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Andrew Trimble back on track after his nightmare year

By Michael Sadlier

In a game cluttered with tries and line breaks, Andrew Trimble's demolition of Eli Walker was still one of the stand-out moments.

Playing his first game in nearly a year, Trimble hit his opposite number with such pile-driving venom that not only did the Welshman go backwards at a staggering rate of knots, but the ball sprang free allowing Keith Earls to collect and set off for the try-line to score Ireland's third of the day.

Though he limped off shortly afterwards with what we were assured was a minor foot strain - Ireland coach Joe Schmidt also revealed that the winger was only scheduled to do 40 minutes anyway - Trimble had set out his credentials for inclusion in the final 31-man squad.

Whether he just has too much ground to make up, with so many vying for the wing slots, while also having so little time to prove his worth, remains to be seen but we do, at least, know that Schmidt is a fan.

Trimble was busy over the 34 minutes that he was on the field but will surely need another outing before the final squad is revealed at the end of the month.

Elsewhere, Darren Cave needed to impress and did so at inside centre with a try - an all too easy canter-in from a close range angled run - and much quality work alongside Earls.

Paddy Jackson and Iain Henderson were Ulster's other two starters and though Henderson - at second row - was quiet by his usual standards he has versatility while Schmidt's likes him around as an impact player.

As for Jackson, the out-half will probably not have been best pleased with his strike rate from the tee - he did kick 10 points but missed three conversions - and he didn't probably have the impact with his tactical kicking and ball in hand work that he would have wanted on a rare return to the green shirt.

The bench saw Rory Best, Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy all involved. Best was on twice thanks to Richardt Strauss's time in the concussion bin and Ireland's first choice hooker made his usual impact with one notable turnover.

Best's starting spot shouldn't be under any threat and should Tommy O'Donnell miss out due to injury then Henry has one less rival around as he presumably battles with the nailed-on starter at seven a certain Sean O'Brien.

As for Tuohy, the emergence of Donnacha Ryan from his lengthy time out with injury may spell the end of his dream to be part of Schmidt's final squad.

Belfast Telegraph


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