Ireland v Wales: Head to head

How the two teams square off

Ireland v Wales: Head to head

SCRUM

Ireland: After a frustrating start under the watch of referee Craig Joubert, the Irish scrum turned the screw on Scotland as the game progressed and with real pressure on blue ball, a turnover against the head eventually led to the second try of the game from a lineout maul. Will take on Wales with confidence. 3½/5

Wales: It will be an all-Lions front row of Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins, in for Paul James at loosehead, with three more 2013 tourists behind them. This should be a formidable Welsh scrummaging unit, although they only achieved 75% success on their own ball against Italy last week and Ireland will smell blood. 3/5

LINEOUT

Ireland: Despite the late withdrawal of Paul O’Connell, the Irish lineout barely missed a beat as Dan Tuohy stood in and he, Devin Toner and Peter O’Mahony made short work of the Scots. Tuohy stole two, one of them ultimately leading to the opening try, and O’Mahony another on Scottish ball, while Ireland were successful on 87% on their own throws, losing two of 15. Continues to provide an excellent platform. 4/5

Wales: Alun Wyn Jones leads the Welsh lineout and with Luke Charteris last week enjoyed 94% success on their own throw. Charteris, though, is now injured, and the less experienced Andrew Coombs from the Dragons steps into the second row. Jones remains the main target while Wales utilise their back rowers frequently, last week Justin Tipuric and Toby Faletau taking seven throws between them. 3½/5

BREAKDOWN

Ireland: Up against a big and disruptive Scottish back row, Peter O’Mahony and Chris Henry went toe to toe with the visitors and made real nuisances of themselves during often ferocious skirmishes at the ruck. They bottled the Scots up and on their own offence, gradually ramped up the intensity so the Irish backs were getting the quicker ball they will need if they are to unsettle the Welsh. 3½/5

Wales: On a tough day at the breakdown against Italy, No.8 Toby Faletau was the only Welshman to stand out with the required intensity, countering Azzurri abrasion with some immense ferocity. Justin Tipuric made less of an impact and has been replaced at openside flanker by his now fully-fit again captain, Sam Warburton 3/5

KICKING

Ireland: Johnny Sexton kicked five of six attempts on goal, missing only a conversion of the opening try. He was equally as good kicking out of hand and his late replacement Paddy Jackson also posed some questions. Scrum-half Conor Murray kicked out of hand just as often as Sexton and the Irish backs sent through some testing ball in behind the Scots. 3½/5

Wales: As Ireland have learned to their cost, full-back Leigh Halfpenny is happy to take advantage of any disciplinary indiscretions and they have to limit the number of penalties they concede. Out of hand, fly-half Rhys Priestland likes to give his powerful wings plenty of ball to chase rather than find touch. 3½/5

WIDE GAME

Ireland: Johnny Sexton’s line break and individual brilliance sparked Ireland’s attack into life against the Scots late in the second half. And when Ireland eventually got into position, they made it count. A kick to the corner and good lineout maul paved the way for Andrew Trimble’s opening try, a classic example of earning the right to go wide and being clinical when the time came. It showed good, quick hands from the Irish backs. Good decision-making, well executed. 3½/5

Wales: With the big wings, a great midfield and a world-class full-back, the Welsh line is rightly lauded, but against Italy last week they managed to beat no more defenders than the Irish against Scotland and scored two tries to Ireland’s three.

Not to be underestimated, though, as they carry strongly with great running lines, strong support running and a clinical edge. 4/5

Totals

Ireland: 18/25

Wales: 17/25

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