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first_imgShare on Messenger Joe Schmidt calms fears on injured trio after Ireland victory over Wales Ireland rugby union team Six Nations Since you’re here… Read more All is looking rosy in the Ireland camp. If their opener in Paris was notable for the nerve they showed in adversity, the win against Italy was a chance to develop the range of their attack. Here, they put both together to dispatch a Wales team who just would not be shaken off.There is no doubt that Ireland’s fixture list has been kind this championship, allowing them to build to their likely showdown at Twickenham with this run of three home games in the middle. No such luck for Wales, whose championship has slammed into the brick walls of Twickenham and Dublin. They now finish with two home games against the “easier” of the Six Nations teams but the damage to their hopes has been done.“We need to make some changes against Italy because we want to see where some of the squad is at this level,” said Warren Gatland. “Can they handle international rugby? The focus changes a little bit. It is important we finish in that top three, but also start thinking long-term, in terms of the World Cup.”Ireland will be doing the same, but their ambitions are somewhat higher than top three. Six Nations 2018 Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, Ireland’s prize assets at half-back, are unlikely to be exposed to the promised intensity of Tuesday’s training. Both men left the field in some discomfort, albeit Murray at the end of the match, but neither’s injury is thought to be serious. Sexton “copped a knee in the backside”, while Murray caught his foot awkwardly but was walking on it afterwards.Ireland have suffered their fair share of injuries to key personnel this championship, not least for this match against Wales, and have ridden the absences well, but the loss of their half-backs would be calamitous. Sexton himself was an injury scare in the build-up, but, notwithstanding the early misses of a conversion and two penalties, he ran the show superbly, alongside the incomparable Murray.Around them, meanwhile, Ireland are starting to thrive again, after the passing of their fabled “Golden Generation”. Garry Ringrose is available and Sean O’Brien is set to play for Leinster this weekend. Even better news than that, though, is the form of those whose places they will hope to win back.Chris Farrell was awarded man of the match for his muscular display at outside-centre; Dan Leavy should have been awarded it for his on the flank; Andrew Porter’s performance meant the loss of Tadhg Furlong barely registered; and James Ryan’s industry is food for thought for Iain Henderson, another poised to return. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. news Support The Guardian Suddenly this Six Nations is Ireland’s to lose. Take maximum points at home to Scotland – as, for example, Wales did, the team they took maximum points against here – and England would need to do the same against them at Twickenham in the final round just to stand a chance.Joe Schmidt is doing a manful job of trying to dampen the escalating expectations of his public. “Other people make assessments but I wouldn’t,” he dutifully said. “It’s a lot easier for us than it is externally, because we do live in a bit of a bubble during the championships. In the early part of the week the guys won’t get too excited. They may well see they have to roll up sleeves.”center_img Read more Jacob Stockdale surges past Wales to keep Ireland’s grand slam hopes alive Share via Email Share on LinkedIn Topics Share on Pinterest Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on WhatsApp Rugby union Reuse this contentlast_img read more