DUBLIN, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Ireland put in a much needed confidence-boosting performance in a 19-10 victory over Wales on Saturday that felt a little more like a World Cup clash than the final warm-up before the tournament begins later this month.
With both sides close to full strength and the intensity dialled up a notch or two, there was far more pressure on Ireland’s frontline men to perform after their disappointing Six Nations and record 57-15 warm-up rout by England two weeks ago.
Such are the niceties of rugby’s ranking system, tries from Rob Kearney, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan mean Ireland will arrive in Japan as the world’s top-ranked side for the first time. The encouraging performance, however, will mean more.
The result also meant Warren Gatland was unable to deny Joe Schmidt a victorious farewell in his final game at the Aviva Stadium, as Schmidt had done to his fellow Kiwi in Cardiff last week with both coaches set to depart after the World Cup. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Ken Ferris)