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Dublin: 16 °C Saturday 11 July, 2020
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Match report: Heartbreak for Ireland as Welsh snatch last-minute victory

A late Leigh Halfpenny penalty prevented Declan Kidney’s men from gaining an unlikely triumph in Dublin.

Leigh Halfpenny tackles Rob Kearney.
Leigh Halfpenny tackles Rob Kearney.

Ireland 21 Wales 23

A DISAPPOINTING PERFORMANCE from Ireland saw Wales snatch a last-minute victory courtesy of a Leigh Halfpenny penalty in an enthralling encounter.

Despite a perfect start in which Jonathan Sexton opened the scoring with a well-struck penalty, Wales went on to dominate for large parts of the second half, with Ireland showing little improvement from their lacklustre showing against the same opposition at the World Cup this summer.

Jonathan Davies gave Wales a deserved first-half lead, following a swift exchange of passes culminating in a wonderful offload from Rhys Priestland, which enabled the 22-year-old centre to cross over.

However, Ireland restored their lead just before half time, when quick hands in the backline, followed by a break from Tommy Bowe, allowed him to play through his fellow Ulsterman Rory Best, who crossed over the line unchallenged.

Wales continued to dominate possession in the second half, but with Rhys Priestland kicking erratically, they struggled to put points on the board.

Halfpenny eventually took over kicking duties from the off-form Priestland, and immediately moved his side to within five points after Sexton had added to Ireland’s advantage, before a superb George North offload allowed Davies to accelerate away from the Irish defence and in under the posts.

(Tommy Bowe crosses over for his try – INPHO/Dan Sheridan)

A Sexton penalty shortly thereafter put Ireland one point ahead, and a yellow card for Bradley Davies for a dangerous spear tackle put Wales under further pressure.

Consequently, some patient build-up play in the Welsh 22 allowed Tommy Bowe to eventually dive over in the corner.

Wales then swiftly responded, thanks to a typically powerful George North surge over the line, which left them trailing the hosts by only a point.

A dangerous tackle from Stephen Ferris resulted in his sin-binning, before Leigh Halfpenny nicked the win for his side with virtually the last kick of the game.

While an Ireland victory looked on before Halfpenny’s late intervention, in truth it would have been a triumph that they scarcely deserved.

Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), F McFadden (Leinster), G D’Arcy (Leinster), A Trimble (Ulster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Munster, capt), S Ferris (Ulster), S O’Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster).

Wales: L Halfpenny (Cardiff); A Cuthbert (Cardiff), J Davies (Scarlets), J Roberts (Cardiff), G North (Scarlets); R Priestland (Scarlets), M Phillips (Bayonne); R Gill (Saracens), H Bennett (Ospreys), A Jones (Ospreys), B Davies (Cardiff), I Evans (Ospreys), R Jones (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff, capt), T Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons).

Read: The game in pictures: Ireland lose to Wales in Six Nations opener>

Read: As it happened: Ireland v Wales, Six Nations Championship>

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About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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