Ireland beats wales to make it three wins in three

February 25, 2024 6:55 am

[Source: BBC]

Ireland moved closer to completing back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams with an unconvincing bonus-point win over a spirited Wales side in Dublin.

Dan Sheehan’s opening try and a James Lowe score had the hosts 17-0 up after a dominant first-half display.

Welsh hopes of a shock win were boosted when they were awarded a penalty try early in the second half as Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne was sin-binned.

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But Ciaran Frawley eased home nerves before Beirne bagged the bonus point.

The win means Ireland have equalled England’s Six Nations record of 11 consecutive victories and remain on course to become the first team since France in 1998 to secure back-to-back Grand Slams.

For Wales, it is a third successive defeat but they were not blown away as some had predicted, and can take positives from a spirited second-half showing in which they caused their hosts problems, but lacked the cutting edge to eat into the deficit.

Given Ireland’s dominance of this fixture in recent years and their remarkable winning run at home – which now stands at 18 matches – few had given the Welsh much hope in the build-up.

However, in a dull and scrappy start to the game, Ireland did not have it all their way with the Welsh defence showing plenty of might to stop the first Irish maul of the game after Jack Crowley’s penalty put the home side on the board.

But with Ireland wholly dominant in the scrum, they were soon afforded the chance of another catch-and-drive, which yielded the desired – and by now familiar – result of a Sheehan try, his fourth of the competition and ninth in 24 caps.

Ireland’s second came from another familiar source in Lowe, the wing crossing for his 14th international try after Wales’ stubborn defence was pierced by an impressive Joe McCarthy surge.

Wales will naturally be disappointed with a third straight defeat – and 10th in their past 11 Six Nations outings – but they can certainly take encouragement from how they rattled Ireland in the second half.

Having been no match for the Irish juggernaut in the first half, Warren Gatland’s young side reappeared for the second with renewed purpose, knowing that they had recovered from a 27-0 half-time deficit to nearly steal a win against Scotland.

In the first half, the Welsh did not visit the Irish 22 until the 36th minute – and left empty-handed – but it was a different story in the second half.

After kicking to the corner, the Welsh gave Ireland a taste of their own medicine with a well-executed maul.

It was held up on the line, but after a TMO check, Beirne was shown a yellow card for changing his bind, with Italian referee Andrea Piardi awarding Wales the penalty try.

With renewed hope, Wales put Ireland under sustained pressure through 19 phases in their next attack and would have been disappointed not to add to their tally before Ronan Kelleher won a crucial penalty to halt the away side’s momentum.

From there, Ireland recognised the need to step it up, and while man of the match Bundee Aki had a try ruled out for a Robbie Henshaw knock-on in the build-up, the majority inside the Aviva Stadium breathed a sigh of relief when Frawley dived over the line.

It was a big moment for Frawley, on whom there had been much focus after he was chosen by Andy Farrell to fill in for ultra-consistent full-back Hugo Keenan, who picked up a knee injury against Italy.

And while James Ryan picked up Ireland’s second yellow card, Beirne atoned for his earlier infringement when he charged over to seal the bonus point and set Ireland up for a much-anticipated trip to Twickenham to face England in a fortnight.

Ireland: Frawley; Nash, Henshaw, Aki, Lowe; Crowley, Gibson-Park; Porter, Sheehan, Furlong; McCarthy, Beirne; O’Mahony (capt), Van der Flier, Doris.

Replacements: Kelleher, Healy, Jager, Ryan, Baird, Conan, Murray, McCloskey.

Sin-bin: Beirne (43), Ryan (76)

Wales: Winnett; Adams, North, Tompkins, Dyer; Costelow, Tomos Williams; G Thomas, Dee, Assiratti, Jenkins (capt), Beard, Mann, Reffell, Wainwright.