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Ireland stay on course for successive Grand Slam titles with win over spirited Wales

24 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Wales’ duo Tommy Reffell (left) and Ryan Elias at the final whistle in Dublin. Photo Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ireland kept their quest for successive Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam titles on track, downing  spirited Wales 31-7 in Dublin.

Andy Farrell’s men backed up crushing wins over France and Italy with a third consecutive bonus-point triumph to keep themselves in pole position for further championship glory.

First-half tries from Dan Sheehan and James Lowe paved the way for the reigning champions to equal England’s tournament record of 11 wins in a row.

Fightback

Wales avoided embarrassment at the Aviva Stadium and briefly threatened an improbable fightback thanks to a second-half spell which brought a penalty try and a yellow card for Tadhg Beirne.

But a first Test try for stand-in Ireland full-back Ciaran Frawley broke their resolve before Beirne atoned for his earlier error by securing the bonus point at the death on an afternoon when flawless fly-half Jack Crowley kicked 11 points.

Ireland’s ominous march towards another clean sweep continues next month against England and Scotland, while winless Wales host France in round four ahead of a possible wooden spoon shoot-out with Italy.

A largely inexperienced Wales team crossed the Irish Sea as overwhelming underdogs on the back of narrow defeats to the Scots and Steve Borthwick’s side.

Visiting head coach Warren Gatland insisted he travelled with belief rather than hope and urged his players to make “everything uncomfortable” for the fancied hosts.

Wales’ bid to disrupt began with some colossal defending as the home team’s early dominance was initially rewarded only by a long-range Crowley penalty.

Control

Yet Ireland’s well-oiled machine persisted with wave after wave of attack to break down the staunch resistance and take control of the scoreboard.

Hooker Sheehan powered over at the end of a line-out maul in the 21st minute to claim his fourth try of the tournament before Calvin Nash later teed up Lowe to touch down in the left corner.

Wales finally enjoyed some forays into Ireland’s 22 just before the break.

But Sam Costelow’s decision to kick a penalty to the corner failed to pay off, while a couple of costly fumbles ensured they went into half-time scoreless for a third match on the bounce, at 17-0 down.

Any potential fears Wales had of joining Italy in being nilled in Dublin were extinguished within three minutes of the restart as Tomos Williams’ quick tap penalty led to a momentum shift.

Italian referee Andrea Piardi awarded a penalty try at the end of a lengthy review of a collapsed maul on Ireland’s line, with Beirne sent to the sin bin for illegally changing his bind.

Fired-up Wales were well and truly in the ascendancy at that stage but failed to make further inroads on the scoreboard in Beirne’s absence before Ireland restored order.

After the bulldozing Bundee Aki was denied a try on review for Robbie Henshaw’s knock on, Frawley, deputising for the injured Hugo Keenan, gleefully dived under the posts to celebrate his first Test start in style.

Wales came close to a consolation score in the closing minutes, during which Ireland replacement James Ryan was sent to the sin bin.

Yet, with Beirne’s late finish compounding their misery, they ultimately slipped to a 10th defeat from their last 11 Six Nations fixtures as their wait for a first championship win in Dublin since 2012 goes on.

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Riki
Riki
1 month ago

Spirited? Yes, cause losing by 20 plus points screams spirited!

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

This inexperienced team, containing a player off the bench with only 10 pro games to his name, pushed the No2 team in the world, into giving away a penalty try, and forcing them into having players yellow carded, on their own ground, whilst on a 11 game winning run. Although Cymru lost, this time, we have a great team in the making, and the future is very bright.

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Usual mistakes and aimless kicking again from Wales. I despair at times. At one point we could have been within 3 points behind, score a try and things could have been much different as Ireland look rattled, but we blew it! Wish I knew where to go from here? I know Wales is in a transition state at the moment. And yes those new caps lack experience. But no so the established players who are still making the silly schoolboy errors that have cost Wales dearly. Blame too should also lie with the coaches. Why aren’t they pointing out the… Read more »

Johnny Gamble
Johnny Gamble
1 month ago

Time to do away with Regional Rugby.20 Years of backwards not forwards

Gareth
Gareth
1 month ago

My heart cries to see such negativity towards our young athletes. To all the people who have criticised the national team full of young players, I hope you have all played at a high level and experienced the jump from youth to senior rugby, and club to international level, to be in a place to criticise. The gap is huge. Give them a break. Support our team, not s**g them off. They just lost to the No2 team in the world, and gave their all.

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