Ireland 26 Wales 3 match report: Irish book Triple Crown showdown

Easy win over Wales sets up Joe Schmidt’s men for decisive England clash at Twickenham in two weeks

Aviva Stadium

After a surprisingly comfortable win over Six Nations champions Wales in Dublin yesterday, Ireland captain Paul O’Connell insisted a Triple Crown win at Twickenham in two weeks will require a huge step up in intensity.

“A win in Twickenham is massive, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done it before,” said the Ireland captain after yesterday’s victory, which follows last week’s defeat of Scotland. “ They’re an incredibly physical side, their line speed is very impressive and they put a lot of pressure on teams with that and they’re growing in confidence all the time. The competition gets a whole lot harder from here and going to Twickenham is going to be a massive step up.”

For all the talk about Wales’ superior fitness and hulking supermen it was O’Connell and his team-mates who donned the capes here yesterday, strangling a Welsh side that lacked the brains when their brawn failed to do the trick.

The Irish dominated this game from start to finish thanks to their own practical game plan and an ill-disciplined performance from  Warren Gatland’s team, who coughed up 15 penalties - “ unacceptable” according to the coach afterwards.

The pre-match build-up also centred on some bloke called Brian whose package holiday to Australia last summer ended in bitter-sweet fashion, but with 20 Lions tourists shared between the starting XVs this was always going to be a game rich with sub-plots.

However, the battle lines were drawn in green paint. Jamie Heaslip, Connor Murray and O’Connell were edging their opposite numbers, with Toby Faletau’s aimless running typifying Wales’s limitations, while Mike Phillips, frustrated at the lack of quality supply to work with, became increasingly tetchy as his team lurched towards the inevitable defeat.

But the game’s first try was borne out of the compelling duel between full-backs Rob Kearney and Leigh Halfpenny. With the score at 6-0 to Ireland after Jonathan Sexton had punished visiting transgressions, a line-out steal by Devin Toner led to Kearney launching a Garryowen towards Halfpenny.

Both men attacked the dropping ball at its highest point, but by the time they had hit the deck Kearney had ripped the ball away, leaving Sexton to prod a ball into the Welsh corner where Rhys Priestland had no option but to carry it into touch. From the line-out and a series of mauls, Chris Henry scored to give Ireland a 13-0 half-time lead.

Indeed the Irish line-out would prove near perfect as they reclaimed 16 of 17 while stealing two of Hibbard’s darts, and when Cian Healy was taken out early in the second half while supporting a lifter, Sexton chalked up another penalty for a 16-0 lead on 43 minutes.

Sexton (14 points, five kicks from six) then extended Ireland’s lead to 19-3 shortly after Halfpenny had struck his side’s only points.

Prior to this game the Principality were optimistic that they could run their hosts off the park, but using a measured kicking game from Joe Schmidt’s men cut off the power at source by playing tight and mauling Welsh legs into jelly. There were eight line-out mauls in total (which would account for 20 points), the final one allowing Paddy Jackson to scoot in for a late try.

Wherever Wales turned they found an aggressive green jersey waiting for them, and while Alun Wyn Jones was correct when he proclaimed during the week that Dublin was not Syria, Ireland still dominated the combat areas, forcing the visitors to commit more numbers to the ruck, and from there they lost their structure.

Irish back-row Peter O’Mahony got the nod as man of the match and while Murray’s ability to control the throttle of a game’s tempo is crucial, it is the input from new coach Schmidt that may prove decisive by the end of the championship.

He and Gatland share three Heineken Cups, two Challenge Cups and four domestic titles. The Wales coach may have the upper hand in the Test arena, claiming a Lions series win and two Grand Slams, but Schmidt’s ability to outwit “Warrenball” suggests he may even the score in the coming seasons having yesterday put a spoke in Welsh hopes of a championship hat-trick.

Line-ups:

Ireland: R Kearney, A Trimble (F McFadden, 61), B O’Driscoll, G D’Arcy, D Kearney, J Sexton (P Jackson, 75), C Murray; C Healy (J McGrath, 66), R Best (S Cronin, 73), M Ross (M Moore, 55), D Toner, P O’Connell (capt; D Tuohy, 55; T O’Donnell, 65), P O’Mahony, C Henry, J Heaslip.

Wales: L Halfpenny, A Cuthbert, S Williams (L Williams, 17), J Roberts, G North, Rhys Priestland, M Phillips; G Jenkins (P James, 70), R Hibbard (K Owens, 61), A Jones (R Jones, 61), A Coombs, A W Jones (J Ball, 70), D Lydiate (J Tipuric, 70), S Warburton (capt), T Faletau.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU).

 

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Buddy DeFranco
people
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones