This was a statement win for Ireland, Andy Farrell, and for his senior players.
You could say it’s the best this group have played since the year of the Grand Slam and you wouldn’t be far wrong, in my opinion.
In the context of everything that has been said and written since the defeat to the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-final, both about the collective and individuals like Sexton, Murray, O’Mahony, and CJ Stander, this contest against a dangerous Welsh side had the potential to be a real landmine.
And let’s not beat about the bush here - this was a very good Welsh side. They aren’t Grand Slam champions and very recent World Cup semi-finalists for nothing.
In that context, Ireland’s 24-14 bonus-point win was a superb result with a performance to go along with it. There was improved attacking endeavour, some of the best passing I’ve seen from this side in years, and a ruthless edge on both sides of the ball.
This was a real acceleration in performance from Larmour. He exited superbly, took his try incredibly well, and looked really dangerous on kick transition. He’s really nailing the #15 jersey. 8/10
Is there such a thing as a perfect game? If so, I think Andrew Conway came close here. He made outstanding defensive reads, chased kicks superbly, and dominated every moment that came his way. A top-end performance. 9/10
If he’d stayed on, he’d have been in with a clear shout for Player of the Match. I thought he physically dominated every collision he entered into and looked like the Henshaw of old. Very strong. 8/10
He’s underrated - it comes with the territory when you’re a project player - but this was a classic Aki game. Strong in defensive contact, effective with the ball in hand, and another flanker over the ball. 8/10
A very solid performance from Stockdale. 7/10
He was narky, he was belligerent, he was bloody good. A very good outing for the Irish captain. 8/10
The nonsense about Murray’s supposed decline at test level was shown up for what it was for a second week in a row. This was a high-quality performance from a high-quality operator. 8/10
A decent performance for Healy. Solid scrummaging and some good shots in and around the breakdown. 7/10
This was the best I’ve seen out of Herring in a green jersey. Solid basics, one or two small errors but very strong overall. 7/10
This was a big game for Furlong. He played closer to the #9 this time out and had a bigger impact on the tight collisions. 8/10
This improved Irish tight-five performance was lead by the ever-impressive Ryan. I don’t think this guy knows how to have a bad game. 8/10
This was better from the Ulster captain. I still feel he’s playing within himself but he had more positive moments in this game compared to last week. 6/10
O’Mahony backed up his superb game last weekend with another one of those games that should make even the silliest pundit think twice about doubting what he brings at test level. He had another near-complete performance here. 8/10
Another day, another relentless body of work from Van Der Flier with a try to top it off. 7/10
I thought Storm Ciara was supposed to the force of nature in this game. They should rename it Storm Stander. The Limerick man battered the Welsh breakdown and altered the flow of the contest in Ireland’s favour a number of times. Top class. 9/10
A solid day’s work for Halfpenny. He was decent under the high ball, good in transition, and comfortably one of Wales’ better players. 6/10
The game largely passed North by. 4/10
This game was always going to be a much tougher gig than his debut against Italy last weekend and so it proved. Some decent moments were largely overshadowed by a day where he looked uncomfortable in defensive spaces. 4/10
A decent day out for Parkes. His fumble on the line will rankle but he was a go-to player for Wales throughout. A quality operator. 6/10
Adams wasn’t on long enough to rate. McNicholl had a pretty prominent game for Wales without ever really looking like he creating a game-breaking moment. 5/10
Biggar played pretty well before departing the field early with a HIA. Wales definitely dipped in their effectiveness when he was off the field. 6/10
The standout Welsh player for me. His pass quality and energy was a constant highlight. 7/10
It’s great to see Faletau back on the pitch but he’ll be disappointed with his impact here. 5/10
Another highly visible game from Tipuric, especially in defence. If Wales were going to win this, it would have come from him. 6/10
The game seemed to pass Wainwright by in almost every facet of his game. 5/10
A high-quality defensive performance? Expected. Off-loads? Less so. A good performance for a bonafide living legend of the game. 6/10
A pretty poor outing for Ball, all told. He didn’t have the impact needed in the forward collisions. 4/10
This was a pretty decent scrummaging performance from Lewis, but he didn’t really make an impact in phase play. 5/10
A typical hard-working performance from Owens. 6/10
I thought Jones had a mixed enough game in almost every facet that you’d judge him on. Nothing outstanding, either good or bad. 5/10