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Follow live coverage as Ireland and Wales meet in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Dublin.
Both sides have named their final 31-man squads and jet off for Japan imminently but not before one last tune up before it all kicks off in a fortnight’s time. Here Rhys Patchell earns another opportunity after impressing off the bench last weekend at fly-half, while Leigh Halfpenny plays just his second international game this year at full-back.
Ireland are boosted by the return of Johnny Sexton for his first warm-up action, while Rory Best captains his side on home soil for the final time.
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A reset with both sides engaging slightly early. Mathieu Raynal gives some instructions to the front rows.
Wales have two players to the right, four to the left…
A reaction more of shock than joy from the home crowd as Halfpenny curiously pushes his kick to the right. A poor miss.
But Johnny Sexton follows in kind, skewing the 22 dropout straight out of play and handing Wales a scrum in fine attacking position on the 22-metre mark in front of the posts.
Wales efficiently complete the first lineout with Justin Tipuric thrown up into the air, and after a couple of midfield phases Raynal’s arm extends out, with Jean Kleyn over-eager to impose and offside as Tomos Williams whips the ball away from a ruck.
To the posts Alun Wyn Jones points, and Leigh Halfpenny unbuckles his scrum cap. 38 metres or so for the Wales full-back…
Mathieu Raynal peeps his whistle and Rhys Patchell gets proceedings underway.
More fireworks, and we are just about ready to go…
Rory Best stoically munches on his chewing gum as he hears the first strains of “Ireland’s Call” for the final time in an Ireland jersey at the Aviva Stadium.
Deep breaths, and a rub of the head from Johnny Sexton as a tear comes to Best’s eye. Emotional.
Wales sing “Land of our Fathers” typically heartily. The ground is starting to fill, as it always does in Dublin.
On to Ireland’s pair of anthems.
One positive of this pre-match faffing is the brass band’s rendition of “World in Union,” objectively the greatest sporting event anthem.
It isn’t quite as good as Hayley Westenra’s version, but the brass band provide a nice soundtrack as Higgins waves his way back down the tunnel.
Michael D Higgins, the President of Ireland, is going to have some pre-match handshakes before we get to the anthems. Alun Wyn Jones is a foot-and-a-half taller, by my estimation.
Plenty of pomp and circumstance for a warm-up game. Ireland can go top of the World Rugby rankings with victory, of course, but this feels a bit much.
The players have assembled themselves in the tunnel, two old warriors in Alun Wyn Jones and Rory Best leading them out.
Booming fireworks and a drum corps to welcome them on to the pitch. Lively. The poor mascots are caught a little off guard and cower against the burly Irish players alongside them.
15 minutes until kick-off in Dublin. Still swathes of empty seats. England-Italy was a little bit tepid la
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