Ireland down Wales in RWC warm-up

2015-08-08 19:19
Simon Zebo (AFP)

Cardiff - Ireland sent out an early warning to their rivals ahead of the World Cup with a comfortable 35-21 victory over Wales in Cardiff, although it was marred by a serious looking injury to Irish flank Tommy O'Donnell.

Both head coaches put out second string sides but it was Joe Schmidt's reserves who impressed, racing into an 18-point lead at half-time thanks to three tries from Jamie Heaslip, Darren Cave and the impressive Keith Earls.

Simon Zebo and Felix Jones added further scores after the break to enhance Ireland's credentials as one of the pre-tournament favourites for this autumn's World Cup.

The defeat leaves Wales head coach Warren Gatland with plenty to ponder before they face Schmidt's men for a second time in Dublin in three weeks.

Tries from Richard Hibbard, Justin Tipuric and a late score from Alex Cuthbert were rare high points for the home side, with few players putting in performances to suggest they should be in Gatland's final 31-strong squad.

"Ireland had a lot of experience and that showed in the end," home captain Scott Williams told BBC One Wales.

"I was happy with the way we finished the game.

"It is the first time we have played together as a team and it was a big occasion."

Ireland had Wales on the back foot from the beginning and when Williams failed to clear from a scrum in his own 22 after just eight minutes, they turned the ball over and sent Heaslip into the corner for the game's opening try.

Visiting captain Heaslip was one of two players remaining from the side who started their last match of the Six Nations against Scotland in March and he was in superb form early on.

Outside-half Paddy Jackson nudged Ireland further in front with a penalty as the visitors took full control of the contest.

Earls was held up over the tryline by a superb tackle from Hibbard after breezing past Williams in midfield but Ireland got their second score from the resulting scrum.

A simple short ball from Eoin Reddan to centre Cave put the Ulster man over from close range.

Cave's provincial team-mate Andrew Trimble set up their third try after half an hour with a thumping tackle on debutant Eli Walker, allowing Earls to scoop-up the loose ball and race clear to go under the posts.

Williams saved Wales' blushes with a try-saving tackle on Trimble shortly afterwards before the home support finally had something to cheer about two minutes before the interval when Hibbard touched down from a well-worked set piece.

Wales' hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow five minutes into the second half when another debutant, flank Ross Moriarty, was shown a yellow card for a dangerous swinging arm.

Three minutes later, Ireland scored their fourth try when they went through the phases to work enough room to send Zebo over near to the touchline.

The visitors were cutting open the home defence at will and it was no surprise when Jones grabbed their fifth try after 53 minutes, finishing off a fine move in the corner.

Wales rallied with 20 minutes left on the clock and Chris Henry was sent to the sin bin for the visitors just five minutes after replacing Heaslip following repeated infringements from the Irish.

It allowed Wales to get their second try 10 minutes from the end, with Tipuric putting the finishing touch on a lovely move involving young talents Hallam Amos and Tyler Morgan.

New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe kicked the conversion for his first points for Wales on his debut.

Cuthbert then scored with the last move of the game to add a bit more respectability to the score-line for the home side, with Anscombe adding a second conversion.

Five minutes from time flank O'Donnell had to be taken from the field on a stretcher after a clash with Cuthbert.

Wales play hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay in Pool A at the World Cup, which starts on September 18, while Ireland are in Pool D alongside France, Italy, Canada and Romania.

Read more on:    ireland  |  wales  |  rwc 2015  |  rugby

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