Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Wales captain Sam Warburton beaming after win

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: A Wales fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: George North of Wales goes past the challenge from Gordon DArcy of Ireland during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: (L-R) Mike Phillips, Alun Wyn Jones and George North sing their national anthem ahead of the quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: George North of Wales goes past the challenge from Gordon DArcy of Ireland during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: An Ireland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: An Ireland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Jamie Roberts of Wales charges over the challenge from Gordon DArcy of Ireland during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Wing Shane Williams of Wales celebrates after scoring the opening try of the match during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: The Wales players kineup for the national anthem prior to kickoff during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: An Ireland fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: A Wales fan enjoys the atmosphere prior to the quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Stephen Ferris of Ireland is tackled by Sam Warburton (L) and Dan Lydiate (C) of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Stephen Ferris of Ireland is tackled by Sam Warburton (L) and Dan Lydiate (C) of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Lock Paul OConnell of Ireland wins lineout ball during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Fullback Leigh Halfpenny of Wales takes a high ball as Rob Kearney of Ireland closes in during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Lock Alun Wyn Jones of Wales wins lineout ball during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Flyhalf Ronan OGara of Ireland kicks a penalty during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Wing Keith Earls of Ireland looses the ball as he is tackled by Gethin Jenkins (L) and Luke Charteris (R) of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is closed down by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Jonathan Davies #13 and Jamie Roberts (R) compete for a high ball with Paul O'Connell (L) of Ireland during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland is tackled by Mike Phillips, Leigh Halfpenny and Toby Faletau of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Fullback Leigh Halfpenny of Wales takes a high ball as Rob Kearney of Ireland closes in during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland carries the ball forward in attack during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Ronan O'Gara of Ireland (R) kicks the ball clear under pressure from Adam Jones of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Rob Kearney of Ireland (L) is tackled by Jonathan Davies of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland (C) tries to break through from the challange of Luke Charteris of Wales (R) during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Wing Keith Earls of Ireland dives past Mike Phillips of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Wing Keith Earls of Ireland dives past Mike Phillips of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Mike Phillips of Wales (R) touches over the line to score their second try despite the challenge of Tommy Bowe of Ireland during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Prop Cian Healy of Ireland is wrapped up by the Walews defence during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Luke Charteris of Wales catches the line out during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 08: Tommy Bowe of Ireland (C) is tackled by Jamie Roberts of Wales during quarter final one of the 2011 IRB Rugby World Cup between Ireland v Wales at Wellington Regional Stadium on October 8, 2011 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Captain Sam Warburton hailed Wales' progression to the World Cup semi-finals as a "massive achievement" following their 22-10 quarter-final success over Ireland in Wellington.

Tries from Shane Williams, Mike Phillips and Jonathan Davies, plus a penalty from Leigh Halfpenny and two conversions from Rhys Priestland, helped Warren Gatland's men reach the last four of the global showpiece for the first time since 1987.

Wales stifled Ireland's back-row of Stephen Ferris, Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip and flanker Warburton praised their defensive effort.

He told ITV1: "It was a massive performance, we knew they had a lot of big ball carriers and there was a lot of tackling stopping them on the gain line because they are dangerous, it was a fantastic defensive effort."

Wales were never behind after Williams' 56th try for his country inside the opening few minutes, and Warburton claimed making a quick start had been a focus of their preparations.

"We always say we don't start good enough, and we started perfectly today and it was just what we wanted. It's easier to be ahead of the game than chasing it. It's a massive achievement and we have worked so hard.

"The team in 1987 did it (reached the last four) and got third place. But we have the semi next week, the boys are thrilled and it's a massive achievement, it's brilliant."

Try scorer Phillips added: "It's an historic win, the boys have been outstanding in the lead up to this game. We have so much respect for the Irish boys and I feel sorry for them. They are great players and outstanding gentlemen but we were superb today."

Ireland responded with a try from Keith Earls and five points from Ronan O'Gara's boot but they were almost always chasing the game and defeat signals the end of the World Cup road for the likes of O'Gara, Paul O'Connell and captain Brian O'Driscoll.

And O'Driscoll said: "We got outplayed in the second half, they scored two good tries, maybe there was some weak defence but we are very disappointed to be going home.

"It was a great opportunity after winning the group but they proved worthy semi-finalists and good luck to them.

"We needed to deliver a performance similar to against Australia or Italy last week, but we didn't, we knocked on too much ball and when you turn too much ball over against quality of opposition they make you pay and we are the ones left disappointed."

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