Wales needed their key men to stand up and be counted in their Championship opener against Ireland and prop Wyn Jones did just that in his Guinness Six Nations Player of the Match display.
The 28-year-old was everywhere in the hosts’ hard-fought 21-16 triumph and proved equally valuable in attack and defence.
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Jones’ 10 carries gained 44 metres while he was successful with all nine of his tackles as Wayne Pivac’s men got off to a victorious start.
George North and Louis Rees-Zammit scored the tries, with Leigh Halfpenny’s boot contributing 11 points, but Jones was identified as the key man after a performance full of industry and skill.
The man himself was delighted to have helped Wales begin with a victory and said: “It was a nail-biting last few minutes for us but it’s nice to get over the line in the end and get the tournament going with a good win.
“We knew we had to win. It’s key in any tournament to start with a bang and get that momentum going. It was important for us to come back home and win, so we are happy.”
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Wales played the majority of the game with a man advantage following Peter O’Mahony’s early red card for a dangerous clear-out on Jones’ fellow prop Tomas Francis.
The Men in Green rallied, coming from 6-0 down to lead 13-6 at the break, but Wales’ numerical superiority told after the restart to ensure Ireland remain without a Championship win in Cardiff since 2013.
“Sometimes you have to play against a team with 14 men and they front up,” Jones said.
“We were on top until that moment and then we eased off a little, to be honest. As I said, we are happy to win and we’ll go on from here.”
Next up for Wales is a trip to Scotland, who also won in Round 1, on Saturday.