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Farrell's Ireland excite Dublin crowd with impressive bonus-point win over Wales

The Irish attack looked fluid, while they improved up front on a good day for the new head coach.

Ireland 24

Wales 14

ANDY FARRELL CAN put the feet up this evening and reflect on a fine first fortnight of action as Ireland head coach.

After shakily coming through a battle against Scotland with victory, his Ireland team delivered progress with a second home win against Wales this afternoon, tries from Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier, and Andrew Conway helping them to grab a very useful bonus point too.

rob-herring-and-conor-murray-celebrate-tadhg-furlong-scoring-a-try Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

A week after Ireland’s maul had struggled against the Scots, they were superb in that area, rejecting some close-range efforts from Wales and scoring through van der Flier. The scrum – penalised twice a week ago – improved too.

Ireland’s developing attack shone a little more too, their shape and passing much better in round two of this Six Nations. It was an attacking performance to genuinely excite the sold-out Aviva Stadium, with signs of more variety in Ireland’s use possession.

Crucially, Farrell saw many key players deliver big performances.

Scrum-half Conor Murray threw some delicious passes, while the back row of turnover machine CJ Stander, the combative Peter O’Mahony, and the hard-working Josh van der Flier was excellent. 

Munster man Stander was named player of the match for the second week running.

Larmour’s potential as an attacking fullback is thrilling for Ireland and his try was superbly-taken, while right wing Andrew Conway had a brilliantly composed and effective performance.

With the forwards getting the better of the set-piece, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw in midfield were able to punch holes – targeting Nick Tompkins on his first start for Wales – as out-half and captain Johnny Sexton steered the ship with an influential calmness.

There was even a debut for Leinster’s Max Deegan late on, while Ireland’s win means they will move above Wales into fourth in the World Rugby rankings as long as Scotland don’t beat England by 15 points.

The Welsh were highly competitive throughout, with brilliant openside Justin Tipuric lading the way for them, and scored an excellent first-half try thanks to a superb offload from captain Alun Wyn Jones, but they couldn’t match Ireland’s intensity, accuracy, and cohesion. Tipuric notched a late consolation try to make the scoreline look better.

All in all, this was a good day for Farrell and his coaching staff as Ireland rediscovered their confidence and showed their supporters that the future may as bright as some of the best days they enjoyed under Joe Schmidt. 

jordan-larmour-scores-the-first-try Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

These are early stages of the Farrell era yet but Ireland can enjoy their break weekend and then prepare for a visit to Twickenham with belief that they are real Six Nations contenders. 

Ireland had plenty of possession in Wales’ half in the early exchanges in Dublin, most notably with a third-minute scrum just five metres out after Jacob Stockdale’s clever chip ahead had resulted in Dan Biggar being driven over his own tryline.

But referee Romain Poite pinged Ireland’s angle at the scrum, while they were turned over on their next two attacks as Welsh back rows Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau choke-tackled Iain Henderson, then prop Wyn Jones earned a breakdown penalty.

CJ Stander’s first turnover penalty of two in the opening half saw Ireland kick into the left corner but they were frustrated when Poite awarded Wales the turnover after the maul was choked up just short of the tryline.

Ireland kept coming at Wales and Aki carried hard off their next lineout before the forwards tightened the Welsh defence up with a series of pick-and-jams in the 22 until scrum-half Conor Murray swung a pass right to fullback Larmour, whose finish was superb.

Larmour stepped aggressively back to the inside of the over-chasing Nick Tompkins, powered past Tomos Williams’ tackle attempt and finished through the despairing Josh Adams. 

Sexton didn’t connect properly with his conversion and a couple of errors in Irish mauls finally allowed the Welsh to enjoy some possession in the Irish half.

Pivac’s side were clinical off a lineout attack as they went wide left and then shifted back to the right, where Biggar found captain Alun Wyn Jones with a lovely front-door pass before the lock offloaded delightfully back inside to Biggar, who was able to deliver the scoring pass to scrum-half Williams on his left as he drew in Larmour.

tomos-williams-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-johnny-mcnicholl Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Ireland had gripes about the legitimacy of Jones’ offload but Poite and his TMO were happy it hadn’t been forward after a brief check, allowing Biggar to convert and put the Welsh two points ahead.

Farrell’s men responded well, however, as their attack continued to impress and Conway’s clever chip down the right ensured Wales had a high-pressure defensive lineout, with Williams knocking-on as Jones popped the ball to him from the set-piece.

Ireland punished that big error clinically from the five-metre scrum, earning penalty advantage before strong carries from Aki and James were followed by Furlong thundering around the corner at the Welsh defence, with a smart double latch by Peter O’Mahony and Rob Herring helping the tighthead over the tryline.

Sexton converted this time and though Wales threatened in Ireland’s 22 once more via two clever Biggar inside passes and Tipuric’s offload, some superb relieving kicking by Conway and Larmour helped to ensure the home side held their 12-7 lead into the break. 

Poite’s half-time whistle was followed by O’Mahony and Jones going head-to-head in a fiery tussle, summing up the entertaining 40-minute battle we had just witnessed.

tadhg-furlong-celebrates-scoring-his-sides-second-try-with-jordan-larmour Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Stander’s third turnover penalty at the breakdown three minutes into the second half got them rolling again, as Murray quick-tapped and Sexton grubber-kicked into touch down near the Wales 22, where Peter O’Mahony rose to steal Ken Owens’ lineout throw.

Though Ireland missed a couple of gilt-edged chances on the ensuing attack, they had earned a penalty advantage, which they kicked into the left corner. Herring threw to Ryan, who didn’t even jump, and the speed of Ireland’s maul caught Wales by surprise as they surged over for van der Flier’s 47th-minute try, which the TMO found no cause to rule out.

Sexton converted accurately for 19-7 but a series of penalty concessions soon had Ireland defending inside their own 22, where their pack brilliantly repelled a five-metre maul and then they just about escaped without conceding.

Wales inside centre Hadleigh Parkes picked a stunning hard line off scrum-half Williams and stretched his left arm out of O’Mahony’s vital tackle to ground the ball, but the TMO review showed that Parkes had just lost control of it as he reached out.

Ireland gratefully cleared their lines 

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rob-herring-celebrates-as-josh-van-der-flier-scores-a-try Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland’s discipline continued to put them under pressure, however, and Stander was pinged for not supporting his body weight as he jackaled, allowing Wales to go down the line into the left corner again.

They battered away at the tryline after more superb Irish maul defence until Stander conceded another breakdown penalty – one Sexton strongly questioned Poite on – and the Welsh opted for a five-metre scrum.

This time, the siege was lifted by Dave Kilcoyne – just on for Cian Healy – winning a massive scrum penalty against Dillon Lewis. 

Ireland immediately threatened from their lineout near halfway as Keith Earls – on at outside centre after Henshaw suffered a head injury – showed stunning catch-and-pass skill to release Larmour up the left, with Stockdale then grubbering ahead to force a Wales fumble. 

Another Welsh knock-on in their own 22 laid the platform for Ireland’s bonus-point score, as sharp hands from replacement out-half Ross Byrne and fullback Larmour gave Conway space to finish a well-deserved try in the right corner with four minutes left. 

There was frustration at leaving Wales in for a last-minute Tipuric try from the maul after Stander had been sin-binned, but this was a good day for Ireland. 

Ireland scorers

Tries: Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier, Andrew Conway

Conversions: Johnny Sexton [2 from 3], Ross Byrne [0 from 1]

Wales scorers:

Tries: Tomos Williams, Justin Tipuric

Conversions: Dan Biggar [1 from 1], Leigh Halfpenny [1 from 1] 

IRELAND: Jordan Larmou; Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw (HIA – Keith Earls ’45), Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Johnny Sexton (captain) (Ross Byrne ’71), Conor Murray (John Cooney ’73); Cian Healy (Dave Kilcoyne ’51)), Rob Herring (Ronan Kelleher ’67), Tadhg Furlong (Andrew Porter ’67); Iain Henderson (Devin Toner ’67), James Ryan; Peter O’Mahony (Max Deegan ’71), Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander (yellow card ’79). 

WALES: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams (Johnny McNicholl ’25); Dan Biggar (HIA – Jarrod Evans ’45), Tomos Williams (Gareth Davies); Wyn Jones (Rhys Carré ’64), Ken Owens (Ryan Elias ’74), Dillon Lewis (Leon Brown ’67); Jake Ball (Adam Beard ’71), Alun Wyn Jones (captain); Aaron Wainwright (Ross Moriarty ’49), Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau.

Referee: Romain Poite [France]. 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella  / Reports from the Aviva Stadium

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