Six Nations: Ireland v Wales

The 2018 Championship gets serious as Joe Schmidt's Grand Slam chasers take on a rejuvenated Wales

Patrick Madden Sat, Feb 24
LIVE: Six Nations: Ireland v Wales

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of Ireland's crunch Six Nations clash against Wales at the Aviva Stadium (2.15).

    After a weekend to recharge the batteries, today things get really serious.

    Joe Schmidt's Grand Slam chasers are two wins from two - but this is the first real test of their Championship credentials.

    Warren Gatland's side came into this year's tournament with a cast of their super stars missing through injury.

    Despite this they thrashed Scotland in their opener before pushing England all the way at Twickenham - and today they welcome back some of their absent Dragons, including the electric Liam Williams.

    Championship wins are forged on afternoons like this - pass this acid test, and Ireland will feel the Six Nations is their's for the taking.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action from Dublin, followed by the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield (4.45).

    A brutal, brilliant afternoon lies in wait.

    Come on!!!

  • TEAMS:

    Ireland: R Kearney; K Earls, C Farrell, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, A Porter; James Ryan, D Toner; P O’Mahony, D Leavy, CJ Stander. Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, John Ryan, Q Roux, J Conan, K Marmion, J Carbery, F McFadden.

    Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Scarlets); Liam Williams (Saracens), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Hadleigh Parkes (Scarlets), Steff Evans (Scarlets); Dan Biggar (Ospreys), Gareth Davies (Scarlets); Rob Evans (Scarlets), Ken Owens (Scarlets), Samson Lee (Scarlets); Cory Hill (Dragons), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys capt); Aaron Shingler (Scarlets), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues), Ross Moriarty (Gloucester). Replacements: Elliot Dee (Dragons), Wyn Jones (Scarlets), Thomas Francis (Exeter Chiefs), Bradley Davies (Ospreys), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Aled Davies (Scarlets), Gareth Anscombe (Blues), George North (Northampton).

  • Today is a big day for Chris Farrell, who starts at 13 in the absence of the injured Robbie Henshaw.

    Gerry Thornley has looked at his circuitous route to the top HERE.

    While Matt Williams has suggested the Munster midfielder needs to be "a stinky Roquefort to Bundee Aki’s silky Shiraz." You can read his column HERE.

  • If today's game is anything like last night's Under-20s game then we are in for a treat. The young Dragons edged a thriller 41-38 at Donnybrook.
  • Good news from Joe Schmidt - Johnny Sexton is "100 per cent fit," despite rumours after yesterday's Captain's Run suggesting the contrary.
  • 30 mins until kick-off!
  • Wales came into this year's tournament with a staggering injury list, and Gatland's woes were compounded when Leigh Halfpenny was forced out of their second round trip to Twickenham.

    However, their stocks are replenished today. Halfpenny returns to the back three along with Liam Williams - one of the standout players on the Lions tour to New Zealand - while Dan Biggar will pull the strings at outhalf.

    Given Ireland are now without Henshaw and Tadhg Furlong - along with longer term absentee Sean O'Brien - these two XVs look far more well matched than they would have been at the start of the Championship.

  • Warren Gatland takes charge of Wales for the 100th time this afternoon. Not a bad innings at all.
  • And there would be no better way for Gatland to celebrate that milestone than to stop Ireland's Grand Slam charge this afternoon. It will be fascinating to see if Wales play with the same attacking spirit they have shown in their opening two games, or revert to a bit of Warrenball.
  • The teams are in the tunnel in Dublin. The sun is shining and it looks perfect for some running rugby.

    How are the nerves?

  • Fireworks signal the end of the anthems. This is going to be a stormer.

    Here we go.

  • Dan Biggar has the ball in hand. Glen Jackson puts whistle to mouth.

    We're underway!

  • 1 min: Stockdale fields the kick and clears, great kick chase from Farrell who smashes Halfpenny. Wales retain the ball and Biggar switches play with a crossfield kick towards Steff Evans - Aki was just offside as he picked up the loose ball.

    Halfpenny will go for goal with the penalty, it's wide on the left and just outside the 10. Brilliant kick.


  • 3 min: Cute restart from Sexton and Farrell wins it well in the air. Ryan carries hard and Rob Evans gets pinged for not releasing his man.

    Chance for Ireland to strike straight back - Sexton with the penalty from inside the Welsh 10 - but he hits the post!

  • 5 min: Poor strike from Sexton but he is reprieved as Wales look to play from deep and Scott Williams throws a pass miles forward. Good set piece opportunity for the hosts.
  • 6 min: First test for Porter and he holds firm. Murray picks and throws a flat ball to Farrell who carries hard. Ireland camped on the Welsh five - Leavy nearly sniping in at the fringe.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!!!!!
  • Ireland get quick ball and Sexton throws a stunning pass to Stockdale on the left wing, and the Ulster man dives over for his seventh try in as many Tests.

    Sexton with the touchline conversion - just fades wide.


  • 8 min: Maybe Sexton meant to hit the upright with that penalty?.. Wales back in possession on halfway and carrying hard but the Irish defence is ferocious. Toner is up quickly to smash Rob Evans and win his side a penalty. Sexton finds a good touch.
  • 10 min: Best hits Toner in the lineout and Ireland set the maul, grinding towards the Welsh five. Eventually they move it but Aki overruns and can't hold onto Murray's flat ball.
  • 11 min: The scrum is a bit messy but eventually Gareth Davies gets it back to Biggar who finds a good touch. The frontrow isn't a place for the faint-hearted today.
  • 12 min: Sexton sends up a tester off the resulting lineout but Steff Evans calls the mark and finds touch.
  • 13 min: Ireland getting quick ball in midfield. Sexton brings Earls into play with an inside pass but the ball goes loose on the deck. But then O'Mahony locks in on the floor and earns his side a penalty from nothing.

    Sexton will go for goal from inside the Welsh 10 - but he's pushed it wide again! That's three misses from three.

  • 15 min: Great kick in behind Wales from Sexton - at least he's in the groove out of hand.
  • 16 min: Farrell has started well and he makes a booming carry up to the Welsh 22. Ireland getting quick ball but they are fairly predictable, running straight, hard lines. Miscommunication between Sexton and Kearney and Wales turn it over before Scott Williams kicks deep into the Irish 22.
  • 18 min: Lovely from Ireland, they win the lineout and look to use it, Sexton working a loop with Aki and then breaking himself form within the 22. Ireland keep on the front foot and make another break as Sexton releases Stander on his inside.  
  • 19 min: Ireland up to 13 phases and are into the Welsh 22 but the ball goes loose and the visitors clear. Earls returns the kick but hands Wales a lineout deep in Irish territory.
  • TRY WALES!!!!!!!
  • Wales' first real attacking platform and they make it count. Slick ball off the top and they work inside, the rangey Shingler making a huge carry and turning the Irish defence. The offload goes loose but Gareth Davies picks it up and scampers to the right with men over before sniping through and over the line.

    Halfpenny converts.

    22 MIN: IRELAND 5 WALES 10

  • 23 min: Wales kick crossfield and Stockdale nearly intercepts but can't hold on. Kicks are traded before Kearney finds touch, where Ireland are gifted a scrum after Owens gets pinged for a dummy throw.
  • 25 min: Another booming carry up the middle from Farrell. Sexton and Aki get done for crossing at the next phase, just inside the Welsh half.

    Halfpenny will go for the posts - it's a huge kick but it's bang central. He doesn't have the legs, just fades wide and short.

    27 MIN: IRELAND 5 WALES 10

  • 28 min: Steff Evans cuts in off his right wing and straight into Leavy, who wraps him up and earns his side a penalty. Sexton finds touch.
  • 29 min: Alun Wyn Jones steals the lineout - only the second one Ireland have lost all Championship. Biggar sends one up and wins it in the air ahead of Kearney, but then the ball goes loose on the floor. He reckons it was kicked out of his hands, and the replay shows he's right.

    Welsh penalty on the 10-metre, just to the right of the posts. Good kick.

    30 MIN: IRELAND 5 WALES 13

  • 32 min: Sexotn's restart goes straight to Liam Williams who finds an excellent touch tight up the left.
  • 33 min: Neat hands form Ireland and Earls makes a break through a forest of bodies on the right. he runs out of support so has to check his run but Ireland retain the ball and recycle it quickly.

    Wales slow it down but Ireland engineer space on the left and Stockdale does well to keep the ball alive with an offload to Kearney.

  • 34 min: Ireland in the ascendancy getting quick ball inside the Welsh 22 with a penalty advantage. Farrell makes another booming carry to get his side inside the Welsh five, before Ireland try and hammer their way over under the posts.

    Eventually dogged Welsh defence slows it down and Jackson brings it back for the penalty, which Sexton knocks over from under the shadow of the sticks.

    35 MIN: IRELAND 8 WALES 13

  • 37 min: Stockdale solid under the restart and then another high ball a few phases later. Murray tries a trademark snipe down the short side but doesn't have much room to work with.
  • 38 min: Another great take in the air from Stockdale. Ireland work it infield to the right and Aki puts his head down and makes a big carry. Ireland in possession just inside their own half - another score before the break would really change the complexion of the half.

    Patient play from Ireland and Shingler concedes a penalty on halfway. Sexton finds touch inside the 22.

  • 39 min: Best hits Toner and then Leavy peels off and carries deeper into the 22. Ireland in possession under the sticks, Farrell making another good carry before Sexton plays in Healy with a cute pass. 10 phases and counting.
  • 40 min: Sexton carries up to the five-metre and is nearly wrapped up but good support sees Ireland awarded a penalty. They opt to keep it short and tight, the forwards hammering away at the Welsh line.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!!!!!!
  • Patient, powerful passage from Ireland. They have men over and Murray finds Aki, who darts back inside and ducks under one tackle before reaching out and touching down. What a player he is.

    Sexton converts - and from nowehere, Ireland have a half time lead.

    42 MIN: IRELAND 15 WALES 13

  • The teams are back for what promises to be a mammoth second half.

    Sexton gets us back underway!

  • 41 min: Wales gather the restart and run a few short phases before Davies clears from the base to Kearney, who runs it back at Wales. Ireland in possession on the Welsh 10.
  • 42 min: After a few phases Murray opts for a chip in behind Halfpenny but he has bags of time to steady himself and clear. His kick goes to Kearney who tries an audacious dropgoal from halfway but makes a hash of it.
  • 43 min: Great recovery from Farrell after an Aki pass goes loose. Ireland building through the phases but making very little ground in the face of stern Welsh defence. Eventually it's kicked and Biggar who feels he is taken out in the air.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!!
  • What a huge passage of play from the hosts. Ireland work it across the pitch and Kearney releases Earls who is just tackled but gets an offload away to Murray who does well to hold on. The forwards pile in and run a series of short, sharp phases before Leavy worms his way over under the posts.

    Sexton converts.

    47 MIN: IRELAND 22 WALES 13

  • 48 min: Lovely combination play on the left between O'Mahony and Aki. Sexton opts for the crossfield kick to Earls, who can't quite claim it above Steff Evans. The ball is into touch and Ireland have a lineout inside the Welsh 22.
  • 50 MIN: IRELAND 22 WALES 13
  • 50 min: Ireland set the maul which creaks up to the Welsh five where Samson Lee comes in from the side. Sexton nudges the ball into the corner, Ireland going for the throat.
  • 51 min: Ireland lose the lineout but the ball drops for Moriarty, who can't muscle his way out on the ingoal and is quickly swamped - five-metre scrum for Ireland.
  • 53 min: Ireland's scrum holds firm and Stander finds Murray on the short side - excellent tackle from Halfpenny.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!
  • Irish numbers flood the short side and Healy picks and burrows his way over the line. Great strength - bonus point up for the hosts.  

    Sexton's kick fades past on the right again.

    56 MIN: IRELAND 27 WALES 13

  • 57 min: Welsh scrum on the Irish 10, Gareth Davies runs straight into trouble. Slow ball for Wales and Sexton turns it over, Murray releasing Earls with what looked like a forward pass. He kicks ahead and shows brilliant speed to get there first and hack it on, but the bounce of the ball is against him and Scott Williams touches down.

    Still, all the momentum seems to be with Ireland at the moment.

  • 60 MIN: IRELAND 27 WALES 13
  • 60 min: First glimpse for Wales, who have men over and work it through the hands to Halfpenny who is expertly wrapped up by the covering Farrell. Miserly defence from Ireland and Moriarty is turned over on the left.
  • TRY WALES!!!!!!!
  • Excellent boxkick from Davies and claim from Biggar. Wales move it left and release Steff Evans, he is well tackled by Earls but offloads brilliantly to Liam Williams. Clinical from the Welsh, they move it well in midfield, Alun Wyn Jones popping to Parkes who sweeps a big ball out to Navidi. Navidi draws his man and releases Shingler on the right who cruises over to score.

    Halfpenny nails a brilliant conversion.

    65 MIN: IRELAND 27 WALES 20

  • 66 min: George North is on for Wales. Ireland looking to build in midfield until Murray boxkicks and it goes loose off new man McFadden. Andrew Porter's race is also run - replaced by John Ryan. He's performed admirably.
  • 67 min: Irish lineout just inside the Welsh 10 and they work the maul inside before Murray pops off to McFadden. Ireland recycling the ball at a good speed but they're fairly narrow.
  • 68 min: Patient again from Ireland and Farrell makes a good carry but the ball is stripped by Scott Williams. It was done so illegally though, Irish penalty. Sexton will go for goal.

    No he won't! He taps instead and darts towards the corner. Support is in quickly but the Welsh defence is good and the ball goes forward. There's a break in play as Murray gets some attention - he got his leg caught under a ruck - but thankfully he's going to walk it off.

  • 70 MIN: IRELAND 27 WALES 20
  • 70 min: Not sure about that decision from Sexton, that was a good chance to extend the lead to 10. Solid Welsh scrum and Davies sneaks round the fringes before being wrapped up. Wales move it left and it's cleared up the left where it bounces nicely for Kearney, who then runs into trouble and sees his pass to McFadden knocked on.
  • Huge 10 minutes coming up.
  • 71 min: Anscombe on for Wales now. Solid scrum and they move it right to North, who stands up Kearney and beats him on the outside. Kearney recovers well though and at the next phase Davies knocks the ball on off his bootlaces. Irish scrum just outside of their 22.
  • 73 MIN: IRELAND 27 WALES 20
  • 73 min: Murray finds Stockdale on the short side who looks isolated for a moment but delivers the ball back well. Murray boxkicks down the line and Halfpenny claims it excellently but loses it on his way down. Loose ball and Parkes spins a very risky pass to   Scott Williams. He's wrapped up by Farrell - but the Irish centre then knocks on.
  • 75 min: Scrum penalty Ireland!!!

    It's inbetween the Welsh 22 and 10, towards the touchline - and Conor Murray is going to take it. Strikes it well. . .   in off the post!!!

    76 MIN: IRELAND 30 WALES 20

  • 77 min: Wales win the ball straight from the restart.
  • TRY WALES!!!!!!!!!!!
  • What a response. Wales win it straight bak and move it right to North who rumbles up the 22. Wales secure it well and move it back left. Stunning pass out of the tackle from Scott Williams to Navidi, Navidi straightens up and draws his man, finding Steff Evans who scoots in to score.

    Halfpenny nails the converison.

    79 MIN: IRELAND 30 WALES 27

  • 79 min: Ireland concede a penalty on the Welsh 22 - Anscombe sends it to touch on the halfway line.  

    Farrell named man of the match.

  • 80 min: Wales get good ball of the top and are attacking from the Irish 10.
  • TRY IRELAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Wales swing it wide right in an attempt to get on the outside and Stockdale picks off a pass, cruising in to score under the posts.

    Carbery converts.

    81 MIN: IRELAND 37 WALES 27

  • What a game.
  • Right, thanks for joining. Gerry Thornley's match report will be live on the Irish Times website shortly - although I think he deserves a bit of extra time to try and summarise the madness of that second half.

    I'm off to cover England against Scotland - see you there in 10 mins!