RBS Six Nations: Defending champions Wales beaten by Ireland
Wales slumped to an eighth straight defeat as Ireland opened their RBS Six Nations campaign with a 30-22 win in Cardiff.
Last Updated: 02/02/13 6:28pm
The defending Grand Slam champions, who have now lost five consecutive home games for the first time, dominated for much of the second half but could not recover from a disastrous start.
Simon Zebo, Cian Healy and Brian O'Driscoll all crossed for the visitors, while Alex Cuthbert, Leigh Halfpenny and Craig Mitchell grabbed the home side's tries.
While then result boosts Ireland's hopes of regaining the title they last won in 2009, it leaves Wales interim head coach Rob Howley still searching for his first win against a Test-playing nation.
Ireland looked the more dangerous of the two sides early on and broke the deadlock just after the 10-minute mark as a brilliant pass from O'Driscoll allowed Zebo to cross the try-line.
Jonathan Sexton added the conversion and, with Ireland continuing to camp inside the hosts' 22, the fly-half slotted over a penalty to increase the lead to 10 points in the 21st minute.
Ireland were in again soon after when Rory Best charged down a kick from Dan Biggar, with Healy then finishing things off from close range after a superb piece of footballing skill from Zebo had kept the move alive.
Sexton once again added the extras before extending the lead with his second penalty. Halfpenny did manage to belatedly get Wales on the board with three points of his own in the 34th minute.
A penalty from Sexton made it 23-3 to the visitors at half-time and shortly after the break the Leinster player was stepping up to the kicking tee for another successful conversion after O'Driscoll had burrowed over the line.
Wales responded with a period of heavy pressure which ended with Cuthbert slicing through the defence for the home side's first try. Halfpenny added the extras.
The home side continued to pile forward and, after Best had been sin-binned for killing the ball close to the try-line, the ball was spun out for Halfpenny to ground in the corner and spark hopes of an improbable comeback.
Conor Murray became the second Ireland player to be shown the yellow card as the pressure continued to mount, but a late score from Mitchell served only to make the final score more respectable.