EVERY sub that Ireland brought on made an impact, none more so than Munster pair Keith Earls – on for HIA Robbie Henshaw – and Dave Kilcoyne who earned a penalty for Ireland in a crucial scrum on their five-metre line in the 65th minute.
Devin Toner, Max Deegan, Ronan Kelleher, John Cooney and Ross Byrne all played their part in this win when they came on. They helped raised the tempo at a crucial part of the game.
2. RESPONSE TO CRITICISM:
CONOR Murray, Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander had come under close scrutiny after the win over Scotland and questions were being asked as to whether they should have been starting the game for Ireland.
All three answered emphatically with Stander earning his second man of the match award on the bounce and it really was pushed hard by his Munster colleagues O’Mahony, Murray and Andrew Conway. That is the kind of reaction Ireland fans should be delighted with.
IRELAND have had an incredible half-back pairing for the bones of a decade. Sexton has suffered his share of injuries and Murray has suffered from poor form over the last 12 months but both came good at the right time on Saturday.
Sexton led by example while Murray got the ball away from the deck and set-piece – particularly the lineout - quicker than he has in a long time and that gave Ireland an edge and a definite advantage.