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Six Nations: Frustration for Ulster stars as Ireland draw

By Michael Sadlier

You couldn't shake off that overwhelming feeling of disappointment after honours ended even.

Yes, Ireland had been expected to lose this opener but after going 13-0 in front they failed to close the deal and even contrived to lose the lead before Jonathan Sexton's late penalty.

Still, that sense of frustration permeated the performances of Ireland's Ulster trio. Yes, there was some good stuff, particularly from Jared Payne and Andrew Trimble during their defensive shifts, but the latter's casual turn for Justin Tipuric's late first-half chip - he maybe thought Simon Zebo was sweeping - wasn't pleasing.

It was even more unfortunate that particular play put Ireland under the pump and ultimately led to Toby Faletau's score, shaving a 13-3 lead down to 13-10.

And yet Trimble - having missed out on the World Cup - did so much that was noteworthy with his early hit on Alun-Wyn Jones shaking the iconic Welsh lock to his very core.

Then at the end, as Wales surged forward in the crazy closing minutes - as both sides threw everything at avoiding the draw - there was Trimble in support of Payne to wrap up Liam Williams and produce a critical choke tackle.

It was a hard day at the office in terms of going forward and Ireland's best attack, which came four minutes after the hour, propelled Sexton through a gap with his left to right pass out to Trimble offering a chink of light for a score only for the winger to receive the ball and Tom James at the same time.

And what of Payne? His first game back in green since his injury at the World Cup was mostly about putting red shirts to the deck, and hitting rucks, while he just couldn't wriggle free enough to enjoy some good running lines off Robbie Henshaw.

Skipper Rory Best too put in a massive shift with his game holding up under the pressure of leadership.

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