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Ireland 36-15 Wales

Ireland ignited their own Six Nations campaign as the Welsh revival came to an abrupt halt in Dublin.

The anticipated close contest never materialised as the Irish blitzed the visitors by six tries to two.

Shane Byrne and Brian O’Driscoll both grabbed a brace, with further scores from Ronan O’Gara and Anthony Foley, O’Gara adding six points with the boot.

Replacement Tom Shanklin grabbed two late tries but it was scant consolation for an outclassed Welsh side.

With the wind at their backs, Ireland scored four tries before half time, a combination of their attacking spark and the visitors’ defensive frailty.

Wales, buoyant after an opening win over Scotland, were deflated within 58 seconds of the kick-off after some woeful defending at an Irish line-out.

The home pack set up a driving maul from a clean catch and Byrne darted through a glaring hole with not so much as a hand laid on him.

O’Gara converted but Wales responded with a Jones penalty after five minutes to restore their composure.

The visitors were applying pressure to the Irish scrummage, but the home side continued to threaten in attack, Gareth Thomas doing superbly to reach a chip ahead of O’Driscoll.

The Ireland hero could not be denied moments later though when he burst onto a short pass and surged through three Welsh tackles to force his way over.

O’Gara’s conversion made it 14-3, but the stand-off was off target with a penalty attempt shortly afterwards.

A third Irish try might have followed in the 23rd minute after a scything break from Gordon D’Arcy, preferred in the centre to Kevin Maggs.

Wales were grateful for a despairing ankle tap from Martyn Williams on Tyrone Howe on that occasion, but their defensive flaws were again exposed on the half-hour.

Iestyn Harris dallied with a clearing kick, O’Gara charged it down and ran on to score with ease.

Wales should have scored before the interval when number eight Dafydd Jones dithered with three men on his outside, and were promptly made to rue their profligacy.

Another simple catch and drive allowed Byrne to brush off Gareth Cooper’s weak tackle for his second, giving Ireland a commanding 24-3 half-time lead.

The carnage continued on the resumption, number eight Anthony Foley taking Peter Stringer’s inside pass to barge over, following another O’Driscoll break.

The Lions centre then equalled Denis Hickie’s Irish record with his 23rd Test try after a counter attack from Girvan Dempsey.

D’Arcy confirmed his potential with a mesmeric break before limping off with a pulled muscle.

Wales finally put together a flowing attack after an hour, yielding a try for Shanklin in the left corner.

The replacement grabbed a second score late on, converted by Jones, but Ireland were full value for a fifth successive win against Wales.

Teams

Ireland
G Dempsey (Leinster); S Horgan (Leinster), G D’Arcy (Leinster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), T Howe (Ulster); R O’Gara (Munster), P Stringer (Munster); R Corrigan (Leinster), S Byrne (Leinster), J Hayes (Munster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), P O’Connell (Leinster), S Easterby (Llanelli), K Gleeson (Leinster), A Foley (Munster).
Replacements
F Sheahan (Munster), S Best (Ulster), M O’Kelly (Leinster), V Costello (Leinster), D Humphreys (Ulster), G Easterby (Rotherham), K Maggs (Bath).

Wales

G Thomas (Warriors); R Williams (Blues), S Parker (Warriors), I Harris (Blues), S Williams (Ospreys); S Jones (Scarlets), G Cooper (Warriors); I Thomas (Scarlets), R McBryde (Scarlets), A Jones (Ospreys), B Cockbain (Warriors), R Sidoli (Warriors), J Thomas (Ospreys), M Williams (Blues, capt), D Jones (Scarlets).

Replacements
M Davies (Warriors), G Jenkins (Warriors), M Owen (Dragons), A Popham (Leeds Tykes), D Peel (Scarlets), C Sweeney (Warriors), T Shanklin (Blues).

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 21st, 2004 at 5:06 pm and is filed under Irish Rugby, Six Nations. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


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