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Dublin: 15°C Monday 14 June 2021


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With the seats on the plane now filled and Joe Schmidt deploying a near full-strength team for this final warm-up outing, this now very much feels like the start of the World Cup in earnest.

The start of the serious business.

Given there are just three weeks until that Yokohama showdown with Scotland — a campaign-defining game if ever there was one — Ireland now have no time for error and need to hit the right gear against Wales in Schmidt’s final home game in charge here.

Good afternoon and welcome along to The42‘s live coverage from the Aviva Stadium as the World Cup edges ever closer and the focus sharpens on what is to come in Japan.

Kick-off is coming up at 2pm and we’ll bring you all the action as it happens.

The teams are in the house and the scene is set. 

a-general-view-of-ireland-jerseys Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

warren-gatland-arrives Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

jonathan-sexton-arrives Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

garry-ringrose-before-the-game Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

TEAM NEWS: Both teams have been confirmed in the last few minutes, with no changes on either side. 

Schmidt has fielded a strong hand, with Johnny Sexton, Keith Earls and Robbie Henshaw all coming into the starting XV for their first appearances of this World Cup period.

As mentioned, Rory Best leads Ireland out in what is his final game in Dublin.


15. Rob Kearney
14. Jordan Larmour
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Keith Earls
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. James Ryan
5. Jean Kleyn
6. CJ Stander
7. Josh van der Flier
8. Jack Conan.


16. Sean Cronin
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Andrew Porter
19. Iain Henderson
20. Rhys Ruddock
21. Luke McGrath
22. Jack Carty
23. Garry Ringrose


15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. George North
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Hadleigh Parkes
11. Josh Adams
10. Rhys Patchell
9. Tomos Williams

1. Wyn Jones
2. Elliot Dee
3. Tomas Francis
4. Jake Ball
5. Alun Wyn Jones (captain)
6. Aaron Wainwright
7. Justin Tipuric
8. Ross Moriarty


16. Ken Owens
17. Nicky Smith
18. Dillon Lewis
19. Adam Beard
20. Josh Navidi
21. Gareth Davies
22. Dan Biggar
23. Liam Williams

Referee: Mathieu Raynal [France].

Both sides have completed their warm-ups and have returned to the sheds. Ireland have four extra players out there — John Ryan, Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell and Tadhg Beirne, who are now going through their extra shuttle runs. 

Which way do you see this afternoon’s game going?

Poll Results:

Ireland  (541)
Wales  (103)

Rory Best gets a huge ovation as he leads Ireland out. As we wait for the teams to be introduced to President Michael D Higgins, have a read of our interview with the Ireland captain about what this day means to him. 

Anthems complete, now the serious business starts. Mathieu Raynal is our referee this afternoon. 


KICK OFF! Rhys Patchell gets us underway on a perfect afternoon for rugby in Dublin.


1 mins – Early possession for Wales in Ireland’s half and Kleyn is caught offside, so Leigh Halfpenny will have an early shot at goal here. Not the best start for the Munster second row.


2 mins – A let-off for Ireland! Halfpenny is normally so accurate off the tee but he pushes that one right of the posts. Not a breath of wind inside the stadium either. 


3 mins – Very sloppy start from Ireland as Sexton — with his first touch of the season — kicks the restart out on the full and Wales will have an attacking scrum in prime position here. 


4 mins – Kearney to the rescue! Wales produce a near-perfect strike move off the scrum, as they look to hit Ireland down this near side. Halfpenny grubbers in behind Earls for North to chase and the big winger looks set to get their first to finish but Kearney does brilliantly — as he so often does — to read the play and cover across just in the nick of time. 


6 mins – Wales doing all the running in these early exchanges and they look to have numbers out wide but the pass is just delayed and Larmour does well to make the hit, before Ryan comes in and wrestles the ball away from a red shirt. 


8 mins – Better from Ireland as they look to test the Welsh defence for the first time but then Rory Best’s throw is off again and the visitors turn it over at the lineout. 


12 mins — Van der Flier is pinged on that far side and Wales kick deep into Ireland territory, but Jean Kleyn and Cian Healy produce a big choke tackle turnover under the posts. Ireland’s defence has been strong so far. 


16 mins – Worryingly, Ireland’s lineout is wobbling again here. Both of Best’s throws have been picked off by the Welsh, who have also enjoyed 86% possession and 89% territory inside the opening 16 minutes.


18 mins – A big moment for Rory Best and he needed that! The Ireland captain comes up with a crucial turnover as Wales were looking to turn territory into points. 


20 mins – Brilliant from Bundee as he bursts through a couple of Welsh tackles and offloads for the supporting Henshaw. Quick ball allows Murray fire it wide for Larmour, who has space to bring Ireland into the Welsh 22. With a penalty advantage coming, Ryan knocks on in contact and Sexton kicks for the corner. 

Flag 24Mins

21 mins — TRY! Ireland 7-0 Wales (Kearney)

Ireland’s first period of sustained possession yields the game’s opening score! Clean ball from the attacking lineout on the far side provides the platform for Ireland to strike.

Stander ploughs through Patchell with a monstrous carry, and when Murray sprays it left for Sexton, the Ireland out-half leaves himself exposed to the late hit, but times the pass to Kearney perfectly for the fullback to crash over. 


26 mins – That was clinical from Ireland, who showed a real edge in the five-metre zone to come away with seven points. That was Rob Kearney’s first international try since France at the last World Cup. 


26 mins – Patchell has to go off for a HIA after feeling the brunt of Stander’s carry. Dan Biggar is on for Wales. As play restarts, Larmour tackles Halfpenny in the air and the visitors will have the chance to respond straight away. 


27 mins — Penalty! Ireland 7-3 Wales (Halfpenny)

Much better strike from Halfpenny this time and Wales are on the board.


29 mins – Try-saving tackle! Sexton is picked off by Biggar on half way and the replacement Welsh out-half streaks clear but he’s tracked down by Henshaw, who makes a huge amount of ground to fell Biggar just short of the line and then Kearney gets back to ensure the ball isn’t grounded. Superb from Henshaw and Kearney. 

Flag 31Mins

30 mins — TRY! Ireland 7-10 Wales (Parkes)

Ireland are unable to stem the flow of red shirts this time, as the visitors work it in-field off the set-piece and then Williams fires a low, flat pass for Parkes to crash on to from close range. There was no stopping the Wales centre off that line, and Halfpenny adds the extras. 


37 mins – A warm-up game in name, but this has been an absorbing half of Test rugby. Aki and Henshaw have looked very slick for Ireland in midfield, while Kearney is again showing his enduring worth at fullback.  


39 mins — Van der Flier with the linebreak and offload for Earls. The forwards ensure quick ball again before Sexton is flattened by Jake Ball. The Ireland out-half is down holding his ribs but is back up again. 

Flag 40Mins

39 mins – Ireland go through 17 phases but after JVDF’s break, have gone absolutely nowhere. Wales eventually hold them up and the referee points towards the changing rooms.

Flag 41Mins

Half-time! Ireland 7-10 Wales 

A very entertaining 40 minutes but Ireland trail the Grand Slam winners at the break. There has been plenty to like about the performance so far, with Aki, Henshaw and Kearney among those impressing in the opening half, but Parkes’ try has handed the advantage to the visitors.

Kearney scored the game’s opening try, which came against the run of play somewhat, before Halfpenny’s penalty and Parkes’ close-range finish put Gatland’s side into the lead for the first time. 

Ireland’s defence has been strong throughout, but again there are concerns over the lineout with the hosts losing two of their five throws in that first period. Big second half to come. 


cj-stander-tackled-by-rhys-patchell-and-jonathan-davies Stander's meaty carry set up Kearney's try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

bundee-aki-with-jonathan-davies-and-rhys-patchell Bundee Aki is having a big game for Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


What did you make of that first half, then? 


Wales are back on the pitch a good three/four minutes ahead of Ireland, but here come the home side for the second half. Schmidt has made a change at the break, too, with Dave Kilcoyne on for Cian Healy.


42 mins – Ireland seeing plenty of the ball in the opening minutes after the restart but Schmidt’s side aren’t really going anywhere. Kilcoyne is already throwing his weight around effectively and then Sexton looks to change the angle of attack with a cross-field kick for Larmour. 


44 mins – A good two minutes for Larmour as he wins the penalty for Ireland. Sexton kicks for the corner.


45 mins – Wales infringe again at lineout time and Ireland have an attacking scrum five metres out. 


46 mins – Held up! Murray goes left off the set-piece and Ireland are within striking distance. Ryan and Conan put the head down from close-range but Wales hold firm. Jake Ball the man to prevent the hosts.


49 mins – Wales are offside again and Best opts for another scrum. Sustained pressure from Ireland here but they need to make it count.

Flag 51Mins

50 mins — TRY! Ireland 14-10 Wales (Furlong)

And the pressure eventually pays off. Henshaw crashes onto Murray’s pop ball off the base of the scrum and although Ryan is held up inches short, Furlong is on hand to bulldoze his way over. Sexton coverts and Ireland lead by four.


52 mins – Worrying times here for Keith Earls as the Munster winger stays down after that try on the far side. He has his head in his hands and the medic calls for further attention but Earls is okay to walk off. Garry Ringrose comes on to the wing for the second week running. 


53 mins – As Earls limps off, Rory Best is called ashore as he bids farewell to the Aviva. The Ireland captain gets a huge ovation as he mades his way off. 120 not out for the skipper.


54 mins – Sean Cronin is on, as is Iain Henderson who has replaced Kleyn in the second row. 


56 mins – Ireland win a big scrum penalty on halfway and Sexton launches it deep into Welsh territory. Andrew Porter has just come on for Furlong.


58 mins – Ireland look sharp around the fringes and with another penalty advantage, Murray spreads it out to Sexton, who in turn hits Aki. Wales are scrambling and Cronin and JVDF come very close to grounding, before Ryan looks to have got over. We’re going upstairs to have a look.  

Flag 59Mins

58 mins — TRY! Ireland 19-10 Wales (Ryan)

The on-field decision was try and after having a closer look, the TMO agrees. Incredible power and dexterity from the Leinster second row to finish for his second Test try, and first since his debut in June 2017. Sexton is unable to convert from this near side.


60 mins – Gatland has unloaded his bench on the hour mark, while Schmidt has introduced Rhys Ruddock for JVDF. 


63 mins – Another change for Ireland. Sexton is called ashore and Connacht’s Jack Carty is on for his seventh cap. 


65 mins – Ireland’s defence has been rock-solid all afternoon and again they come up trumps just as Wales were looking to turn the screw. Another penalty allows Carty pump it downfield towards halfway. 


70 mins – Robbie Henshaw has been immense for Ireland, but he hasn’t been the only one to show up impressively out there in green. Sexton looked sharp, Aki is in peak condition, Kearney as solid as ever and Larmour had a couple of big moments on the wing. 

Kilcoyne and Ruddock have made big contributions off the bench, while the likes of Ryan, Stander, Kleyn and JVDF have got through mountains of work. Who would be your man of the match?


keith-earls-down-injured The only downside to what has been an encouraging afternoon for Ireland. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO


71 mins – Excellent kick from Carty in behind to ping Wales back and Biggar is forced to track back and kick into touch. Luke McGrath is on for Murray for the final nine minutes. 


74 mins – Carty launches a towering bomb towards the Welsh 22, which is held up nicely by the wind. Kearney and Henshaw compete in the air, with the former collecting cleanly and offloading out to Larmour, who has space. The Leinster man finds Ringrose on the left but the red shirts scramble across and close the door.

Ireland have a penalty though — for a high tackle — and Carty kicks for the corner. 


74 mins – Cronin finds his man and the maul rumbles forward towards the whitewash, before Raynal’s out-stretched arm allows Carty a free shot at picking Ringrose out cross-field with an arrowed kick. It’s not perfect and we’ll come back for the penalty. 


75 mins – The forwards provide another solid platform off the lineout and they’ve worked it in-field…


77 mins – Ireland hammer away and as Wales continually infringe, the referee has had enough and sent Adam Beard to the bin. The Fields of Athenry rings around the Aviva — it has been an excellent afternoon for Ireland.


79 mins – Another penalty coming Ireland’s way and Larmour taps it quickly but is denied just short. The home side have numbers out wide but Wales slow the ball down and now we’re coming back for a scrum five. 


80 mins – As the clock hits red, this victory now means Ireland will depart for Japan top of the world rankings. Meanwhile, James Ryan has been announced as the sponsor’s man of the match. Hard to disagree, but it could have gone to any number of players. 


80 mins – Wales have turned it over on their own line and are looking to run it from deep, but Kilcoyne makes a huge hit — and that’s full-time!


A fitting send-off for Joe Schmidt and Rory Best in their final game at the Aviva, while Ireland head for Japan as the number one team in the world for the first time.

rory-best-celebrates-a-turnover-with-cian-healy A good day for Ireland. Source: James Crombie/INPHO


Thanks for joining us here from the Aviva this afternoon. Our match report is here, while we’ll have plenty more reaction on The42 throughout the day. 

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Ryan Bailey


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