Ireland bounced back from last week’s dismal defeat to England with a much-improved display and a 22-17 win in Wales in their latest Rugby World Cup warm-up.
Jacob Stockdale scored twice in the first half to secure bragging rights for the Irish in the first match of a double-header between the sides across consecutive weekends.
The display was extremely encouraging considering what had gone before for Joe Schmidt’s side, although they were kept off the top of the rankings, having needed a 15-point victory against the world’s number one side.
A late flourish from Wales in Warren Gatland’s final home match could not quite complete a comeback.
Wales threaten a stirring comeback in the second half, but it’s visitors Ireland who come away with the win after an assured performance Canlyniad siomedig ond perfformiad llawn ymdrech gan y bois. #WALvIRE pic.twitter.com/HRMB857Jrq
— Welsh Rugby Union (@WelshRugbyUnion) August 31, 2019
Ireland’s improvement was evident from the off and Jack Carty kicked the game’s first points after nine minutes, although Jarrod Evans – making his first Test start – levelled the scores for Wales with a penalty in front of the posts.
Opportunities in open play were initially few and far between until a glorious weaving run from Andrew Conway created the opening try.
The winger raced away from three challenges and then unselfishly passed to Stockdale on the left to dash through.
And Stockdale had his second before the break as he preyed on a loose Wales pass and toed the ball clear of the recovering red shirts to dart across the line.
Wales enjoyed a better spell immediately after half-time but were soon on the back foot again and saw Leon Brown sent to the sin bin following a collapsed scrum as Ireland piled on the pressure.
A blatant forward pass denied Conway a try on the right, yet there was no let-up and Rory Best helped drive Wales back to secure a penalty try following a series of re-set scrums.
The home side belatedly got a breakthrough try with some lovely footwork from Owen Lane, with Ireland then suddenly hanging on as Elliot Dee lunged just short of the try-line.
Bundee Aki’s challenge on an airborne James Davies meant Garry Ringrose’s counter-attacking score was struck off, and Rhys Patchell’s impressive late try could not rescue a Welsh result.