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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 22 April 2021


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Sure what else would you be doing today only taking shelter for a Marathon of Six Nations final day action?

The long weekend is taking a hosing out there, but we’ve got a bruising battle in store as Ireland try to win a fourth game on the trot, knock Wales off their Grand Slam course and leave themselves in with a chance of winning the title if Scotland pull off an enormous shock in Twickenham.

Whether you’re dodging the rain all day or planted in front of the TV, stick with us for news and views around Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt’s Six Nations farewell (kick-off 2.45).

As kick-off approaches in Cardiff, there is an enthralling finish playing out in Rome as Italy have been laying siege to the French line, but trail 14-20 with time running out.

TEAM NEWS: No late changes to either side, so they’ll line up as named on Thursday. There’s a Six Nations debut for Tadhg Beirne in the Ireland second row, while Sean O’Brien is back in the seven jersey. Warren Gatland’s Wales are unchanged from their win over Scotland.


15. Liam Williams
14. George North
13. Jonathan Davies
12. Hadleigh Parkes
11. Josh Adams
10. Gareth Anscombe
9. Gareth Davies

1. Rob Evans
2. Ken Owens
3. Tomas Francis
4. Adam Beard
5. Alun Wyn Jones (captain)
6. Josh Navidi
7. Justin Tipuric
8. Ross Moriarty


16. Elliot Dee
17. Nicky Smith
18. Dillon Lewis
19. Jake Ball
20. Aaron Wainwright
21. Aled Davies
22. Dan Biggar
23. Owen Watkin 


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

1. Cian Healy
2. Rory Best (captain)
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Tadhg Beirne
5. James Ryan
6. Peter O’Mahony
7. Sean O’Brien
8. CJ Stander


16. Niall Scannell
17. Dave Kilcoyne
18. Andrew Porter
19.  Quinn Roux
20. Jack Conan
21.  Kieran Marmion
22. Jack Carty
23. Jordan Larmour

Which way do you see this one going?

Poll Results:

Ireland (317)
Wales (246)
Draw  (35)

The stage is set in Cardiff for what promises to be a rollicking affair.

Ireland fans ahead of the game Source: Alex Davidson/INPHO

Warren Gatland

Paschal and Tom Luby

A view of the Principality Stadium ahead of the game

Jacob Stockdale in the dressing room ahead of the game

The Welsh choirs are in full voice and the anthems are echoing out of the open roof – which is letting gallons of rain tumble in onto the field.



Wales go straight for Stockdale with a high ball landing down with plenty of water on it into the Ulsterman’s arms.

He’s wrapped up well by George North.


What a sensational start for Gatland’s Grand Slam-chasers!

They attack off the line-out and Anscombe dinks over the top with the outside of his boot and BIG Hadleigh Parkes gets up to claim the ball and score.

Anscombe follows up with another fine strike and it’s seven.

Wales 7 Ireland 0


Keith Earls does well to take a long kick and step out of trouble. He’s tripped by Adams’ slide tackle. The penalty comes and Sexton declines the chance to calm things down, instead brilliantly picking out Stockdale with his kick.

The big Ulster man looks set to open up his stride and go clear, but he’s caught by Parkes and he spills when he hits the deck.


Early replacement for Wales. George North is off injured. Dan Biggar is on, so he’ll take over at 10 with Anscombe going to the back-field.


Fears maybe of another blow for the hosts, but Alun Wyn Jones won’t be cut down by mere ankle injuries.


Here comes the juggernaut. Wales mount an extended set of phases off a line-out and pile the pressure on in Ireland’s 22.

Rory Best comes close to disrupting, but Wales rumble on for nine more phases… when THAT MAN TADHG BEIRNE GETS JACKALLING.

Superb turnover five metres from his own line.


Hugely frustrating. Ireland set up an attacking line-out and put Tadhg Furlong in the back-line, clearly signalling a powerplay ahead. But James Ryan is pinged for encroaching in the gap.

Minutes later, Sexton is penalised after Wales once again kick at Stockdale.

Anscombe has a chance to extend the lead…


PENALTY! Wales 10 Ireland 0 (Anscombe ’17)


Another penalty milked by clever Welsh attacking play, but after Anscombe chips over the top. Aki claims the ball and Davies moves in to tackle him on the ground.

Referee reverses the penalty because the 9 went in after the whistle.


Now comes a chance for Ireland to hit back. Penalty kicked to the corner and they set the maul to go.

When you go to the corner to make a statement, though, you have to really make it. Wales show their excellent maul defence and rebuff Ireland’s big shove and win the turnover.


Wales leave Adams a very tight clearance kick and invite a little more pressure as Keith Earls claims 40 metres out.

They set up camp and start working their way through carries, but Alun Wyn Jones makes a right nuisance of himself and brings an ‘unplayable’ call. Scrum Ireland, 15 metres in front of the posts.

Great attacking position.


Oh no.

Free kick comes for Ireland, but CJ’s quick tap goes forward out of his grasp and possession is lost. 


With no roof to shield the ground from the elements, it’s the type of day you’d rather not have the ball. A good defensive shift from Ireland gets them out of their 22 with a penalty, but Best’s line-out throw is stolen and Furlong runs offside as Wales attack.

Another chance for ‘Chicken’ Anscombe then.


PENALTY! Wales 13 Ireland 0 (Anscombe ’35)

The Cardiff playmaker drives another one through the rain and Ireland are well adrift.


There’s the added value of having Biggar on the field. Terrific take as he beats Stockdale in a straight leap and takes the ball.

Ireland have conceded their eighth penalty of the game, a figure they usually don’t reach in 80 minutes, as Cian Healy is penalised in a scrum.

PENALTY! Wales 16 Ireland 0 (Anscombe ’40)

Flag 40Mins

HALF-TIME: Wales 16 Ireland 0

Worth noting the sequence leading to that closing score of the half.

Conor Murray kicked out on the full, Wales attacked off the line-out, James Ryan thundered into a tackle on Josh Navidi and thought he forced a knock on, but it was, in fact, his hand which batted the pass to ground. And the resulting scrum delivered the chance.

It’s been that sort of day.

More in-keeping with Ireland’s first three outings in this Championship than the brief flourish against France last week.


Here we go then, second half under way. Wales are 40 minutes from another Grand Slam. Ireland are 17 points from salvaging this.


A salvage would probably need some signs of Ireland improving or changing up drastically. It’s been more of the same errors in the early minutes though, the latest being a kick out on the full from Sexton.


PENALTY! Wales 19 Ireland 0 (Anscombe ’48)


A fourth penalty since Wales’ opening try and it’s followed up by another dispiriting error as Sexton kicks the ball dead, so it’s a red scrum back on halfway. 


After Conor Murray is turned and kicks poorly out of the 22, Jack Conan is introduced to make an impact in place of Sean O’Brien.

But the impact instead come from Wales, getting over the gainline again and winning another penalty for Anscombe.

The Grand Slam party can start now.

PENALTY! Wales 22 Ireland 0 (Anscombe ’53)


It’s looking real hazy out there now. Sopping wet.

A penalty comes for Ireland as Murray is taken out late. He kicks for the corner himself and Ireland show good energy in attack from the line-out.


Oh no, a howler of a mix-up as Ireland go to the left corner, Sexton’s pass goes behind Stockdale to nobody in particular.

Wales will escape another brief bout of pressure with their sheet still clean.

Is it possible? Could Ireland be nilled a year on from the Slam?


CJ knocks on and the ball is hacked to Ireland’s line, Earls dives on it and has no option but to carry across his own line.

He almost gets away with it, but Angus Gardiner eventually realises the error and there’s a scrum for Wales to really twist the knife in now.


Speaking of the prospect of a shut-out, Andy McGeady has helpfully presented the professional era nils by Ireland.

The last one was in Hamilton when the All Blacks ran out 60-0 victors.

Even if Ireland do get on the board before the close here, though, this Six Nations is a low ebb for Joe Schmidt’s tenure.


PENALTY! Wales 25 Ireland 0 (Anscombe ’70)

They keep on coming. Porter pinged at the scrum and Wales are home and hosed.


Ireland go for the corner rather than shamelessly avoid the nil and they will rumble into big red shirts in search of a late score.


Jack Carty has looked lively in attack and his kick through on advantage was inventive, but his pass to Ringrose is a little too high and brings about a turnover. Cardiff cheers as they hack clear. 


If you’re in Cardiff tonight, you might wanna wear the full Haz-Mat suit.

Flag 82Mins

Jacob Stockdale with one last powerful burst at the line.

He does brilliantly with his leg drive to make extra yardage, but Aki is ahead of him and covered so there is no chance of an offload.

Carty spins a lovely pass right and Jordan Larmour only has to sidestep one defender to save Ireland’s blushes.

TRY! Wales 25 Ireland 7 (Larmour ’82)

Carty added the conversion.


FULL-TIME: Wales are Grand Slam champions

Ireland will have to wring out their socks and patch up their wounds.

And so that’s it for another Six Nations campaign from Ireland.

The players will have a few days off before going back to their province next week and ramping up for Europe.

Joe Schmidt will be poring over the drawing board in search of solutions to work on through the four summer Tests so that the World Cup is not the wash-out that today was.

About the author:

Sean Farrell


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