Conway shines for Ireland with outstanding display in win over Wales

The 28-year-old impressed as he won his 20th Test cap.

THE FINISH FOR his try was the cherry on top for Andrew Conway after a superb performance on Ireland’s right wing in their bonus-point win over the well-beaten Wales. 

On his 20th cap, Munster man Conway delivered perhaps his best display for Ireland yet on what was an encouraging day for Ireland’s fresh-looking back three in a 24-14 bonus-point victory.

andrew-conway-scores-a-try Conway fends Johnny McNicholl to finish his try. Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

Many people criticised Andy Farrell in recent days for a perceived conservatism in selection but Conway and fullback Larmour are new starters for Ireland in this Six Nations. 

“When you get the ball in our back threes’ hands, something can happen,”  said Johnny Sexton post-match. “They showed that.

“They stuck to the tactics. In terms of when we got on the edge, the temptation is to run but they got us field position at times brilliantly.”

It was indeed notable how Ireland cleverly kicked after they had passed the ball to the edge against the Welsh, with Conway among those to nudge ahead – his clever dink down the right leading to the visitors botching a five-metre lineout. Tadhg Furlong scored after Ireland’s subsequent close-range scrum.

Conway had another delightful kick down the right, cutting across the ball with the outside of his boot to ensure it flew banana-style downfield, relieving pressure on Ireland.

“A kick is only as good as its chase,” said Farrell post-match when asked about Conway. “Andrew was outstanding on both sides of the ball, wasn’t he? 

“We want our wings to go 100% and he defined that. I thought Jacob did the same on the other wing as well. 

“We want to see space and we want to play to space because we’ve got some really exciting backs and we like to give them one-on -nes but I actually think we created some space for them to play into some holes in that first half, which was really pleasing. 

cian-healy-and-andrew-conway Conway shares a joke with Cian Healy. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

“We saw a little bit of counter-attack as well from time to time which is a work in progress for us.”

When there was scope for him to run, Conway made good decisions too. He took his try well, fending Johnny McNicholl after an excellent pass from Larmour put him into space, while there were eight other carries from the right wing as he made three clean breaks in total.

Conway competed well in the air and chased hard when required, delivering the kind of high work-rate that has become the norm from him.

Defensively, Conway impressed too as he made a couple of thumping tackles in off his wing, backing his reads and following through with solid contact in the hit. 

While Conway might not have had too many moments that will make highlight reels in years to come, this was an excellent display from a man who is extremely consistent and durable.

Conway has been crying out for this chance in Ireland’s first-choice team, with many fans feeling it should have arrived during last year’s World Cup in Japan, where the 28-year-old scored three tries but missed out on selection for the quarter-final defeat to New Zealand.

Having not been too heavily involved in last weekend’s win over Scotland in Dublin, the flow of the game denying him much opportunity, any pent-up energy Conway had was expended in impressive fashion today.

Keith Earls came off the bench for Ireland to remind everyone of his class, albeit at outside centre. For now, it looks like it will be very difficult for Farrell to break up his promising back three of Conway, Larmour, and Stockdale.

Most excitingly for Ireland fans, the head coach will feel there is lots more to come from Conway and co.

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