Five things we learned from Ireland's 35-21 win over Wales in Cardiff
There was plenty to glean from Ireland's convincing 31-25 victory over Wales for both Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland. Here are five things.
1 - You don't need to rack up air miles to hit the ground running
Wales have been all over the world as they prepare for this World Cup but Joe Schmidt's Six Nations champions proved that there's nothing wrong with a bit of home comfort.
Ireland looked the far fresher side, a more cohesive unit despite effectively being a scratch team.
Ireland's players will hope that Wales' rustiness won't detract from their strong performances in the coach's eye.
Despite their long absences from injury, Donnacha Ryan, Keith Earls and Andrew Trimble all looked primed for action and sharper than their sluggish opponents.
Darren Cave and Jordi Murphy both looked like they had put their summer to good use and are in peak condition after work with Ireland's fitness guru Jason Cowman.
With the majority of front-liners on a later schedule, it allowed the fringe players the perfect opportunity to showcase their skills and give Joe Schmidt a few headaches.
2 - Schmidt is in for some sleepless nights
This will have made for uncomfortable viewing or a number of squad members who have been made to wait for their chance, with Cave, Fergus McFadden and Felix Jones all grasping their chance in the squeezed area of the outside backs.
Then Simon Zebo came on for the try-scoring Andrew Trimble to score one and create another for Jones with a sensational cut-out pass after solid work up the right from McFadden.
Ryan and Jordi Murphy did their cases no harm either up front, although Tommy O'Donnell probably needed more to force his way in ahead of Chris Henry and his injury may make Schmidt's decision straightforward anyway.
The back-three and back-row places are set to go down to the wire, though, and there will need to be a response next week against Scotland from the other contenders.
3 - Ireland's gameplan won't be changing much
For all the talk about the introduction of off-loading to Ireland's attacking game, this was a reminder of Schmidt's side's strengths.
Their kick and chase game was strong, their breakdown selection clever and their ability to mix up the tackle strategy and go for the choke when it was on remains second to none.
With the tight five all expected to travel, perhaps it was no surprise that the set-piece functioned so well, but the defensive lineout was a major plus with Ireland pilfering Wales' ball at crucial moments.
The maul continued to be as destructive a weapon as ever while the defensive aggression created attacking opportunities like Earls' try.
The gameplan has delivered for Schmidt before and there's no reason to make too many alterations.
4 - Jamie Heaslip is an outstanding rugby player
Right, so we knew that already - but Ireland's stand-in captain is sometimes not given the credit for his abilities and when he gives a performance of such dominance it has to be recognised.
For 55 minutes, the No8 gave a masterclass as he became his country's most capped back-row and, after his emotional tribute to the man he surpassed - David Wallace - he did justice to that honour at the Millennium Stadium.
His try got the ball rolling, but it was his all-round game that set him apart as he caused Wales countless problems when he carried the ball and added some classy touches to boot.
5 - The battle to back up Sexton continues
Johnny Sexton was in Cardiff to get a feel for the place ahead of the two World Cup pool games here, but this was Paddy Jackson's chance to stake a claim for the No22 shirt.
He played well with ball in hand and kicked well from hand, but three misses from the tee will haunt him - particularly the sloppy conversion of Heaslip's try.
Ian Madigan could be handed his shot next weekend against Scotland and will fancy his chances of keeping Jackson's challenge at bay if he can demonstrate more reliability with his placed balls.