Rugby Union: Humphreys tonic for Irish

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Wales A. . .28

Ireland A. .29

IRISH rugby received a much-needed tonic as the A team recorded the first victory of the season at senior level at Newport last night. Much of the credit for that landmark went to one the youngest members of the side, David Humphreys, who followed up his demolition job of the Welsh Under-21s with a match-winning 19- point performance on his A debut.

The ironic cheers that greeted the first Welsh line-out win told the complete story of the home side's deficiencies in the first encounter with their Irish counterparts at this level. While the visitors were under pressure at the scrum, they ruled at the line-out to such an extent that they seemed to mesmerise Robin McBryde, the Welsh hooker.

Wales got off to a good start with a seventh-minute penalty from Adrian Davies, their outside-half, following some lifting at a line-out 30 metres out. After that, though, it was the visitors who began to assert their authority.

Humphreys, the man most likely to hold down the senior Irish No 10 jersey for some time to come, controlled matters beautifully with his swift distribution and pin-point kicking. Added to that, he hit the mark with a number of penalties and drop goal attempts.

His first success came midway through the first half after the frustrated Welsh were penalised for taking illegal measures to win line-out ball. Following that penalty, he dropped a high and handsome goal to give Ireland the lead.

Humphreys landed another penalty from in front of the posts two minutes before the interval and, on the stroke of half-time, a sweeping move sparked by Aherne's break ended with a classic try for Jim Staples. But while the Irish celebrated, Staples departed with a damaged left shoulder.

The Welsh at least began the second half with a flourish that ended with a try on the blind side of a five-metre scrum from the impressive full-back Ian Jones.

There was a frustrating dent in the Welsh revival, though, when Humphries dropped his second goal from a planned move following a free-kick.

Wales A: Tries Jones, Bidgood 2, Jones, Proctor; Conversion Davies; Penalties: Davies 2. Ireland A: Tries Staples, Humphreys, Walsh; Conversion Humphreys; Penalties Humphreys 2; Drop Goals Humphreys 2.

WALES A: I Jones (Llanelli); S Ford (Cardiff), N Davies (Llanelli, capt), R Bidgood (Newport), W Proctor (Llanelli); A Davies (Cardiff), R Howley (Bridgend); I Buckett (Swansea), R McBryde (Swansea), L Mustoe (Pontypool), P Kawulok, S Roy (both Cardiff), A Reynolds (Swansea), S Legge (South Wales Police), M Budd (Cardiff).

IRELAND A: J Staples (London Irish); R Carey (Dungannon), B Walsh (Cork Constitution), M McCall (Bangor), N Woods (Blackrock Coll); D Humphreys (Queen's University Belfast), F Aherne (Lansdowne, capt); P Soden (Cork Constitution), B Mulcahy (Skerries), P Millar (Ballymena), J Etheridge (Northampton), D Tweed (Ballymena), K Potts (St Mary's), N Mannion (Lansdowne), L Toland (Old Crescent). Replacement: M Ridge (Blackrock Coll) for Staples, 40.

Referee: S Piercey (Yorkshire).