Ireland Player Ratings
Luke Fitzgerald 4
One would have hoped that the searing break that earned Ireland a four-point interval lead might have sparked his championship into life, but his demeanour when replaced suggested otherwise. Kidney will retain faith in him though.
Tommy Bowe 6
Superbly spotted the mis-match which opened up the opportunity for his captain to exploit another hole in the defensive line to crown Ireland's scintillating start. Needs more central involvement.
Brian O'Driscoll 6
Equalled the championship try-scoring record but brushed away the feat afterwards. His lateral running, which signified Ireland's inability to burst the line, reflected the side's paucity in attack as the match wore on.
Gordon D'Arcy 5
Superb hands for the blatant scoring opportunity that was utterly messed up in the game's death throes. Defended heroically at times in the congested midfield, but still struggling as an attacking threat.
Keith Earls 8
Continues to make his mark as Ireland's most potent three-quarter line attacking threat, most vividly in the 53rd minute, but all day seemed to be the only one offering support in counter-attack.
Ronan O'Gara 7
Took three heavy knocks in the first half which subdued his contribution after the break. His absence from the last half-hour compounded his current pre-eminence in the position.
Peter Stringer 6
The de-facto starting scrum half after Eoin Reddan's concussive blow after just 49 seconds but may not start next week should Tomas O'Leary's return. Lacked an alternative to solid passing from base.
Cian Healy 6
Conceded two of Ireland's penalties but, presuming Ireland cannot afford to take action because of this indiscipline, his overall contribution earned him enough credit.
Rory Best 7
Probably his best game of the championship, despite another brain freeze when he conceded a penalty in front of his posts to let the Welsh gain an early foothold in their attempts to retrieve the early deficit.
Mike Ross 6
Didn't do an awful lot in terms of ball-carrying but his physicality was significant in the rucks and mauls, and in a game of limited scrummaging, he made his point by earning 31st-minute penalty there.
Donncha O'Callaghan 6
Put in another decent shift but in the interests of validating the strength in depth that the management boast, Leo Cullen deserves an opportunity in this championship.
Paul O'Connell 7
The steady improvement in his play arguably accelerated, although he will beat himself up about the late knock-on. Early line-out steal set the tone for a dominant display up front.
Sean O'Brien 7
Franked his status as a contender for team of the tournament, his exalted status within the Irish back-row ensuring that it was Jamie Heaslip who was hooked first. Three penalty concessions, though.
David Wallace 7
Has grown into this Six Nations and was mightily impressive again, a superb rip close to his line a stand-out. Carried enough ball to give his backs plenty of leeway, which they couldn't capitalise on.
Jamie Heaslip 6
Yet again the quietest of the back-row trio and although the pack functioned admirably all day, he needs to up the ante for the visit of England. Requires a serious performance next week.
Jonathan Sexton 5
Regardless of the assistant referee's asinine display, he would never have been placed in such a position had Sexton not kicked straight to touch. A high price to pay but these are high-stakes occasions. Only on for a half-hour but easy penalty miss then compounded matters.
Leo Cullen -- Not on long enough to be rated.
Denis Leamy -- Not on long enough to be rated.
Sean Cronin -- Not on long enough to be rated.
Paddy Wallace -- Not on long enough to be rated, but would start at minus 3 for cocking up glaring overlap.
Declan Kidney 5
Erred in hauling off his out-half much too early, compounding the mistake made in Murrayfield which almost cost Ireland that encounter. This time it was a leading factor in the Irish defeat, despite the assistant referee's incompetence.