Ireland will set off for Japan as the world's number one ranked team after a deserved, if patchy, 19-10 win over Wales.

The match marked head coach Joe Schmidt's last home game in charge, with the New Zealander stepping down after the World Cup.

Schmidt, since taking over in 2013, has brought unprecedented success and, while he will pass off the importance of World Rugby's ranking system, topping the chart for the first time ever serves as a fitting end to his home tenure.


More importantly, the side will now depart for the Far East knowing they are on an upward curve, this victory an improvement on last week's win over the same opponents in Cardiff and measurably better than the horror show in London two weeks' ago. 

The Irish tries came from Rob Kearney, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan, while Johnny Sexton kicked two conversions, but there was also the worrying sight of wing Keith Earls limping off in the second half.

Wales totally dominated the opening stages, with only a missed Leigh Halfpenny penalty effort to their name as both sides struggled to find the spark required to bring a lacklustre match to life.

Ireland, who named a 31-man squad last Monday without lineout supremo Devin Toner, managed to lose their opening two throw-ins, and prior to that that Sexton kicked a 22 restart out on the full.

Schmidt had accused some of the players that lost to England two weeks ago of having their mind on the plane and the opening here suggested that Wednesday's departure for Japan wasn't far enough from their thoughts.

When Ireland did find their feet, just past the 20-minute mark, it didn't take long to breach the Welsh defence, with Rob Kearney brushing off Jonathan Davies close to the line finishing off a move that started with a lineout and involved a number of backs.

Here Ireland looked sharp and clinical.

Halfpenny had reduced the deficit with a penalty after Jordan Larmour took the full-back out in the air but the Six Nations champions soon took the lead after Dan Biggar, who had just replaced Rhys Patchell, intercepted a pass in midfield.

Robbie Henshaw who, along with Sexton and Earls, was making his first appearance of the season, won a brilliant footrace to deny the out-half, with Kearney well positioned to prevent the try.

However, Warren Gatland's men were soon celebrating as centre Hadleigh Parkes, as he had done in the March meeting, barged over from a yard out following the subsequent scrum.

Ireland tried to respond but were comfortably held at bay by a disciplined red line and Wales went in with a 10-7 lead at the break.

Schmidt's side began much better on the resumption and Furlong burst over for just his second international try after a sustained spell of pressure on the Wales line. Sexton again converted but the sight of Earls limping off overshadowed the moment.

The Munster wing had been kept out of action to this point to allow tendonitis in his knee to ease off, and now faces a nervy few days.

But Ireland were growing into the game minute by minute and, playing with a penalty advantage, James Ryan barged over to stretch out the lead to nine points with an hour gone.

Sexton was replaced by Jack Carty a few minutes later as Schmidt opted to protect his main man, with captain Rory Best also leaving to a rapturous applause, winning his 120th cap on his last day at out at Lansdowne Road.

The home side finished in a commanding position and Schmidt will be satisfied with the outing with just 15 days until they take on Scotland on Yokohama.

"Hopefully we are on an upswing," said Schmidt afterwards.

Ireland: Rob Kearney; Jordan Larmour, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Keith Earls; Johnny Sexton, Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rory Best (capt), Tadhg Furlong; James Ryan, Jean Kleyn; CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan

Replacements: Sean Cronin, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Jack Carty, Garry Ringrose

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Jonathan Davies, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Rhys Patchell, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Elliot Dee, Tomas Francis; Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones; Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Ken Owens, Nicky Smith, Dillon Lewis, Adam Beard, Josh Navidi, Gareth Davies, Dan Biggar, Liam Williams.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)