Rugby Union / Five Nations Championship: Irish left bogged down as Welsh play it by the letter

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The Independent Online
Ireland A. . . 10

Wales A. . . . 20

THE TRICK used to be getting from A to B, but in rugby they move in peculiar circles, from B to A internationals. And yesterday's between the Irish and Welsh was threatened with another big move, around 80 miles to Longford, before the pitch here passed an early morning inspection.

The weather here has been atrocious and the shared home of Old Wesley and Bective Rangers had come in for its fair share of the deluge. Hence a muddy maul of a match with several hundredweight of sand thrown in for good measure.

Never mind, the forwards loved it and the Welsh even managed to string together a good sweeping move inside the first 20 minutes for the wing David Manley to cross and follow up an opening penalty from Aled Williams.

The Welsh had lost the fixture at Newport last season when David Humphreys, the Irish stand-off, collected 19 points. Humphreys, though, was on the bench this time, which left the former England Under-21 international, Paul Burke, to collect Ireland's only points before the break with a penalty.

And while the Irish became bogged down in their own Dublin mud, the Welsh skipped merrily on towards victory with another fine move. Again the ball went right, Paul John finding Paul Arnold on his shoulder and the lock sent in Aled Williams for the stand-off to convert.

Aled Willams next made an interception, Manley's 30-yard gallop resulting in a try for John. The Irish finally caught on, but it was half an hour into the second half before they spread it wide and, lo and behold, there was a try for Niall Woods.

Ireland A: Try Woods; Conversion Burke; Penalty Burke. Wales A: Tries Manley, A Williams, John; Conversion A Williams; Penalty A Williams.

IRELAND A: P Murray (Shannon); T Howe (Dungannon), B Walsh (Constitution), M Field (Malone), N Woods (Blackrock College); P Burke (London Irish) N Hogan (Terenure College, capt); P Soden (Constitution), J McDonald (Malone), P Millar (Ballymena), J Etheridge (Blackrock College), D Tweed (Ballymena), E Halvey (Shannon), R Wilson, K McKee (Instonians).

WALES A: I Jones (Llanelli), D Manley, S Lewis (Pontypridd), M Wintle (Llanelli), G Wilkins (Bridgend), A Williams (Swansea), P John (Pontypridd, capt), I Buckett (Swansea), B Williams (Neath), L Mustoe (Cardiff), P Arnold (Swansea), D Jones (Cardiff), A Gibbs (Newbridge), H Taylor (Cardiff), L Jones (Llanelli). Replacement: A Palfrey (Cardiff) for Manley, 65.

Referee: B Campsall (Yorkshire).

The Welsh Under-21 side made it two out of two when, thanks to their powerful pack, they beat their Ireland counterparts 27-5 at Carlow yesterday. They were in control for much of the match and flanker Robert Appleyard and hooker Paul Young were outstanding.

Backed by a gale-force wind, the Welsh were 17-0 up by the break thanks to three penalties and a drop goal from Chris John and a Duncan Hughes try. Irish hopes were ended nine minutes into the second half when Adrian Wainwright burst through for a try.

Prop Warren O'Kelly put Ireland on the board three minutes from time when he bulldozed over from close range.

Wales had the final say when captain Harris charged down an attempted clearance and dived over for the final try.