Match Report

Prendergast inspires Ireland to win against Wales

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Sam Prendergast inspired Ireland to a 44-27 win over Wales to get their Grand Slam defence off to the perfect start at Stadiwm CSM.

Sam Prendergast inspired Ireland to a 44-27 win over Wales to get their Grand Slam defence off to the perfect start at Stadiwm CSM.

Despite early pressure from the hosts, Ireland took the lead through Conor O’Tighearnaigh, but Wales were soon in the lead after tries from Louie Hennessey and Llien Morgan and a penalty from Dan Edwards.

However, Paddy McCarthy crossed the whitewash to reduce the deficit to one point at the break.

After half-time, Edwards was sent to the sin-bin for a high tackle, but that did not stop Sam Scarfe from scoring in the 52nd minute.

Ireland battled back though, storming into an unassailable lead with a double from James Nicholson and a brilliant finish from Ruadhán Quinn.

Morgan scored late on, but it was a consolation as Ireland crossed again through Hugh Cooney to end a top-quality contest.

Wales made an outstanding start to proceedings, carrying the ball up to the Irish try-line on more than one occasion, but they failed to capitalise as Richie Murphy’s side grew into the game.

And the hosts were made to pay when Prendergast kicked a penalty into the Wales 22.

The visitors retained possession and made it up to Wales’ try-line for the first time thanks to some neat hands from Gus McCarthy, Diarmuid Mangan and O’Tighearnaigh.

After a few carries from close range the pressure told, and O’Tighearnaigh went over for the game’s opening score.

However, Wales struck back immediately, crossing the whitewash through Hennessey after some brilliant footwork from the breathtaking Cameron Winnett.

Byron Hayward’s side took the lead for the first time after a successful penalty from fly-half Edwards, and they were not finished.

Within minutes they were back up to the edge of Ireland’s 22, and two sublime offloads from Hennessey and Winnett gave Edwards the time and space to pick out a perfect pass to Morgan, who went over in the corner.

Edwards’ conversion shaved the edge of the upright, meaning only eight points separated the two sides.

And Ireland would not lie down, scoring their second after a carry from close range by Paddy McCarthy.

Prendergast made the conversion look easy, and the deficit was down to one point at the break.

The second half started scrappily, with Ireland the first to threaten.

Cooney appeared to have crossed the whitewash despite a high tackle from Edwards.

However, there was no clear angle of the ball being grounded, and the presence of a second tackler meant a penalty try was not awarded.

The Wales fly half was shown a yellow card for a high tackle before play resumed.

Ireland pushed to capitalise on the advantage, but after several carries from close range, the ball was deemed to have been held up.

And despite being a player down, Wales showed their class to score again.

Morgan’s pace created a half-break, and his offload fed Archie Hughes.

The scrum-half then found hooker Scarfe, who crossed the whitewash for a deserved try after a rugged performance across the park.

The conversion was missed, and Wales were made to pay within 90 seconds when Nicholson was found by a delightful looping pass from Prendergast, with the full-back evading two tackles to go over in the corner.

Prendergast kicked a crucial conversion to give Ireland the lead before extending their advantage to four points with a penalty shortly after.

As the game entered the final 20 minutes, Quinn ran the perfect support line off Nicholson before powering over with two defenders on his back to extend Ireland’s lead to nine.

Prendergast was beginning to come into his own, making an excellent offload to feed Nicholson for his second.

He then kicked another penalty with eight minutes remaining to give Ireland a 37-20 lead with the clock ticking down.

Morgan went over in the corner to secure the bonus point for Wales, but Cooney crossed for Ireland in the last play of the game to wrap up the win.