Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Six Nations

Six Nations: Wales crush Ireland's Grand Slam hopes

Wales 23-16 Ireland

By Nick Purewal

Wales crushed Ireland's Grand Slam hopes by beating Joe Schmidt's men at their own game, Scott Williams' try securing a superlative 23-16 victory in Cardiff.

Warren Gatland put one over Kiwi compatriot Schmidt by sending Wales out to dismantle Ireland's much-vaunted kicking game - and his fervent charges did just that.

Johnny Sexton, the world's outstanding fly-half, endured a miserable off-kilter day as Ireland slipped to their first defeat in 11 Tests and just their third under boss Schmidt.

Scott Williams had hardly even replaced Jamie Roberts when he bisected Jamie Heaslip and Tommy Bowe to score the first try of the match.

Number eight Heaslip stretched out his arms in a questioning gesture, forced to watch helplessly as Scott Williams, the match and Ireland's Grand Slam hopes ghosted past him.

Halfpenny failed with the conversion before Ireland rallied in a desperate bid to salvage the tie, only for replacement Cian Healy to knock on with the tryline almost within his grasp.

Ireland kept grafting and forced a penalty try with Wales pulling down a maul.

Sexton converted the score and suddenly Ireland only trailed by four points with 10 minutes to play.

The best match of the tournament bar none had the grandstand finish it deserved.

Ireland kept on cajoling in a bid to turn the tide, but were penalised at a ruck just inside their own half - and Halfpenny did the rest with his fifth penalty.

Jonathan Davies was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on as Ireland refused to give up the ghost.

Ireland punted to the corner, lost their lineout and then failed with a driving maul as Wales somehow held firm.

Wales fully deserved their victory, despite Ireland producing a relentless second-half comeback, with Gatland sure to gain great credit for his tactical ingenuity.

Title-holders Ireland's defeat blows the championship wide open, with Wales, England and Schmidt's men now all in the running.

Just as when Ireland edged to silverware last year, so the Six Nations could be won on points difference once more.

This was not the result that indomitable Ireland skipper O'Connell deserved on his 100th cap, but Wales proved their class once more, increasing their resurgence after losing the opening match 21-16 to England.

INTRO: Wales crushed Ireland's Grand Slam hopes by beating Joe Schmidt's men at their own game, Scott Williams' try securing a superlative 23-16 victory in Cardiff.

Warren Gatland put one over Kiwi compatriot Schmidt by sending Wales out to dismantle Ireland's much-vaunted kicking game - and his fervent charges did just that.

Johnny Sexton, the world's outstanding fly-half, endured a miserable off-kilter day as Ireland slipped to their first defeat in 11 Tests and just their third under boss Schmidt.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph