James Crombie/INPHO

As it happened: Ireland v Wales, Six Nations

Joe Schmidt’s side get their campaign under way at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The January blues are long forgotten and the sporting year has finally begun in earnest.

Six Nations — it mightn’t be the prettiest of competitions but that’s why we love it, as TV3′s Tommy Martin summed up in his column on Friday.

If you hadn’t yet heard, there’s been a late change to the Wales side with Gareth Anscombe a late withdrawal through injury. Liam Williams, who had travelled to Dublin as a reserve, goes straight into the team.

How are the nerves?

I also caught up with former Wales captain Ryan Jones ahead of today’s game. And he told us all about his thoughts on the rivalry between Ireland and Wales and how much he misses the game.

Top man too, it must be said.

We have Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell on site at the Aviva today so you won’t be short on coverage.



Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO


James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

RTE’s coverage has really gone up a notch. Some excellent pre-match analysis from Ronan O’Gara, Shane Horgan, Eddie O’Sullivan and Conor O’Shea.

That’s how Murray sees it panning out. What way do you see it going?

A battle of kickers today? How will CJ Stander fare on his debut? Tommy O’Donnell at 7, Zebo at fullback — are they up to Test level? So many questions.

We’ll find out the answers soon enough.

Predictions? Get them in or forever hold your peace, as they say.

Five minutes to go, Michael D is on greeting the lads.

The weather has taken a bit of a turn. It wasn’t going to be pretty rugby anyway was it?

It all feels a little bit flatter than I expected.

What a place…

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Anthems at the moment. No tears as of yet…

Early scrum for Ireland in Wales territory after a knock-on.

Ireland have started well. Sexton and Zebo have both made good carries. Ireland’s breakdown work has been very solid, cleaning out very well.

Don’t mind what Ryle says, that Irish bench is not experienced at all, bar Donnacha Ryan.

And we’re under way at the Aviva. Come on lads.

Dan Biggar with a great kick and chase. Wales in Ireland territory now and making metres with ease.

CJ Stander has been heavily involved so far.

Great stuff from Ireland. Recycling the ball so well. Wales might have turnover specialists in the side but the clean-out has been excellent. Seventeen phases of possession is rewarded with a penalty for offside. Sexton to kick at goal.

Ireland 3 Wales 0

Sexton makes no mistake from just inside the Wales 22, not too far from where he missed that kick against New Zealand….that still hurts.

They mightn’t have a defence coach but so far the Irish defence has looked pretty solid. Keeping Wales at bay here. Great game so far, very little errors from both sides.

Ireland’s diligence is rewarded with a turnover. Great start to this. Ireland now back in Wales territory.

Andrew Trimble with a smashing tackle on Alun Wyn Jones in the build-up to that turnover. Great to see him back in green after he missed out on the World Cup.

Another penalty to Ireland, Sexton to kick.

Ireland 6 Wales 0 (Sexton pen, ’14)

Another great hit from Trimble. Wales back in Ireland territory now. This is why we love this competition. Gripping stuff.

Good, quick ball from Ireland. They’re taking the ball at speed. The lineout has been solid but the scrum looks like a concern.

After watching yesterday’s muck, this isn’t closely related. It’s been excellent.

Stander has been excellent, six carries in 12 minutes. Wow.

But he misses from out on the right. His ankle is very heavily strapped, outside of his boot for some reason. Good news for Ireland to be fair.

Second scrum to come now. This will be interesting …

Great stuff from Robbie Henshaw, his breakdown work wins a penalty for holding on. Ireland now with a penalty in their 22.

That’s two from two for Wales — Ireland are struggling in the scrum and Wales earn a penalty. Dan Biggar, who seems to be struggling with an ankle issue, will kick at goal.

Rhys Priestland on for Biggar.

Silly mistake from Zebo as he kicks out on the full. Biggar is really struggling at the moment.

Another great passage of play from Ireland. I’m sorry for doubting you lads.

Tommy O’Donnell has been excellent too. Wales look a bit shook – Ireland need to go for the jugular now.

Ireland with a lineout in a great position.

Going to the TMO for a try call now. Hard to see if it was or not, a lot of bodies in the way.

Impossible to see, even with the all the camera angles.

Looks like a 5m scrum coming up.

Ireland 13 Wales 0 (Murray try, Sexton con)

Get your money on Stander to be named man of the match now. Bloody nose, smashing start and all on his debut.

Great stuff from Ireland — they make the dominance count and they pull out their best scrum of the day. They recycle it well and a beautiful Murray dummy gets him enough room to touch down. Sexton adds the extras.

This is as good a performance as I’ve seen from Ireland in a long time.

Wales haven’t been that bad, Ireland have just been much better.

Ireland 13 Wales 3 (Priestland pen, ’32)

Good kick from the substitute, Wales really needed that.

Penalty to Wales for an Earls tackle on Williams. The Wales fullback landed awkwardly, probably a fair call. Priestland to kick at goal.

Great kick from Davies forces Trimble to carry into his own dead ball area. Zebo’s positioning looked poor there. 5m scrum to come for Wales.

Penalty to Wales after Liam Williams spills Priestland’s cross-field kick. We’ll take that.

Ireland’s scrum has been the main concern so far. The rest of their game has been pretty solid. Wales opt for another scrum on the 5m line.

Ireland 13 Wales 10 (Faletau try, Priestland con)

HT: Ireland 13 Wales 10

Disappointing from Ireland to concede but Faletau did very well to get that down. Wales are right back in this, somehow.

Wales are right back in this after a productive spell just before the break. But if Ireland can continue with the same tempo and accuracy in the second half they won’t be beaten.

The scrum has been the main cause for concern, aside from that though it’s hard to fault too much from that first half.

O’Donnell, Stander and Trimble have stood out particularly.

We’re back under way for the second half.

Wales on top early doors. They’re recycling it well.

Wales get frustrated and Priestland sends a drop-goal attempt wide.

Rory Best is pinged at the breakdown for not supporting his body weight. Priestland makes no mistake — he has been good since his introduction.

He’s got history against Ireland too, he was outstanding for the Welsh in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final in Wellington.

Ireland 13 Wales 13 (Priestland pen ’45)

Better from Ireland. And they have themselves some decent territory with a lineout on the Wales 22.

Much better scrum from Ireland, keeps Wales pinned back. Another great passage of attacking play for Ireland goes unrewarded though with some messy breakdown work.

Simon Zebo’s break laid the platform for that. Ireland need to make this dominance count.

Ireland looking very narrow in attack and a handling error earns Wales a scrum. Cracking game all the same.

Ireland are still recycling well and taking the ball at speed but their handling is starting to let them down. They’re all over Wales at the moment but a dropped pass from Zebo gives the visitors some respite.

Rhys Ruddock also came on for O’Donnell by the way, that got lost in all the excitement – my apologies. O’Donnell suffered a head injury and won’t be returning to the field.

Gethin Jenkins on at loosehead for Wales for his 120th cap.

In better news, the Irish scrum has really starting to fire.

Ireland are not letting Wales get back into this but desperately need points. Fast.

This is turning into an epic battle.

Some massive hits going in from both sides. Jamie Heaslip is coming into this a bit more. But so is Jamie Roberts. And the latter forces a knock-on with a monstrous hit on Robbie Henshaw.

Gripping test rugby this, but the errors are starting to creep in.

Bradley Davies is on for Luke Charteris.

Furlong on for White and Donncha Ryan on for Mike McCarthy.

Great break from Sexton and he finds Trimble with a great wide ball. But the Ulsterman is tackled well by James. Excellent read by the Welsh winger.

Wales are getting back into this. Still all square, just over 10 minutes to go. This is when the winners stand up.

James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland 13 Wales 16 (Priestland pen ’73)

This is bruising stuff. Wales are struggling to make any gains and Ireland are just tagging on the hits.

But Ireland are eventually pinged for not rolling away and Priestland has a kick to put the visitors in front.

Penalty for Ireland for offside. Sexton now has a chance to level it up from the 10m line.

All square with five minutes to go. Me nerves…

Great kick from Priestland, amazing to think he gets so much stick from Welsh fans. His kicking game, on the back of very little club rugby, has been stunning.

Madigan on for Sexton, who does not look well at all.

Ireland 16 Wales 16 (Sexton pen ’75)

Stander named man of the match, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gareth Bale is impressed anyway. He used to play football with Sam Warburton would you believe.

Wales with possession but Payne pulls out a great choke tackle and Ireland earn a scrum on their 10m line.

What a game.

Priestland with a drop-goal attempt but it sails well wide. Squeaky-bum time. Two minutes to go.

FT: Ireland 16 Wales 16

What a game of rugby. Ireland try to force a win but can’t make the yards. And after a nervy few minutes it finishes all square.

Ireland were probably the better team but Wales hung in there well.

Thanks for joining us for today’s liveblog, that was test rugby at its best.

Report and reaction to follow.

Over and out.

Williams in at fullback for Wales as Anscombe is ruled out

Irishman Rochford learning the ropes with Lazio in Italy’s top league



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