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Silence in the Valleys as Ireland storm to another win

By Aidan Corr

in the Aviva Stadium

Guinness Six Nations:
Ireland 24, Wales 14
A SECOND Six Nations victory for Ireland today in a windy Aviva Stadium and they will now travel to play England in search of a Triple Crown success in their next game.
On a day of some outstanding performances in the green shirt, the home side never looked like losing. They dominated the opening half and should have been in a bigger lead than the 12-5 advantage that they held at the break. Two further tries during a lively second 40 minutes ensured the five pointer and, overall, this was an Irish performance that promises better things to come.
Conor Murray was back to his best. His distribution was fluent, he was involved in almost all Irish attacks and his kicking was faultless. CJ Stander constantly frustrated the Welsh at the breakdown while Andrew Conway and Keith Earls when he was called on, were also outstanding.
Wales gave this game their best shot but they were just overwhelmed up front when the pressure came from the Irish pack. Larmour threatened every time he got the ball and with Jonathan Sexton showing his maturity, courage and ability to go straight at the Welsh defence, this was a really good performance that will please new coach Andy Farrell.
Ireland had most of the play in the opening half and led by 12-7, tries by Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong and a conversion by Sexton, to Wales’ try from Tomos Williams and Dan Biggar adding the extra two points. The home side got a golden chance to open the scoring from the kick-off, Stockdale chasing his own kick and forcing a five metre scrum, but in that first put-in Wales were awarded a penalty. The visitors struggled to get into the game and they survived again when Ireland were whistled for holding on inside the visiting 22. Ireland had most of the play but it was the Welsh defence, showing great discipline, that held firm and a fourth penalty put Wales into the Irish 22 for the first time after 11 minutes.
Ireland eventually got the break they needed, Henshaw making the telling break to forced a penalty that set up a lineout maul but they conceded the put-in three metres from the line.
The deserved score came on the stroke of 20 minutes, Murray switching the play to the right and Jordan Larmour shuffling the feet to get the touchdown but Jonathan Sexton pulled the conversion well wide of the target. Stander’s turnover set up another Ireland attack that came to nothing.
Dan bigger lifted the siege with good distance from a penalty, Wales ran the ball well and Wyn Jones’s beautifully timed pass sent Tomos Williams in near the posts with Biggar putting his side 5-7 in front on 28 minutes. Conway brought play to the Welsh 22 with his trademark ‘race and chase’, the defence gifted an Irish put-in and Tadhg Furlong used his bulk to score a second try for the home side and Sexton made no mistake with the easier conversion to put his side back in front at 12-7.
Great handling skills by the visitors almost opened up the Irish defence but a knock-on spoiled the move as the clock crept into the half time break with Ireland leading 12-7. A brilliant feinted pass from Earls almost set up a third Irish try
If Wales were going to get back into this game from their re-start, the self-destructed with Nick Tomkins and Dan Biggar in turn spilling bread and butter passes. Ireland lapped up the double gift but Larmour kicked direct to spoil the attack. Try number three arrived on 47 minutes, Josh van der Flier credited with the grounding under a few tons of red and green shirts to push the lead to 19-7, Sexton converting and this game was now drifting from the Welsh. They made a spirited response but were deprived a try, the TMO ruling ‘no grounding’ when Hadleigh Parkes got over. Gareth Davis impressed when he came in at scrum-half for the visitors and his side took a breather before they set up another scrum five metres out. Another stunning slip pass from Keith Earls almost set up the bonus point try for Ireland but the defence stood firm. The five points were assured in the final minutes with Munster’s Andrew Conway getting over near the corner and although Justin Tipuric got over for a consolation converted try for the Welsh, Ireland fully deserved a victory that will see them go to Twickenham with something to prove.
IRELAND: Jordan Larmour; Andrew Conway, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale; Jonathan Sexton (captain), Conor Murray; Cian Healy, Rob Herring, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, james Ryan, Peter O’Mahony, Josh van der Flier, CJ Stander. Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Dave Kilcoyne, Andrew Porter, Devin Toner, Max Deegan, John Cooney, Ross Byrne, Keith Earls.
WALES: Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, Dillon Lewis, Jake Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Aaron Wainwright, Justin Tipuric, Taulupe Faletau. Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Adam Beard, Ross Moriarty, Gareth Davies, Owen Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl..

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