5 things we learned from the RBS 6 Nations draw between Ireland and Wales
Published 07/02/2016 | 19:26
Ireland and Wales fought out a 16-16 draw in their opening match of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship on Sunday.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at five things we learned from the encounter
BOTH COUNTRIES STILL HAVE STRONG TITLE ASPIRATIONS
Despite seeing their Grand Slam and Triple Crown hopes disappear following a first draw between the countries since 1991, both teams showed enough quality to suggest they will be serious Six Nations title contenders this season. The game bristled with ferocious commitment and intensity, and their tournament rivals will have taken note.
IRELAND NEW BOY CJ STANDER PROVED HIS QUALITY
Munster's South Africa-born flanker was drafted into an injury-hit Ireland team for his Test debut, and he did not disappoint, repeatedly making his mark during a bruising contest. The first-half saw him at his most prolific in terms of carries and tackles. Looks to have a big international future ahead of him.
WALES' PLANNING FOR LIFE AFTER GETHIN JENKINS HAS STARTED PROMISINGLY
Cardiff Blues warrior Jenkins was moved to the bench for Sunday's game, from where he won his 120th cap, but starting loosehead Rob Evans showed his quality through an outstanding 53-minute contribution that suggests the Wales scrum is in safe hands. Veteran Jenkins will not go on to the next World Cup, and Wales might just have unearthed a gem in Evans,
IRELAND SHOWED THEY CAN OVERCOME ADVERSITY
It might not have been the win Ireland needed as they embarked on their quest for a history-making Six Nations title hat-trick this term, but they absorbed everything that Wales could throw at them, fighting back to draw after seeing a 13-point lead wiped out. And they did it despite being without numerous star names, including Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Cian Healy and Sean O'Brien.
WALES NEED DAN BIGGAR BACK FIT AND FIRING
Wales' star player at the World Cup last year suffered an ankle injury in the opening minutes at the Aviva Stadium, and he was eventually forced off midway through the first-half. Rhys Priestland went on and helped haul,Wales back into contention, but Biggar is a class apart, and a full-scale title tilt could depend on him being fit and firing on all cylinders.