Wales 22 Ireland 30
Wales 22 Ireland 30
WALES slumped to their eighth successive defeat as any hope of retaining the Grand Slam went up in smoke at the Millennium Stadium.
It was a crazy game, Wales a joke in the first half at 23-3 down at the interval after a performance of breathtaking incompetence.
They were a different team in the second 40 minutes but were left with far too much to do.
The second half comeback shouldn’t mask the fact that Wales were a shambolic embarrassment in that first half.
A big plus for them however was the performance of new cap Andrew Coombs.
The Newport Gwent Dragons lock played his heart out and put himself about in his inimitable style.
Ireland took the lead after ten minutes when some clever back play, and rabbits in the headlights defence, saw Munster’s Simon Zebo cross in the corner.
The wing’s try was handsomely converted by fly half Jonny Sexton who put the visitors 10-0 up soon after with a penalty.
Ireland were crushing Wales all over the park and their dominance was rewarded in the 24th minute when Dan Biggar’s laboured attempted clearance kick was charged down by stalwart hooker Rory Best.
Some slick hands saw loosehead prop Cian Healy cross in the corner for their second try which was again beautifully converted by Sexton.
The sizeable Irish contingent was delirious with joy while the shell shocked home fans couldn’t believe their eyes.
Another Sexton shot at goal made it 20-0 before Leigh Halfpenny got Wales on the board with a penalty but it was the Leinster outside half who had the last word with his third penalty.
It didn’t take Ireland long to pile on the agony, grand master Brian O’Driscoll crossing for their third try in the 44th minute, Sexton again banging over the conversion.
Wales wing Alex Cuthbert gave them hope when he tore through a huge hole in Ireland’s defence in the 50th minute, Halfpenny’s conversion making it 30-10.
They then battered away at Ireland as they dominated the second half.
Best was yellow carded for killing the ball in the 59th minute and Wales took immediate advantage when Halfpenny crossed in the corner but missed with his conversion attempt.
Ireland were all at sea as Wales began to cut them open from deep but failed to finish off one promising move.
Wales knocked and knocked on Ireland’s door but the visitors just held out.
Their scrum half Connor Murray was sin binned in the 71st minute but they continued to repulse attack after attack, a combination of gutsy defence and attacking blunder a feature.
Replacement tighthead prop Craig Mitchell scored a third try for Wales with five minutes left and Halfpenny converted but they were still eight points adrift as Ireland deservedly won after such a stunning and clinical first half.
Wales scorers: Tries – Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny, Craig Mitchell, Conversions – L Halfpenny (2), Penalty – Leigh Halfpenny
Ireland scorers: Tries – Simon Zebo, Cian Healy, Brian O’Driscoll, Conversions – Jonny Sexton (3), Penalties – Sexton (3)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)