Best and Schmidt sign off in Ireland with a win

Joe Schmidt and Rory Best bade farewell to rugby in Ireland with a 19-10 win over Wales at the Aviva Stadium.

Joe Schmidt and Rory Best bade farewell to rugby in Ireland with a 19-10 win over Wales at the Aviva Stadium.

Schmidt is stepping down from his role as Ireland coach after the World Cup, while skipper Rory Best will retire from playing after the tournament in Japan.

And they were able to sign off on a high as Ireland ran in three tries in this success over the Grand Slam champions, Rob Kearney going over in the first half, while Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan went over in the second period.

That completed a double for Ireland in their World Cup warm-up clashes against Wales following last week’s success in Cardiff, with Schmidt’s team now turning their attentions to the World Cup opener against Guinness Six Nations rivals Scotland.

It was a cagey opening, with Wales’ causing the Irish lineout some problems as the home side lost both of their first two throws.

And yet it was Ireland who struck the opening blow on 22 minutes through Kearney. The full-back grabbed his first try since the 2015 World Cup after good pressure from Ireland.

CJ Stander made the telling contribution, crashing through one would-be tackler and from the recycled ball, Kearney was able to arc round Jonathan Davies for the score.

Johnny Sexton converted while Wales lost Rhys Patchell to injury, with Biggar taking his place.

Wales got on the board almost immediately thanks to a Leigh Halfpenny penalty, the full-back making no mistake after being taken out in the air by Jordan Larmour.

And the visitors hit the front just after the half-hour through Hadleigh Parkes after replacement Dan Biggar’s interception. The fly-half raced away but was held up over the line after great tracking back by Robbie Henshaw and Kearney.

Despite that, Wales found a way through off the back of the resulting scrum, Parkes powering through off Tomos Williams’ bullet pass. Halfpenny’s conversion made it 10-7 and that was how the score remained until the break.


The start of the second half belonged entirely to Ireland, who set up camp in the Welsh 22 and hammered away at the line. Warren Gatland’s team have produced some incredible defensive performances in the past, but in the end, Tadhg Furlong had the power to force his way over. Sexton’s conversion made it 14-10 to the home side.

Ireland were showing the precision that has been their trademark under Schmidt, Sexton pulling the strings and putting his forwards through gaps. The pressure told once more when James Ryan just about got over, despite a valiant attempt from Aaron Wainwright to stop him. Sexton could not add the extras but Ireland had a two-score advantage at 19-10.

Ireland had chances to add to that advantage, particularly late on when Adam Beard saw yellow for repeated infringements from the visitors close to their line, but that was how the score remained.