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Stockdale happy with double and lift in energy level


Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt

An improvement from the lowest base possible is still an improvement.

Ireland left Cardiff on Saturday night in better spirits than they had London a week previous, but with much to do to make sure they are ready for their opening fixture against Scotland in 20 days' time.

On Saturday, they welcome a full-strength Wales team to the Aviva Stadium for Joe Schmidt's final home game as Ireland coach. By then, he'll have picked his squad and, when Warren Gatland's men are done, we'll know far more about where they stand.

For four men this win was about putting Twickenham behind them.

Captain Peter O'Mahony, Iain Henderson, Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale survived from the 57-15 record defeat to England and thrived in Cardiff.

"It was definitely a case that we let ourselves down as much as anything last week and we let an awful lot of other people down. We just wanted to make sure that we changed that," Stockdale said.

"It didn't all go right out there, but I thought we came out for the first half and played really well.

"There was a good energy, a good bounce about us that we haven't seen for a while.

"We're definitely back on the right track."

Having struggled defensively at times during the English onslaught a week ago, Stockdale got back to what he did best at the Principality Stadium; scoring tries.

His 16th and 17th efforts in his 21st international brought an end to a relative drought for Ireland's try machine. He hadn't scored since his howler in Ulster's European quarter-final defeat to Leinster in March, but he put that behind him with a double.

The first was the best piece of play Ireland have put together in a while, part of a first-half effort that saw them energetically throw themselves into contact with the kind of abandon we haven't seen in some time.

Dave Kilcoyne was to the fore with an outstanding display and he got the ball rolling for the 18th-minute try, following up Will Addison's catch with a rampaging carry that put Wales on the back foot.

Jack Carty did brilliantly to keep the momentum going, finding Andrew Conway on his inside shoulder and the Munster winger went on a arcing run before drawing the final defender and floating a beautiful pass for Stockdale to race home.

Minutes later, he was racing on to Aaron Shingler's loose pass, hacking ahead and picking up for a trademark opportunist score.

"You feed off players around you, you try and make the players around you feel good and they try and do the same and the best way to do that is have energy," he said of the extra pep in Irish steps.

"It's not something that you can switch on, it's something that has to build and I think we're getting back into that, where we were a while ago.

"We got off the line a lot better (in defence), made a lot more dominant tackles and we worked a lot harder."