afternoon, Gatland’s sole tactic and game plan was brutally beaten and strangled to a point of no recovery. Left with little or no backup plan, tempers began to flare within the Welsh camp as Ireland winded down the clock. Gatland admitted afterwards that he would have to give his tactics a long hard look at over the next fortnight. Whether or not it will produce a response against the French is another thing.

Captain O’Connell the lynchpin again

Taken off to a standing ovation just before the hour mark, it was obvious that Paul O’Connell was still feeling the side effects of a chest infection that kept him out of the Scotland win last Sunday. Back in training on Thursday and declaring himself fit to start, O’Connell’s return to the starting XV proved a great boost to the pack. From the off his presence and leadership was obvious as Ireland brilliantly took the game to their Welsh counterparts at the set piece, with the former Lions captain making sure the Welsh had to fight for every single lineout ball. O’Connell once again finds himself as the lynchpin within the Ireland set up, refusing to let age get the better of him. Admitting afterwards that he was still struggling with illness and unable to play the full 80 minutes, the thought of a fully fit O’Connell will only excite Irish fans.

Schmidt making a good start at attempting to quash consistency worries

One of the bigger monkeys on the back of this Irish team is that of their consistency, perhaps summed up by their previous autumn performances against Australia and New Zealand. Here, Ireland’s inconsistency was laid bare, and how Schmidt knew it. Now with two solid wins under his belt – two victories that the coach himself admitted were going some way to easing the pain of the All Black defeat – the opportunity to build upon two excellent performances without too much scarring in terms of injury is there to be taken.

MORE:

MORE: Have your say on Facebook

MORE: The latest football news

MORE: The latest tennis news

The Sport Review
Friendly rivals Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer celebrate ‘the great memories we shared’
The Sport Review
Top 50 most stylish footballers in the world in 2017: Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 40 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man United stars feature
The Sport Review
Top 25 footballers’ cars: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid players feature
The Sport Review
Top 20 Nigerian footballers in Premier League: Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool stars feature
The Sport Review
Arsenal player wages 2017: Do you know how much Xhaka, Ozil and Coquelin earn each week?
The Sport Review
Diego Costa reacts to Michy Batshuayi’s display for Chelsea v Watford
The Sport Review
Owen Hargreaves: Man United star is the best in the world
The Sport Review
Alexis Sanchez: What I really think about Alexandre Lacazette at Arsenal