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Tries for Henry and Jackson crown the day


Brought down: Andrew Trimble is tackled by Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts

Brought down: Andrew Trimble is tackled by Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts

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Brought down: Andrew Trimble is tackled by Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts

It had, as Joe Schmidt happened to mention, been a "good day for the guys from the North to shine".

Rory Best and Andrew Trimble had been immense while the hard grafting of Chris Henry in knocking Welshmen down and shoring up the defensive effort had also been top drawer with the flanker even being rewarded with his first Irish try on his 11th appearance.

And then there was Paddy Jackson whose late appearance off the bench also resulted in his first try in a green shirt, though all of this was somewhat tempered by the fears that Dan Tuohy – who, like Jackson, came off the bench in the second half – could be out of the rest of the tournament and potentially miss Ulster's Heineken Cup quarter-final with Saracens if, as feared, he has suffered a fractured forearm.

But back to the positives. Trimble repaid the faith that Schmidt has shown in him in spades on Saturday. He was a bundle of energy whether in chasing high kicks or fielding the bombs that were consistently hit his way, presumably in the belief that he might be a bit wobbly under an aerial barrage.

Trimble was, though, sound and secure and one first half break, where he side-stepped two defenders, was typical of his work and hunger to make an impression which saw him credited with having made 63 metres running with the ball, the second best performer in this area after Rob Kearney, who made 79.

He wasn't alone. Best brought his A-game as well. Just after the second-half got under way we were presented with a wonderful vignette of his willpower to succeed.

In the first minute, he and Jonathan Sexton lined up Richard Hibbard and it was Best who made the turnover – doubtless enjoying the moment when he too sought redemption from last summer's Lions tour.

Then, over the next couple of minutes, the hooker seemed everywhere, with a charge down being quickly followed by a strong carry into contact. As with Trimble, Best's energy was typically phenomenal.

And defensively is where Henry (pictured with Gordon D'Arcy) excelled. He made 11 tackles and was at the epicentre of this win, doing what he does best by offering close-in support or wrapping up red jerseys.

The 29-year-old even got that first try as the Irish maul trundled over the line, which was followed in the last minute by the energetic Jackson also getting his taste of glory which saw him hit late by a rather annoyed Liam Williams.

Afterwards, Schmidt talked of fines for these first scores, but neither will mind as the progress continues.

Belfast Telegraph