An encouraging performance for Ireland although early intensity wasn't reflected on the scoreboard with Quinn Roux supplying the only try of a dominant first-half performance at the Aviva Stadium.
An experienced Wales team arrived in Dublin under real pressure having lost their previous five games under Wayne Pivac, and endured another difficult evening as Ireland dominated the scrum and looked far more dangerous in possession.
Ireland kept Wales at bay through the boot of Jonathan Sexton, Billy Burns and then Conor Murray before a late James Lowe try added some gloss to the scoreline.
Most pleasing for Andy Farrell will be the impact of his new faces, with Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park both bringing some real spark in attack and Caelan Doris proving a handful, although his team’s failure to put Wales away earlier will be a concern given all their possession.
Here’s how we rated the players.
Hugo Keenan - 6
Just three caps into his international career Keenan’s versatility is already coming into play, originally named on the right wing to accommodate James Lowe before shifting to fullback as Jacob Stockdale was ruled out with injury. Looked at ease with the switch but wasn’t asked any hard questions in defence and would have liked to see more ball.
Andrew Conway - 6
Late addition to team due to Stockdale injury. Always an option and strong in the air but never got the ball he needed to make a real impression on the game.
Chris Farrell - 7
First start since last year’s World Cup defeat to Japan. Line speed in defence kept Wales under pressure and they struggled to deal with him on the other side of the ball too. Will be happy with his night’s work.
Robbie Henshaw - 6
Early penalty for not releasing handed Wales three easy points. Made some big tackles and was his usual industrious self around the park.
James Lowe - 8
Test debut almost got off to a dream start but spilled Sexton’s pass with the try-line calling. Heavily involved from the get-go and brought so much pace and power to Ireland’s attacking play as well as some added bite off the ball. More subdued second-half but still powered over for a debut try with clock in the red. A promising start to his Ireland career.
Jonathan Sexton - 7
100th Test appearance across Ireland and Lions came to an early end. 3/3 from the tee and showed some real flashes of quality with ball in hand, but looked devastated when injury forced him off after just 28 minutes.
Jamison Gibson Park - 8
Brought real urgency to Ireland's play on his first Test start as speed of ball provided a platform for his teammates to build on. Ability to mix it up in attack caused problems throughout.
Cian Healy - 7
At 33, very much the senior head alongside Kelleher (22) and Porter (24) in the front row. Experience told and he never looked troubled during a typically solid night’s work. Will feel he should have got over for two tries.
Ronan Kelleher - 6
First Test start produced mixed results. Didn’t get to showcase his carrying threat and lineout work let him down more than once. Wasn’t straight with his throw with Ireland placed for trademark lineout drive on eight minutes, those are the basics he’s got to nail.
Andrew Porter - 9
Teammates were quick to praise his work on early scrum and that set the trend for a dominant display. Rhys Carre couldn’t live with him and didn’t even see half-time. Harshly pinged for first-half penalty and thought he had a try on stroke of half time. He would have deserved it. Superb work throughout.
Quinn Roux - 8
Drafted into the starting lineup on short notice as Iain Henderson dropped out with illness to win first cap since 2019 Six Nations. Destructive in the scrum behind Porter and some positive contributions in open play, including impressive strength for first half try. A really positive outing.
James Ryan - 6
Inches away from an early try but lost the ball in a mass of Welsh bodies, quickly followed by a sloppy loss of possession. Usual tireless performance but more errors than we’ve come to expect from the Leinster second row.
Peter O’Mahony - 8
Back in the team having started the games against Italy and France on the bench. A nuisance in first-half, heavily involved on both sides of the ball and got through a huge amount of work in the second period. Trademark second-half lineout steal a highlight.
Josh van der Flier - 6
Missed out on selection against Italy and France despite strong performances with Leinster. Worked hard but a quiet night by his standards which will keep the pressure on in a highly competitive back row.
Caelan Doris - 8
Carried hard into contact and showed what he is capable of with stunning block, chase and pass which almost led to a wonderful try for Healy. Carried hard throughout and combined well with Connors to nail Alun Wyn Jones in final minutes.
Dave Heffernan (for Kelleher 64) - 6
Earned backslaps from teammates through good work at the breakdown.
Ed Byrne (for Healy 59) - 5
Gave away scrum penalty moments after his introduction.
Finlay Bealham (for Porter 64) - 6
Made a couple of good contributions at breakdown.
Tadhg Beirne (for Roux 64) - 6
Came onto bench after late injury withdrawals and solid when introduced.
Will Connors (for van der Flier 69) - 6
Looked hungry for work in his short cameo and will have enjoyed smashing into Alun Wyn Jones with Doris.
Conor Murray (for Billy Burns 65) - 7
A different experience for Murray, who last started an Ireland game on the bench in 2015. Thrown in as Ireland’s third out-half of the night and kicked two penalties and a conversion.
Billy Burns (for Sexton 28) - 6
Debutant number nine of the Andy Farrell era was called upon earlier than expected but slotted in well and kicked two penalties before leaving for HIA.
Keith Earls (for Henshaw 71) - 6
Back from injury to fill in at centre for final ten minutes.