Match Report


Frawley Ireland
Ireland fought to a 31-7 victory over Wales to keep their back-to-back Guinness Men's Six Nations Grand Slam hopes alive in Dublin.

An entirely professional first-half display in which they enjoyed 70 per cent possession yielded a 17-0 half-time lead with tries from Dan Sheehan and James Lowe following an early Jack Crowley penalty.

Wales emerged a side transformed after the break and were awarded an early penalty try, with Tadhg Beirne sin-binned in the process, as the Irish defence faced its toughest test of this year's Championship.

Warren Gatland's side threatened an unlikely comeback but could not force a second to make it a one-score game and instead saw their hopes of a rare win at the Aviva Stadium dashed after a try from stand-in full-back Ciaran Frawley.

Wales pushed for a late second score to give Ireland something to think about late on, but Andy Farrell's side were determined to leave with maximum points and did so after Beirne flopped over at the last.

It was a step back for Wales in their recovery but another hurdle overcome for Ireland in their pursuit of a record second successive sweep.

No team has ever won the Guinness Men's Six Nations with a maximum 28 points, but with three bonus-point wins in a row, Ireland are on course for a double dose of history.


With Ireland enjoying the quickest ball speed of any side across the first two matches and with a pack the envy of pretty much every side in world rugby, Wales were always going to have a tough time disrupting their free-flowing hosts.

They did so admirably to start with but six penalties inside the first 20 minutes was always going to be met with Irish points.

The first arrived from the boot of Crowley after a high shot from Nick Tompkins before Ireland’s No.10 kicked for the corner from three more penalties a little further out.

And it proved third time lucky for Ireland as hooker Sheehan dotted down from the back of a rolling maul which wheeled perfectly in-field for the hooker to register his fourth try of the Championship.

Wales had conceded the fewest penalties among all teams across the first two rounds but their indiscipline was quickly proving a real issue here.

After another wave of Irish pressure, Wales held on for as long as they could, defending their own try line from a series of short Ireland drives, but they did not have the numbers to stop the hosts out wide, and Lowe walked in after a basketball pass from Calvin Nash.

Crowley added the extras to kick Ireland into a 17-0 lead and that was how it stayed at half time after Wales’ first entry into the Irish 22 amounted to nothing.


Wales' first two matches of this year's Championship followed a similar pattern: one bright and encouraging half offset by a very challenging 40 minutes.

It's a habit Warren Gatland's team will want to shake but one that ensured they stayed within touching distance of Ireland, with the start of the second half producing an upturn in fortunes.

The first five minutes of the second period yielded a penalty try with lock Beirne sin-binned and that numerical gain on the scoreboard, and in playing personnel, prompted a previously unforeseeable momentum shift.

Wales were on the front foot and it was Ireland who could not escape their half. But two brilliant turnovers, first from the returning Beirne and then replacement Ronan Kelleher offered a reprieve.

Ireland came close to a devastating counter-punch as Bundee Aki muscled his way to the uprights. Crowley was ready to take the conversion but referee Andrea Piardi spotted a forward pass amid a string of scarcely believable Irish offloads.

While the try was chalked off, Ireland had certainly wrestled back control and went in search of a comforting third try.

It arrived in spectacular fashion and there was no more popular try scorer than Frawley, the full-back flopping over under the sticks for his first Ireland try on his first Championship start.

Wales rallied late in search of a second try and replacement James Ryan was shown a yellow for his part in trying to deny Gatland's men a consolation.

Instead it was Ireland who had the final say, with Beirne capping an eventful personal afternoon with a try, racing through a gap to secure the bonus-point with the clock in the red.