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Dublin: 6 °C Friday 14 December, 2018


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Good afternoon and welcome along to our live coverage of Ireland’s eagerly-anticipated Six Nations clash against Wales from the Aviva Stadium in round three of the championship.

With two wins from two, Joe Schmidt’s side — unbeaten at home in the Six Nations under the Kiwi — have momentum at their backs but the loss of three Lions in Iain Henderson, Robbie Henderson and Tadhg Furlong makes this an even greater challenge against Warren Gatland’s Wales.

The sense of anticipation and atmosphere is really building around Dublin 4 ahead of what promises to be a frenetic and ferocious Test match. Kick off is fast approaching at 2.15pm.

The stage is set.

A view of the match balls ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of the Ireland dressing room ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A view of the Aviva Stadium ahead of the game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

TEAM NEWS: Joe Schmidt has made five changes from the victory over Italy a fortnight ago, three of which have been enforced. Furlong, Henderson and Henshaw all drop out through injury with Andrew Porter, James Ryan and Chris Farrell coming in.

The other two changes see Cian Healy get the nod ahead of Leinster team-mate Jack McGrath while CJ Stander returns to the number eight jersey in place of Jack Conan.

It’s a huge day for 22-year-old Porter and Munster centre Farrell, who both make their first Six Nations starts. It’s as you were elsewhere with Kearney, Earls and Stockdale making up the back three and Sexton and Murray forming the half-back pairing.


15. Rob Kearney
14. Keith Earls
13. Chris Farrell
12. Bundee Aki
11. Jacob Stockdale
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Andrew Porter
4. James Ryan
5. Devin Toner
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Dan Leavy
8. CJ Stander


16. Sean Cronin
17. Jack McGrath
18. John Ryan
19. Quinn Roux
20. Jack Conan
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Joey Carbery
23. Fergus McFadden

TEAM NEWS: And this is how Wales will line up. While Ireland lose three of their Lions, the visitors are boosted by the return to fitness of three of theirs — Leigh Halfpenny, Dan Biggar and Liam Williams are all back.


15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. Liam Williams
13. Scott Williams
12. Hadleigh Parkes
11. Steff Evans
10. Dan Biggar
9. Gareth Davies

1. Rob Evans
2. Ken Owens
3. Samson Lee
4. Cory Hill
5. Alun Wyn Jones (captain)
6. Aaron Shingler
7. Josh Navidi
8. Ross Moriarty


16. Elliot Dee
17. Wyn Jones
18. Tomas Francis
19. Bradley Davies
20. Justin Tipuric
21. Aled Davies
22. Gareth Anscombe
23. George North

Ireland have gone three games without a win against Wales in this competition, their worst run since an eight-game streak (L7, D1) between 1971 and 1979 — but they haven’t lost at the Aviva Stadium in the Six Nations under Joe Schmidt.

In fact, the last time Ireland lost at home in the championship was when England beat them 12-6 in 2013, since then they have won 10 and drawn two at the Aviva; however no side has won in Dublin against Ireland more often in the Six Nations than Wales (3 times, also France).

Which way do you see this one going?

Poll Results:

Johnny Sexton arrives Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leigh Halfpenny warms up before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Chris Farrell arrives Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Joe Schmidt with Warren Gatland before the game Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

A little under half an hour until kick off, so to whet the appetite have a browse of some of our pre-match offerings:

Ryan Bailey here to guide you through all the action as it happens, while we also have Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell in position at the Aviva Stadium to bring you live coverage throughout the afternoon.

How are the nerves?

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The anthems and formalities are complete. Rousing rendition of Ireland’s Call reverberates around a sold-out Aviva Stadium. There’s a nervous tension around this place, but also a sense of anticipation. Strap yourselves in!


1 min — Stockdale clears his lines from the kick off, and Chris Farrell is straight into the action with a huge hit on Leigh Halfpenny, but Wales do really well to scramble back and retain possession. The visitors then show their intent as Biggar looks cross-field and when Keith Earls fumbles, Bundee Aki is caught in an offside position. Penalty Wales.


2 mins — Penalty! Ireland 0-3 Wales (Halfpenny)

A clean and sweet strike from Halfpenny gives Wales the perfect start.


3 mins – Brilliant response from Ireland. Sexton’s kick off is on the money and Farrell gets up to claim it. James Ryan carries hard into contact and Wales are pinged for not rolling away.


3 mins – But Sexton misses the penalty attempt from just outside the 22! The out-half struck it cleanly but pushes it slightly and it comes back off the post. A let off for Wales.


5 mins – As the ball cannons back off the upright, Steff Evans looks to throw it out wide but his pass is forward and this is a great platform for Ireland five metres out.


6 mins — TRY! Ireland 5-3 Wales (Stockdale)

The penalty miss was a blessing. A strong scrum from Ireland lays the platform and Farrell puts the head down before a gorgeous pass left from Sexton sends Stockdale over in the corner. That’s his seventh international try in as many appearances.


Leigh Halfpenny’s early penalty gave Wales the lead.

Leigh Halfpenny kicks a penalty Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


10 mins – Brilliant work from Toner forces the penalty and Sexton pings it deep into Welsh territory. Best finds his man from the line out and Ireland have go-forward ball from a powerful rolling maul.


12 mins – Sexton lines up in midfield from the line out and then launches an aerial bombardment on Steff Evans but it’s overcooked and easy for the Welsh winger to deal with.


13 mins – Trademark work from Peter O’Mahony on the ground after CJ Stander powers through Ken Owens. Ireland lost the ball a couple of phases later but the Munster captain forces the turnover penalty. Sexton calls for the tee again.


14 mins – Sexton misses again! The out-half pushes a relatively straight-forward penalty attempt right of the post. So unusual from him.


16 mins – Wales think Sexton and Kearney are crossing but it’s academic as Davies strips the ball from the Ireland out-half in contact and Wales turn defence into attack. Liam Williams spots the space in behind and finds a brilliant touch on the far side.


Jacob Stockdale scores their first try despite Leigh Halfpenny Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Jacob Stockdale scores their first try despite Leigh Halfpenny Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Jacob Stockdale scores their first try despite Leigh Halfpenny Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


19 mins – Ireland showing real ambition and they look to run it from their own 22, with Sexton piercing through a gap and offloading for Kearney. The hosts recycle it well but the move breaks down and Wales win the penalty.

Flag 22Mins

20 mins — TRY! Ireland 5-10 Wales (Gareth Davies)

Huge moment in the game. Ireland fail to strike at one end and are punished at the other as Wales hit back through Gareth Davies. Shingler made the hard yards and the scrum-half stepped inside Stockdale beautifully to crash over from close range. Halfpenny adds the extras.


22 mins – For all of Ireland’s possession and territory in the opening quarter, Schmidt’s side find themselves behind. They’ve dominated but haven’t got the reward.

Chris Farrell is tackled by Alun Wyn Jones Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


25 mins – Mistakes starting to creep into Ireland’s game now as Wales get into the faces of the Irish backline with their aggressive defensive line speed. Bundee Aki is penalised for crossing and Halfpenny is lining the penalty from just inside his own half up.


26 mins – But the Wales and Lions fullback just tugs his long-range effort from all of 55 yards and Ireland escape.


27 mins – Welcome to the party, Dan Leavy! Just when Ireland were beginning to find themselves under the cosh, the Leinster flanker pounces to force the turnover after a good tackle from Cian Healy.


29 mins – Superb take from Dan Biggar from the up-and-under and it appears he loses it in contact to give Ireland the scrum — but the replays show Kearney actually kicked it out of the out-half’s grasp and it’s a penalty to Wales.


30 mins — Penalty! Ireland 5-13 Wales (Halfpenny)

No mistake from Halfpenny as he stretches Wales’ lead from the tee. Poor discipline from Ireland.


Gareth Davies scores their first try Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

James Ryan is tackled by Ross Moriarty Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Conor Murray jumps CJ Stander as he's tackled by Leigh Halfpenny Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


32 mins — Lovely break from Keith Earls gives Ireland some much-needed momentum again and quick hands sets Leavy away down this near side. Stockdale does well to keep the ball alive and Ireland recycle around the fringes. Wales shut the door initially but we’re going back for a penalty advantage.


35 mins — Penalty! Ireland 8-13 Wales (Sexton)

No problems for Sexton this time as he knocks over a penalty from in front of the posts. A good response from Ireland but that could, and should, have been seven points.


38 mins – Wales give away their sixth penalty of the afternoon — Shingler was caught offside — and Sexton brings Ireland inside the opposition 22. A minute until the break.


40 mins – Ireland hammering away with a series of pick and goes around the fringes. Porter the latest to put the head down but is stopped just short. The referee has his arm out and Ireland have numbers out wide…

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40 mins — TRY! Ireland 15-13 Wales (Bundee Aki)

Aki goes over! The platform had been laid by the forwards and Murray fires it to the Connacht centre, who shows all his strength to bounce out of the first tackle and stretch for the line. Sexton converts.


Half-time! Ireland 15-13 Wales 

What a response from Schmidt’s men as they go in two points ahead at the break, thanks to 10 unanswered points towards the end of that first half. Wales were clinical and indeed cynical but Ireland were much sharper and smarter in possession and eventually reaped the rewards.

A fascinating 40 minutes of rugby. What did you make of it?



41 mins – Davies clears for Wales as far as Kearney, who runs it back at the wall of red shirts. After a few phases of possession, Murray chips in behind Halfpenny, who covers the ground to get back and eventually clear.

Kearney then tries an audacious drop goal attempt but he snatches at it.

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45 mins — TRY! Ireland 22-13 Wales (Leavy)

Ireland’s bright start to the second half is rewarded! Farrell recovers from Aki’s loose pass and Ireland then build it through the phases, showing precision and patience to power towards the line. Leavy is the man to eventually crash over and Sexton converts.


47 mins – Ireland brimming with intent since the restart and have all the momentum at the start of this second half. Sexton looks cross-field for Earls but Evans does brilliantly to get up under huge pressure. The Munster winger then forces Evans into touch and Ireland have another prime attacking platform.


48 mins – The Fields of Athenry reverberates around the Aviva as Best finds Ryan and O’Mahony takes control of it at the back of the maul. The ball comes loose but Glenn Jackson pulls it back for a penalty. Wales have no answers to the maul other than infringe.


50 mins – Wales steal the lineout but Ross Moriarty is hunted down by a number of green shirts and is tackled behind his own line, giving Ireland the five metre scrum. Schmidt’s side going for the kill here.

Flag 54Mins

53 mins — TRY! Ireland 27-13 Wales (Cian Healy)

There’s the bonus-point score! Murray is sniped down by Halfpenny but Ireland recycle through Stander out wide and Healy drives his way over.


55 mins – Sexton is unable to add the extras from the touchline but Ireland are in a commanding position with 25 minutes remaining. Gatland has seen enough and has changed his entire front row.


57 mins — Ireland working tirelessly at the break down as Leavy and O’Mahony help Sexton steal the ball on the deck and then the out-half throws an outrageous offload to Earls.

The Munster winger grubbers into space and is so unlucky not to score as the bounce of the ball goes against him and Halfpenny can dive on it. Ireland have been brilliant since the break.


Cory Hill and Johnny Sexton Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland supporters Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Conor Murray celebrates Dan Leavy's try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO


A lot of big performances in green so far today. Porter, Healy, Farrell and Ryan all outstanding.


62 mins — TRY! Ireland 27-20 Wales (Shingler)

Biggar with another superb take in the air and the space opens up for Evans, who offloads inside for Williams. Wales catch Ireland narrow as they spread it wide quickly and Shingler is the man to finish it off in the far corner. Halfpenny nails the conversion.


64 mins – Wales are right back in this game and Schmidt has looked to freshen things up as he brings Fergus McFadden and Jack McGrath in for Earls and Healy respectively. George North is on for Wales.


65 mins – A grandstand final 15 minutes is in store. A huge 15 minutes.


66 mins – All of a sudden, Wales have upped the ante and intensity and they’re looking very dangerous. Schmidt has called Porter ashore with Munster’s John Ryan on in his place. Jack Conan is also ready to come on.


67 mins – Peter O’Mahony is the man to make way for Conan. Ireland are creeping towards the Wales 22 with controlled and direct carrying, before Scott Williams strips it illegally off Farrell. Big chance for Sexton to extend the lead.


68 mins – Sexton looks to take it quickly but Wales are alert to it and snuff out the danger, before Ireland knock on. The sensible option there would have been to go for the points. It could be a big moment.


68 mins – Worrying signs as Conor Murray goes down in a heap after having his leg trapped at the back of a ruck. The scrum-half receives some attention and looks set to continue.


69 mins – Nervous times. Space opens up for Wales and although Kearney does well to cover and then evade the first tacklers, his offload is knocked on by McFadden.

Rory Best, meanwhile, has been withdrawn with Leinster’s Sean Cronin coming in for the final 10 minutes. Scrum Wales just inside the Ireland half.


71 mins – A strong Welsh scrum provides the platform, and the visitors look to strike out wide as North burns Kearney on the outside. Ireland scramble and manage to slow the ball down before Davies knocks on as he looks to maintain the forward momentum for his side.


74 mins – Great work from Farrell, who has been superb all afternoon, but just when the Munster centre looks to poach it on the ground, he knocks on and Wales have the scrum. Quinn Roux is on for Toner.


75 mins – And Ireland win the penalty! Huge scrum from the home side as the Welsh front row is penalised and the reaction says it all. Massive moment. Conor Murray — not Sexton — is lining this kick up.



76 mins — Penalty! Ireland 30-20 Wales (Murray)

In off the post! Murray strikes it well but it’s drifting ever so slightly and it just creeps inside the left upright. Ireland’s lead extended to 10 points.

Flag 78Mins

77 mins — TRY! Ireland 30-27 Wales (Evans)

Oh my word, this game isn’t over yet. Wales strike back instantly down this left hand side through Evans and Halfpenny adds the extras. Carbery is on for Sexton, by the way.


79 mins – What a finish. Here come Wales again!


80 mins — TRY! Ireland 37-27 Wales (Stockdale)

YESSSSS!!! Wales throw it out towards their backs in search of a late winner but Stockdale reads the pass and intercepts to race it home under the posts and seal a huge victory for Ireland!

Flag 40Mins

Full-time! Ireland 37-27 Wales

What an incredible, pulsating Six Nations game at the Aviva Stadium.

That was Six Nations rugby at its very best as Ireland kept their Grand Slam hopes alive with a thrilling five-try win over Warren Gatland’s Wales, who despite being in with a shout of snatching victory at the death head home without a losing bonus point.

Jacob Stockdale scored two tries and Chris Farrell was named man of the match on a day Joe Schmidt’s men produced huge performances all over the park.

Another dramatic finale, but Ireland’s championship tilt rumbles on with Scotland providing the next hurdle in a fortnight.

Read Murray Kinsella’s on-the-whistle match report from the Aviva Stadium here.

We asked fans for their verdict as they came out of Lansdowne Road this afternoon; here’s what they said:



About the author:

Ryan Bailey


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