Ireland 24-14 Wales: Six Nations champions defeated in Dublin
By Tony Tighe
Last Updated: 09/02/20 3:36pm
Wales suffered their first Six Nations defeat in almost two years as Ireland registered an impressive 24-14 victory in Dublin.
The defending champions' last loss in the tournament came at the Aviva Stadium in 2018 and once again they came away empty-handed.
First-half tries from Jordan Larmour and Tadhg Furlong sandwiched a Tomos Williams score to give Ireland a 12-7 interval lead - a scoreline which flattered Wales.
Josh van der Flier extended Ireland's advantage on 47 minutes with a try off a driving maul and they withstood a spell of Welsh pressure before Andrew Conway crossed late on to clinch a bonus-point win.
Ireland dominated territory during the opening half-hour at the Aviva Stadium but it took a moment of individual quality from Larmour to break the deadlock on 19 minutes.
The full-back right-stepped inside Nick Tompkins and held off three Wales defenders to score his seventh Test try.
It was an extremely soft try for Wales to concede, taking the shine off a resolute defensive display during the opening stages, but they hit back eight minutes later off their first meaningful attack.
Biggar passed to Alun Wyn Jones and then regathered a lovely offload from the Wales skipper to send half-back partner Williams over for a well-worked score.
However, Williams undid his good work on 30 minutes when he fumbled the ball on his own line after Jones had won a pressure lineout.
Ireland put the squeeze on at the scrum to win penalty advantage and Furlong drove over the line a couple of phases later with the help of Rob Herring and Peter O'Mahony.
Johnny Sexton converted to make it 12-7 at the interval.
On 47 minutes Ireland finally made their dominance count where it mattered most. Having stolen a Wales lineout, Ireland again opted for touch from a penalty and Van der Flier scored off a driving maul to make it 19-7.
Wales followed suit at the other end, declining a shot at goal in favour of a lineout, and they came agonisingly close to a second try.
Hadleigh Parkes scored Wales' only try in their Grand Slam-clinching win over Ireland last year and he looked set to repeat the trick when he ran onto a crash ball from close range, only to lose control as he stretched out to ground the ball.
Ireland finished strongly and clinched a try bonus-point with five minutes remaining. Replacements John Cooney and Ross Byrne combined to good effect, with Larmour turning provider to put Conway over in the corner.
Wales did have the final say, Justin Tipuric touching down from a driving maul on the last play.
Robbie Henshaw carried with purpose on his return to the starting side and also produced some deft offloads before his afternoon was cut short by a failed HIA.
Wales captain Jones also showed great handling as he looked to offload at every opportunity, but the visitors were frustrated at the breakdown by the excellent CJ Stander, who won three turnover penalties - although the man of the match was sin-binned in the final minute.
Ireland held the edge in the kicking stakes with Sexton, Conway and Larmour producing some inch-perfect kicks.
There was a great battle at the set-piece, Wales winning a scrum penalty on their own five-metre line off an Ireland put-in, but the hosts gained the ascendancy as the match wore on.
Wayne Pivac will be furious at the soft nature of Ireland's first try. Wales had six defenders to Ireland's three attackers down the right flank, yet Larmour somehow found a way through.
Having been starved of possession for long spells, Wales finally enjoyed a spell of pressure on midway through the second half. They eked out a number of penalties as they set up camp in the Ireland 22, but the hosts won a scrum penalty and survived.
Ireland's failure to turn territory into points during the first half-hour looked as though it would prove costly, but Andy Farrell's men eventually found a way through the wall of red.
Stat of the game
Tweets of the game
People will talk about contentious decisions, but Ireland were the better team and deserved the win. Wales were their own worst enemies with mistakes paving the way for all four Irish tries. The narrowness and fragility in defence is a real concern.— Simon Thomas (@simonrug) February 8, 2020
Ireland deserved winners in Dublin— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) February 8, 2020
Dominated the deck, which many weren't expecting
Add to that solid set piece and immaculate kicking from 9,10, 15 and they outperformed Wales in almost every dept
Conway, Tipuric, Furlong and Larmour very good
Stander, even better.