Rugby Neil Francis: ‘Green shoots of recovery show Joe Schmidt learns from setbacks’

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That may have changed somewhat today. We know what today was, Ireland had a guaranteed five World Cup starters and Wales a dismissive two when the match kicked off.

There may have been moments of excitement in the game but for all intents and purposes these were two PRO14 selections playing PRO14 football. There was none of the unrestrained violence that we saw last week in Twickenham. In a confrontational sport your starting block is to confront your opponent. In this regard Ireland, without totally physically subduing Wales, managed to do that — something they were demonstrably unable to do in London.

And so our pool rivals will sleep a little less soundly in their beds tonight. Ireland can deal with sides who don’t have the same sort of power as England, South Africa and New Zealand have. If you try and play football against Ireland, without punching holes in the defensive line and turning the screw on them, then they will beat you.

We always knew that Wales would not be able to pressurise Ireland’s throw-in the way England did and surprisingly their scrum was a good distance off international standard. We might remind ourselves what Wales did to our scrum last March in Cardiff. This collection of four Blues, five Ospreys, five Scarlets and one second-string Saracen really should have been put to the sword

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