Ireland 32-9 Wales: Irish cruise to victory in Autumn Nations Cup opener as Wayne Pivac’s side suffer sixth defeat on the bounce
- Quinn Roux battled over the Welsh line to score a try in the first half in Dublin
- Fly-halfs Jonny Sexton and Billy Burns kept Ireland in the lead with crucial kicks
- James Lowe scored in the final play on his Ireland debut after a great showing
- Wales suffered their sixth loss in a row after a disappointing 2020 Six Nations
Friday the 13th was full of horrors for Wales as they lost their sixth Test in a row to heap more pressure on coach Wayne Pivac.
The boss thought he had highlighted the main weakness when he dispensed of defence coach Byron Hayward last Sunday – but now that looks the least of their problems.
The scrum splintered into a thousand pieces, meaning poor Rhys Carre was hooked off early, lineouts lolloped, Wales’ attack again looked limp and they conceded a shocking 17 penalties.
Ireland cruised to victory in the Autumn Nations Cup opener against a struggling Wales side
Ireland fly-half Jonny Sexton makes a line break as Shane Lewis-Hughes attempts a tackle
IRELAND: Keenan 7; Conway 6, Farrell 6.5, Henshaw 7 (Earls, 70 6), Lowe 8; Sexton 7 (Burns, 27 7 (Murray, 64 7), Gibson-Park 7.5; Healy 7.5 (Byrne, 60 7), Kelleher 7 (Heffernan, 64 6), Porter 9 (Bealham, 64 6), Roux 7.5 (Beirne, 64 6), J Ryan 7, O’Mahony 8, van der Flier 7, (Connors, 70 7), Doris 8.
WALES: Halfpenny 5; Liam Williams 5, J Davies 5 (North, 60 5), Watkin 6.5, Adams 6; Biggar 5 (Sheedy, 68 6), G Davies 4 (Ll Williams, 54 7); Carré 2 (W Jones, 39 6), Elias 4 (Dee, 52 6), Francis 5 (Lee, 52 6), Rowlands 5 (Ball, 52 6), AW Jones 6, Lewis-Hughes 5, Tipuric 6.5, Faletau 5 (Wainwright, 72 6).
The upshot was that Ireland beat them up, then kicked them to death. Three different penalty takers – Johnny Sexton, Billy Burns and Conor Murray – took two each and James Lowe scored late as the Irish rode their injuries to win.
Quinn Roux scored the other try – a biffing effort from close-range – as Leigh Halfpenny kicked two penalties but also missed two. Wales cannot even rely on his accuracy off the tee these days.
For them it is the worst run for seven years, since an eight-match losing sequence in 2012-13, and they left Dublin with way more questions than answers.
Channel 4 bumped the news for this one – so the match needed to match the drama of the day.
Within minutes we had more handbags than a slagging match in Downing Street with Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson being played by Alun Wyn Jones and Peter O’Mahony early on in Dublin.
Peter O’Mahony almost gets his hands on the ball over the line as Josh Adams defends
They grappled and goaded each other after Wales had fumbled a lineout, and soon debutant James Lowe tussled with Liam Williams and Josh Adams.
Wales wanted to let off the steam of the last fortnight – but referee Mathieu Raynal attempted to take the kettle off the boil.
Adding that bite initially worked. With Pivac sacking assistant Hayward Wales needed to show more in defence. They looked more hungry and blitzed well.
The problem was there were abject everywhere else. Carré suffered the shame of being substituted before half-time having lost two scrums against the head. He would have gone to bed last night with Andrew Porter leering in his nightmares.
He had a horrible time of it and Pivac hooked him for Wyn Jones before the half was out. It would not have been unfair to replace Ryan Elias too – his lineout throwing seriously shoddy.
When half-time came it Wales would have been relieved they were only 10 points down.
Wales’ full back Leigh Halfpenny kept the visitors ticking over with penalties from distance
Sexton – on his 100th international – and Halfpenny swapped early penalties but then the Irish brought the power. One of many dominant scrums gave them a platform to attack under the posts and four phases later Roux, a late replacement for Iain Henderson, went over with Sexton converting.
But then the Irish captain pulled a hamstring and had to go off, which meant a debut for Burns who kicked the next Irish penalty after Halfpenny had banged one of his own over from afar.
Before the break Ireland nearly had a second try, when another lineout was fumbled by Wales and Porter dived on a loose ball over the line, but the prop had knocked on.
Pivac did not let Carré pack down for the next scrum – having seen enough carnage for the night.
After the break Wales needed scraps to feed off, and got them. They started winning breakdown penalties and while Halfpenny missed one from half-way he hit the next.
Ireland’s James Ryan and Billy Burns double up on Wales’ wing Josh Adams in second half
But then more mistakes. A Gareth Davies box-kick was charged down and Wales could not escape their 22 later leading to a Burns penalty.
It took 58 minutes for Wales to enjoy their first proper attack, with Jonathan Davies neatly finding Adams inside to make an incision, and it brought a penalty – but Halfpenny missed it again.
Davies had to go off after that, ominously injuring his knee, so George North became the youngest man to play 100 internationals. How Wales needed a trademark try from him.
Wyn Jones and Samson Lee had steadied the scrum and soon the penalty count was level at 12-all until number 13 auspiciously went Ireland’s way and Conor Murray, on for the injured Burns, kicked Ireland into a lead of the same number.
Another penalty from him and a last-minute score from Lowe had Wales spooked. This was the worst of the lot – and England are coming soon. There could be more pain yet for Pivac.
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