Ireland 61 Pacific Islanders 17: Wallace display illustrates Ireland's strength in depth

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The Independent Online

Ulster's Paddy Wallace ensured Lansdowne Road was given a victorious send-off with a magnificent display that suggested the search for Ronan O'Gara's Ireland understudy is over. The Munster fly-half has emerged as the key figure in Ireland's charge up the world rankings, but the lack of an alternative following the international retirement of David Humphreys has been a major concern for Ireland's coach, Eddie O'Sullivan.

Wallace indicated there is another option by producing a 26-point haul in which near flawless kicking was matched by composure in attack. He capped an impressive performance with a fully deserved first-half try.

It was the 27-year-old's first Test start and he comfortably outshone the three full debutants, Jamie Heaslip, Luke Fitzgerald and Stephen Ferris. Fitzgerald, who was playing schools rugby six months ago, became the youngest player to represent Ireland since Alistair McKibbin in 1977 but the 19-year-old winger made little impression.

The flanker Simon Easterby ran in a brace of tries and Wallace, Denis Hickie, Malcolm O'Kelly, Shane Horgan, Rory Best and Paul O'Connell also scored as Ireland overcame an impressive start from the Pacific Islanders to run riot.

Redevelopment work is scheduled to begin at Lansdowne Road in January, and this result brought up a clean sweep of victories from the final autumn international programme to be played at the old ground. The only worry to emerge from the demolition job on the field was a second-half injury to Ireland's captain, Brian O'Driscoll: but he was able to walk unaided from the pitch.

Ireland: Tries Hickie, Wallace, O'Kelly, Easterby 2, Horgan, Best, O'Connell; Conversions Wallace 6. Penalties Wallace 3. Pacific Islanders: Tries Rabeni, Fa'atau, Pisi; Conversion Pisi.

Ireland: G Dempsey (Leinster); L Fitzgerald (Leinster), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), S Horgan (Leinster), D Hickie (Leinster); P Wallace (Ulster), P Stringer (Munster); B Young (Ulster), F Sheahan (Munster), J Hayes (Munster), M O'Kelly (Leinster), P O'Connell (Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli Scarlets), S Ferris (Ulster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Replacements: G D'Arcy (Leinster) for Dempsey, 41; R Best (Ulster) for Hayes, 61; R O'Gara (Munster) for Fitzgerald, 77; I Boss (Ulster) for O'Driscoll, 60; D Leamy (Munster) for Heaslip, 73; D O'Callaghan (Munster) for O'Kelly, 73.

Pacific Islanders: N Ligairi (Fiji); L Fa'atau (Samoa), S Rabeni (Fiji), E Seveali'i (Samoa), K Ratuvou (Fiji); T Pisi (Samoa), M Rauluni (Fiji); J Va'a (Samoa), A Lutui (Tonga), T Taumoepeau (Tonga), S Raiwalui (Fiji, capt), D Leo (Samoa), M Molitika (Tonga), N Latu (Tonga), H T-Pole (Tonga). Replacements: A Tuilagi (Samoa) for Fa'atau, 41; S Mapusua (Samoa) for Seveali'i, 37; J Poluleuligaga (Samoa) for Rauluni, 30; A Ratuva (Fiji) for Latu, 59; T Felise (Tonga) for T-Pole, 30.

Referee: C Berdos (France).

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