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13-point lead not enough for Ireland as Wales scrap back to force a draw

It’s the first time in Championship history that the sides have shared the spoils.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland 16

Wales 16

Sean Farrell reports from Aviva Stadium

IRELAND AND WALES played out the first ever draw between the sides in the competition now known as the Six Nations Championships and both sides will leave the Aviva Stadium disappointed today.

In a intensely physical contest, Ireland set the early tone with brutal tackles in a defensive effort that laid the foundation for a 13-point lead built with excellent Jonathan Sexton goal-kicking and a Conor Murray try.

Wales, however, would not allow themselves to slip out of sight and a powerful effort from their scrum tilted the balance away from Ireland before half-time and the game was still on a knife-edge in the final minutes.

After replacement out-half Rhys Priestland missed a hasty drop-goal opportunity three minutes from time, Ireland went through a set of nerve-wracking phases in their own half in an effort to win the game. After Jared Payne chipped ahead, Wales followed suit, but a rare knock-on in the game brought a tense afternoon to a close.

An excellent line from Simon Zebo on Ireland’s first attack brought Ireland to the 22 where, despite a stout Welsh resistance they took a fourth minute lead after the red line sneaked offside.

Sexton would double the advantage 10 minutes later after Ireland survived an onslaught of Welsh pressure. A big hit from Nathan White rocked the attack on its heels and then Andrew Trimble shot out of the line to smash Liam Williams (a late addition to the starting line-up) and set Ireland towards a turnover when a try seemed inevitable.

Wales had an opportunity to halve the gap, but by that stage out-half Dan Biggar already had heavy strapping on his standing foot. The Ospreys man missed his kick and was soon replaced by Priestland.

Wales’ world looked ready to fall apart, while Tommy O’Donnell led the hounding Ireland gave them. The flanker kicked a loose ball forward and after Robbie Henshaw attempted a cross-field kick, Ireland forced an error from Priestland. Carries from Henshaw and Jamie Heaslip took Ireland to within a metre of the try-line, where Conor Murray threw a superb dummy pass before sneaking in for the game’s opening try.

Conor Murray scores their first try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A 13- 0 lead for Ireland, and Schmidt’s side looked in a mood to run rampant. Instead, they were reeled back in. Priestland kicked a TMO-called penalty and after Andrew Trimble carried a grubber back across his own line, the Welsh scrum twisted momentum back their way. Taulupe Faletau made the most of the dominant scrum in front of him and dotted down to bring Wales deficit down to 13 – 10 at the half-time interval.

Priestland kicked his third successful kick five minutes after the break to level the game and it stayed that way until the 71st minute when Priestland nervelessly split the posts from a tough angle on the right after Ireland had been subjected to an energy-sapping 28 phases of defence.

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It was ominous stuff. But nerves were eased when Sexton kicked Ireland level two minutes later with an effortless strike from over 40 metres. A grandstand final five minutes was set up, but with Sexton and captain Rory Best off the field, Ireland were unable to take the ball into opposition territory without putting boot to ball.

Scorers

Ireland

Tries: C Murray

Conversions: J Sexton (1/1)

Penalties: J Sexton (3/3)

Wales

Tries: T Faletau

Conversions: R Priestland (1/1)

Penalties: D Biggar (0/1) R Priestland (3/3)

Ireland

15. Simon Zebo
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Jared Payne
12. Robbie Henshaw
11. Keith Earls (Dave Kearney ’71)
10. Jonathan Sexton (Ian Madigan ’75)
9. Conor Murray

1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best (Sean Cronin ’75)
3. Nathan White (Tadhg Furlong ’63)
4. Mike McCarthy (Donnacha Ryan ’63)
5. Devin Toner
6. CJ Stander
7. Tommy O’Donnell (Rhys Ruddock ’49)
8. Jamie Heaslip

Wales

15. Liam Williams
14. George North
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Jamie Roberts
11. Tom James
10.Dan Biggar (Rhys Priestland ’20)
9. Gareth Davies (Lloyd Williams ’71)

1. Rob Evans (Gethin Jenkins ’52)
2. Scott Baldwin
3. Samson Lee (Tomas Francis ’58)
4. Luke Charteris (Brad Davies ’61)
5. Alun Wyn Jones
6. Sam Warburton (Dan Lydiate ’75)
7.Justin Tipuric
8. Taulupe Faletau

Referee: Jerome Garces

As it happened: Ireland v Wales, Six Nations

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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