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Ireland clung on to a 22-17 victory to end Wales’ eleven-game home winning run.
Two first-half tries from Jacob Stockdale and a penalty try won at the scrum gave Ireland a 22-3 lead early in the second half, with Joe Schmidt’s side bouncing back from England’s demolition job last weekend with a fine defensive performance.
But the introduction of Rhys Patchell and Tomos Williams gave Wales greater control, and the former’s crossing on 76 minutes narrowed the deficit to five after Owen Lane had scored on debut.
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However Ireland saw through the final few minutes to secure the win.
Here are five things we learned from the game:
Liam WilliamsIreland step up physicality and line speed in defence
Ireland were notably quicker off the line this week, and the early physicality Joe Schmidt’s side brought set the tone for the game.
Having been blasted away so comprehensively by England, it was a step that had to be taken. Wales lack England’s physical carriers in the backs, and that enabled Ireland’s midfield of Bundee Aki and Chris Farrell to attack the contact area with more conviction, not worrying so much about protecting weaker defenders alongside them.
Both Aki and Farrell are fierce in the tackle and showed their strength in that regard, and loosehead prop Dave Kilcoyne buoyed his side with his defensive intensity early on. The return of James Ryan made a real difference, too. If Ireland were guilty of letting England dictate last week, this was a more proactive performance.
Wales struggled to combat it, trying to move the ball out of the back door and use layered runners, but with largely untested combinations through the backs the moves were disjointed and ineffective. From one such messy manouvre an errant pass was thrown, and Jacob Stockdale toed through to score his
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