It’s over… Wales soaked up all of the pressure and delivered killer blows when it counted to secure a spot in the Rugby World Cup Semi-Finals.
Wales owe their win to their defence who, for 60 minutes took a battering and then returned two huge blows to ensure they were in the semifinal for the first time since 1987. Ireland managed enough ball to look dangerous in attack, but lacked options and finishing.
Shane Williams extended his Welsh record try tally to 56 in the third minute after Wales went through the phases to see Roberts take a high ball going forward before Halfpenny put Williams over in the right corner. Video ref Giulio de Santis confirmed the score and Priestland converted from the wide angle.
Welsh indiscipline and pressure from Ireland denied Wales the chance to capitalise on this dream start. Faletau went over the top of the ruck, North didn’t roll away from a tackle and Lydiate was caught offside at the breakdown. With O’Gara on the pitch you’d expect this to have seen Ireland ahead, but no – instead of kicking for goal Ireland settled for a series of attacking line-outs which were soaked up by Wales.
Roberts did eventually manage to get Wales moving forward, but O’Driscoll intercepted Philips’ pass to see D’Arcy run a dummy and show the danger this Ireland side pose. However somehow little Shane Williams managed to hold Sean O’Brien off the floor as he crossed the line to deny Ireland a first try.
An O’Gara penalty in the 23rd minute got points on the board for Ireland after again the Welsh fell foul of tackle laws, but a long-range penalty from Halfpenny restored Wales’ seven point lead before the break.
HT: Ireland 3 – 10 Wales
Ireland looked bright starting the second period, with Ferris and Bowe linking up to give Earls the time to cross in the corner and allow O’Gara to add the conversion.
The scores were level for just five minutes before Philips got down the blindside after an Alun Wyn Jones drive, giving Wales an advantage they would old onto. Priestland failed the conversion and had a penalty rebound off the post shortly after.
Centre Davies made the most of Healy appearing in the midfield defence, finding off the prop and bursting through to score – this time Priestland didn’t miss and Wales went 12 points ahead with 15 minutes to play.
Ireland’s attempts to respond saw replacement scrum-half Eoin Reddan make a superb pass to O’Brien but he was halted three metres short and knocked on, when Healy was penalised at the scrum Wales were able to clear.
Ireland threw the kitchen sink at Wales in the dying stages but a defence coached by Shaun Edwards stood up to every bit of it….