Ireland v Wales – story of the match
Wales led in the early stages but Ireland put paid to their hopes in the second half.
Ireland stormed ever closer to a NatWest 6 Nations title showdown with England by dismissing Wales 37-27 in Dublin.
Jacob Stockdale bagged a brace of tries, with Bundee Aki, Dan Leavy and Cian Healy all crossing too as Ireland racked up a bonus-point victory to stun Warren Gatland’s Wales.
Visiting scrum-half Gareth Davies had vowed Wales would chase a bonus-point win of their own in Ireland in the build-up – but Ireland made a mockery of that prediction with a consummate, if nerve-jangling – triumph.
Tweet of the match
That try for Ireland came from Biggar complaining to ref, and in the process he spilt the ball. Just play the bloody game and let the ref do his job!!— Will Carling (@willcarling) February 24, 2018
Former England captain Will Carling highlighted one of Wales’ problems during a deflating day for them in Dublin.
Player of the match – Conor Murray
Ireland’s British and Irish Lions scrum-half was at his imperious best against Wales, bossing the game behind a fired-up pack. He is like a computer hard-drive in Ireland’s machinery, consistently taking the right option and putting his team in the right places, whether through astute tactical kicking or an exquisitely-timed pass to free up team-mates inside or outside of him.
Moment of the match
Ireland’s fly-half playmaker Johnny Sexton experienced a mixed first-half performance, missing three kicks at goal in a completely uncharacteristic performance, but his long pass that created Ireland’s opening try from Jacob Stockdale was a thing of beauty. It was just four minutes into the contest, yet Sexton underlined how class is permanent and form is temporary.
Stat of the match
Warren Gatland became only the second head coach in international rugby history to clock up 100 Tests for one country. He followed New Zealand World Cup winner Graham Henry in reaching three figures on the 20th anniversary – to the day – of him being appointed Ireland supremo, a role he held between 1998 and 2001. Wales could not mark the occasion by delivering a victory, but it was another landmark in an outstanding career.
All roads lead to Twickenham?
Ireland made it three wins from three during a roller coaster of a match, scoring five tries as they continued down the road towards a potential Six Nations title and Grand Slam decider against England at Twickenham on March 17.
Who’s up next?
Ireland v Scotland (Six Nations, Saturday, March 10)
Wales v Italy (Six Nations, Sunday, March 11)