CJ Stander announces himself on the international stage as Ireland draw
The naturalized South African was awarded Man of the Match18:00 Sunday 7 February 2016, 18:00 7 Feb 2016
It may not have been a winning debut for Stander, but it was certainly one he won't be forgetting any time soon.
The somewhat anti-climatic feeling that generally follows a drawn game was drowned out by an air of excitement surrounding Ireland's latest international.
With 23 carries, making 40 metres, 11 tackles and an unmatched work-rate across the 80 minutes, CJ Stander has certainly left his mark on test level rugby.
Stander put in a barnstorming performance after belting out a passionate rendition of Amhran Na bhFiann. Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.
At provincial level, Stander picked up Man of the Match accolades for fun with performances like these, and again his brilliance was recognised today, scooping up the award on his first cap.
Perhaps the biggest compliment that could be paid to Stander's performance was that he didn't look an inch out of place among Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau and Justin Tipuric, the much vaunted Welsh backrow.
Stander was at the centre of Ireland's early dominance and he was unfortunate not to get on the scoresheet with Tipuric holding him up over the line, but in the grand scheme of things it mattered little.
Shortly after the resulting scrum, Conor Murray crossed for the game's opening try with Johnny Sexton making it three out of three from the tee, opening up an early 13 point lead.
For all the control Ireland exerted in the opening half, they went in at the break just three ahead following a Rhys Priestland penalty after Keith Earls was adjudged to have tipped Liam Williams in the tackle.
Match stats provided by Accenture
Lots of the pre-match talk revolved around the scrum, and rightly so, as Wales profited from their superiority to touch down through the impressive Toby Faletau after a number of penalties and resets.
Priestland, who replaced the injured Dan Biggar in the first half, leveled the scores with an early second period penalty.
Ireland began to dictate play once more, but resolute defending from the Welsh inside their own 22' repelled what the hosts had to throw at them before it was their turn to attack.
However, defense was the order of the day with Ireland returning the favour and holding out for an incredible passage of play that lasted 28 phases along their 22', before shooting themselves in the foot by failing to secure the turnover and then conceding a penalty.
28 phases of huge Ireland defence, win the turnover and don't seal the deal. #IRLvWAL— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) February 7, 2016
Priestland slotted the three and gave Wales the lead for the first tim,e but Sexton was afforded the opportunity to level immediately after as the Welsh forwards failed to retreat 10 yards from a Gareth Davies box kick.
The Leinster out-half duly obliged and that was to be the end of the scoring, with Priestland failing to convert a drop goal attempt late on.
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