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Wales lay down World Cup marker against Ireland

| 31.08.2015

The Rugby World Cup is edging ever closer and after another big weekend of warm-up action, the announcement of many of the home nations’ squads is on the horizon. It was a good weekend for Scotland, who romped to victory over Italy, while Wales edged a tight affair against Ireland in skipper Paul O’Connell’s Dublin farewell.

Welsh take the positives after Ireland victory

Warren Gatland’s men, a 14/1 shot for World Cup glory, got a 16-10 victory in Dublin ahead of his squad announcement, and he will have been massively encouraged by the performance of Justin Tipuric in particular. The number seven was excellent, in what his coach described as his ‘best performance in a Wales shirt’.

The 26-year-old grabbed a try and stood out a mile at the Aviva Stadium, both in defence and attack. Unfortunately for the Ospreys man, he plays in the same position as captain Sam Warburton and is unlikely to seem much game time this autumn. However, should the skipper be missing, as he was here, Tipuric showed that Gatland has a world class replacement.

Another man who shone was Tomas Francis. The 23-year-old, making his debut, spearheaded the Welsh scrum admirably and the English-born prop should go to the World Cup.

Irish supporters, conversely, may be a little concerned at their team’s display. O’Connell himself was annoyed at the penalty count against his side and they must improve ahead of their final match with England next week.

Nevertheless, they were inches from a score late on and Joe Schmidt and his players know they can, and will, play better. Their price of 7/1 to be world champions suggests so.

Scots rout Italians

Vern Cotter’s men got revenge for the last gasp defeat to Italy in the Six Nations as they scored six tries in a 48-7 demolition of the Azzurri at Murrayfield.

John Barclay will have caught the eye of the coaching staff with a commanding second row performance, which included a try. In fact, the displays of all the forwards will have been of great comfort to the Kiwi coach, as Scotland dominated the scrum from start to finish.

In the backs his decision on whether Tim Visser or Sean Lamont should take the final wing slot was not helped. Both men grabbed a brace and it could be a coin toss that decides who makes the final 31.

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Aaron Cox

Aaron has written for a number of top-level publications, including FourFourTwo and the Manchester Evening News. As well as being a fanatical Rochdale AFC fan and blogger, he shares a passion for rugby league and golf.