Dublin: 7°C Friday 3 December 2021


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Is it just us or do European rugby games really not come any bigger than this?

It’s Ireland v Wales, Schmidt v Gatland, Good v Evi… okay, maybe not quite, but look around you, everyone is psyched up for this one.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the match. E-mail Patrick@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Rugby fans, I have some very, very, very good news for you: the talking is almost over and kick-off is almost here.

It’s a beautiful day (for now) in Dublin and that bodes well for the hosts.

In case the names are not already imprinted in your mind’s eye, here are the teams that will go toe-to-toe today.

Expected changes for both sides after comfortable wins last week with Gordon D’Arcy and Paul O’Connell returning for Ireland and Sam Warburton joining Toby Faletau and Dan Lydiate in that highly effective Welsh back row.

Ireland: R Kearney; A Trimble, B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D Toner, P O’Connell (capt.); P O’Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip.

Replacements: S Cronin, J McGrath, M Moore, D Tuohy, T O’Donnell, I Boss, P Jackson, F McFadden.

Wales: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, S Williams, J Roberts, G North; R Priestland, M Phillips: G Jenkins, R Hibbard, A Jones; A Coombs, AW Jones; D Lydiate, S Warburton (capt.), T Faletau.

Replacements: K Owens, P James, R Jones, J Ball, J Tipuric, R Webb, J Hook, L Williams.

Warren Gatland calls it a luxury to have an extra day to prepare before this game.

Shane Horgan calls it a relief that he didn’t wear the cream suit with floral tie.

Oodles of thanks to Sean Farrell for keeping us ticking while I was on a 2hr 20min trek from Sallins to Lansdowne Road. Car was close to being “destroyed” in the words of a Garda after I double-parked across the road from the US Embassy. I’m Patrick McCarry and welcome to the game of the day!

Wales are on the pitch and here come Ireland, Dropkick Murphys in full effect!

We’re up in Row W here in the Aviva media tribune. Murray Kinsella is by my side and eager to get his stand on for the anthems. Herrrrre’s Michael D!

Comment of the afternoon so far by Elizabeth Gibson:

In the words of the Pointer Sisters “I’m so excited”. C’mon Ireland.

There go the anthems and here are your top four of pumped up Irishmen — O’Mahony, Rob Kearney, Best and Healy.

One last huddle for Joe’s boys. You can see Jamie Roberts’ boots from here. Very canary yellow. Sexton gets us going. Helen Bradshaw in the USA, hello!


1 min – Halfpenny wins the first aerial battle against Kearney but Roberts spills forward. We have a scrum with an Irish put-in.

2 mins – Treatment already for Gethin Jenkins as the home crowd respond to some boisterous well singing. Sonorous too. Penalty goes against Mike Ross. Wayne Barnes with a pedantic start.

4 mins – Wales on the attack and going through multiple phases. Trimble then wins his first tangle with North before POC puts in a HUGE hit on Lydiate to win a penalty. The home crowd love it. Sexton finds touch on the Welsh 22.

6 mins – Hibbard is hitting everything that moves, often illegally. Wales concede two penalties in 30 seconds and Barnes finally calls a halt to play. Lively attack from D Kearney set it all off. Sexton will kick for goal.

PEN: Ireland 3-0 Wales (Sexton ’7)

Over she goes from the 22, just to the left of the posts. Ireland lead. Jenkins getting treated for a second time.

9 mins – Faletau outpaces Trimble up the left but danders out of play.Powerful but a tad brainless.Ireland claim the lineout through Toner and win a penalty at the maul. Lydiate the naughty Welsh chap. Ireland onto the Welsh 10m line with another lineout.

12 mins – Ross with one of his patented one-yard carries. Lydiate hauls down O’Connell and holds on but is not penalised. Good chip in behind the Welsh lines to keep ‘em honest. BOD takes a big hit in midfield, the ball is turned over and Wales attack. Healy gets in some retribution. Best gets the pats for winning a turnover.

That BOD cruncher came from Scott Williams. Fans don’t like the big screen replay.

O’Driscoll is definitely winded but is back on his feet and smiling. He ain’t going anywhere yet.

14 mins – Another beastly Ireland maul. Wales bring it down 10m out. Murray keeps play ticking and Sexton cross-field kicks to Trimble — North’s high ball weakness — but the kick has too much pepper on it. No matter as Ireland steal the lineout. Amazing crash-ball from Paulie earns an advantage so Sexton, with a penalty coming, pumps another high tester that North can’t gather.

PEN: Ireland 6-0 Wales (Sexton ’16)

Simple and in front of the posts from 15m. Over it flies. Meanwhile Scott Williams, the man who put the big hit in on O’Driscoll, limps off holding his shoulder. Guess the Irishman came out on top after all.

19 mins – Trimble wins a monstrous high ball and wins a penalty as he is tackled in the process. Sexton wastes it as he over-cooks his kick. Halfpenny pings it back and Ireland attack again. They try the Welsh fullback with a steepler but he’s no mug. He wins the mark.

21 mins – O’Mahony penalised for going off his feet and Phillips tries to rile the Munster captain up.

22 mins – O’Mahony redeems himself at the next ruck by turning the ball over. Murray kicks clear to the halfway. Another shaky Welsh lineout but they regain control with effective counter-rucking.Sexton kicks away possession in a sloppy manner again and Wales win the duel with a Priestland hoof in behind the covering O’Driscoll out left.

24 mins – One of the worst Murray box-kicks in recent memory [he has cut that out in the last 18 months] gifts Wales easy ball but R Kearney does enough to force Cuthbert into knocking on a high ball. Big scrum coming up on the IRE 10m line.

25 mins – Ross gets Jenkins’ mush in the turf and Ireland get the penalty. Barnes lectures the Welsh as Sexton hits the line.

27 mins – After Scott Williams went off, George North moved to centre. O’Driscoll hammers Priestland to the turf before Trimble gets the crowd on their feet by jinking inside three red jerseys. Wales turnover 5m out and Priestland clears. Ireland in the ascendency.

29 mins – It is all mauls and garryowens from Ireland at present. Faletau threatens up the left again but O’Mahony swats the ball from his grasp. D Kearney then puts in a great hit on Halfpenny and North goes off his feet to clear him out but IS NOT penalised. The pen goes against Heaslip for losing his feet when scrambling at the breakdown. Priestland or Halfpenny don’t fancy a dart from the jhalfway so the out-half hits the 22m line.

30 mins – Devin Toner steals another lineout then Ross secures a turnover. The forwards doing their part.

31 mins – This is a joy to watching. Kearney v Halfpenny in the air! Ireland secure the ball and Priestland is forced to step out of play 5m out with Heaslip chasing down a chip over the top.

TRY!! Ireland 11-0 Wales (Henry ’31)

The lineout is claimed by Toner, another huge maul and Henry steams over at the back.

CON: Ireland 13-0 Wales (Sexton ’33)

Peachy!From the right touchline, Sexton bissects the posts. Ireland need to close Wales out for the remaining 6 minutes and maybe tag on another score. Excellent thus far, bar the odd aimless punt.

35 mins – On a sixpence! Sexton’s chip over L Williams in on the line with a millimetre to spare. D Kearney with a great break up the left to start it off. Ireland penalised at the lineout to stunt that momentum.

38 mins – On an even better sixpence!!! Sexton over L Williams again and this time it rolls out 5m from the Welsh line. Coombs clams though but the clearing kick falls to Trimble. A forward pass (I think) and Kearney tries a drop goal sighter while he’s at it. For practice. Ireland whistled for early engagement but they are then done for obstruction in midfield.

40 mins – We are on HT so Sexton says he will have a go to nothing at the sticks from 55 metres away.

It drops short. Sexton may do it in training but has never done it in a Test match.


What did you make of that? Ireland have dominated nearly every aspect of the game with penalties evenly spread out at the scrum. That maul is a joy to watch and Ireland are loving the high balls — the Kearney brothers and Trimble springing into everything with 100% commitment.

Here is the moment when Scott Williams tried to be a legend-killer and mangled up his shoulder in the process. O’Driscoll still out there making plays while the aggressor is on the sidelines.

Credit: RBS Six Nations

Both sides are back on the pitch. Priestland to get us started.


41 mins – Another great Sexton kick in behind the Welsh lines to get us started. Best blocks down a clearing kick but it falls to a red shirt and they eventually clear.

43 mins – O’Driscoll with a grubber that takes a touch off a Welsh boot. Ireland get the lineout 15m out. Great scoring opportunity here. Maul anyone?!

44 mins – Wales giving away penaltis at the lineout now to stop the maul. Sexton will go for the posts.

PEN: Ireland 16-0 Wales (Sexton ’45)

On the 22 and to the right of the posts. Junty run-up and Sexton sends it high, handsome and over the bar.

48 mins – O’Driscoll with a missed tackle on Roberts puts Ireland in trouble. Ross and O’Mahony with super defensive tackles. Wales set up camp and O’Connell goes to the carpet to slow them down. Then that man O’Mahony wins yet another turnover. Unbelievable stuff.

50 mins – Another dreamy lineout. Best to Toner. Wales haul down another maul and Barnes whistles against them. At the moment, they have Wales’ number.

Hello to Niall, who is watching and reading us from far, far away:

Ireland looking great from Handle Bar here in Manila, Philippines. About 20 Irish fans shouting their heads off. 3 Welsh supporters…quiet. Come on Ireland!

51- A moment of idiocy from Murray as he gets fancy with a flick, no-look pass to Kearney that goes forward. Let Wales off the hook 25m from their tryline. No w is not the time to think we have this game won.

53 mins – Wales going up the BOD-D’Arcy channel whenever they get the chance. Ireland then lose their first lineout and Wales try to find a way through inside the green 22.

54 mins – Humongous counter-rucking from Ireland forces Wales back before Sam Warburton knocks on to a huge roar. Subs as Paul O’Connell is replaced by Dan Tuohy and Mike Ross goes off for Martin Moore.

55 mins – Into the final 25 minutes and here comes the rain. Ireland penalised at their own scrum put-in. Halfpenny should get Wales off the mark.

PEN: Ireland 16-3 Wales (Halfpenny ’55)

From just to the left and 23m out, no bother to the 5′ 9″ fullback. My height but much, much, much more talented.

57 mins – How much does O’Driscoll, and D’Arcy for that matter, have in the tank? Sexton continues his kicking brief and it almost pays off. Kearney blocks 1/2p down and is tugged back but Barnes says ‘play on’.

58 mins – Jenkins pinged for hands in the ruck. Big penalty attempt coming up…

PEN: Ireland 19-3 Wales (Sexton ’59)

From 36m this time and a big kick in the context of the game’s momentum. Great stuff from Henry and POM before the penalty was awarded. wales win the restart and press forward.

60 mins – Ball getting slippy now and Wales knock-on. Advantage played so Murray’s poor kick is not punished. Out on the full but no matter. Fergus McFadden ON for Andrew Trimble.

62 mins – Ireland are happy to repel rather than shunt the Welsh at the scrum and they get rid of the ball, the aerial route. Kearney puts Halfpenny off enough to foirce another knock-on.

63 mins – CLANGER FROM THE TOUCH JUDGE. Halfpenny clearly knocks the ball out from 5m but Wales get the lineout. POM, still angry, tackles his man mid-air on the throw and is penalised. Barnes threatens the flanker with a yellow card as Tommy O’Donnell comes ON for the injured Dan Tuohy.

65 mins – Big hit from Moore on halfway forces a Welsh knock-on before D’;Arcy skips laterally across the pitch for a gain of 0 metres. Wales reghain the ball.

67 mins – Wales are bringing Cuthbert inside to make some holes. Quick tap and go from Phillips out on the left touchline and big defence is needed again. Another penalty and Phillips taps and darts. On the Irish line BUT Ireland win the penalty!

Massive double movement the call there against Rhodri Jones for that pressure relieving penalty. Sexton clears to 30m. Jack McGrath ON for the spent Cian Healy.

69 mins – Penalties going against the home side now, moments after O’Mahony claimed a Best lineout throw with his fingernails. Scrum on halfway but a big Irish push sets them on their heels.

70 mins – Into the final 10 and Wales whistled as Murray chases back to claim a grubber and is no released after being tackled.

72 mins – Ireland finishing on a high as they maul the life out of Gatty’s boys. So close to another try but O’Donnell spills 5m out on the left wing. Sean Cronin ON for the inspirationally industrious Rory Best.

74 mins – North is sent horizontally to the turf by Toner and Heaslip. He has barely figured, like so many big Welsh names. Scrum now awarded 30m from the posts and straight in front. Paddy Jackson ON for Jonny Sexton. Big applause but Trimble’s ranks the loudest, Paulie a close second.

76 mins – So O’Driscoll and D’Arcy are going to see out the game. Some effort from the mid thirtysomethings. What odds a late BOD try. Four minutes to go and the lead 16. Ireland have the win secured.

78 mins – Gatland will be under pressure after this result. Wales have looked out of sorts, out-thought and out-muscled. O’Mahony immense at the breakdown again and Jackson will go for the line, not the posts, as a penalty is conceded. Isaac Boss ON for Conor Murray but not just yet…

79 mins – O’Mahony man-of-the-match as Ireland get a lineout maul trucking inside the Welsh 22. TRY FOR PADDY JACKSON!

TRY! Ireland 26-3 Wales (Jackson ’79)

O’Driscoll wanted it out left in the corner but Ireland go left and no-one is at home in midfield. Jackson nips over and dots down before A MALICIOUS ELBOW IN THE HEAD FROM L WILLIAMS. Bit of a dust-up under the posts before Jackson converts.

80 mins – Wales looking for a consolation score BUT Ireland steal and break. Jackson hauled down in the 22 and Barnes ends the Welsh misey.


Stunning stuff from Ireland as they dismantled the reigning champions and won at a canter. O’Connell, Toner and O’Mahony were the stand-out players up front while Trimble excelled in the backline and R Kearney cause Halfpenny headaches all day.

What did you make of that?

Full-time score: Ireland 26-3 Wales

About the author:

Patrick McCarry