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Six Nations: Perfect start slips out of Ireland's grasp against Wales

Ireland 16-16 Wales

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 08/02/2016

Tipped over: Ireland’s Keith Earls stops Tom James of Wales in his tracks at the Aviva Stadium
Tipped over: Ireland’s Keith Earls stops Tom James of Wales in his tracks at the Aviva Stadium
Wales' Taulupe Faletau (right) is tackled by Ireland's Jack McGrath during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' Tom James (right) is tackled by Ireland's Keith Earls during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' Jonathan Davies hands off Ireland's CJ Stander during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Johnny Sexton and Wales' Rob Evans during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Andrew Trimble of Ireland is tackled by Justin Tipuric of Wales adfter carrying the ball over his own tryline during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Andrew Trimble of Ireland is tackled by Justin Tipuric of Wales adfter carrying the ball over his own tryline during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Wales' George North is tackled by Ireland's CJ Stander (left) and Rory Best during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' Liam Williams and Ireland's Andrew Trimble (left) during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
TOPSHOT - Wales' number 8 Taulupe Faletau (C) scores his team's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' Tom James during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' George North is tackled by Ireland's Rory Best during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales is dumped by Keith Earls of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Roberts of Wales is tackle by Jack McGrath and CJ Stander of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales is dumped by Keith Earls of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Davies of Wales hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Welsh rugby fans wait in the stands ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Welsh rugby fans wait in the stands ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's hooker Rory Best (C) warms up with team mates ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
The Irish team huddle on the pitch ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland head coach Joe' Schmidt (centre) gives a pre match team talk during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Wales fans enjoy the pre match atmosphere during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's hooker Rory Best (2L) warms up with teammates ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Wales fans enjoy the pre match atmosphere during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland is wrapped up by Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip (centre) is tackled by Wales' Alun Wyn Jones (right) and Luke Charteris during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland is wrapped up by Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

A late Jonathan Sexton penalty at the Aviva Stadium ensured a first draw between Ireland and Wales since 1974 and, more importantly, saw both unable to kick-off their Six Nations campaign with a win.

A strong start saw defending champions Ireland lead by 13 points inside the first 30 minutes of the game but they failed to score for the following three quarters of an hour before Sexton knotted matters at 16 apiece with only five minutes remaining.

With the phase counter frequently ticking into the high teens, both sides sowed an ability to retain possession but line-breaks were largely few and far between in the face of robust tackling.

A pair of Sexton penalties and a Conor Murray try were cancelled out by the boot of substitute out-half Rhys Priestland and a score from Taulupe Faletau as Ireland had to overcame troubles in the scrum to earn the point when they should have been out of sight.

As Ireland's post-Paul O'Connell era dawned, the pervading mood of pessimism surrounding the team this week was matched only by the darkening clouds in Dublin.

Ireland, though, started in a much brighter fashion than anticipated in some quarters.

With the likes of Cian Healy, Mike Ross, Iain Henderson, Peter O'Mahony and Tommy Bowe long since ruled out, Ireland's cause was weakened further by the loss of Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney during the week.

With the memory of an undermanned Ireland exiting the World Cup at the hands of Argentina last October still fresh, the injury profile hardly augured well but it was Joe Schmidt's men who took control of proceedings.

As Ulster's Rory Best led the side out for the first time since being installed as O'Connell's successor, there was a surprise in the Wales line-up with Gareth Anscombe - son of former Ulster coach Mark - a late withdrawal thanks to a tight hamstring and replaced by Scarlets' Liam Williams.

If Ireland had planned to pepper the Welsh back-three with contestable kicks early on, the inclusion of Williams gave reason to think twice.

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton leaves the field after being substituted during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin against Dublin.
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton leaves the field after being substituted during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin against Dublin.
Ireland's full back Simon Zebo (L) is tackled by Wales' centre Jamie Roberts during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's Sean Cronin (C) is tackled during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Gareth Davies of Wales passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Tom James of Wales is tackled by Keith Earls and Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Tom James of Wales is tackled by Keith Earls and Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Tom James of Wales is tackled by Keith Earls and Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Rhys Priestland of Wales kicks at goal during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales is tackled by Ian Madigan and Robbie Henshaw of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales charges upfield during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland watches over his team's pre match warm up during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland watches over his team's pre match warm up during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland is tackled by Alun Wyn Jones and Rob Evans of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Joe Schmidt the head coach of Ireland watches over his team's pre match warm up during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales makes a break during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Conor Murray of Ireland passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Gareth Davies of Wales passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Davies of Wales is challenged by Jonathan Sexton of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Rhys Priestland of Wales clears the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland charges upfield during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Devin Toner of Ireland is tackled by Samson Lee and Gethin Jenkins of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Devin Toner of Ireland is tackled by Samson Lee and Gethin Jenkins of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Devin Toner of Ireland wins lineout ball under pressure from Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Andrew Trimble of Ireland (l) and Liam Williams of Wales battle for the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Rhys Priestland of Wales kicks a penalty during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Devin Toner of Ireland wins lineout ball under pressure from Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton prepares to kick a penalty during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton kicks a penalty during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Dave Kearney (left) and Wales' George North compete for a high ball during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales is tackled by Ian Madigan (l) and Robbie Henshaw of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales' Lloyd Williams (L) passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' Lloyd Williams passes the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Simon Zebo of Ireland breaks through the tackles from Jamie Roberts and Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Tom James of Wales in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's prop Jack McGrath (L) tackles Wales' Bradley Davies during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Simon Zebo of Ireland takes on Jonathan Davies of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Andrew Trimble of Ireland looks to pass as George North of Wales closes in during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's full back Simon Zebo (C) is tackled by Wales' centre Jonathan Davies (R) during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales in action during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view.) The teams enter the arena ahead of the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: (EDITOR'S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view.) The teams line up ahead of the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Devin Toner of Ireland wins lineout ball under pressure from Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium at Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's full back Simon Zebo (L) is tackled by Wales' centre Jamie Roberts during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's full back Simon Zebo (L) is tackled by Wales' centre Jamie Roberts during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's Sean Cronin (C) is tackled during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Gareth Davies of Wales passes the ball during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales takes on Keith Earls of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Andrew Trimble (centre left) is tackled Wales' Taulupe Faletau during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Devin Toner of Ireland wins lineout ball under pressure from Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales' Taulupe Faletau (right) is tackled by Ireland's Jack McGrath during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' Tom James (right) is tackled by Ireland's Keith Earls during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' Jonathan Davies hands off Ireland's CJ Stander during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Johnny Sexton and Wales' Rob Evans during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Andrew Trimble of Ireland is tackled by Justin Tipuric of Wales adfter carrying the ball over his own tryline during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Andrew Trimble of Ireland is tackled by Justin Tipuric of Wales adfter carrying the ball over his own tryline during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Wales' George North is tackled by Ireland's CJ Stander (left) and Rory Best during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' Liam Williams and Ireland's Andrew Trimble (left) during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
TOPSHOT - Wales' number 8 Taulupe Faletau (C) scores his team's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' Tom James during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' George North is tackled by Ireland's Rory Best during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales is dumped by Keith Earls of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Roberts of Wales is tackle by Jack McGrath and CJ Stander of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales is dumped by Keith Earls of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Davies of Wales hands off CJ Stander of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Welsh rugby fans wait in the stands ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Welsh rugby fans wait in the stands ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's hooker Rory Best (C) warms up with team mates ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
The Irish team huddle on the pitch ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland head coach Joe' Schmidt (centre) gives a pre match team talk during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Wales fans enjoy the pre match atmosphere during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's hooker Rory Best (2L) warms up with teammates ahead of the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Wales fans enjoy the pre match atmosphere during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland is wrapped up by Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland kicks a penalty during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip (centre) is tackled by Wales' Alun Wyn Jones (right) and Luke Charteris during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland is wrapped up by Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland is wrapped up by Luke Charteris and Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Connor Murray (left) is tackled by Wales' Scott Baldwin during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Simon Zebo of Ireland is hauled down by Jonathan Davies of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland is tackled by Luke Charteris and Sam Warburton of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland is tackled by Luke Charteris and Sam Warburton of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip (centre) is tackled by Wales' Alun Wyn Jones (right) and Luke Charteris during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Andrew Trimble (centre) is tackled by Wales' Alun Wyn Jones (right) during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: CJ Stander of Ireland is tackled by Sam Warburton of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland hands off Sam Warburton of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: CJ Stander of Ireland is tackled by Sam Warburton of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Kieran Marmion (right) is tackled by Wales' Justin Tipuric during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jamie Heaslip of Ireland hands off Sam Warburton of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Kieran Marmion (centre) is tackled by Wales' Justin Tipuric during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's Nathan White (left) is tackle by Wales' Samson Lee during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: (L-R) Rory Best and Jack McGrath of Ireland line up for the national anthems prior to kickoff during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jonathan Sexton in kicking action during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Jonathan Sexton of Ireland is hauled down by Rob Evans of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: The injured Dan Biggar of Wales leaves the pitch midway through the first half during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: The injured Dan Biggar of Wales leaves the pitch midway through the first half during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: The injured Dan Biggar of Wales leaves the pitch midway through the first half during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales' Liam Williams (centre) is tackled by Ireland's Andrew Trimble (left) during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: The injured Dan Biggar of Wales leaves the pitch midway through the first half during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Conor Murray of Ireland crashes through the tackle from Justin Tipuric of Wales to score the opening try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Conor Murray of Ireland crashes through the tackle from Justin Tipuric of Wales to score the opening try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Conor Murray (centre right) scores a try during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales receives treatment following a tackle by Keith Earls (R) of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales' Tom James is tackled by Ireland's CJ Stander during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales receives treatment following a tackle by Keith Earls (R) of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales' Dan Biggar (left) and Ireland's Conor Murray battle for a high ball during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams (R) of Wales looks on during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip (bottom right) is tackled by Wales' Jonathan Davies (right) during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' wing George North (C) vies with Ireland's centre Jared Payne (R) during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's Mike McCarthy wins a lineout during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Ireland's wing Andrew Trimble (C) vies with Wales' lock Alun Wyn Jones (L) and Wales' wing Tom James during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is tackled by Jamie Roberts of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Wales' Gareth Davies loses control of the ball during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Robbie Henshaw of Ireland is tackled by Jonathan Davies (L) and Jamie Roberts (R) of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Ireland's Jared Payne (centre) is tackled by Wales' Jonathan Davies and Rhys Priestland (right) during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' number 8 Taulupe Faletau (C) scores his team's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' Tom James during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' number 8 Taulupe Faletau (C) scores his team's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Wales' Taulupe Faletau scores a try during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' number 8 Taulupe Faletau (C) scores his team's first try during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: George North of Wales is challenged by Jared Payne of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland's Simon Zebo and Wales' Dan Biggar during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Liam Williams of Wales takes on Jamie Heaslip of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Wales' Justin Tipuric tackled by Ireland's CJ Stander (right) and Jamie Heaslip during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
Wales' wing George North (L) and Wales' number 8 Taulupe Faletau (C) vie against Ireland's wing Andrew Trimble during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on February 7, 2016. / AFP / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland and Wales' players walk out during the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Taulupe Faletau of Wales forces his way over the lineto score his team's first try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - FEBRUARY 07: Taulupe Faletau of Wales forces his way over the lineto score his team's first try during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Ireland and Wales players lineup to sing the national anthems before the 2016 RBS Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 7, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial use only. No commercial or promotional use without prior consent from IRFU. No alterations or doctoring. For further information please call +44 (0)115 8447447.

Instead, both sides recycled well and, for the game's first points, Ireland moved through the phases and reached a tally of 19 before Wales were caught offside.

Sexton took his time and bisected the posts with four minutes on the clock.

Wales showcased their own ability to retain possession but, despite moving through 20 phases, they failed to make headway, due in no small part to a huge tackle from the rock-solid Andrew Trimble on Alun Wyn Jones.

Devin Toner was perhaps not the player Schmidt wanted to see rampaging into the loose having scooped up the ball but Ireland advanced and, when Wales were pinged for not rolling away, Sexton duly doubled the lead.

The first of an unsettling number of scrum penalties bought an inaugural rendition of 'Land of my Fathers' after 20 minutes but Dan Biggar stabbed the penalty to the right of the posts.

It was the influential Osprey's last action, Rhys Priestland taking the place of the limping No.10.

The Bath replacement's mind was perhaps still elsewhere when he knocked on almost immediately and then kicked for touch rather than touching down when the outstretched paw of Toner sent an attempted box-kick bouncing over the whitewash.

The mistakes proved costly, Ireland keeping the ball tight off the resulting scrum before breaking through the Welsh line for Murray to get his fifth international score.

Thirteen points to the good, Ireland had a dozen minutes to negotiate before the half-time whistle. At the turn however, the advantage was a slender three.

First, after Keith Earls was whistled for a tackle on Williams, a penalty from Priestland gave Wales their first points in the 32nd minute.

Then, with Ireland's set-piece at its most unstable, Faletau wheeled right off the base of a scrum that seemed to be heading to the blindside and dotted down.

With 364 caps, three British and Irish Lions and two former captains on the visiting bench Wales will have felt optimistic when Priestland levelled matters from the tee four minutes after the interval.

The next half hour, however, saw the balance of power shift back and forth but neither side were able to really threaten.

Wales moved through 28 phases as the final 10 minutes approached only for Ireland to force a turnover. Almost immediately, Jack McGrath was called for holding on and Priestland kept cool to give his side the lead for the first time.

Much to the chagrin of Warren Gatland, that advantage was ceded with substitute prop Tom Francis whistled.

Sexton, in what was his last act, slotted home.

Ireland's schedule is unkind, with a six-day turnaround until a trip to the Stade de France followed by a week break and a visit to Twickenham, and Schmidt will count the physical cost of a draining test ahead of facing Les Bleus.

IRELAND: : Zebo, Trimble, Payne, Henshaw, Earls, Sexton, Murray, McGrath, Best, White, McCarthy, Toner, Stander, O'Donnell, Heaslip.

Replacements: D. Kearney for Earls (71), Madigan for Sexton (75), S. Cronin for Best (75), Furlong for White (63), Ryan for McCarthy (63), Ruddock for O'Donnell (48).

Not Used: J. Cronin, Marmion.

Tries: Murray.

Cons: Sexton.

Pens: Sexton 3.

wales: L. Williams, North, J. Davies, Roberts, T. James, Biggar, G. Davies, Evans, Baldwin, Lee, Charteris, Jones, Warburton, Tipuric, Faletau.

Replacements: Priestland for Biggar (21), L. Williams for G. Davies (71), Jenkins for Evans (52), Owens for Baldwin (63), Francis for Lee (57), B. Davies for Charteris (61), Lydiate for Warburton (72).

Tries: Faletau.

Cons: Priestland.

Pens: Priestland 3.

Match rating: 8/10

Man of the match: CJ Stander

Referee: Jerome Garces (France)

Belfast Telegraph

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