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Dublin: 9°C Monday 8 March 2021
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Liveblog

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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.

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.

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.

Anthems at the moment. No tears as of yet…

1Mins

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

3Mins

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.

7Mins

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.

5Mins

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.

6Mins

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.

9Mins

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.

9Mins

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

10Mins

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.

13Mins

Another penalty to Ireland, Sexton to kick.

15Mins

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

12Mins

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.

19Mins

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.

17Mins

Second scrum to come now. This will be interesting …

21Mins

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

19Mins

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.

20Mins

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

24Mins

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.

25Mins

Ireland with a lineout in a great position.

25Mins

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

26Mins

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

Looks like a 5m scrum coming up.

26Mins

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

29Mins

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.

31Mins

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

33Mins

Good kick from the substitute, Wales really needed that.

31Mins

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

34Mins

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.

36Mins

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.

39Mins

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.

42Mins

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

42Mins

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

48Mins

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.

49Mins

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

52Mins

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.

50Mins

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

55Mins

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.

57Mins

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.

54Mins

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

60Mins

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.

59Mins

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.

62Mins

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

62Mins

Bradley Davies is on for Luke Charteris.

62Mins

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

65Mins

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.

70Mins

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

73Mins

Ireland 13 Wales 16 (Priestland pen ’73)

72Mins

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.

74Mins

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

75Mins

All square with five minutes to go. Me nerves…

73Mins

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.

79Mins

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

77Mins

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

80Mins

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

What a game.

78Mins

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

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.

About the author:

Alan Waldron

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