Ireland 37-27 Wales: Joe Schmidt's side run in five tries to keep Grand Slam hopes alive
Last Updated: 25/02/18 7:05am
Ireland resisted a late Wales rally to secure a 37-27 bonus-point win in Dublin and keep their Six Nations Grand Slam hopes alive.
Joe Schmidt's side had trailed 13-5 after 31 minutes as Wales responded to Jacob Stockdale's early try to lead through Gareth Davies' converted score and two Leigh Halfpenny penalties.
But the hosts took a narrow 15-13 advantage into half-time thanks to Bundee Aki's try before further scores from Dan Leavy and Cian Healy early in the second half secured the bonus point.
Wales hit back through Aaron Shingler before Conor Murray's penalty pushed Ireland's lead back to 30-20.
Steff Evans' converted try brought Wales back to within three points with three minutes remaining but Stockdale's late interception try secured Ireland's win.
Wales opened the scoring with just three minutes on the clock as Halfpenny nailed a kick at goal after the hosts were penalised for offside.
Johnny Sexton had an opportunity to immediately respond but his attempt ricocheted off the right-hand upright, but moments later the fly-half would play a key role in Ireland's opening try.
Wales tried to run it from deep but Scott Williams' forward pass provided the hosts with key field position. A solid set piece was followed by Chris Farrell making yards and quick ball out of the ruck found Sexton and his pinpoint missed-pass to Stockdale delivered the try.
After Rob Evans was penalised for holding on it gave Sexton another opportunity for a kick at goal but his radar continued to be off.
Wales made those misses pay as they capitalised on their first try-scoring opportunity to move ahead again through Davies.
Aaron Shingler burst over the gain-line and as the ball was recycled out, Davies spotted a gap to score under the posts, Halfpenny adding the extras.
The full-back missed a 53-metre penalty shortly after but made sure of his next attempt to extend Wales' lead to 13-5 with just over half an hour played.
As Ireland went in search of a response, Keith Earls' clean break perked up the home crowd. They worked through the phases and kept it tight with CJ Stander and Healy coming within inches, before a Sexton penalty narrowed the gap.
With the time in red Ireland were pummelling away at the line. Andrew Porter and Stander came close before Aki burst through the clutches of Scott Williams to touch down and Sexton's final kick of the half provided Ireland with a 15-13 lead at the break.
Five minutes into the second half Ireland scored again as Leavy pounced on a loose ball and finished the turnover with Ireland's third try.
The Ireland pack's hard work secured the bonus point as Healy surged over for his first international try in four years on the 53rd minute.
At 27-13 ahead Ireland could have had a fifth; Sexton reclaimed the ball at the breakdown before finding Earls who kicked ahead. The winger outpaced Shingler but could not beat Williams to the grounding.
Wales then rallied in the final 20 minutes as Evans broke down the left before Warren Gatland's men whipped it back to the right and Josh Navidi put Shingler in for a key score.
Halfpenny's successful conversion nudged Wales to within a converted try of a draw and as the final quarter evolved Wales built, much like they did against England in Round 2.
A Conor Murray penalty extended Ireland's cushion back to 10 points before Wales continued to drive forwards with dynamism and upped their tempo.
With a little over three minutes to play Evans benefited from a sublime offload from Williams. Williams found Navidi and the back-row forward released his winger.
Halfpenny's conversion made it 30-27 but as Wales went in search of a winning score, Stockdale pounced on a rangy pass from Gareth Anscombe and ran in under the posts to wrap up the victory.
Ireland's ability to hold their nerve and see out the game will hold them in good stead in this Championship.
For Wales the manner in which they lifted their tempo and finished in Dublin should pay dividends if they can deliver that from the outset.
The performance of the two Irish players making their first Six Nations starts - Chris Farrell and Andrew Porter - should have pleased Joe Schmidt while the return Leigh Halfpenny for Wales was key.
Once again it seemed to take Wales too much time to really find their feet. As was the case against England they finished on the front foot but suffered earlier in the match and gave themselves too much to do.
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A snapshot from half-time highlighted Ireland's control.