An injury-time drop goal by Ireland's Ronan O'Gara broke Welsh hearts in a 25-24 thriller at the Millennium Stadium in 2003, writes JEREMY PROOME.
‘It brings a new meaning to the “skin of your teeth,”’ said Ireland centre Brian O’Driscoll, following a game in which Wales had fought back valiantly to snatch the lead, and looked to be in control in the final few minutes.
Wales flyhalf Stephen Jones had slotted a drop goal of his own just a minute before, thinking that he had safely crushed Ireland's hopes of a Grand Slam, but the luck of Irish was yet to kick in.
The game began as frenetically as it finished, with Ireland’s David Humphreys adding some early penalties and Jones scoring a great try in the first 15 minutes.
Geordan Murphy was pivotal in Ireland’s response, as he made a half-break and offloaded to put flanker Keith Gleeson over in the left-hand corner.
Gleeson picked up a second try immediately after the restart when a Welsh kick was charged down.
Despite Wales’ poor start to the second half, Colin Charvis and Rhys Williams helped flanker Martyn Williams to go over for his first try for Wales.
Wales continued to claw their way back with Gareth Thomas stepping his way over and Jones adding the conversion to make it a one-point game at 21-22 to Ireland.
What followed was the dramatic drop-goal duel between Jones and O’Gara, which ended up being one of the most nerve-racking endings in Six Nations history,
Wales (2003) – 15 Rhys Williams, 14 Mark Jones, 13 Mark Taylor, 12 Thomas Shanklin, 11 Gareth Thomas, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Dafydd Jones, 7 Martyn Williams, 6 Colin Charvis, 5 Gareth Llewellyn, 4 Robert Sidoli, 3 Gethin Jenkins, 2 Jonathan Humphreys (c), 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Subs: 16 Mefin Davies, 17 Martyn Madden, 18 Steve Williams, 19 Gavin Thomas, 20 Dwayne Peel, 21 Iestyn Harris, 22 Matthew Watkins.
Ireland (2003) – 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Justin Bishop, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (c), 12 Kevin Maggs, 11 Denis Hickie, 10 David Humphreys, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Anthony Foley, 7 Keith Gleeson, 6 Alan Quinlan, 5 Leo Cullen, 4 Malcom O'Kelly, 3 John Hayes, 2 Shane Byrne, 1 Marcus Horan.
Subs: 16 Frankie Sheahan, 17 Justin Fitzpatrick, 18 Donnacha O'Callaghan, 19 Eric Miller, 20 Guy Easterby, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 John Kelly.
Photo: Ben Radford/Getty Images
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