Wednesday, 23 May, 2018

Ireland slips from world-beaters to Six Nations also-rans

Felix Bryan | 13 March, 2017, 00:24

The architect of both his tries, however, was Rhys Webb.

Darting and sniping around the fringes, Webb departed to a standing ovation on 66 minutes when he was replaced by Gareth Davies.

Interim head coach Howley said afterwards he was immensely proud of the way his players had bounced back after consecutive losses to England and Scotland but reserved special praise for North.

A win against Wales would have set up a potential title decider against England in Dublin in the final match of the competition but there was no flow, and an element of predictability, to Ireland's attacking game in the face of an excellent Wales defense.

Wales have not lost three Six Nations' Tests in a row since 2007.

'It's berserk, thinking that 2010 was my first game out here (at the Principality Stadium), and I am still going now!' Said North.

First loosehead prop Conway went over and Johnson added the extras before flanker Boyle brought the sides level on 50 minutes.

"It's about making sure we come in Monday ready to perform".

George North's two tries were a reminder of his potent threat - the first in particular, which saw the giant winger blast his way through three defenders with muscular intent.

Eventually Ireland got back in the lead, scoring a try and they held out until the finish.

A fine cross-field kick put Davies within two metres of the line only for Sexton to make the tackle, but the fly-half was trapped on the wrong side and Wayne Barnes had no choice but to produce the yellow card.

"Everyone has been writing us off week in and week out but we don't become a bad team overnight so this is just the start", he said.

Sexton gave the Irish the lead on a rare foray out of their half but the Welsh pressure told eventually.

Byrne says that was one of the turning points in the game.

I believe Ireland will win but Wales will get a losing bonus point.

Still, it feels like the Irish have taken a step back from those heady days of last autumn, which earned them the tag of favorites heading into the Six Nations.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Keith Earls, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray; 1 Jack McGrath, 2 Rory Best (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Devin Toner, 6 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O'Brien, 8 Jamie Heaslip.

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