Ireland took advantage of an unusually error-strewn performance from Wales to claim a 24-14 bonus-point victory in Dublin on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
It was a largely dominant performance from the home side, who were able to claim all five points after a clinical showing on attack.
Wales, meanwhile, will be disappointed as after a comfortable win over Italy in the first round, they struggled to match Ireland’s intensity.
Ireland dominated possession and territory in the opening 15 minutes, with most of the game being played just outside the Welsh 22. To Wales’ credit, they defended resolutely, being forced to make over 50 tackles during this time, but winning the breakdown battle, with Justin Tipuric, in particular, outstanding in this regard.
It was, however two rare errors that gifted Ireland their two first-half tries. First, Jordan Larmour got the ball with seemingly nothing on, but he broke through a weak tackle from centre Nick Tompkins and showed his strength to power over the line for the opening try.
After Wales momentarily took the lead through a converted score from Tomos Williams, the scrumhalf fumbled the ball giving Ireland a 5m scrum. The home side worked the ball through their forwards and eventually Tadhg Furlong busted over to put them 12-7 ahead at the break.
Ireland probably should have been further ahead, given their dominance, but wasted no time extending their lead with the wind against them in the second half. A clever short lineout had flank Josh van der Flier scoring from a maul.
Wales worked their way back into the game and camped in Ireland’s 22 for 10 minutes. However, they wasted their opportunities as Hadleigh Parkes lost the ball over the tryline, before a 5m scrum penalty allowed a release of pressure.
Ireland – Tries: Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier, Andrew Conway. Conversions: Jonathan Sexton (2).
Wales – Try: Tomos Williams, Justin Tipuric. Conversion: Dan Biggar, Leigh Halfpenny.
Ireland – 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Cain Healy.
Subs: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Max Deegan, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Keith Earls.
Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Subs: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Johnny McNicholl.
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Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images